Monday, 25 November 2013

Saturday and Sunday 23rd and 24th November

Fieldfare stripping berries. (c) Bark

and posing in the sun. (c) Bark

Redwing (c) Bark

Bullfinch eating berries (c) Bark

One end of the rainbow......

...and the other.(c) Bark
A quiet and calm weekend on the moor with Saturday being the pick of the two days offering the last blaze of autumn colours and a stunning rainbow as a light shower moved through. There was nothing particularly different or new on the bird front but numbers all round are beginning to go up and the larger flocks are attracting more raptors. This is especially true of the Lapwings with two large flocks present on Sunday each numbering between four and five hundred birds. A Buzzard that was mantling food out on Greenaways finally flew off with a pair of lapwing wings in its claws, probably not its own kill but something else's leavings. Duck numbers too are rising especially Wigeon. There are significant numbers out on Big Otmoor as could be seen when they were flushed by a male Peregrine, as well as that flock there is another feeding on Ashgrave and yet another on Greenaways. Shoveller numbers are also rising as are Gadwall and to a lesser extent Teal. There are now at least two pairs of Pintail on the reserve. Sadly there are no Pochard at present, reflecting their worrying population slump. A small flock of Golden Plover were around on Sunday and there were two Dunlin flying with the Lapwings on Greenaways.
It was wonderful to stand at the second screen on Saturday and have really good views of Fieldfares and Redwings stripping the haws from the bushes to the north of the hide, they fed quickly swallowing five or six berries at a sitting before flying off to digest a cropfull. These birds too are currently present in very good numbers. Bullfinches are once again using the same hedge and taking advantage of the berries that are still there later on they will switch to eating dried up blackberries.
The Starling roost too is getting larger and I heard that it was particularly spectacular on Friday evening. The birds made a dramatic display and were harried by a number of predators including the female Hen Harrier. One visitor described a Kestrel flying into the flock and coming out with a starling which it proceeded to eat not more than ten metres away from the onlookers.
Sadly my predicted winter Geese have not arrived yet and a party of five Whooper Swans spent a couple of days not far away in Bucks. I am sure that it wont be long before some larger winter visitors make it down to the moor.

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