|Sparrowhawk (c) John Reynolds|
It was a quiet weekend on the bird front but a very sociable one on the moor. Saturday was beautiful with crisp sunshine and a light breeze. Sunday however was overcast, drizzly and very windy. The gloom of the weather was more than made up for by the “Otmoor Massive’s” regular mince pie, chilli chocolates and sloe gin, get together, which is rapidly becoming a must on the birding calendar.
|Otmoor Massive (c) Bark|
On Saturday in the sunshine we played spot the Snipe from the first screen. Careful scanning of the edge of the reeds revealed at first nine, then twelve and eventually seventeen of these superb cryptically marked birds. The Snipe spotting was competitive in a very good natured way and we were all shown to have been wrong when a female Sparrowhawk made an abortive attempt to grab one. At least forty seven flushed from the one spot and several other small parties flushed from other parts of the reedbed. The Sparrowhawk showed really well and was one of the highlights of the weekend.
|How many Snipe can you see? (c) John Reynolds|
|Sparrowhawk attack. (c) John Reynolds|
There are currently very large numbers of Lapwings and Golden Plovers on and over the moor. On Sunday they could be seen swirling over Big Otmoor where they are tending to spend the daytime. They would flush regularly at both real and imagined threats. Geese are also present in large numbers but neither the Greylags nor the Canadas have managed to draw down any of their scarcer cousins.
The Wigeon flocks are much larger and there are more of them. They can most easily be seen feeding on the grass in front of the Ashgrave hide. From time to time they will retreat en masse from their grazing and splash noisily back into the water where they whistle their characteristic alarm calls until the apparent threat has gone and they can clamber back onto the land and resume their feeding. Numbers of Pintail and Shoveller are also going up and I counted twenty two Pochard out from the second screen on Saturday.
|Shoveller (top) and Pintail pair (c) John Reynolds|
Despite careful looking and listening we failed to make contact with the Bearded Tit this weekend but I am confident that it is out there somewhere and hopefully will make contact with others of its kind in the new year.
|Well there had to be one this week (c) Bark|
Sunday was the winter solstice and despite still having the coldest days of the winter ahead of us, one can only feel positive as the days begin to lengthen and the nights draw in. Soon we will be starting a new year list and will be speculating on what we might see in the year to come and reflecting on the highlights of the year that has passed, of which there were many, some very special. In the next few days I will endeavour to write a short review of some of them.
|Fieldfare at second screen (c) John Reynolds|