|Adult Great Crested Grebe (c) Bark|
One of the advantages of visiting a patch regularly is the way that it allows you to enjoy the detail of the lives of the animals and plants one is watching. Seeing the same birds over a series of visits lets you observe behaviour and development that a one off visit would miss. So it is with the Otmoor Great Crested Grebes. There are two pairs, one on the northern lagoon and the other on the southern. On the southern lagoon we have watched the chicks turn from tiny, striped, fluffy balls riding on a parents back into vociferous youngsters, still with stripy heads but free swimmers now. There are three young two of whom stay close to one of the parents the other staying midway between both parents, perhaps to give it the best chance of being fed. While watching two of the young birdswe noticed that they were doing the synchronised head turning, shaking and preening that is part of adult courtship, I assume they have to learn and practice the behaviour somewhere, so why not with a sibling. It was interesting on Saturday morning to see that every time the parent bird dived there would be a series of splashes on the surface as the small fish scattered, often a long way from where the bird submerged.
The northern reedbed pair have recently constructed a nest on the edge of the northern bank, unusually clearly visible from the screen.Here we were able to watch the birds changing incubation duty, adding more vegetation to the nest and carefully turning the eggs. It will great to watch their progress over the coming few weeks if they manage to avoid predation.
|Grebe feeding pictures (c) JR|
|Acrobatic Long Tailed Tits (c) Bark|
Elsewhere on the moor there are now larger and larger mixed flocks of juvenile birds. Often a challenge to identify with certainty, we managed to pick out Chiffchaffs, Whitethroats and lesser Whitethroats, Reed and Sedge Warblers. The Lesser Whitethroats seem to have had a very successful breeding year given the numbers we are noticing. All three common Tit species have also done well, juveniles could be seen acrobatically hanging upside down and gleaning small insects from the underside of the panicles of cow parsley and hogweed along the bridle way. There have been good numbers of streaky juvenile Reed Buntings in the hedgerows and on the paths.
The regular Marsh Harriers were again very much in evidence this weekend hunting over the whole of the reserve rather than just the reedbed. A Bittern was seen on both days and on Saturday morning we had sustained views of it on the far side of the northern lagoon, as it made its way clumsily along the edge of the reeds stopping occasionally to point skywards making it increasingly difficult to see.
|Male Redstart (c) Pete Roby|
A male Redstart was foundand this is an early record, usually we do not expect to have many returning migrants until mid August. It is worth listening out now for the begging calls of juvenile cuckoos, as they are often fed out of the nest for several days before being finally abandoned by their surrogate parents. There has already been one photographed along the bridleway and given the high numbers of adult cuckoos this spring I feel sure that there will be others.