Monday, 21 October 2013

Otmoor Saturday 19th and Sunday 20th October

Beardy (c) Mark Chivers

Beardy take off (c) Bark

Seen off by this Robin (c) Bark

Very Confiding Kestrel (c) Mark chivers

The same bird (c) Tom Coyne

Clouded Yellow (c) Tom Coyne
 Despite the occasionally inclement weather it has been a very “birdy “ weekend on the moor with lots of interesting things to see.
The Great White Egret is still present and seems to be favouring the ditches beside the diagonal track across Greenaways. It appears to vanish into the reed fringing and then reappears further up or down the ditch. It flushed this morning when the shooting started on the rifle range and headed out onto the north western edges of Ashgrave. We were fortunate enough to have excellent views of two Bearded Tits on Saturday morning. They came out of the reedbed and flew into the bushes and scrub beside the path to the second screen, where they were foraging until chased back to the reedbed by a very territorial Robin.
It has been a six raptor weekend (probably seven if the possible Merlin seen yesterday was confirmed). A superb male Peregrine sat up in a tree bordering the fields beside the reed bed, perfectly lit by the sun against a dark lowering sky behind. A Sparrowhawk was again sat out on top of one of the willow bushes growing in the reedbed. A Ring-tailed Hen Harrier was seen several times on Saturday and probably today, hunting along the hedge on the northern side of Greenaways. Kestrels are very noticeable along the paths and there is one individual that is allowing very close approaches and it seems to have an injury to its neck. It does appear to still be hunting successfully and may be feeding on the abundant hatch of crane flies across the grasslands. Kites and Buzzards are of course ubiquitous. The female Merlin seen on Friday and at other times last week had not put in an appearance by the time I left.
A Short-eared Owl was seen this morning being harried by corvids over Greenaways. As far as I know this is the first record from this winter period. On Saturday morning seven Ravens flew over cronking and doing aerobatic stunts. Their interactions did not seem to be aggressive but simply exuberant, without wishing to be anthropomorphic it must feel wonderful to be able to fly like that. It struck several of us that a party of seven Ravens did sound a little like the start of a Scandinavian myth or fairy story.
Three Stonechats could be seen along the path from the hide, several Yellowhammers were near the farm at Noke and a lone Wheatear was feeding out amongst a large flock of several hundred Fieldfares on Greenaways. There seemed to be a major movement of these Thrushes over the weekend accompanied by smaller numbers of Redwings and large numbers of Skylarks.
There is a Marsh Tit using the feeders again and several small parties of Redpoll were seen, often in flight. Duck numbers are increasing slowly as water levels begin to creep up.
A Clouded Yellow butterfly was found near the first screen almost certainly the last we’ll see this year.
There has been a major influx of Great Grey Shrikes in the east of the country and its not too optimistic to hope that we will get one on the moor soon to join the Short-eared Owls and the Hen Harrier.

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