Monday, 23 April 2012

Saturday and Sunday 21st and 22nd April

 Orange Tips much more noticeable

 Yellowhammer by the feeders

 Singing Sedgie

 Newly arrived Shelduck

 Wheatear by the hide

 Egret in summer Plumage
Out of focus but the first Reed Warbler this year.

Two of eight Wheatears north of the Pill (c) Andy Last

One of the Shorties on Friday evening (c) Andy Last

Despite the cool weather and the breezy conditions spring migration continues apace.
Grasshopper Warbler has arrived, at present in limited numbers, but already a bird has started to reel from the regular briar near the feeders. A few Reed Warblers are adding their voices to those of Sedgies that are now here in strength and performing their parachute displays over suitable clumps of reed and brambles. Lesser Whitethroats arrived last week and are singing from several spots along the bridle way towards Noke often from places that they favoured last year. Worryingly there has only been one report of Common Whitethroat so far, a bird that usually arrives before the Lesser and usually outnumbers it at least four to one. It may just be that weather conditions have been difficult and they have been checked in their northward movement. Blackcaps are loud along the hedgerows. As yet I have not detected Garden Warbler and started out on the sticky problem of separating the songs, I usually get it right by the time the birds leave and have to learn it all over again the following year!
There is no mistake with the Cuckoo however that was both seen and heard on Saturday morning. Nor with the Snipe that have been drumming over both Greenaways and The Closes.
A pair of Shelduck on Saturday morning were a welcome and long overdue addition to the Otmoor yearlist. As was a passage Ring Ouzel seen along the bridleway to Noke on Saturday, there was also a possible bird near Oddington. These are truly passage birds never staying very long but now being seen almost annually.
I cannot remember a better spring passage of Wheatears than the one we are experiencing this year. Again there were at least six individuals in front of the hide, several out on Greenaways and on Sunday there were eight in the field that lies to the north of the Jacob Stone mostly pristine bright males.
On the wader front; there are still around forty Golden plover on Big Otmoor, a Green Sandpiper at the second screen and a Ringed Plover as well as the Little Ringed Plovers on the new scrapes. A probable Whimbrel was heard on Saturday morning and there are several pairs of Curlew present.
Merlin was reported on Saturday and it seems that as in previous years Hobbies will overlap Merlin by about a week. The Short Eared Owls are still with us and there were up to four still hunting over The Closes and Greenaways on Friday evening.
Weather conditions over the next week will be hard for the newly hatched Lapwings but the rain is beginning to make Otmoor look like a proper wetland again.


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