Monday, 13 May 2019

Saturday and Sunday 11th and 12th May

Common Whitethroat (c) JR

On Saturday morning over thirty people assembled in the carpark at about 4.45 am for a dawn chorus walk. It was a cloudy but dry morning and the birds did not let us down, although Sunday morning was warmer and sunnier with wall to wall birdsong.
Dawn on Saturday (c) Bark 
There are at least four cuckoos present on and around the moor now and they were in good voice. The hepatic cuckoo that we have watched for the last two years is amongst them, but unfortunately, I have yet to see her this year. Cuckoos on Otmoor parasitise Reed Warblers as surrogate parents and up until this weekend there seemed not to be as many around as we have come to expect.
Cuckoo (c) Pete Roby
There has been an influx of them during the last week as they were much easier to find along the ditches and in the reedbed this weekend. Once the cuckoos have mated, we will be looking out for the females sitting out on fenceposts and bushes as they wait for their moment to slip into the warblers’ nest and secrete their egg.

Wren and Sedge warbler (c) Bark

The only warbler species that eluded us on Saturday was Grasshopper Warbler, where in the previous weekend we had recorded at least four across the reserve there was no reeling to be heard this week. This is a pattern that we have noticed in other years, the birds arrive and call for a couple of weeks and then go silent, presumably having mated and set up nests and started to raise young.

Backcap and Chiffys (c) JR
In three or four weeks’ time we may very well hear them calling again as they seek to repeat the process. We were able to hear the full richness of the spring dawn chorus as we made our way out to the screens although by Sunday morning in the sunshine, the birds were singing from more exposed songposts rather than from deep cover.

Bitterns (c) JR

It has been a wonderful weekend for seeing Bitterns. The male that has been displaying and booming out on Greenaways was strutting his stuff again on Sunday and was visible along with another bird that we assume is a female, for over an hour on Sunday morning. This was very much to the delight of many visitors, who got excellent scope views from the bridleway. Once again, they were in the area of rank grass and sedges rather than staying hidden in the depths of the phragmites reedbed. On Saturday in the morning another bird was seen from the first screen swaying unsteadily at the top of the reeds. It was sad that most of the dawn chorus visitors had left when one flew very close and slowly past the screen.
Hobby (c) JR

Hobbies have been seen most  mornings perched up on the posts and gates of Greenways and by late morning they have been on the wing hunting the dragonflies and hawthorn flies that require the temperature to rise in order to get going. On Saturday by midday there were over  twelve of them on and over the main fields and reedbeds. We often tell visitors who ask where to see them, that they are like teenagers and never really get up until lunchtime!
Magpie from the first screen (c) Bark
Pied Wag feeding young at Noke (c) Pete Roby

The year-list moved on again last week with the first Whinchat coming through, a female seen out near the farm at Noke on Thursday, it didn’t stay around and as yet we have not heard of any others.
Terns at the raft (c) Bark
At the second screen there were at least twelve Common Terns on and over the tern raft. They are very noisy and active as they sort out mates and the pecking order of the colony, screaming their harsh ragged calls. They are very aggressive, and they challenge any Gulls that have the temerity to enter their airspace, unlike some other birds they don’t pull out when they go into an attack. Later on, they are very successful in defending their vulnerable young from potential predators.
It's that hare again! (c) Bark

1 comment:

  1. A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling in Morleys, at the Car Park end, on Sunday afternoon. First time I've heard it at that end of Morleys.