|Goldcrest between two screens (c) Matt O'Byrne|
|Goldies in the sun (c) Pat Galka|
|and on the ground (c) Pat Galka|
|Female Stonechat (c) Bark|
|Lapwings from the hide (c) Bark|
|Hedgerow colour (c) Bark|
|Stonechat into the sun (c) Bark|
|One of at least seven Grey Herons on Greenaways (c) Bark|
Just a brief visit on Saturday before the rain but Sunday was very much better. The birding this weekend was quieter and less spectacular but on Sunday morning the moor itself was the star of the show. Under a brilliant blue sky and with gin clear air, the autumn hedgerows glowed with a dazzling mix of turning leaves and brightly coloured fruits. The contrast with recent dour and damp weekends probably enhanced the experience, but it was the very best kind of morning to be out and about.
There are major changes occurring out in the fields. The heavy rainfall of the last few weeks has pushed up water levels,especially on Ashgrave in front of the hide. Now that the last of the land management work has been completed water is being allowed to run out from the northern reedbed onto Greenaways and on from there to Big Otmoor. The water level on the Northern lagoon is being dropped in order to make it possible to partially cut and manage the reedbed. This will have a very positive on wintering wildfowl and at the same time it will make them much easier to see and to monitor. It should also encourage the Bitterns to feed on the reedy fringe across the water from the screen, as they have done frequently in the past.
Duck numbers are creeping up with more parties of Wigeon arriving and Lapwings too are increasing ,with two flocks of over a hundred and fifty present one on Big Otmoor and the other favouring Ashgrave. A few Golden Plover have been seen but as yet in smaller numbers. Several small parties of Snipe are around and can often be seen taking flight when flushed by low flying Red Kites.
Redpolls were recorded both days in the Car Park field and a Marsh Tit is coming regularly to the feeders.
We are host to a very large flock of feral Greylag Geese and another of Canada Geese. Although not completely wild they are spectacular when flying en masse and they are also very noisy. It is about this time of year that it becomes worthwhile scanning carefully through the flocks for their smaller wild cousins. White Fronted Geese winter regularly now and are often first picked up loitering on the edges of the feral flocks. It is also at about this time of year that we have winter swans passing through, although none have stayed very long during the last few years.
Harriers, Sparrowhawks and Peregrines are all capitalising on the steady build up to the starling roost, anyone wishing to see it should try to get down on a calm evening during the week as the weekends are getting very busy and parking can be difficult. It is wonderful that so many people want to experience it and connect with the wild, and even more importantly introduce children to a spectacular natural phenomenon.