|Blackcap (c) Bark|
It was good to be back on the moor after a couple of weeks absence. Both Saturday and Sunday started well with clear blue skies and bright sunshine but greyed over during the morning. It was beautiful to drive down the lane to the reserve, both sides of the road frothed with cow parsley against a background of the lush fresh greens of early summer. As the season rolls on the colours lose some of their brightness and intense, varied greenness. Such a morning really is a feast for the eyes.
Both Garden and Warbler and Blackcap were singing in the carpark and as I walked along the bridleway I heard more, the Blackcaps outnumbering the Garden warblers about four to one. I can’t remember them being quite so numerous in the past few years.
Cuckoos too were very much in evidence both male and female we
estimated there were at least five individuals present on Saturday morning and
three on Sunday.
|Cuckoo (c) Bark|
|and its target (c) Tom Nicholson-Lailey|
It is delightful to hear Turtle doves purring, and not just from the regular songposts that they used last year. Birds have been heard from the Noke area and another is calling from the oak trees on the northern edge of Long Meadow. It is difficult to get an accurate measure of how many we have without making a series of simultaneous observations.
A photograph sent to me by a
photographer highlights the hazards these fabulous birds overcome on their
migration, it’s possible to clearly see a pellet hole in its flight feathers. A
different bird showed some kind of minor wound in its belly.
|Turtle dove (c) Bark|
|Turtle with a hole in its feathers (c) Nick Truby|
Overhead Snipe were drumming and already the first Snipe chicks have been found. Surveys have indicated that there are more pairs this year than last and they are displaying more widely over the reserve.
Lapwings are up challenging corvids and raptors as they pass over and careful scoping of Big Otmoor and Greenaways will reveal chicks in various stages of development, accompanied by stressed and vigilant parents. Walking along the path to the first screen we were mobbed by a pair of very vociferous Redshanks that must have had young very close to the hedge. Both Little Ringed and Ringed Plovers were out on big Otmoor the former clearly carrying out a display flight. The Oystercatchers are still present and may indeed have hatched some chicks, though that has still to be confirmed.
|Note the missing feathers (c) Tom Nicholson-Lailey|
The two female Marsh Harriers were seen often and not just confining themselves to the reedbed. One in particular is easily identified having some primaries missing from the left wing.
There are large crèches of goslings on all the main fields and they clearly demonstrate just how productive the moor is. Hares are very noticeable too at the moment.
|Doing the early morning wash........|
|and managing to get its back legs almost in front of its head (c) Bark|
The scent from the hawthorn blossom is very strong and is attracting lots of insects. Dragonflies included at least three Hairy Dragonflies in the pools at the Noke end of Big Otmoor and earlier in the week a Downy Emerald was seen in the Roman Road area. This is the place where most sightings of this attractive species occur.
|Hawthorn blossom (c) Bark|
On Sunday afternoon along with many other keen county birders I went along to Bicester Wetland Reserve to pay homage to a Red Necked Phalarope the first twitchable one in Oxon since 1994. A beautiful bird and a great find. Such a pity that it overshot Otmoor I could have easily imagined it paddling around on the Greenaways scrapes and picking insects off the surface. Perhaps next time.....
|Yellowhammer carpark field (c) Pat Galka|