|Wren from second screen (c) Bark|
|Water Rail (Bark)|
|Half a beardy (c) Bark|
|Starlings and Hips (c) Darrell Wood|
|North of the reserve before the sun disappeared (c) Darrell Wood|
After a bright start on Saturday the weather became very grey and damp, but at least it was not windy.
The calm conditions meant that we were able to find Bearded Tits on both mornings. On Saturday there were two individuals feeding down close to the waters edge. On Sunday we heard and saw some in flight and felt that there were possibly up to five. Perhaps it will be become clearer over the next few weeks just how many we have, this is after all the time when irruptive movements take place. It seems as though we have had a recent influx of Water Rails. I could hear at least six or seven different individuals screaming from the reedbed and several others from other ditches around the reserve. I assume that they are setting up winter territories and warning off rivals rather than trying to attract mates. Wren numbers also seem to have risen markedly over the last few weeks and they can frequently be heard and seen buzzing and flitting about in brambles and reeds. Bittern was seen on both days but only briefly whilst changing location within the reedbed but it is still worth scanning carefully along the northern edge of the second lagoon as it has shown there beautifully in the past.
The Starling roost continues to grow but is very variable in terms of the length and the variety of the display. Recently the birds have tended to dive straight into the reeds and have only really shown well when flushed by a raptor. A Hen Harrier and a Sparrowhawk have been regular attendees both in the evening and when the birds leave the roost at dawn. An adult and a juvenile Peregrine are also being seen regularly. On Sunday morning almost a thousand Starlings had chosen not to go too far from the roost to feed and were feeding around the feet of the cattle on Greenaways. A male Stonechat one of at least six on the reserve has taken a severe dislike to his reflection in the window of the hide, pecking at himself and giving very close views if one is on the inside. (excellent picture by Nigel Forrow on the Oxon Bird Log)
There are at least seven Grey Herons stalking across Greenaways and they appear to be feeding on the grassland rather than in the ditches and pools, it may be that the sharp rise in water levels has pushed prey items nearer to the surface.
Perhaps the predicted blast of arctic air this week will bring us some interesting visitors by next weekend, but if not it is worth keeping eyes open and ears alert for Otters as they have been seen and heard regularly over the last couple of weeks. There are no favoured sites and they could turn up almost anywhere both in or out of the water.