Wednesday, 11 July 2018

Saturday and Sunday 8th and 9th July

Bullfinch at the first screen (c) Bark

The heat and the sunshine meant that it was difficult to stay out of the shade after mid morning and bird activity decreased as the day got hotter. The fields are sere and brown except for the fringing of reed along the ditches and the smaller reedbeds scattered across Greenaways. It is the time of year often referred to as the birding doldrums but there was still lots to see if one was patient.

Reed warbler and juvenile Blue Tit (c) Bark
Larger mixed feeding parties are moving along the hedgerows. Juvenile Blue and Great tits swing acrobatically from the panicles of Hogweed, Cow Parsley and Hemlock as they pick tiny insects out from between the bracts of the flowers.
Juvenile Willow/Chiff (c) Luke O'Byrne
It is possible to find very young newly fledged warblers feeding busily among the reeds or in the hedges and to spot adult birds still gathering insect prey for second broods.
Sedgie with food for chicks (c) Luke O'Byrne
On both Saturday and Sunday, we noticed several pairs of Bullfinches around the first screen and by the kissing gate. They too are behaving in such a way as to suggest they are setting out to raise further broods.
The adult Cuckoos have now finally departed, and we are now listening out for the distinctive hissing begging calls that the young birds make to persuade their surrogate parents to feed them.
young Song Thrush (c) Bark
We are sure that we saw two newly fledged Marsh Harriers up over the reedbed on both days this weekend. There may very well be more as we may not have seen the same two each time as at this stage all juveniles look identical. One of the adult Marsh Harriers is very distinctive as it is very much paler with whiter shoulders and wing coverts than any of the others.
Marsh Harrier (c) Bark
Bitterns are still making regular, if less frequent feeding flights, with one bird appearing to favour the ring-ditch on the eastern side of Greenaways and the other seems to come in from The Closes probably utilising the deep ditch and wide reed fringe along its northern edge.

Banded and Beautiful Demoiselles (c) Stoneshank
We have very large numbers of the bigger species of dragonflies out and about across the moor, but as yet we have not noticed many Hobbies taking advantage of this abundance. Perhaps as the summer progresses we will have newly fledged birds and post breeding adults coming through and fattening up before migration. There were several of their other main sources of prey present on Sunday morning, with a small party of very young Swallows on the wires in the Carpark field.

Car-park Field Swallows (c) Bark

During the week a fine adult Purple Emperor butterfly was seen in the car park field. This is only the third record of our largest native butterfly being found on the reserve. Perhaps they are extending their range out from their stronghold in nearby Bernwood, we certainly have the mature oak trees and the grey and goat willows that they like all along the Roman Road.
Moorhen with very pale youngsters (c) Bark

As water levels draw down we can hope to attract returning waders and once the tractor work gets under way out in the fields we should be seeing Yellow Wagtails feeding around the feet of the cattle and be able to see our pair of Cranes stalking through the grass on the northern edge of Greenaways.

1 comment:

  1. Thanks for the reports. I don't get to Otmoor much but it's so nice to hear and see what is happening there!