|Blackheaded Gull and prey (c) JR|
The weekend didn’t quite live up to expectations. Saturday particularly was grey, cool and misty for most of the day. It was only later on Sunday morning that the sun really came out and allowed the autumn colours to flare out in all their glory.
On the bird front I had expected an influx of winter Thrushes, apart from a party of about thirty Redwings seen on Sunday morning they didn’t appear. There is plenty of time for them to turn up and the steady easterly winds predicted for this week should help them to come over.
|Flying snipe (c) JR|
|Cryptic Snipe (c) Badger|
There were plenty of other birds to enjoy. The Snipe at from the first screen continue to delight and entertain visitors. They are so cryptically camouflaged that when lying up or roosting they are almost invisible against the mud and dead reed stubble. As the water has drawn down on the lagoon so new feeding areas have been exposed and they can be seen feeding mostly along the margins but occasionally wading out into deeper water. From time to time small groups of them will fly up and make several circuits of the lagoon before settling again almost where they started. Their speed and agility can really be appreciated as they fly so low and so close to the screen.
|Wigeon and Shoveller (c) JR|
Duck numbers are creeping up and again the number of Wigeon has increased. There are more Shovellers too and the males are steadily moulting out of their drabber eclipse plumage but are yet to obtain their full breeding colours. Teal and Mallard are building up too, the latter drakes already in their full colours. An adult Little Grebe is still being followed by a well grown juvenile that still shows a little striping on its head. I didn’t see it being fed and it was diving alongside its parent, every so often the adult would take off across the water perhaps in an effort to shake off its persistent attention.
|Fleeing Little Grebe (c) JR|
The Bittern made a brief appearance on Saturday morning, moving from one feeding area to another. It is good to know that they are still here and have been now for well over a year.
Marsh Harrier is showing frequently and well from the screens. There is a very white buzzard around, often sitting high up in the oak trees along the northern edge of Big Otmoor. It could easily be mistaken for an Osprey if seen fleetingly or in bad light.
Short Eared Owls have doubled in numbers with four
being reported on Sunday evening. It may turn out to be a good year this year
for this charismatic hunter, last year they were few and far between. The
grassland has been very dry this autumn and this should have encouraged a
healthy vole population to keep them fed. As the winter draws on they frequently
hunt more and more in the late afternoon often favouring Greenaways and the
Carpark Field. The other raptor to look out for now is the Hen Harrier. Last
year we only had one bird for a short while, when in other years they have been
more frequent and stayed longer. With the English population struggling to
survive, sadly it might just become an occasional vagrant on Otmoor rather than
the regular winter visitor it used to be.
|Marsh Harrier from the first screen.(c) JR|
On a more positive note we are long overdue some Bearded Tits and perhaps they will put in an appearance in the next week or so to cheer us up. We will certainly be looking and listening for them.
|Lapwings are back (c) Tom Nicholson -Lailey|
Busy at the first screen please click the cog and view at 720pHD