|Male Peregrine from First screen (c) Bark|
Otmoor has been a very misty moist place of late with few bright sunny interludes. The foot drains and scrapes are slowly staring to hold water. If we continue in this run of Atlantic weather systems, the reserve should soon be back to where it ought to be at this point in the annual cycle. More open areas of water will draw in more wildfowl.
|Shovellers above (c) Bark below (c) JR|
|All I could se from the hide (c) Bark|
The lack of open pools is most noticeable of Ashgrave. There is a hole in the bund between Ashgrave and the ring ditch that drains directly into the River Ray. This has meant that there has been little to see out in front of the hide. Small leaks over time become large ones as the structure of the bund is steadily eroded by flowing water. The leaky bund is about to be repaired and there will be some heavy plant operating for a short while on Ashgrave. In addition, we are about to start our winter feeding programme for seed eaters, which has been carried out over the past two years.
|Reed bunting (c) Tom N-L|
|Peregrine (c) Bark|
Raptors have once again been very much in evidence exploiting the huge biomass of the roosting Starlings. On Sunday there were two Peregrines present, one a very large adult female and the other a smaller, probably juvenile male. The larger bird chased off the smaller whilst making harsh scolding cries, then sat for almost an hour in the large leafless oak between the fields on Noke Sides. There are now good numbers of both Lapwing and Golden Plovers present feeding out on the farmland beyond the reserve boundaries. They are probably on the Peregrines menu.
|Grey squirrel also doing its bit to strip the hedgerows (c) JR|
|Winter Thrushes (c) Bark|
At the second screen last week a Jack Snipe was seen feeding for a couple of hours along the muddy bank on the right-hand side as you look out. It is unusual to get to see these elusive birds in the open, normally the only view you get is as they fly away from just under your feet. A Green Sandpiper was also feeding along the same bank.
|Jack Snipe and Jack Snipe and Green Sand (c) Paul Wyeth|
|Bitterns from the second screen (c) Tom N-L|
|A flash of electric blue in the gloom (c) Bark|
A Ring -necked Parakeet has been seen going in to roost with the Starlings and two weeks ago a keen eyed and very experienced birder saw what he thought was a Rosy Starling going in to roost, a few days later an adult Rosy Starling was seen and photographed in an Oxford garden. I have little doubt that it was the same bird. This Starling may well still be coming into the roost but picking out one odd individual from over 100,000 is a matter of luck.
|Two Buzzards and attendant Magpies feeding on a dead goose on Noke Sides|
It is worth checking through the flocks of feral geese at this time of year, look out for smaller geese that keep themselves a little apart from the main flock. They could be White-fronted Geese. We have not had a visit from truly wild geese now for two years and there was a time when they were reliable annual visitors.
|In the absence of Bearded Tits this will have to do (c) Bark|
The Otmoor Year List currently stands at 147 species and we will be lucky to make it to over 150 as we have done in all the years past. It has been an odd year and I will speculate further on it when I review the year in four weeks’ time. There have been notable sightings and regular species that we have not seen.
|Mallard (c) JR|