|Singing Dunnock (c) Bark|
There was a massive difference between this weekend and the previous one. Daytime temperatures were ten degrees higher and on Saturday there was some watery sunshine. There was a flush of colour in the hedgerows and the fields have greened up, the soft, damp light gave Otmoor the look and feel of a watercolour painting.
|Goldies, some showing a little black. (c) Bark|
The birds that had abandoned the site during the harsh weather are back in large numbers especially the Golden Plovers and the Lapwings. Some of the Golden Plovers are beginning to show signs of developing the black bellies of their summer plumage. There are still large numbers of overwintering Lapwings in the fields, but our resident birds are now starting their territorial displays in earnest, swooping and tumbling whilst giving their distinctive “peewhit” call.
|Lapwings and Redshank (c) Bark|
|curlew (c) Bark|
Other waders are present now, taking advantage of the abundant water and pools. There were two Oystercatchers on Big Otmoor, a male Ruff on the Flood Field and on Saturday we counted thirteen Dunlin flying with the Lapwings. Snipe can be seen flitting between the tussocks around the scrapes on Greenaways they will not start their drumming displays until much later in the spring.
|Male Linnet starting to show more colour (c) Tezzer|
I saw a Little Egret feeding in front of the hide on Ashgrave catch and eventually eat a large frog. It did not find it an easy to task to swallow it, due perhaps to its size and slipperiness. Elsewhere across the moor there was a scatter of Grey Herons, hunting along ditches and pools, probably in search of the same prey.
|Peregrine on Greenaways (c) Bark|
The Marsh Harriers have been ranging across the whole reserve and on Sunday morning we saw a dramatic dispute between one of the harriers and a Peregrine that stooped on it as it was flying over Big Otmoor. There was physical contact made as feathers flew but I was unable to see whose feathers they might have been. There was a large adult female Peregrine present on both days this weekend, often perched on a post on Greenaways.
|Whooper (c) Tezzer|
On Sunday morning we spotted a Whooper Swan amidst a group of Mute Swans drinking and bathing on the western edge of Big Otmoor. It is developing the proper lemon-yellow bill but is still regarded as being a juvenile. It is probably the same bird that we saw in front of the first screen in the autumn, at that time it had a pink bill. We re-found it later in the morning, sitting and feeding with the Mute Swans in the middle of a field of oil seed rape to the north west of the reserve.
|crane arriving (c) Tezzer|
Last week we had a visit from a Common Crane. It was an unringed bird, which might possibly be one of the offspring of the Somerset Levels reintroduction project. We often see Common Cranes at about this time of year, but it was not one of our regular identifiable individuals. It along with the Whooper Swan has taken the year-list up to ninety-nine species. It is tempting to speculate what the one hundredth species will be. Sand Martins and Wheatears are already in the country and might easily make it through to us before next weekend. On the other hand, passage waders are moving across the country and it could be a Godwit or a Ringed Plover.
Pussy willow is showing in the hedgerows and along the bridleway the Coltsfoot is just starting to come out. I saw a Chiffchaff in the Roman road on Sunday but it was probably an overwintering bird as it hadn’t yet started to sing…………..maybe next week.
|Coltsfoot and Pussy Willow (c) Bark|