Monday, 12 May 2014

Saturday and Sunday 10th and 11th May

Returned Turtle Dove (c) Mark Chivers

Anxious Lapwing (c) Bark

Garden Warbler in the gloom (c) Bark

Two Roe Deer in carpark field (c) Bark

Hairy Dragonfly (c) Bark

Four Spotted Chaser (c) Bark
Both of my visits to the moor this weekend were interrupted by the appearance, disappearance and reappearance of the Spotted Sandpiper at Farmoor, of which a little more later.
Rough winds do fret the darling buds of May” to borrow a line from Shakespeare and they really did fret them this weekend. It was chilly and very windy on both mornings with occasional sharp showers.
The best news however was the return of the Turtle Doves; on Saturday just one purring bird, but by Sunday there were two and if they have been lucky and have  managed to avoid the fusillade over the Med and North Africa there may be others joining them over the next week or so.
Despite the wind the birds were in good voice which was just as well as on Sunday morning at 5 am. we met up with an enthusiastic and intrepid group of about twenty visitors for a dawn chorus walk. We heard most of the expected songs with the exception of Grasshopper Warbler, a species that seems to call best in still conditions. (Thanks to Adam and Tezzer for helping with the walk) Having expressed some doubts about Reed Warbler numbers last week I was really surprised by the massive number that I heard singing in the reedbed on Saturday morning. There seemed to be a bird establishing territory every two or three metres along. There were at least three Cuckoos calling, seeking to take advantage of their nests and their abundance.
New for the year on Sunday was the first Green Sandpiper that I have seen since the autumn flying off Greenaways and over onto Big Otmoor. On Saturday morning there were four pairs of Greylag Geese on the scrape in front of the hide with twenty five goslings at slightly different stages of development. They seem to be forming into some kind of loose crèche and perhaps there is security in numbers. Most of the predatory action appears to be happening over Greenaways and big Otmoor and perhaps an angry protective group of geese deters aerial predation.
The first dragonflies I have seen were found on Saturday with a Hairy Dragonfly along the trail to the first screen and a Four Spotted Chaser along the bridleway. There were also reports of Downy Emerald seen last week and if the expected area of high pressure moves in this week giving warm and sunny conditions, we can expect to find many more next weekend.
Finally I did catch up with the Spotted Sandpiper at Farmoor on Sunday, a lifer for me and a really stunning bird. I do think however that it is high time that we had an exciting transatlantic visitor on Otmoor, so far I have seen a couple at Farmoor another on Port Meadow and yet another at Rushy. I really do want one on my own patch, even if that does sound a bit selfish.

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