|Sparrowhawk (c) Bark|
I was fortunate to be overseas and to miss the worst of the stormy winds and rain of early March, as described so perfectly by Steve’s post: “In like a lion….” The change when I finally got back down to the moor was massive. The spring that was just being hinted at in late February and early March has truly arrived. There are leaves bursting in the hedgerows, Blackthorn starting into flower, Pussy Willow bright yellow with pollen and Coltsfoot in flower along the bridleway.
|Spring signs (c) Bark|
We saw the first Swallows on the 16th March flying low across Big Otmoor and this last weekend Sand Martins were seen on both days. This was unusual as most years Sand Martins usually the first hirundines of spring.
|Big Otmoor Oystercatchers (c) Bark|
More waders are being seen, last weekend there were nineteen Black-tailed Godwits over the first screen and out onto Big Otmoor. Two Ringed Plovers were seen out on the same field in the middle of last week and a Little-ringed Plover was seen on Sunday. Ruff and Dunlins have also been reported. At least four Oystercatchers are on site.
|Blackwits (c) Pete Roby|
|Curlew (c) Bark|
|Redshank (c) Bark|
Large numbers of seed eating birds are still coming to the food that we are putting out beside the hide. A Brambling was heard and seen briefly along the bridleway last week. This is a difficult time of year for finches as the first herbs and grasses are yet to flower and set seed, and with no stubbles and tiny field margins, supplies out in the wider countryside are largely exhausted.
|Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting (c) Bark|
Resident birds are pairing up and building nests. The first Chiffchaffs are calling in the carpark field and others still moving through can be spotted feeding in the hedgerows.
|Chiffy (c) Bark|
|Nest building Wren (c) Bark|
Marsh Harriers are displaying over the reedbed with two different females and a male present this weekend.
|Sprawk (c) Bark|
|Some of the hundreds of Black Headed Gulls on big Otmoor (c) Bark|
There is a huge flock of Black-headed Gulls on Big Otmoor. Many of them are starting to display and take up nesting territory. This weekend there were two Mediterranean Gulls amongst them one a second winter bird and the other an adult. It is very difficult to pick them out from the throng of the commoner black-headed Gulls. So far this year we have avoided the invasion of non-breeding subadult Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. They might well have had an impact on the breeding success of our waders last year.
|Common Lizard (c) Tezzer|
Common Lizards were out sunning themselves at the first screen and as Sunday warmed up Grass Snakes could be seen basking on the dead reeds beside the bridleway.
The next few weeks are amongst the most exciting of the birding year, full as they are of arrivals and departures. Once again the moor will overflow with birdsong and be busy with urgent breeding activity.
|Amourous Pochards (c) Tom N-L|