Wednesday, 3 April 2013

Easter Weekend

Stonechat at Noke (c) Bark

Coots on ice .........

lose their balance easily. (c) Bark

Comatose Fudge Duck (c) Bark

and its admirers from the Otmoor Massive (c) Badger

Bright Starling (c) Bark

One of the Noke Wheatears (c) Badger

Icy Pintail (c) Bark

Great Crested Grebe

White Fronts still here (c) Badger

Despite the occasional snow showers and the nagging easterly wind, this was a much better weekend than the last one. I don’t know if it is possible to state exactly how delayed the season is this year, but the summer migrants are not arriving as we would have expected them to in a “normal” year. I suspect that there will be no real influx until the winds abate and the weather starts to come in from the south or west.
There was at least a small group of four Wheatears on the farm fences on the western edge of Ashgrave and along with them were two male Stonechats. They looked very fresh, bright and colourful in the wintery sun.
The drake Ferruginous duck was present on both days and spent a lot time with its head under its wing dozing in the lee of the bank on Saturday and on Sunday swimming very close to the second screen with Tufties and Pochard in the open water. At least three quarters of the lagoon was frozen and some of the shyer ducks such as Shoveller and Pintail were standing on the ice on the far side. It was entertaining to watch the party of Coots who maintained their antagonistic attitudes to each other, even when walking or running on ice, this led to many falls and, as the thin ice melted, sudden swims. A pair of Little Grebes were out to the left of the second screen and a Great Crested Grebe was also with the other wildfowl but sadly does not seem to have a mate.
Elsewhere there are large numbers of breeding Lapwings and Redshank over Greenaways and Big Otmoor. There are also many wildfowl on the pools and floods of Big Otmoor and a flock of at least thirty Dunlin have taken up temporary residence. The regular seven White-fronted Geese are still here.
All three Hen Harriers were present over the weekend and the Barn Owls were hunting in both the carpark field and over the reed bed. Peregrine and Raven were seen frequently but the Marsh Harrier present earlier in the week did not seem to still be here. A Tawny Owl was calling in the Roman Road area and this was the only addition to the Otmoor yearlist this week.
In spite of the cold Dunnocks, Reed Buntings and Skylarks were all singing and hopefully by next weekend they might be joined by Chiffchaffs or Willow Warblers or perhaps I am just being mindlessly optimistic.

stop press  Garganey is regularly being seen from the hide on Ashgrave.

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