Tuesday, 17 March 2015

Saturday and Sunday 14th and 15th March

Amorous Shovelers (c) Tezzer
A nagging north easterly wind made for a cold weekend even when the sun made its occasional appearances. However the momentum of spring and the urge to reproduce was not held up by the weather. Lapwings and Redshanks were the principal players this weekend. The Lapwings were disputing territory amongst each other, looping and calling to attract a mate and occasionally chasing off invading birds from their chosen area, whether of their own species or not. Redshank numbers have gone up massively over the last week and on Saturday and Sunday there were at least twenty individuals feeding on the flooded field to the west of the path to the second screen. That is not to mention many others scattered over the other fields in singles and pairs. Their ringing calls were certainly the default sound of the weekend.

Redshank on Ashgrave (c) Bark (phonescoped)
Amongst the Redshank at the side of the trail were fifteen Dunlin and a further smaller number were feeding amongst the, by now much diminished group of Golden Plover. There are now only a hundred or so on the reserve where three weeks ago there were over two thousand. On both days two Curlew were feeding on and flying over Greenaways calling loudly. At one time on Sunday morning they landed relatively close to the bridleway, giving excellent views to some visitors. A single Oystercatcher was on Big Otmoor and later relocated to the lagoon on Ashgrave. Two Shelduck also were there on Saturday.
Little egret over reedbed (c) Tezzer
The first Wheatear of the year was found on Saturday morning in the sheep-fields to the west of the reserve but sadly by the time we arrived there en masse to see it it had moved on. There will hopefully be many more through in the coming weeks.
Wheatear on sheepfields (c) Pete Roby (record shot)
What appears to be yet another different Marsh Harrier was present this weekend. it was hunting over the whole reserve and on Sundaywe saw it unsuccessfully try to take a Teal. We also saw it in a dispute with the larger (presumably female) Peregrine of the two that were around on Sunday. Sparrowhawks, two different individuals and two Kestrels were also seen on both days.
Great Crested Grebes preparing to breed on the northern lagoon. (c) Tezzer
There are surprisingly large numbers on Herons on the moor. I counted ten on Greenaways alone. They look as though they have abandoned the nest site directly out from the hide and would instead appear to be preparing to breed in the reedbed. They did this a couple of years ago. They are certainly defending an area in the reedbed both from raptors and also other Herons.
The reserve is currently holding high numbers of Shovellers both on the reedbed and on Big Otmoor. The males are particularly handsome in their brightest breeding plumage and often groups of males pursue lone females in low fast flights. There are still a good number of Wigeon present and at least twenty Pintail are still out in the middle of Big Otmoor.
Francis Rossi still here with Old Lags (c) Badger
The path south from the screen is still attracting lots of birds to feed on the seed that is being spread there. Although the large numbers of Linnets have declined there are still well in excess of a hundred other finches feeding, particularly Reed Buntings. Most attractive are the stock Doves that are taking advantage of it. On Sunday morning there were fifteen of these subtly beautiful Doves feeding quite close to the hide.
Stock Dove (c) Tezzer
A walk along the Roman Road on Sunday yielded four Tree Creepers and a number of Goldcrests. In four weeks time it will be ringing with the sound of Chiff Chaffs and Willow Warblers it really is a most exciting time of year.
Song thrush (c) Bark

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