Monday, 23 March 2015

Saturday and Sunday 21st and 22nd March

Male Linnet All pictures this week courtesy of JR
This weekend the weather flipped between warm and chilly, windy and calm and sunny and drear. The pleasant qualities present on Sunday the negative on Saturday. I went down with high expectations of picking up newly arriving migrants, such as Garganey, Sand Martins and perhaps Little Ringed Plovers, but sadly they all failed to show up. On both days however the reserve was full of avian activity.
Lapwings are now holding territory calling and swooping. They hurtle recklessly towards the ground above their chosen plots before pulling out of their dives at the last moment, like stunt pilots in an airshow. RSPB staff who are monitoring nesting success have already found over fifteen Lapwing nests
Redshank numbers have continued to rise and my subjective judgement is that there are more present this year than at the same time last year. It may be that last year’s successful breeding season has meant that more birds are returning to breed. There are at least twenty out on the field to the west of the visitor trail to the second screen. They are chasing about and calling a lot but have yet to settle into full breeding behaviour.
Redshank and Dunlin,  Noke Sides
They are accompanied by twelve Dunlin. One of which appeared to look larger than the others and caused some interest, the bird concerned was bathing and preening and probably looked larger and whiter because it had fluffed up all its feathers and was not creeping about as it fed. It was nonetheless a Dunlin. A single Black Tailed Godwit was seen on both Friday and at the weekend commuting between different field to feed. There are very large numbers of Snipe out on Greenaways. It is almost impossible to count them as they hunch down in the tussocks or relocate from time to time. On Friday a flock of sixty two were seen flying between the Closes and Greenaways.
Heron with nesting material
Grey Herons continue to show signs of breeding out in the reedbed. There may in fact be three pairs present, several different birds were seen carrying nesting material out there and were quick to respond to any threats from raptors or other Herons.
There are still well over a hundred finches and buntings coming in to feed on the seed near the hide. Many of the male Linnets are coming into breeding colours and are looking very smart.
There are still a small flock of Golden Plover present I counted one hundred and forty on Saturday morning. Wigeon are also still present but again in much smaller numbers, there are always a handful that linger on until late spring, a few even stay the whole year. Twenty or so Pintail are out on Big Otmoor and one very obliging pair were feeding in the pool in just front of the hide. Two Shelduck were present on Saturday but gone by Sunday. Shovelers are all over the place and busily engaged in courtship with parties of bachelor drakes chasing individual females around the sky and then splashing down onto the lagoons where they indulge in a frantic, head bobbing display.
Pintail pair in front of the hide

It was a quiet weekend for raptors. The Marsh Harrier appears to have moved on as it was not seen or reported. The Merlin was again seen further up Otmoor lane but I had no reports of Peregrines.It may be that as the large numbers of prey species have diminished so they have moved on or have gone somewhere else to breed. Last weekend an Osprey was seen moving northwards over the reserve which has added yet another species to the yearlist. It now stands at ninety seven species and hopefully by next weekend will top the ton.

Stop Press Great news four Bearded Tits were found by Stoneshank this morning near the kissing gate close to the hide and Marsh Harrier was seen this weekend on Sunday and so was Peregrine on Saturday.
Several Song Thrushes are holding territory over the reserve.

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