Monday, 3 November 2014

Saturday and Sunday 1st and 2nd November

Meadow Pipit (c) Pat Galka
I almost got what I wanted this weekend but sadly Sunday’s weather let me down. I arrived at the moor early on Saturday morning in order to do my regular Radio Oxford interview. At that time it was still dark grey and slightly rainy, there was a line of brightness in the west however that soon grew and the morning rapidly became bright, sunny and warm.

Stoat along bridleway (c) Pat Galka
As it began to get light it was spectacular to stand by the pumphouse and look over towards the reedbed and see between twenty and thirty thousand Starlings take off from the roost and head off in all directions. They made a dark grey smudge across the sky that stretched from horizon to horizon.
There were two new species seen this weekend to add to the Otmoor basin yearlist. On Saturday and Sunday mornings a Ring necked Parakeet was seen in a garden in Beckley and flew off towards the reserve thus qualifying for the list. Given the speed at which their population is growing I am sure that it is only a matter of time before they become a regular addition to the Otmoor avifauna.
Parakeet phonescoped through bins (c) Zoe Edwards
The other new bird for the year was a Great Grey Shrike that was seen for about five minutes on Saturday afternoon on the South Pill Ground. It was seen to move off in a westerly direction, but with the habitat there being so ideal for this species it could very well be back. It will be worth looking out for in the next few days as they can hang about a long time and occupy an extensive territory.
In the sunshine on Saturday we heard and saw our first substantial parties of winter thrushes feeding in the hedgerows. As the weather turns colder and the wind finally comes round to the north and east this week, they will be arriving in much larger numbers. The predicted change in the weather should also bring in more winter wildfowl.
Marsh Harrier (c) John Reynolds
It was another good weekend for raptors and I was lucky enough to see all seven of the species present on the reserve this weekend. A pair of Peregrines are favouring Big Otmoor and the fields to the west of the trail to the second screen. The regular Marsh Harrier is spending a lot of time over the reedbed and a Merlin has been making unpredictable lightning appearances, this weekend I saw it on Saunders Ground whilst heading back from the Pill.
Raven (c) Bark

Rook (c) Pat Galka
I also saw a Short eared Owl on Sunday. My attention was attracted by a party of corvids mobbing a bird over the Flood Field. On scoping it I could see and owl being chased up higher and higher until the corvids lost interest and gave up. I watched the owl make a smooth and purposeful descent but shortly before the ground came into sight my phone rang and by the time I looked back to find the bird I had lost it. The Bittern was seen again on Sunday, after lying low, or at least going unreported for  a fortnight.
Common Buzzard (c) John Reynolds
Snipe were much more in evidence this weekend and there may have been an influx of winter visitors. There were at least twenty flying in a tight flock at the southern lagoon and various individuals were flying, calling and being flushed from the pools out on Greenaways.There were at least two hundred and fifty Golden Plovers along with sixty Lapwings on the scrape in front of the wetlands Hide on Sunday morning. In the hedgerows and  reedbeds Reed Buntings seem to have replaced last weeks Wrens as the “default” birds, out along the paths to the screens and in the reedbed they were hustling Stonechats from their vantage points reluctant to share the habitat yet feeding on totally different food.
Fluked Stonechat (c) Bark
In the sunshine on Saturday there were still good numbers of Common Darters on the wing and we also saw another Clouded Yellow, I assume that they will still be on the wing until we have the first frost.
Common Darter (c) Bark
Leaves are still clinging to some of the trees although many of the hawthorns are now bare, making it easier to see the Chiffchaffs, crests and tits as they move busily through the bushes. Numbers of small passerines are building up and on Friday the first Redpolls of this winter were found in the car park field. Also last week a Brambling was heard overflying Sydlings Copse, too far away to count on the yearlist but heading in the right direction.
Kingfisher on new stick (c) John Reynolds

1 comment:

  1. Great photo's I've only just managed a Kite using a 200 mm and cropping. Not seen any Ravens round here yet though Paul has