|Turtle Dove (c) Pat Galka|
At four forty-five on Saturday morning I was joined in the reserve car park by twenty-eight intrepid souls for a Dawn Chorus walk. It had been a chilly night and there was a grass frost riming the lowest vegetation.
|Barn Owl in the carpark field on Sunday morning (c) JR|
A Tawny Owl called from the Roman Road and even though it was so early one of the Turtle Doves had already started purring. We made our way along to the hide and then out to the second screen.
We encountered all of the expected warblers bar the
Grasshopper Warbler, it may have been too chilly or too windy to get one
reeling. Just to be contrary two were calling on Sunday morning and the one
along the path to the first screen was showing very well again.
|Turtle in the grass (c) JR|
|Redshank (c) JR|
It is always salutary to remember that many people are not as familiar as some of us, with what we might term commoner or more familiar birds. So Redshanks, Lapwings and Shovellers were very much admired especially when seen through a ‘scope. Both Lapwing and Redshank chicks were visible out on Big Otmoor from the path to the first screen, scuttling about between the sedges overseen by vigilant parents. The young Herons both in the nest in front of the hide and those out on the reedbed were similarly enjoyed.
|Cuckoo (c) Pat Galka|
The weather last week had led to a major “fall” of waders right across the county. On Otmoor we had found Greenshanks, Ringed Plovers, Dunlin, Wood Sandpiper and a Little Stint out in the middle part of Big Otmoor. The Little Stint was feeding in company with three summer plumaged Dunlin and its diminutive size was particularly marked. On Thursday on the Flood Field, on the Oddington side, while we were carrying out a survey, we found a Whimbrel and at least four Black Tailed Godwits.
|Common Tern (c) JR|
Sunday morning was much warmer and the cool northerly wind had moderated. We enjoyed watching the Common Terns both out at the reedbed and along the edge of Greenaways. There are now two pairs squabbling over squatter’s rights on the Tern raft. At least one pair are on the southern reedbed, one of them frequently perching on a post opposite the screen and being fed small fish by its’ mate.
|Who said there is no such thing as a unicorn?(c) Mark chivers|
By eleven o’clock on Sunday morning there were six Hobbies out on Greenaways, either hunting dragonflies or sitting on the gates and posts. The moor seems to be a significant refuelling stop for these sleek, migratory falcons, they will be here for a couple of weeks before dispersing into the wider countryside to breed. Talking of Dragonflies, we noticed our first large dragonflies on the wing on Thursday, both Hairy and Broad Bodied Chasers were along the lane on the Oddington side, sometimes basking in the sunshine and pulsing gently. The newly emerged imagoes are beautiful to look at closely, their colours are crisp, bright and clean, the tracery of their wings pristine and undamaged.
|Broad Bodied Chaser (c) Badger|
A second calendar year Red Kite has spent a lot of time close to the farm at Noke often perching on the fence. It is a very distinctive individual with an almost wholly white head and breast. It was spotted on Sunday mantling a prey item and tearing at it with its bill, scoping it showed a small reddish brown creature. First impressions were that perhaps it had taken a fox cub or a rabbit. It took off leaving its prey on the ground a close look at where it had been “feeding” revealed the prey item to be……………..believe it or not, a stuffed Christmas reindeer, complete with horns. The Kite had managed to remove its’ fetching red and white woolly hat, but apart from that it was intact! Probably the first Kite on Reindeer predation ever recorded!
|The juvenile Kite and its prey ! (c) Badger|