|Bittern courtesy of Tezzer|
On Saturday morning I looked out of my bedroom window towards Beckley mast and it was shrouded in mist. I thought the moor would be covered in fog so I’ll just have another five minutes in bed before going down there to check. I closed my eyes for another five minutes and woke up an hour and twenty minutes later! Over a coffee I checked the excellent Oxonbirding and found that I had missed a Whooper Swan right in front of the first screen. An excellent find, and one that I wish I had been there to see. Well it might still be there I thought, I’ll go and take a look.
|Whooper Swan courtesy of Nick Truby|
The first Redwing of the autumn had been seen early on Saturday morning in the car park field (Moreys) but I didn’t catch up with one this weekend. Maybe next weekend. I caught a glimpse of something blue and white out of the corner of my eye as I walked up the track from the car park and a Jay flew overhead carrying an acorn in its beak. This is the time of year when they seem to be much more obvious as they stash the acorns for later on. A party of Bullfinch made their way along the hedge by the Closes and flew ahead calling to each other as they made their way towards the bridleway. There has been a Marsh Tit visiting the feeders recently but it wasn’t there when I had a quick check through the birds.
A Cettis warbler blasted out its call as I got to the bridleway. They seem to like calling from deep within the bushes as you approach, just to let you know they are there, where you can’t see them. The Cettis call was soon followed by a Water Rails squealing call from the ditch nearby. Another skulking bird that you hear more often that you see. A scan over Greenaways turned up two Ravens flying over and four Stonechat opposite the bench along the bridleway. Another Jay flew over as I walked up the track to the first screen. Unfortunately there wasn’t any sign of the Whooper Swan. A few of us at the screen were lucky enough to see the Bittern skim over the top of the reeds and drop back into the reed bed on the right hand side. Another Water Rail called from deep within the reeds but didn’t venture out along the edge.
|A wisp of Snipe courtesy of Pete Roby|
A Dunlin flew arounds the reeds and landed on the small scrape at the far end. The ducks were sleeping on the bank along with 25 Snipe on the water’s edge. All the ducks fled into the water when a Sparrowhawk flew in and landed on the dead branches for a minute before going on its way. The Kingfisher perches put out by the RSPB worked well as a Kingfisher flew in and posed for the photographers. It soon caught a small fish before dashing away again.
|Dunlin and Black-headed Gull courtesy of Pete Roby|
Over the weekend the long staying Hen Harrier was seen over large areas of Otmoor. It can be very elusive but and if you are lucky enough to see it you won’t be disappointed. It looks really smart as it glides around the edge of the fields. Around 30 Golden Plover were seen flying high above calling and a flock of around 200 Lapwing are spending their time around the Noke Sides area, slowly building in numbers, but still a long way to go before we see the large winter flocks filling the skies above. Stonechats are out on Greenaways and were seen at the Pill, the Wetlands Watch Hide and the hedge up to the first screen.
A Green Sandpiper was feeding on the small scrape at the far end from the first screen and accompanied at times by the Dunlin. The Dunlin is spending its time between the small scrape on Greenaways near the bridleway and the muddy margin at the far from the first screen.
A Stoat was seen dashing across the track near the first screen disturbing the birds and a Badger was seen at dusk on Sunday. As night fell on Sunday a Tawny Owl called from the Roman road to send us on our way home.
|Singing Wren courtesy Tezzer|