Monday, 23 January 2012

Saturday and Sunday 21st and 22nd January

It was this close! (c) Darrell Wood
Approaching (c) Peter Barker
Crossing the ditch (c) Peter Barker
Kestrel (c) Darrell Wood
.....and the same bird (c) Darrell Wood
Wren in the sun (c) Peter Barker
A mild but very blustery and windy weekend that meant most birds were keeping their heads down.
Bullfinches are very much in evidence in the hedgerows and in the car park Field. They seem to have moved on from dried blackberries to feeding on buds and shoots. Ravens were present on both days and a Peregrine was again sitting out on Big Otmoor.
A walk up around the southern edge of Ashgrave against the woodland edge added Treecreeper and Nuthatch to the Otmoor year list. There were at least a hundred Golden Plover and twice that number of Lapwings out on Saturday morning. The single Whitefronted Goose is still keeping company with the Greylag flock, that now numbers well over a hundred and fifty. Goldfinches have now found the niger feeder and are taking advantage of it all the time. Wigeon are now using the slightly larger ponds in front of the hide and there were at least thirty there on Sunday morning.
Best sighting of the weekend was another close encounter of the mustelid kind. There were two young otters criss-crossing one of the ditches on the way to the reedbed. We stood still and could scarcely believe just how close one of them came (there will be a photo on the blog that is taken looking down on the animal not more than a metre and a half from the camera, the photo is not mine as by this time it was too close for my camera to focus on!) Size and a complete lack of fear suggested that they were both juveniles. It was a wonderful encounter. People often ask “where do I go to see the otters? “ I have never seen them in the same place twice and any of the ditches or lagoons will have them in at some time or another. The best place is probably one or other of the screens, but they roam everywhere and can appear out of the blue crossing the bridle way in front of you. It all comes down to chance, but if you are lucky it is an unforgettable experience. It more than made up for the fact that all of Oxfordshire's rare birds are turning up elsewhere in the county!

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