Monday, 16 April 2018

Saturday and Sunday 14th and 15th April

Chiffy (c) JR

Full on spring seems to have happened at last, after what has seemed an interminable wait. Saturday morning was the epitome of a spring morning on the moor, with the first Cuckoo calling from the Roman Road and both Whitethroat and Common Whitethroat singing in the carpark field.  On Saturday morning there was a good scatter of Blackcaps singing in the hedgerows and there were several Sedge Warblers staking claims to territories with their demented, frenetic songs.
Sedge warbler being shy (c) Bark

Willow Warbler (c) Bark
It was as if a dam had finally burst and new sounds and fresh life were flowing in through the gap. Chiffchaffs and Willow Warblers were in full song from he bridleway and one Chiffchaff was so stained with yellow from the pollen of the pussy willow around it that, but for its song it would have been tricky to identify.
Chiffy covered in pollen. (c) Bark

There is a steady trickle of passage waders going through with three Black-tailed Godwits out on Big Otmoor on both days this weekend and a very elusive male Ruff. Redshank are everywhere one looks and have two pairs of Oystercatchers spending time both on and off the reserve. They flew low over us on Saturday morning and what fell on my head demonstrated that it is not just RAF Tornados that are adept at precision bombing!
Reedbed Teal (c) Bark

There were still significant numbers of ducks on the Big Otmoor pools and fifty or sixty Teal still on the reedbed lagoons. There are still Wigeon and a minimum of ten Pintail on Big Otmoor. Four Shelduck have been commuting between Noke Sides and Ashgrave, they are often present at this time of year but as yet we have no evidence of breeding attempts.
Little Egret (c) Bark
A Little Egret was stalking the margins of the Ashgrave pools presumably in pursuit of frogs, whilst in the reedbed Herons come and go to their hidden nests. It has now been proved that there are two booming male Bitterns on the moor, one in the main reedbed and the other in the linear reedbed nearer to Noke. Timed observations of the booming on Thursday evening proved that there must be two, short of having just one bird with a cloak of invisibility!
smart pair of Gadwall on Ashgrave (c) Bark
A dead goose out on Ashgrave has attracted a pair of Ravens that were spotted several times over the weekend flying in to feed and then flying off, presumably to feed young. The Marsh Harriers are very active both over the reedbed and the wider fields of the reserve. The male Hen Harrier is still with us, immaculate now in full adult plumage. It seems to be hunting further afield over the moor and is not always staying distantly on the far sides of the field. Barn Owls too are putting in regular appearances and hunting both at dawn and at dusk.
barn Owl (c) JR

With the presence of Whitethroat and on Sunday at least three Lesser Whitethroats the Otmoor year list is leaping ahead. There was a male Redstart in Long meadow on Friday and only this morning the first pair of Garganey of the year were spotted. The list currently stands at one hundred and twenty. Next week I expect it to go even further but I will not be there myself to record it……..I will be watching much less exciting things in Lesvos. Fortunately Steve and Pete will be filling in in my absence and I just hope that that they don’t turn up anything too exceptional.
Pristine Peacock (c) Bark

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