Monday, 3 October 2016

October 1st and 2nd

"prince"! (c) JR

A cool rainy Saturday gave way to a bright crisp sunny Sunday once the early wisps of mist had lifted. Dawn on Sunday was exquisite, a gold and orange splash across the sky. The moor seemed quieter than of late and the migrant warblers that swelled the mixed feeding flocks have nearly all departed. These parties are now made of mixed tits with just the occasional Chiffchaff attached. Robins are now the only birds singing their rather sad wistful song a perfect accompaniment to the season.

Early morning Robin and Dunnock (c) Bark
There are larger flocks of Goldfinches and Linnets along the bridleway and paths. As we move into winter so the numbers of both these species will increase, especially the Linnets. If they repeat the pattern of last winter there will be very large numbers of them, along with Reed Buntings, beside the path south of the hide where he supplementary feeding will be taking place again. The Goldfinches with many juveniles amongst them are feeding acrobatically on the dried up teasels.
Goldfinches and Teasels
The Purple Heron or “Prince” as it is referred to by some Otmoor regulars continues to entertain, frustrate and beguile in equal measure. There are still birders coming to the moor specially to see it and they are still having to wait patiently for brief flight views. One Otmoor regular finally saw it on her fourth visit since it has been here. On Sunday morning it was a little easier to spot. It was feeding on the southern side of Greenaways amongst the cattle. There were also four Grey Herons in the same area. As the grass in the ditches and gullies is still long the birds were hidden most of the time. It was a case of “up periscope” a head and neck would appear and then just as rapidly disappear again, there would be a chorus of “…there between the two ginger cows…. or by the grey cow… or to the left of the last brown cow on the right…” Every so often we would see the distinctive head of the Purple Heron before it disappeared, only to reappear in a different spot further along. I was fortunate to get good close view of it on Saturday morning and I think that its’ colour has changed subtly it actually does appear more purplish now and less brown. It could be that it is moulting into a more adult type plumage before making its migration.
Normal view of the Purple Heron (c) JR
Marsh Harriers continue to be ever present and there are at least four different Kestrels hunting over the moor now. The Kestrels really seem to agitate the corvids but especially the Jackdaws and from time to time they will turn on a Kestrel mob handed and chase it across the sky. It happened on Sunday at least twenty Jackdaws chakking furiously racing after the Kestrel which was making its characteristic call.

Mobbed Kestrel and cronking Raven (c) Bark
Whilst we were waiting for the Heron to appear a Raven made several cronking flights across Greenaways flying with its bill open, as if short of breath. A Peregrine was present on Sunday evening and was seen to chase and fail to catch a snipe, although according to witnesses it was a close run thing!
At least six Stonechats are present on the reserve with three favouring the blue posts for the electric fence alongside the path to the first screen, the others out past the hide towards July’s Meadow. Four Redwings were seen in the Carpark Field on Sunday morning undoubtedly the first of many to come. The low cloud on Saturday had pushed many migrating Hirundines down. In the morning there were forty or fifty, mostly Swallows feeding over the reedbed, but in the afternoon I had a report of well over a hundred House Martins moving through.
Shoveller (c) Bark
Numbers of Teal and Wigeon are creeping up slowly and most wildfowl are still in various states of eclipse plumage. Ten Cormorants at the first screen was notable on Sunday morning and at one time they appeared to be fishing almost collaboratively. The feral Goose flock including the Ross’s goose and his progeny is rising in numbers all the time, when they decide to move from one feeding area to another the clamour is enormous as they create noisy chevrons across the sky.
With the first Redwings in will not be long now before Fieldfares follow.

Autumn colours appearing (c) Bark

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