Monday, 6 February 2012

Saturday 4th February

Water Rail by the bridge (c) Andy Last
Yellowhammer (c) Andy Last
Water Rail (c) Andy Last
Bullfinch eating blackthorn buds (c) P.Barker
Another frost pic for the D.Wood collection.
The Northern edge of the reserve (c) P. Barker
Water Rail (c) Nick Truby

I only managed to get down to the moor on Saturday, I chickened out on Sunday. Last time I went down there in snowy weather I managed to get stuck on the way back and had no desire to repeat the experience!
Saturday produced one of the finest kind of winter mornings: sunny, clear, frosty and still. Sadly it was for the most part birdless but the landscape and skies just about compensated.
We walked right round the moor going out through the MOD land and then round via Oddington and Noke. The newly resurfaced track towards Oddington, which I had not seen before, made for easy walking. We looked in the apple tree by the bridge but the Little Owl was not at home. We flushed a couple of Snipe and saw several small groups of Bullfinches.
The best birding was to be had in the car park field around the feeders and by the stockade on Greenaways. There were good numbers of Reed Buntings, Chaffinches and at least ten Yellowhammers feeding on the spilt grain. There were mixed Tits including a Marsh Tit on the feeders themselves along with occasional visits from two Great Spotted woodpeckers. A rather optimistic frog was croaking in the ditch and by now has probably croaked it’s last. A Water Rail gave excellent photo opportunities to birders by the bridge to the hide and the results can be seen here. Let’s hope that this is the last of the snow and we can settle into a wet but warmer late winter period that will fill the ditches, scrapes and reedbed.

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