Monday, 21 April 2014

Easter Weekend

Sedge Warbler (c) Pat Galka

Gropper (c) Nick Truby

Hobby (c) Nick Truby

Lesser Whitethroat (c) Bark

Gropper (c) Bark

Whinchat at Noke (c) Bark

Sparrowhawk (c) Bark

Wheatear at Noke (c) Bark

Skylark (c) Bark
 Otmoor is never the same twice, beautiful on Friday, cold and windy on Saturday, wet and showery on Sunday and foggy and then warm on Monday.
The migrants have continued to flow in with Grasshopper Warbler, Garden Warbler, Whinchat and Hobby all new for the year. But even more noticeable is the increasing numbers of the other warblers especially Sedge Warblers. They seem to be belting out their demented arrhythmic rattle from every briar and bramble. There are still only two or three Garden Warblers singing however, as opposed to the much larger number of Blackcaps. There are still only a limited number of Reed Warblers calling but Whitethroat numbers have gone up sharply.
Fog on the moor means that although sound can be muffled it does allow one to get much closer and in the mist things can be much less inhibited and nervous. So it was with a Grasshopper Warbler along the bridle way this morning, it is one of those individuals that hasn’t read the book about being shy and skulking. It was reeling away from the reeds on either side of the path and at times was so close I might have touched it. It has continued to perform both from inside a briar and from the top of a small willow. It has been admired by many visitors this morning who were delighted to get wonderful views of this normally secretive species.
On Friday we found  fresh summer plumaged male Whinchat on the fence by the farm at Noke, it has not stayed, they rarely do in the spring, but has been replaced by a very smart Wheatear. A Hobby was seen and photographed this morning after I had left the reserve and we are approaching the time of year when there can be large numbers on the reserve feeding up before moving on to their breeding grounds. I noticed this morning the first of the St Marks or Hawthorn flies coming out of the hedge. This large dangly legged fly is much favoured as easy prey by the Hobbys before the dragonflies get going later in the month.
The same female Marsh Harrier has ben around over the reedbed since the middle of last week it is easily identified by the lack of one or two of its primaries at the elbow on its right wing. Cuckoos have been both heard and seen and this morning we were fairly certain that there were three individuals calling.
There appear to be more Linnets present both in the carpark field and along the bridleway towards Noke, than have been seen in recent years. Reed Buntings are also very much in evidence.
We are holding our breath now for the return of what is probably our rarest breeder. Turtle doves with their soft purring epitomise summer on the moor. With the problems they encounter on their wintering grounds and then running the gauntlet of continental and north African hunters it is always something of a miracle that they make it back. The other bird that we hope will make it back soon is the Cettis Warbler, we had not a single record last year after our population was wiped out by the severe weather two winters ago. Any record of this charismatic skulker would be very welcome
Gropper (c) Richard Tyler

Whitethroat (c) Richard Tyler

Blackcap (c) Richard Tyler
Linnet (c) Bark

Goldfinch (c) Bark

Hare (c) Bark

Cowslips (c) Bark

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