Monday, 29 October 2012

Saturday and Sunday 27th and 28th October

Beardy 1 (c) Andy Last

Redpolls (c) Bark
Brambling (c) Bark
Stonechat (c) Bark

Beardy 2 (c) Andy Last

Beardy 3 (c) Bark

Beardy 4 (c) Bark

Starlings (c) Oz

Starlings (c) Oz

More Starlings (c) Badger

Hen Harrier (c) Mike Kosniowski

Harrier (c) Pat Galka

Again (c) Pat Galka

Having closed my blog last week with a wish to see winter swans, it was uncanny to find a Whooper Swan out on the far reaches of Greenaways first thing on Saturday morning. Sadly the bird did not stay around although none of us saw it leave, there was simply too much else to look at.
Two Hen Harriers were doing the rounds of the reedbed all day Saturday and regularly flushing the large flocks of Teal from the channels and lagoons. One was noticeably larger than the other and it seems as though they were a mature female and a juvenile male. During the course of the day they gave stunning views and excellent photographic opportunities. A Peregrine put in several appearances and the Merlin was seen and photographed over Ashgrave. The two “resident” Sparrowhawks put in regular appearances, Kites, Buzzards and Kestrels were frequently seen.
One of the reasons for this influx of raptors must be the steady build up of the starling roost which on Sunday was estimated to be at least 20,000 birds. It is a very unpredictable event and the birds are inconsistent in both their “displays” and where exactly they choose to alight.
On Sunday morning the Bearded Tits that have been skulking in the middle of the reedbed for the last two weeks finally showed themselves properly, at least one of them did. They were seen in the strip of reeds on the right hand side of the path going to the first screen, there were certainly two birds there although we only saw one of them well, a very smart male. It gave outstanding views in one of the brighter moments on Sunday morning and Andy Last took some excellent pictures of it. I am also sure that I heard pinging from the reeds fringing the bridle way about one hundred metres from the pumphouse. It may be that the initial flock of seven birds has split up and are moving around the reserve independently.
There were a male and a female Brambling with the Chaffinch flock by the cattle pens and a small flock of Redpolls feeding on willow herb seeds in the Roman road and the car park field. On Sunday a Swallow flying along the hedge beside the path to the second screen was a very late record.
A male Otter was seen on Thursday and Friday swimming through the southern lagoon and so it is worth keeping your eyes open, especially if the ducks suddenly take off for no apparent reason.
The Bittern was seen in flight once over the weekend, having shown itself a lot last week, notably wading and feeding in the channel off to the right of the first screen. The Black Redstart seen in a farmyard last week was within my definition of the Otmoor Basin and so is another addition to our yearlist along with the Whooper. We are currently standing at one hundred and forty nine....can we make it to one fifty? and what might it be ?... a Shrike perhaps or will my predictive luck finally have run out?

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