Monday, 29 December 2014

Saturday and Sunday 27th and 28th December

White fronted Goose (c) Mark Chivers
Into the sun (c) Bark
Three Bewicks (c) Bark
People often say that good things come in threes. This weekend we had two comings of three! On Saturday I found three White-fronted Geese and on Sunday I found three Bewicks Swans, ironically whilst scanning to see if I could re-locate the geese. It was a crisp cold and sunny weekend with the low golden bright light that is typical of deep midwinter.
Low Golden light on Wigeon (c) John Reynolds
The change to colder weather has finally brought to the moor a couple of species that were missing from the yearlist and were also missing last year, namely the White fronts and the Bewicks. The swans look to be a family group with a pair of adults and a much greyer individual that may be a second winter juvenile. The Geese however all appear to be mature adults.
White front (c) John Reynolds
I hope that the cold snap doesn’t last too long this time, if the water bodies freeze hard the wildfowl may abandon the moor for deeper waters. Additionally the Starling roost may collapse as there will no longer be any security from roosting in the reedbed.
Pintail (c) Bark
The two new additions to the yearlist were not the only good things to be found on the moor this weekend. On Sunday at least four Bearded Tits were found in the reedbed beside the bridleway as it goes towards Noke. We had speculated whether this extensive area of reeds might be the place they have been hiding out. Sadly they are also vulnerable to extreme cold and would also benefit from a return to less harsh conditions. The Starling roost is still drawing large numbers of birds and large numbers of visitors. Yesterday there were estimated to be 75,000 birds arriving, some in huge flocks thousands strong. There is not always a big display but the sheer numbers are in themselves impressive.
Beardie (c) Pete Roby
A Barn Owl has been seen hunting along Otmoor Lane early in the mornings and Peregrine is now reported daily, often chasing down Lapwings and Golden Plovers. It has a favourite vantage point in one of the oak trees on the northern edge of Big Otmoor a little to the left of the high seat.
The areas where we are carrying out supplementary feeding are drawing in a good number of birds as the weather starts to bite.
Frosty Reed Bunting (c) Bark
Notably to the south of the hide where thirty or so Reed Buntings, twenty or so Chaffinches and a handful of Yellowhammers are feeding on fine seed. It will be worth checking through these birds over the next few weeks. We have already had an anonymous report of Brambling and it is just the kind of place where we might find them. Tree Sparrow would also be another species to look out for. The other areas worth checking out are the cattle corral and the feeders themselves. On Saturday and Sunday a Coal Tit was making use of them, a species that is uncommon on the moor.
Coal Tit (c) John Reynolds
Only a few days now until we start a new yearlist but our current tally of one hundred and fifty two species is only two short of last year’s record. Who knows how many 2015 might bring us?
Kestrel Take-away in Carpark field (c) John Reynolds


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