Tuesday, 6 May 2014

Sunday and Monday 4th and 5th May

The default bird (c) Bark

Parachute flight (c) Bark

Cuckoo one of three (c) Bark

Flying Heron (c) Mark Chivers

Sprawk with one of three victims noted (c) Mark Chivers

Reed Warbler (c) Peter Coombes

Common Lizards (c) Bark

Green winged Orchids (c) Bark
After a weeks absence in the Mediterranean I was really surprised at just how green the reserve has become in such a short time. The masses of white blackthorn have now been replaced by the more subtly coloured off-white and lacy Hawthorn flowers. The hedges are alive with birdsong and the default bird this weekend was certainly Sedge Warbler. On Saturday between the bridle way and the first screen we counted eight singing and displaying males. Hobbies are regular over Greenaways and as usual reluctant to be very active until nearer to midday. They will soon have dragonflies to hunt as I was shown a photograph taken on Saturday morning of one of the first Hairy Dragonflies to emerge this year. All the regular warblers are in, but as yet there seem to be very few Reed Warblers. Garden Warblers and Lesser Whitethroats are establishing regular singing spots and there seems to have been a late influx of Whitethroats. Apart from the breeding Lapwings, Snipe and Redshanks the only waders were a couple of Black tailed Godwits on Big Otmoor and the pair of wandering Oystercatchers. Curlews are calling regularly over the MOD land and a pair flew through onto Ashgrave on Sunday. New for the year is a Little Owl seen flying in Otmoor lane last week and of course the fabulous Whiskered Tern.
On Monday I did the first visit of my regular BTO breeding bird surveys, which includes a large part of the Flood Field, the Barn Field, some hay meadows and a section of the North Pill Ground. It is a very bird rich habitat and it is noticeable how the variety and density of birds is even higher on the RSPB land than on the other parts. I recorded just over forty species on my two transects the most uncommon was probably a fly-over Raven. Most unusual was not seeing any Great Tits but I feel sure that I will see some on one of my later visits. Just one Grasshopper warbler was heard but they do do seem to go quiet for a bit after their initial burst of song. On the older hay meadows the Green Winged Orchids are in flower but seem not to be as abundant as in previous years, perhaps as a result of this winters flooding.
Grass Snakes and Common Lizards were to be found  both in the carpark field and along the Roman Road, with patient and careful looking.
We are still waiting with bated breath for the return of our Turtle Doves, if they are not back in the next week or so then we will begin to get very concerned. Summer on Otmoor would be so much poorer without their soft purring calls and their subtle beauty. I sincerely hope they don’t go the same way as our Nightingales did.

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