|Reed Warbler (c) Bark|
|Stonechat at Noke (c) Bark|
|Grey heron flyover (c) Bark|
|It is only at this time of year that you realise how many spiders there are. (c) Bark|
Most exciting record was the arrival of the first Bittern of this winter period. The bird was seen from the first screen on Saturday, flying from one side of the reedbed to the other, ironically just a moment or two after we had left the screen! On Sunday morning we were luckier and the first two of us into the screen saw the bird fly from the closest edge into the first bank of reeds across the lagoon, from where in a true bittern like manner it stayed. This is an early record for Otmoor. We tend to get Bitterns later in the winter and have always assumed that they were continental birds pushed over by the cold. The species has had very successful breeding season on the Somerset Levels and it’s reasonable to speculate that this may have been a bird dispersing from there.
Duck numbers are continuing to build and there were a flock of at least two hundred Teal on the reedbed on Sunday. The Lapwing flock is also building and could be seen flushing from the Ashgrave lagoon several times on Saturday when buzzed by a Peregrine and less happily by a helicopter on Sunday. As the winter progresses and wildfowl numbers increase so will the possibility of a potentially dangerous birdstrike, and of course the disturbance to the birds themselves. A low flying regulation seems to be a sensible restriction over a bird reserve.
There are now at least seven Stonechats around the moor with four out at the Pill on Saturday along with two Whinchats and three by the farm at Noke on the same morning. There were also two Wheatears on the barn roof at Noke and twenty or so Meadow Pipits feeding in the sheep pastures.
There was a steady passage of Swallows and Martins on Saturday and just a few isolated individuals on Sunday. There are still a few Yellow Wagtails about and we found Reed Warbler and a late Sedge Warbler in the reedbed on Saturday morning. We found them while looking and listening carefully for the “pings” of Bearded Tits, which we hope will drop in again this year. It is difficult to predict with such an irruptive species, but it is at this time of year that we get them.
Redpolls and Siskins were seen and heard on Saturday and with the first Redwings being reported in the county yesterday it won’t belong before we have them down on the moor again.