|Another one bites the dust (c) Early Birder|
Well here’s the first of my “virtual” Otmoor reports that’s compiled from the reports and conversations that I have had with other moor regulars.
Everyone has commented on just how much water levels have risen over the last week. The RSPB staff report that on most fields they are just at or just below the ideal levels for this time of year. Interestingly there is now much more water on the Flood Field and I wonder if it will now draw in the huge numbers of wildfowl that it has attracted in the past. The track from Noke Farm to the bridleway is now flooded and S.R. and P.R. report that the Roman Road out to the Pill is now “half way up wellies”, a depth that I am sure we can all understand!
|Hedgerow Bullfinch (c) Tom Nicholson- Lailey|
Several of my correspondent’s report many more Bullfinches in the hedgerows, they are starting to get to the stage where they eat blackthorn and hawthorn buds. Usually they would do this much later in the winter but the warm weather has encouraged the buds to start to swell early and in fact there is already blossom to be found in the most sheltered corners of the Carpark Field. Several people have noticed small parties of Redpoll both in the carpark field and along the bridle way between the pump house and the entrance to the MOD. People have also mentioned Siskins from the same area but I have yet to have a confirmed sighting. There are still Grey Wagtails occupying the area around the cattle pens and they seem set to stay throughout the winter.
|Carpark blossom (c) Paul Greenaway|
Numbers of both Lapwing and Golden Plover are going up but have yet to reach their late winter maxima. An average of observations would suggest that there are over a thousand Goldies and perhaps six hundred Lapwings. These numbers always fluctuate wildly as birds feed on farmland well outside the Otmoor basin. The Golden Plover are particularly attractive as they wheel against the sky. P.G. was lucky enough to see a flock flying in bright sunshine but against a dark leaden sky he said that:” when the Goldies turned in the sky they sparkled like Christmas tinsel”. Oz said that he saw a small wader flying with them on Saturday but could not confirm it as a Dunlin, he failed to refind it when they flushed again.
|Ducks over the reedbed (c) Tom nicholson -Lailey|
The Starling roost continues and alongside the higher Duck, Lapwing and Goldie numbers is proving very attractive to raptors. A Red Kite was photographed carrying off a dead or dying Starling. A large female Peregrine spent a long time sitting on top of a post on Greenaways and a male was spotted on one of the regular Oak trees across Noke Sides. Short-Eared Owls are now being seen regularly but seldom in the same places. As the MOD floods up they might well re-locate to the drier parts of the reserve such as the southern edge of Ashgrave and The Carpark Field.
|and yet another one! (c) JR|
We had an unconfirmed report of a White Fronted Goose out with the Grey Lags on Noke Sides at the weekend. This is the time that they often show up and I would like to hear of any more information about them.
As water levels go up over the next few weeks and the cold starts to bite we may get an influx of new birds. It will be worth looking through them carefully for more unusual species. The water also attracts more gulls to feed, loaf and roost on the surrounding fields. This is especially true as those fields flood up releasing more invertebrate food. We failed to find a Yellow Legged Gull last year at all, perhaps this year we will be lucky.