Monday, 26 January 2015

Saturday and Sunday 24 th and 25 th January

Male Bullfinch (c) Tom Nicholson-Lailey
Dawn (c) Tom Nicholson Lailey
A bright and sunny weekend for the most part but frosty early on. It is currently a real pleasure to make your way through the carpark field and along the bridle way preceded and at times accompanied by Bullfinches. They are particularly confiding as they munch their way through the blackthorn buds. They really stand out, glowing cerise against the bare branches in the low sunshine. The females are more subtly coloured but they too look wonderful in the sun.
Female Bullfinch (c) Andy Last
It was a very “birdy” weekend with some additions to the year-list and some good views of some of our scarcer residents.
New for the year was a Marsh Harrier on Sunday. It worked the reedbed and spent some time perched at the top on one of the bare willows on the northern sector. It is quite unusual to have one here at this time of the year, normally we would only expect to see them during the late spring, summer and early autumn. The bird appears to be  a juvenile and from its size is probably a female. It is very dark chocolate brown with a very pale head  and face.
Female Beardy (c) Bark
Bearded Tits featured well on Saturday but had disappeared again by Sunday. There may well be more than one group of them. They were heard and seen in the regular area near the Noke turn at the same time as being heard and later seen in the reeds beside the path to the first screen. We only actually saw one there, a female feeding at the top of the reed stems. Despite showing really well all my photographs fail to show its head and when they do the bird is out of focus! There are several Song Thrushes hunting snails along the paths, occasionally they can be seen or heard battering them open on convenient stones.
Songthrush (c) JR
The Marsh Harrier on Sunday clearly spooked the Bittern and we saw the two of them flying together, the Bittern landing and then flushing again as the Harrier hassled it. Good to know that  Bittern is still in residence and next month we will be eagerly listening out for any vocalisations. There are definitely two Cettis Warblers on the reserve at present with one half way along the bridle way and the other out at the second screen.
Wildfowl flush over reedbed (c) Bark

Teal (c) JR
When the first volley of shots rang out from the rifle range on Sunday a vast number of duck, principally Wigeon but also Teal flushed up from Greenaways. We estimated that there were well over two thousand wildfowl in the air at the same time, it was very spectacular. After milling around for  a while most of the Teal settled on the reedbed and the Wigeon on Big Otmoor. There were at least twenty Pintail out in the same area and good numbers of Shoveller.
Pintail pair (c) JR
Most of the Golden Plovers are feeding out on the fields to the west of the reserve. From time to time they would flush and fly round rapidly in response to threats both real and imagined. Once again Peregrines can be seen sitting out on the trees to the left of the trail to the second screen. The Lapwings that flew up from Greenaways on Saturday morning were accompanied by at least seven or eight Dunlin.
Finch flock (c) Tom Nicholson-Lailey
The finch flock by the hide is attracting a lot of attention from visitors. It offers the opportunity to see the diverse range of Reed Bunting plumages as they moult out of winter into mature summer dress. There is still the chance that the flock will attract some other species to join in the seed bonanza.
The Starling roost continues but has changed. The birds seem to be assembling out on Ashgrave and then flying round with some of them roosting in the hedges beside Ashgrave and the Closes and others returning to the reedbed as it gets dark. It was certainly spectacular on Wednesday night although the number of birds participating has reduced. It is currently best viewed from the bridle way or the path to July’s Meadow.
Moorhen on ice (c) JR
Greylags (c) Bark

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