|Red Kite in the dawn light. (c) Bark|
|Goldies flush from Big Otmoor (c) Bark|
|Goldfinches and crab apples (c) Bark|
|Hare on the bund (c) Bark|
I can’t remember a time when the moor was quite so flooded. There are hardly any dry areas left on Big Otmoor or Greenaways and the water level on the northern reedbed that had been partially drained before Christmas is almost back to the previous level and that is just from rain that has fallen, nothing has been pumped into it. There are a lot of Hares that have taken refuge on the bunds surrounding the reedbeds, as these offer dry areas and the opportunity to eat.
Large numbers of Golden Plovers, Lapwings and Starlings can be seen wheeling around the sky over the fields. Sometimes they are flushed by raptors and sometimes seem to take to the sky in a kind of mass panic induced by an over nervous bird. On Friday the mass of birds were out on Big Otmoor and by Saturday they had re-located to the Flood Field. On Friday it was easy to scan through them and in doing so I found over thirty Ruff feeding on the margins of the pools . There were also several Dunlin. I estimated that there are over two and a half thousand lapwings and perhaps two thousand Goldies. After Adam’s finds on Port Meadow over the last few years there might very well be an “American” amongst them but it will need patience and closer examination to pick one out, but I live in hope.
Peregrines, Sparrowhawks and a Hen Harrier are seen frequently and Ravens have been present on both days. A Short- Eared Owl was seen on Friday heading out towards the top of Ashgrave. Red Kites patrol continually and I had wonderful views of one this morning lit by the low red sun at dawn.
A Little Egret, the first this year, was on the margins around Noke and the sheep fields. I also found a few House Sparrows in the same vicinity. Earlier in the week a Collared Dove was on the wires in the car park field. At the first screen there are some very contentious Coots and good numbers of ducks to be seen. Teal are the most numerous, followed by Shoveler. About ten Pochard are still there and a lone male Pintail although I understand that there are more out on the flooded MOD fields.
As the floods begin to subside elsewhere, the birds will be increasingly concentrated on the reserve wetlands and when they are they should provide quite a spectacle.