|Common Buzzard lift off (c) Darrell Wood|
|Chiffy (c) Andy Last|
|Sparrowhawk (c) Peter Coombes|
|Redshank (c) Peter Coombes|
|Chiffchaff (c) Bark|
|Peacock on blackthorn (c) Bark|
|Courting Canadas (c) Bark|
|Sunbathing Hare (c) Bark|
Suddenly its spring. The stop-start season finally arrived for real this weekend. The weather was warm with milky sunshine and the wind was light and from the south. Blackthorn has burst into flower everywhere and there is a fresh flush of green in the hedgerows. Everything is responding lustily to the change in the season. On the moor Redshanks are pairing courting and displaying almost everywhere and their voices are a major part of the continuous background soundtrack, which also includes regular Lapwings “peewit” call, Chiffchaffs saying their name from the hedgerows and the occasional bubbling Curlew. As the next few weeks continue more voices will be added to the sound mix and the chorus will swell.
A Cuckoo was heard by three of us on Sunday morning calling from the MOD land but it failed to call more than once. A Blackcap was singing in the Roman road area on Saturday and was the first record this year on Otmoor. Two Oystercatchers were in front of the Hide and a Common Buzzard is hunting from the posts along the path that goes towards July’s Meadow. Once again Reed Buntings seem to be the default bird along the paths, hedges and in the reedbed. They certainly seem to have had a good winter and should have a successful breeding season. There were three Wheatears in the sheep fields at Noke one particular individual was very confiding feeding on the short cropped grass with a Skylark and two Meadow Pipits. Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harrier and Hen Harrier were all noted over the weekend and a Kestrel was hunting at Noke. Several Sand Martins were seen but we have yet to record any other hirundines.
There was a Mallard on the southern reedbed on Sunday morning with fifteen ducklings in tow and elsewhere on Saturday we spotted a Mallard nest containing eleven eggs. Also on Sunday morning there were at least two drumming Snipe over Greenaways and another bird “chipping” from the sedges out in the field. The lone Bearded Tit was once again roaming in search of a mate and gave superb views to people in the second screen coming down to the waters edge to drink before pinging off on her search.
There are still six Pintail out on Big Otmoor and a number of Wigeon, but soon they will be gone, as will the one hundred or so Golden Plover. Fieldfares can still be seen from time to time in the larger hedges and out on the open fields but as they leave they will be replaced by many new arrivals. It really is one of the most dynamic and exciting times of the year and I can scarcely wait until next week.