|Stonechat by the bridleway (c) Bark|
|A blue flash by the hide (c) Bark|
|Reeds in the sun (c) Bark|
|Pintail landing (c) Mark Chivers|
|Snipe in front of the hide (c) Mark Chivers|
|Marsh Tit (c) Mark Chivers|
Another couple of bright sparkling mornings after the early low cloud lifted and on Sunday much better than the weather forecast had predicted.
There are very much larger numbers of birds around now. Many Starlings are not going a long way from the roost and the hedgerows are full of winter thrushes that erupt out of the bushes when one or another of the resident raptors goes by. Peregrine, Hen Harrier, Buzzard, Kites and Kestrels were all very much on show. There are still several Grey Herons stalking the slightly higher grassy parts of Greenaways and as Mark Chivers photo from last week shows they are feeding on bank voles. The voles have presumably been displaced from their lower lying burrows by the recent raising of the water levels and are consequently easier to catch.
Wigeon numbers are at their highest levels so far this winter with over a thousand being counted in the “WEBS” count earlier in the week. They seem to be split into four separate groups with the largest two flocks being on Big Otmoor and on Ashgrave another smaller flock in front of the main hide and yet another group out on Greenaways. There are Shoveller, Gadwall, Teal and Mallard on the reedbed lagoons. A fine male Pintail was on the northern lagoon on Saturday.
The Lapwing numbers have also gone up steeply but it is difficult to get an accurate count as they were very spread out over the western side of Ashgrave, There were about thirty Golden Plover with them and on Saturday five Ruff flew in and were feeding on the grass along side them. There seem to be flocks of geese almost everywhere one looks but sadly they are yet to attract in any of their wilder cousins.
Two new species were added to the Otmoor yearlist during last week. A Tree Sparrow was seen around the feeders and another birder I spoke to said he had heard sparrows in the hedge beside the bridle way. A Little Owl was heard calling towards Noke.
Stonechats are becoming increasingly confiding along the bridleway and around the hide. A Kingfisher is hunting up and down the piece of water to the South of the hide and is giving some excellent close views. There have also been a number of Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings in the same vicinity. A Goldcrest picking its way through berried Hawthorn in the carpark was one of my weekend highlights but sadly not one that I was able to photograph.......still maybe next week.