|Goldfinch at the first screen (c) JR|
The wet weather continued during the last week and at the weekend we had overnight heavy rain and showers in the daytime. The whole of the moor is flooded and from the top of the hill the term “flood plain” is perfectly described. The reason why there are no houses built inside the ring of the seven villages is clear to see.
|Pintail on Noke Sides above (c) JR below (c) Bark|
Despite the showers the moor was beautiful at the weekend. Indigo clouds scudded across the sky and dark clouds gave way to brilliant clear rain-washed air and short periods of bright low sunshine with a brief double rainbow that arched across the sky. For a moment the rainbow suggested a pot of gold might lie beneath Charlton church!
|Pot of gold? (c) Bark|
Just as over the last few weeks the spectacle of thousands of birds either at dusk with the Starling Roost or during the daytime with ducks, geese, Lapwings and Golden Plovers has been the defining theme on the moor.
|Goldies and Lapwings (c) Bark|
As raptors crisscross the fields and reedbeds clouds of birds ascend in tight flocks to evade the hunters and then slowly settle back down to the ground sparkling like snowflakes as they turn against the background of dark blue-black clouds.
|Wigeon (c) JR|
There are many more birds out on The Closes and on Big Otmoor than there have been recently and alongside Lapwings and feeding amongst the Golden Plovers were at least ten Dunlin and three Ruff.
|Hare from two sides (c) JR and below (c) Bark|
|Above Marsh Harrier below Hen Harrier and Peregrine (c) Tezzer|
The same range of raptors are present. Marsh and Hen Harriers, Peregrine, Sparrowhawks, Kestrels and of course the ubiquitous Red Kites. What has been particularly noticeable is the increase in the number of Common Buzzards on and around the reserve. It is not clear if they are actively hunting or simply taking advantage of casualties or preying on birds that might be unwell or injured.
|Common Buzzard (c) Bark|
Bittern is being seen regularly on the reedbed and out in the middle of Greenaway’s. The winter finch feeding programme is well under way and is attracting good numbers of Reed Buntings, Linnets ,Chaffinches and a smattering of Yellowhammers.
|Yellowhammer (c) Tezzer|
If or when the winter hardens it will doubtless attract even more. There are Stonechats out near the cattle pens and on Sunday we found a pair near the farm at Noke.
|Stonechat (c) Tezzer|
We are ending the year with the moor looking like a real wetland after two extremely dry years. It is exciting to see it, once again an open, wild, wet place in the midst of our rather unremarkable agricultural Midland landscape, onwards and upwards!
|Robin (c) JR and Reedmace (c) Bark|