Monday, 9 February 2015

Saturday and Sunday 7 th and 8 th February

Male Peregrine (c) JR
Two very contrasting days this weekend. Saturday could not have been more dank, grey and dreary, whereas in complete contrast Sunday was a sparkling, sunny day and felt much warmer. It seemed like an early spring day and the behaviour of the birds reflected it.
Wigeon over the reedbed (c) JR
The recent cold spell does not seem to have deterred the wildfowl from staying. There seems always to have been some open water somewhere. On Saturday morning on the large open lead at the northern reedbed lagoon I counted well in excess of six hundred Wigeon.

Shoveller and Gadwall (c) JR
There are good numbers of Shoveller and Gadwall, the males of both species looking very bright and smart in their best breeding plumage. There are still a few Pintail present but they spend most of their time out on the more distant pools of Big Otmoor.
Pintail (c) JR
One or other of he two Peregrines was seen several times on both days. The smaller male with a couple of secondaries missing, was seen in flight stooping down on Teal and also Snipe. We did not see it hunt successfully. The large female is still spending a lot of time in the big Oak tree across the field from the trail to the second screen. The Marsh Harrier is clearly wandering some distance from the moor as it was not seen over the weekend but was noted on Thursday last week.
Singing Lark (c) JR
The sunshine on Sunday encouraged Larks and Chaffinches to start singing, clearly proper spring is not too far away. As we reached the turn on the trail towards the second screen I heard a Nuthatch calling from the large poplars. After a minute or so we managed to locate it as it made its way along the hedge, sitting on top of a bush for a few seconds before moving on. They are regular in the Roman Road area but uncommon out on the moor. It shows how important big hedgerows are, as corridors for wildlife to move along.
Record shot of Nuthatch (c) JR
I had no reports of the Bearded Tits this weekend. On Thursday however four were seen and heard in the reedy margins of Ashgrave up towards Noke.
Bouncing Linnet (c) JR

Reed Bunt (c) Andy Last
The flock of Reed Buntings, a few Yellowhammers, some Chaffinches and the flock of now over three hundred Linnets are providing a real spectacle at the hide, as well as enticing in a Sparrowhawk that seems to have only one leg..... Long John Sparrow? (mixing my pirate references!)
Feeding Bullfinch (c) JR
Bullfinches continue to show beautifully in the carpark field and are still very confiding.
The White-fronted Geese now appear to be firmly attached to the Greylag flock and were feeding out on the pastures to the south of the Closes and the Carpark field.
Whitefronts (c) JR
The Merlin was spotted twice over the weekend and seems to be favouring the fields either side of Otmoor Lane, near the stables. It is however notoriously elusive and is usually seen more by luck than by patient searching.
A Common Gull on Sunday progressed the yearlist, I wonder how long it will be before we get to a hundred species for the year.
Singing Robin (c) JR

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