|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.
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
|Parakeet phonescoped through bins (c) Zoe Edwards|
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.
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.
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.
|Raven (c) Bark|
|Rook (c) Pat Galka|
|Common Buzzard (c) John Reynolds|
|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.
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.
|Common Darter (c) Bark|
|Kingfisher on new stick (c) John Reynolds|