|Hare on the bund.........|
|.....suddenly saw me. (c) Bark|
|The swirling sky (c) Bark|
|Redwing on the path (c) Bark|
|Carpark Bullfinch #1...|
|.......and #2 (c) Bark|
Saturday started misty and improved during the morning, but Sunday never really got going before reverting to the current default mode of heavy and persistent rain.
Huge numbers of birds were again the highlight, but there was also plenty to see away from the swirling flocks.
The early mist in the car park field helped me to get close to a small party of Bullfinches feeding on blackthorn buds, their quiet “wheep” contact calls led me close to where they were until I could see their pale pink breasts in the grey gloom. Brighter and more numerous were a flock of over forty Yellowhammers near to the feeders.
Once on the bridle way the huge flocks of Lapwings and Golden Plovers could be seen flying up from the back of Greenaways and over the Flood Field beyond. Equally large numbers were out on Big Otmoor from whence they would flush regularly. When they were settled it was possible to scope through them and scattered amongst them were probably in excess of forty Ruff, a small number of Dunlin and also two Black Tailed Godwits. At times it looked as though there were brown earth banks out in the floods but a glance through the scope revealed they were composed of thousands of Golden Plovers.
The RSPB WEBS count from Monday revealed almost record breaking numbers of wildfowl and with the rifle range being used most of them had settled on Big Otmoor. We did not have time to carry out an accurate count but I can’t remember seeing such large numbers for well over ten years. The only real species that was poorly represented was once again Pochard, although they were here in larger numbers than we have seen so far this winter.Once again we scanned carefully through the Wigeon and Teal for their transatlantic cousins. With both species currently present in their thousands surely it won’t be long until we pick up one of these American specials.
The two Peregrines continue to occupy their regular oak tree and the Hen Harrier put in at least three appearances. We saw no Bittern this weekend but two were seen during the week at either end of the reedbed.
A Great Crested Grebe was the only addition to the year list, which currently stands at eighty four species.
Lets hope that we have some more settled weather over the next week and that the water levels beyond the reserve start to subside. In the mild conditions at least a couple of Chaffinches have started to sing as had a Wren, spring could be just around the corner.... but we must learn to be patient.