Monday, 6 October 2014

Saturday and Sunday 4th and 5th October

Sometimes Snipe seem quite tall (c) Bark
 The weather has finally stopped dithering and we are now finally into autumn. On Saturday morning after a lowering start under lead grey skies, we had the first significant rain for weeks and on Sunday morning the grass was rimed with the first frost since the spring and the air was clear, bright, cooler and fresher.
After the excitement of last weeks Red Backed Shrike, the first on the moor since the spring bird found in 2005, we reverted to more familiar fare. It was no less interesting for all that.
There are definitely a minimum of two Bitterns present on the moor. The bird seen along the bridleway and photographed by Tim Clark is not the same individual that I saw in a sustained flight on Saturday morning over the reedbed and eventually landing in the ditch beside the track to the first screen. The Friday individual is moulting quite heavily and is missing a number of primaries on both wings. The Saturday bird was fully feathered and appeared slightly lighter in tone.
The Cettis Warbler is still present and was heard both days around the second screen area and a little way along the path. It was calling from both the hedge and from the edge of the reedbed. It does seem to be settled now for the near future.
Stonechat (c) Bark
There are at least ten Stonechats present, with five at the Noke end of the reserve both along the fence by the farm and out in the sheep fields, a further four were along the path to July’s meadow and a lone individual was out on Big Otmoor. The rifle range was being used so we were unable to check out the Pill Ground which is another favoured haunt.
There are increasing numbers of ducks on the southern lagoons in front of the first screen. At least two hundred of them are Mallard but there almost a hundred Teal and increasing numbers of Wigeon. There are still a few Snipe around although not in the large numbers we were seeing a month ago.
Pied Wags (c) Bark
Observers who have been coming down in the evenings, have noticed more than a hundred Pied Wagtails coming in to roost in the reedbed, where they have been attracting the attention of one of the local Sparrowhawks. As the season progresses this roost may well increase along with the Starlings and attract even more raptors.
There are now good numbers of both Meadow Pipits and Skylarks across the whole moor and they in turn should encourage Merlin to take up residence for the whole winter. These are surely one of our most attractive and dynamic raptors and a much anticipated element of our winter fauna.
Still on the post (c) Bark
There are still Butterflies and Dragonflies to be seen and on Sunday an uncommon “white” form of Clouded Yellow was found and photographed by Peter Law. The Hornets nest close to the first screen is still busy and very much occupied, it is certainly worth a look but from a respectful distance.
As we go through the next few weeks we should witness a huge influx of winter visitors, both winter Thrushes and wildfowl. The leaves will turn completely and the moor will blaze briefly with rich and stunning autumn colours, one of the most beautiful times of the year. I’m looking forward to it all.
"White" form of Clouded Yellow (c) Pete Law

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