Monday, 26 November 2012

Saturday and Sunday 24th and 25th November

Above pics of Whoopers and Kingfishers (c) Badger

Redpoll (c) Pete Styles

Pictures of Wigeon and Marston Waxwings (c) Bark
 This weekend turned out to be much the same as the last in terms of the weather, with Saturday wet and miserable and Sunday fine but windy. On Sunday, after Saturdays rain, there was more water on Ashgrave in front of the hide than I can ever remember seeing there before.
It was a mixed weekend birdwise with the best birds turning up mid morning on Sunday when we picked up four Whooper Swans flying into the fields to the west of the path to the second screen. They later transferred to the flood on Ashgrave where they remained as it got dark. Although we first saw them at a great distance, there was no mistaking them. They are very distinctive and we did not have to see the lemon yellow on their bills to know that they were not Mutes. They have longer necks, a much more dynamic and economical flight action and they are much whiter than Mute swans, that look slightly creamy. (a bit like the comparison in the Daz adverts. For those of us that remember back that far!) There is some excellent video by Badger on the Oxon bird log of them socialising and dozing on the water in front of the hide.
Elsewhere there were large numbers of ducks flushing from the reedbed and higher up Ashgrave. Wigeon numbers seem about the same but we felt that we were seeing more Teal than in the last few weeks. Shoveller numbers have also risen recently. Two Pintail could be seen from the hide and two others were seen to fly over the screen and out onto the flood field. Two different Peregrines were around on Sunday morning a male and a large female, that spent a couple of hours sitting on posts in the middle of Greenaways, possibly digesting a Starling breakfast.
Redpolls are feeding in and around the carpark field and once again we saw Blackcap and Chiffchaff in the area around the bridge. At least thirty Chaffinches are feeding on the seed scattered by the cattle pens but sadly the bramblings have not been seen for a while. A small feeding party of Goldcrests gave particularly good views in the rain on Saturday morning. The Bearded Tits also seem to have moved on or are perhaps lying low in an inaccessible corner of the reedbed or in one of the small satellite reed clumps elsewhere on the reserve.
A phone call from Jon Uren just as we were leaving on Saturday morning summoned us to Marston, where we enjoyed catching up with a flock of twenty eight Waxwings feeding at the Oxford City football club. Watching these Scandinavian stunners feeding on haws at point blank range was just the tonic we needed to enliven what up to then had been a rather soggy and disappointing morning.

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