Monday, 20 April 2015

Saturday and Sunday 18th and 19th April

Common Cranes (c) JR
A keen, chill easterly wind persisted all weekend, although the sunshine on Saturday did raise the temperature on that day.
Shortly after getting home on Saturday I had a text reporting two Common Cranes circling over Big Otmoor in the early afternoon. Later pictures were published and the birds had been seen to head off in a south westerly direction. It was with enormous delight that we found the two Cranes feeding and preening out on Ashgrave on Sunday morning. They are adult birds and bore no rings or tags. They are very elegant, beautiful birds to watch.

Cranes again (c) JR
At least two keen county listers managed to get down to the moor in time and add them to their Oxfordshire list. They moved towards the hide feeding and after a while took off and flew steadily in a north easterly direction. We are assuming that these were “bed and breakfast” birds, but there is certainly suitable habitat on the moor should they decide to hang around a bit longer.
All the regular warblers are in now, with just the exception of Garden Warbler. Whitethroats are scratching out their song in the carpark field and half way along the bridleway to Noke we heard our first Lesser Whitethroat. Four more were found by Roger Wyatt along with four Grasshopper Warblers during a complete circuit of the moor on Sunday.
Sedgie (c) Bark
Sedge Warblers are very vocal in the ditches and hedges advertising their presence and establishing territories. A smaller number of Reed Warblers can be heard singing their more regular and less manic song. Blackcaps appear to be present in larger numbers than usual although some of them may be passage birds. Two of them were having a major singing competition right next to my car when I arrived on Saturday.
Willow Warbler (c) JR
All the hirundines were present in good numbers both days this weekend feeding round and over the reedbed and lagoons. On Sunday JR pointed out a Swift amongst them, which may be the first record in Oxon this year.
New Occupants of Noke Sides (c) Bark
The Noke Sides field has been occupied by some black faced sheep that are very curious about people and on the far side of that field amongst some non breeding Lapwings were fifteen beautiful summer plumaged Golden Plovers. Three Black tailed Godwits were out on Big Otmoor on Saturday and either the same three or three others were reported on Sunday along with three Greenshanks. In the sheep fields at Noke there were three song thrushes and one Mistle Thrush.
Bathing Redshank (c) JR
The handful of Wigeon that remain are showing no sign of leaving. Two female Garganey were seen from the first screen during the week and two Mediterranean gulls were found amongst the Black headed Gulls on the same day. A male Redstart was seen in long meadow on Thursday and although I looked I was unable to find any at the weekend, they really do go through very quickly at this time of the year.
The “Lizard Lounge” by the first screen had at least ten basking Common Lizards out in the sunshine on Saturday.

Much to the delight of some of my friends there are more and more butterflies around including Green Veined Whites and Orange Tips. It will not be long before the first Damselflies and Dragonflies are on the wing and the first Hobbies are coming in to eat them.

Speckled Wood and mating Green-veined Whites (c) Pete Law

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