Monday, 3 February 2014

Saturday and Sunday 1st and 2nd February

Car park Bullfinches (c) Tezzer

Ashgrave Harrier (c) Mark Chivers

Stonechat by the hide (c) Mark Chivers

Weasel along path (c) Mark Chivers

Singing skylark (c) Bark
For the first time for a weeks we managed two consecutive days of reasonable weather including some winter sunshine. Dawn on Sunday was another red-gold beauty as the sun came up through the silhouetted oaks in the Roman Road. The floods have not declined to any great degree and there are still vast wheeling flocks of Lapwings, Golden Plovers and wildfowl to be seen over Big Otmoor and more distantly, over the Flood Field.
Once again it was easy to find the Bullfinches in the carpark field and another small party near the hide.  Looking closely at the Blackthorn  it is possible to see how the buds on the tips of the twigs have begun to swell and colour over the last few weeks and thus provide food for the birds at one of the toughest times of the year.
Raptors are giving excellent views and the Peregrines in the oak tree beside the path to the second screen are now looking more like a regular pair. On Sunday when they were perched closer together it was clear that one was much larger than the other suggesting a female. There are also two Hen Harriers being seen one significantly smaller than the other. They are both ring-tails so perhaps the smaller one is a juvenile male. They seem to have regular circuits out and around the moor and their progress can often be followed by the regular flushing of their prey. They can often take a couple of hours between circuits.
There are other waders out on Big Otmoor with the Lapwings and Goldies. On Sunday there were at least forty Ruff, double figures of Dunlin, a couple of Black tailed Godwits and a Grey Plover.
There are still huge numbers of Teal and Wigeon many out on Big Otmoor along with a large number of Pintail. There are now over forty Pochard on the reedbed and more than twenty Gadwall in the same location. Two Skylarks were singing high over the flood Field in the sunshine, surely too early to be territorial but certainly enough to lift the spirits.
I only managed to add one species to the yearlist this weekend when I found a lone Goldcrest flitting its way through the bushes along the bridleway towards the Roman Road.
I suspect that our next addition will be Curlew as they tend to turn up on the moor after the middle of February adding their distinctive, evocative calls to those of the Lapwings and the Golden Plovers.

My predicted Curlew turned up in the Monday morning WEBS count taking the yearlist to 86

Seventy Lapwings (c) Bark

Lapwing and Dunlin (c) Bark


Red Gold Dawn (c) Bark

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