Tuesday, 26 August 2014

Saturday and Sunday 23rd and 24th August

Calling Red Kite 1st Screen (c) John Reynolds
Cold and crisp first thing and warmer later, but feeling very much more like late September than August. There were plenty of interesting things to see and Saturday was particularly “birdy”.
As I arrived Kites were calling noisily in the Carpark field and across the Closes.
There are now many mixed tit and warbler flocks moving along the hedgerows and feeding busily. They can prove to be an id challenge but on Saturday we found all the expected warblers with the exception of “gropper”. Both the Whitethroats looking very smart in crisp fresh plumage. Willow Chiffs are of course more difficult to separate but patient observation will almost always resolve the birds identity.
Chiffy (c) Bark

Whitethroat (c) John Reynolds
There are still broods of other warblers being fed by adults and on Sunday a pair of Reed warblers were struggling to keep up with the appetites of two newly fledged chicks right in front of the first screen. Along the bridleway yet another young Cuckoo was begging persistently for food but staying just out of sight.

Reed Warblers and young (c) John Reynolds
The family party of five Spotted Flycatchers at the end of the Roman road, were showing particularly well in a crab apple tree. Whilst elsewhere in Long Meadow and along the hedges  occasional Redstarts could be found.

Spot Fly (c) Bark
Whinchats are now with us in numbers with four birds feeding beside the path to the first screen both on the Greenaways side and the Big otmoor side. They are most easily seen when perched on the blue plastic stakes that hold the electric fence. There are also a number of them at Noke Farm and others out at the Pill. Its worth looking at them carefully as quite soon now one of them will prove to be the first of the returning Stonechats. Wheatears are also about with one individual landing on the mud in front of the screen and then flying up and landing on the roof, this was very frustrating for would be photographers inside the screen as it was impossible to see it without flushing it, which is exactly what I did. It then sat up at the top of one of the oaks and gave excellent views.
The Bearded Tit or Tits were again very elusive but definitely present, this time being heard calling on Saturday morning from the reeds alongside the trail to the first screen.
Bittern over the reedbed (c) Pat Galka
The Bittern made two early morning sallies from the reedbed, flying out right across Greenaways before returning to the eastern corner that it seems to favour.
As we walked back along the bridle way towards the Roman Road Paul Greenaway said “ looks like a really good day for an Osprey to come through” and so it proved to be, although sadly we missed it. I looked back through my pictures and I am posting one that I took of an Osprey on the 25th August 2012 as it passed over the first screen just one year and three hundred and sixty four days earlier!
Osprey 25th August 2012 (c) Bark
On Saturday the very confiding Greenshank that has been on the second Greenaways scrape was again feeding in the same area with a Green Sand for company but on Sunday it was gone and did not reappear on Monday either. There was a tell-tale scattering of white and grey feathers on the far side of the water and I wonder if it had fallen foul of the Sparrowhawk or indeed the Mink that has been seen several times in the area. Dunlin are present as were  two Blacktailed Godwits, probably the birds that have been present for a while. The two Spotted Redshanks seen on the reedbed last week have pushed our somewhat moribund year list on to one hundred and forty three species so far since January.

All Snipe pics (c) John Reynolds
The hedgerows are looking more autumnal and there is a good crop of berries and seeds appearing. The first ripe blackberries were seen (and tasted) over a month ago and are now really very profuse, providing tasty fruit for all comers. Butterflies are still nectaring on bramble flowers and the fruit is attracting all manner of insects that in turn attract the birds. They are a really vital part of the Otmoor ecosystem.

Clouded Yellow and Brambles (c) Bark

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