|Goldies (c) JR|
A very windy weekend with heavy squalls on Saturday morning and a much clearer brighter day on Sunday but still very blowy. We seem to be set into a weather pattern of fast moving Atlantic lows that are bringing a lot of rain and fortunately for wildlife, not too much in the way of frost and cold. Water levels across much of the moor are now at their winter optima and the wildfowl are really taking advantage of the wet fields, especially Greenaways and Big Otmoor. The latter seems to be holding very large numbers of Wigeon ,Lapwing and Golden Plover. It was so windy at times on Saturday that I am sure that I saw birds flying backwards. On Sunday in the sunshine the restless and nervous flocks of Lapwings and Golden Plovers flickered black and white across the clean blue sky.
Every so often all the ducks, largely Teal with a scattering of
Shovellers and Gadwall would flush from the depths of the reedbed as one or
another of the resident raptors made a low fast pass above the reeds. Two of the
Otmoor regulars reported seeing a Peregrine take a Teal over Big Otmoor last
week. Red Kites were ever present they contribute to the unease but seldom cause
the mass panic that Peregrines and Sparrowhawks do.
|Lapwings and Goldies both pics(c) Tom Nicholson-Lailey|
|Shovellers in rough water (c) JR|
Snipe are also taking advantage of the flooded grassland. A flock of over forty were flying around the reedbed on Saturday. On Sunday as I was watching them being unsettled by a crow we noticed another much bigger , browner and fatter one which moved out of cover and back into cover not a Snipe of course but a Woodcock. Unusual to see out on Greenaways as they normally lie up on Morleys during the day moving out to feed at dusk. The numbers of seed eaters to seen from the hide is going up rapidly. I counted seventy five Reed Buntings on Sunday and an even larger number of Linnets.
|Reed Bunt (c) JR|
There has been a Little Egret moving between Ashgrave and the reedbed, this is very early in the year to record this species as they tend not to be on the moor in the winter months. Hopefully with so many Goosander being seen in the county some of them might make it onto the moor. They used to be a regular, late winter visitor but have not been recorded in the last two years. Two mute Swans were getting going with courtship behaviour on Sunday prompted perhaps by the warmer weather, the slowly increasing day length or just because they felt like it.
|Amourous Swans (c) Bark|
|Water Rail in transit (c) JR|
Finally when in the carpark it is worthwhile spending a few minutes examining the vegetation between the parking bays, with patience it is possible to spot bank voles scuttling about looking for food. They are quite delightful to see, reddish brown with shiny boot button eyes and surprising confidence.
|Voles (c) Tezzer|