|Grey Wagtail (c) JR|
January started in just the same way as December ended, with leaden skies, wind and intermittent rain. Where are the crisp cold bright days of winter?
I managed to get out on a couple of the long weekend days and was not disappointed by the birds we managed to see. On the path south from the hide, where we are carrying out the winter feeding for finches, there is now a large mixed flock established. It is made up predominantly of Linnets and Reed Buntings with slightly smaller numbers of Chaffinches, occasional Goldfinches, a few Dunnocks and Robins.
There are also
up to three Bramblings coming down sometimes, two or three Yellowhammers and a
few Greenfinches. There is a male Kingfisher that is regularly hunting in the
body of water beside the same path.
|Bramblings (c) Nick Truby|
|Reed bunting and Kingfisher beside hide (c) JR|
On New Year’s Day three Short Eared Owls were seen being mobbed by corvids to the north of the reed bed. One of them gave superb views as it flew towards us and then over the reedbed and out along the double hedge to the north of Greenaways.
|Short Eared Owl (c) Nick Truby|
There are still two Grey Wagtails frequenting the cattle pens on Greenaways and many Pied wagtails out on the Noke Sides fields. These fields are also favoured by the steadily increasing numbers of Lapwings and Golden Plovers that are present on and around the moor. They are not yet here in their thousands but certainly in the high hundreds. On Saturday morning they were very flighty and nervous.
|Lapwings and Starlings (c) Tom Nicholson- Lailey|
Duck numbers are now really starting to go up both on the fields and on the reed bed. Shoveller are very evident on the southern lagoon and although not always visible the larger numbers of Teal are betrayed by their high whistling calls. Almost a thousand Wigeon were recorded on Monday morning on the regular WeBS count. They are spread in smaller flocks across the whole reserve usually feeding on the grass next to a body of water.
|Bittern (c) JR|
Bitterns are being seen and although it might just be a single bird that can smuggle itself across the reed bed without being spotted the likelihood is that there are at least two and possibly three. The interesting time will come in mid-February when they should start booming. They certainly called intermittently last year and the year before. But I feel this year coming might well provide us with a new breeder for Oxfordshire.
|Mr and Mrs Stonechat (c) JR|
I will not be out and about on the moor for the next few weeks. I will however try to write a regular report on what is there, but without the benefit of first hand observation. I will be relying on my friends to let me know what’s new and what’s around and of course to keep me furnished with their excellent photographs. I should be back in action by the middle of February.