|Marsh Tit (c) Tezzer|
This was a much brighter and cheerier weekend than any I can remember for weeks. Sunday was particularly pleasant, bright and unseasonably warm. This was just as well as over the past few years a group of us have been meeting up on the last weekend before Christmas. What started as eating a chilli chocolate and having a sip of Mr Coleman's excellent sloe gin has over the last few years grown into a festive feast, with cakes, mince pies , stollen and sweets. The sloe gin has continued to take a starring role! It’s a great opportunity to talk about the highs and lows of the year, good birds and spectacular dips. Lots of gossip and tales of what and wasn’t seen.
During the morning Clackers kept score
and we saw fifty one species including Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and of course our
resident Marsh Harriers. The Harriers are becoming very territorial and were
seen chasing off Red Kites, a Common buzzard and on Sunday morning a Raven.
Later on after we had left, the Bittern was seen in front of the first screen
relocating from left to right.
|After the feast (c) Badger|
|Harrier and well fed Peregrine (c) JR|
Duck numbers are continuing to rise and on Saturday there were well over two hundred and fifty Wigeon in the pools and feeding on the grass in front of the hide. Every so often as they grazed, moving steadily away from the waters edge, something would spook them and they would splash back into the middle of the lagoons in a blur of wings and with a chorus of whistled calls. There were at least two drake Pintails out on the furthest reaches of Big Otmoor and six or seven Pochard on the southern lagoon. On the reedbed there are large numbers of Shovellers and Mallard. Their abundance only really becomes apparent when they flush, which happens most often when one of the Peregrines passes over. Though they need not have worried on Saturday as the Peregrine we saw passing close in front of the screen looked to have a very full crop.
|Flushing Wigeon (c) JR|
The abundant Starlings seem to be the dish of choice for all our raptors. Whilst walking round to the second screen we noticed at least four places where a scattering of feathers and blood suggested the demise of yet another. Something, possibly an owl or Kestrel had dismembered and beheaded one on the bench in the first screen, not something to sit on in the dark!
|Goldfinch and Linnet (c) Tezzer|
The number of finches and buntings taking advantage of the seed to the south of the hide continues to go up. Linnets are very well represented and are getting up towards the kind of numbers we were recording last year. There are also Goldfinches amongst them as well as occasional Greenfinches and Yellowhammers. A Brambling was also seen several times last week.
There are very many Canada and Grey Lag Geese on and around the reserve. It is about this time of year that we expect them to be joined by some of their wilder cousins although it may still be too mild to have pushed many south.
I would like to wish everyone who reads this blog a very Happy Christmas. I will be preparing an annual round during the next week that I will post in the new year.
|Wren (c) Tezzer|