It was a beautiful winter weekend with sharp clear sunlight, frost on the ground and light winds. The puddles along the paths were frozen solid, crazed and slippery. There were lots of birds to be seen but they took a little while to get warmed up and active.
|Starlings warming up (c) Bark|
Once again raptors were the stars of the show with all of our regulars showing well and a couple of new ones thrown in for good measure.
|Marsh Harrier (c) Bark|
|Peregrine with missing feathers (c) JR|
|Merlin (c) JR|
|Top; Kestrel with prey (c) Oz Lower two Kestrel and locked together Kestrels (c) Old Caley|
|Sling Copse Buzzard (c) Bark|
Raptors seem programmed to try to defend hunting grounds from other raptor species, even when there is more than enough food to go around. Large numbers of Starlings are choosing to forage on and around the reserve rather than going off in all directions with the main flocks at dawn. There were also many more Fieldfares in the hedgerows and over the fields this weekend and this week far fewer Redwings.
|Shovellers and Mallard first screen (c) Bark|
There were some subtle changes at the first screen and out on the lagoon. A single Drake Pintail was there on Sunday and the number of Gadwall is slowly creeping up. The Wigeon are grazing out on big Otmoor rather than loafing about on the mudbanks. There are still very large numbers of feral Geese out on Ashgrave. Four Ravens flew across big Otmoor on Sunday morning cronking loudly, it looked very much as if one pair were escorting the other pair off their territory. Two of the birds turned and flew back towards Oddington where we know a pair have nested.
|Snipe and Water Rail (c) Old Caley|
I was lucky enough to be asked to talk to a group of students on Saturday morning and explain a little about the development of the reserve and point out some of the birds. The students are on a Masters course in environmental, wild life and land management studies. The six graduates came from six different countries and had very little experience of British birds. Only one of them was from Europe and she only knew the German names of birds! I was able to show them common birds that we take for granted such as a Wren, the finches and even a Pied Wagtail
|Pied Wagtail (c) Oz and Wren (c) JR|