Tuesday, 14 April 2015

Saturday and Sunday 11th and 12th April

Juvenile Spoonbill (c) Carl Gray
It has been a very exciting week on the moor with many new arrivals to add to the year list and two of them species that were not even recorded last year.
I only managed to get down there on Saturday due to family commitments on Sunday. The Roman Road held my first singing Willow Warbler of the year and a singing Blackcap. Chiffchaffs seem to be calling from all of the hedgerows. We also heard our first Sedge Warbler shouting its song from the reeds near the second screen. I wanted to try to find the juvenile Spoonbill that had been seen late on Friday. It had flown up from one of the ditches on Greenaways and been watched heading westwards.
Spoonbill heading west (c) Carl Gray
We were unable to find any sign of it so perhaps it was a very transient passage bird. On Thursday a Hen Harrier was seen over the MOD land and then later over Greenaways. We must hope that it continues further north than the English grouse moors, where its future would be all too uncertain.
Wheatear (c) Badger
There has been a major movement of waders through this weekend. As new birds have been arriving so our wintering Golden plovers have finally departed. On Saturday afternoon four Ringed Plovers were found out on Big Otmoor along with a single Sanderling. The latter being the first record on Otmoor for a number of years of this largely coastal species.
Ringed Plovers and Sanderling (c) Badger
Green Sandpiper and Greenshank were also found over the weekend. There are still three Oystercatchers present and our other breeding waders are very obvious and very active. Snipe are drumming, especially over Greenaways and Curlew are calling and displaying over the same field and over the MOD land.
There was a drake Pochard seen last week with a coloured and numbered“saddle”on its bill. Clearly part of a population monitoring project in France. Badger has e-mailed the project leader in France and it will be interesting to find out some more information about this individual bird.
Banded French Pochard (c) Badger
There are still no Garganey on the reserve that we have seen. Sadly due to emergency repair work on a badly leaking bund water levels had to be dropped in one of their favoured areas, we must hope for some rain to top it up but not so much that our ground nesting birds are flooded out.
Sand Martin (c) JR
There are increasing numbers of Swallows and Sand Martins hunting over the lagoons and along the hedges taking advantage of the gnats and flies that have been encouraged by the change to warmer weather. The first Yellow Wagtail of the year was found on the Oddington side of the moor on Sunday. Herons are going to and fro in the reedbed with nesting material and hopefully soon with food for youngsters. Over in the sheep fields there is still a flock of over forty Fieldfares and adjacent to the hide the Linnet flock still numbers over fifty.
Grass Snake (c) JR
Grass Snakes are being seen frequently in what can only be described as mating bundles. We are very fortunate in having such a strong population of these beautiful reptiles. It will not be long now until we will be able to spot Common Lizards in the “lizard lounge” and on the pollarded willows of the Carpark Field.

Herons with nesting material (c) JR

The Blackthorn is now fully out and frothing over the branches, it will be great over the next couple of weeks to pick out the singing warblers amidst the blossoms and to search for passage Redstarts, surely one of the most beautiful of all our birds.
Wren in the blossom (c) JR

Update Tuesday 14th
Yesterday afternoon a Ring Ouzel in Long Meadow and late report of House Martins on Saturday.

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