|Singing Chaffinch (c) Bark|
|Singing Songthrush (c) Bark|
|Reedbunt (c) Bark|
|Early Blackthorn (c) Bark|
|Barn Owl at dawn (c) Matthew Byrne|
|Dawn (c) Matt Byrne|
Saturday carried the promise of spring but by Sunday we had reverted to this winters default mode of strong winds, grey skies and occasional rain. It was very noticeable however that the floods are starting to draw down. There was a significant difference between the amount of “dry” land showing, even over the two days of the weekend.
On the Closes the difference is most apparent and the Lapwings are already staking their claims to nesting sites and advertising for mates. Their looping and swooping display flight accompanied by their “peewit” call is one of the delights of early spring on Otmoor.
Other birds are anticipating the coming season, with Chaffinches, Skylarks, Songthrushes and Reed Buntings all singing strongly from prominent song posts.
The regular raptors were all seen over the weekend and the short eared Owls and the Barn Owls are becoming regular features of dusk in the carpark field. The Barn Owls are also hunting over the reedbed and along the bunds. There are still record numbers of both Wildfowl, Lapwings and Golden Plovers. There are now Curlew calling over the reserve and feeding on the northern edge of Greenaways. Redshank are evident both by call and in flight. There are still mobile parties of Dunlin and Ruff feeding on the areas that have recently been flooded and in amongst the commoner birds. On Sunday there were three Black-tailed Godwits feeding and roosting on Greenaways. Both Bittern and Bearded Tits were seen over the weekend but not by me. There were however a pair of Ravens over on Sunday.
There are at least four Little Grebes making their bubbling call from the southern reedbed and they have become the ninetieth species to add to the yearlist.
In the Carpark field there is a strain of blackthorn that always blooms early and this year it is even earlier than usual, there is also an early Hawthorn that is actually coming into leaf. Both of these bushes are very fortuitously positioned for sunshine and shelter. Seeing how far on they are really sharpens my anticipation of the excitement to come as we go through March and into April.