Wednesday, 5 August 2015

Saturday and Sunday 1st and 2nd August

Great White Egret (c) Tom Nicholson-Lailey
Although we are supposed to be in the birding “doldrums,”this has not really been  the case on Otmoor. There is and has been lots to see..
I have spent some considerable time looking out over the reedbed recently, in an effort to nail down the gender and maturity of the Bitterns that have been very obvious over the reeds during the past three or four weeks. It is beautiful and almost mesmeric to spend a couple of hours just scanning back and fore across the surface of the reeds. Early in the morning they are opalescent while lightly covered with dew and as the dew burns off they turn darker and more of a soft lovat green. They are in almost constant movement even in the lightest winds and at other times it would be easy to see them as a slightly choppy sea. There are certainly still some Bitterns moving around, visible briefly as they transfer from one feeding area to another and are seldom in the air for more than ten seconds. There are certainly two and probably three different individuals. Seeing them fairly frequently over the weekend did nothing to dilute the thrill that I always get from seeing such a charismatic bird.
Bittern (c) JR
A Great White Egret appeared on Thursday last week and stayed until late on Friday. Always beautiful to see it dwarfed its “little” congeners from the first screen.
Little egret (c) JR
Also on Thursday the first Siskins of the year were seen, being pursued over the reedbed by a Sparrowhawk  there were certainly four to start with, but we have no idea how many made it over to the other side!
The paths are certainly thronged with juvenile birds some so recently fledged that their gape is still very obvious. Perhaps their numbers give them confidence but they are very approachable.

Juveniles (c) JR
Spotted Flycatchers are now feeding two youngsters and indeed the young birds are beginning to manage very capably on their own. A couple of Green Sandpipers have been seen on both days and the Marsh Harriers continue to put on quite a show, not just over the reedbed now but ranging further out over the reserve.
Green Sand (c) JR
The Starling roost is beginning to put on quite a show with the birds feeding out in the grassland during the daytime and coming into the reedbed at dusk. they flicker and flash in front of the reeds as they settle, not yet the full murmuration but beautiful to see.
Starlings at dusk (c) Tom Nicholson-Lailey

There has been another large hatch of Common Blue butterflies along the trail to the second screen reminding us of the last massive hatch in 2009. There were well over a thousand on Sunday morning and they were mostly males, which I suppose ensures the fertilisation of any females that appear.
Brown Hairstreak (c) Pete Law
Brown Hairstreaks are now on the wing in their regular haunts. It is a pity that in pursuit of the perfect close up, enthusiasts sometimes trample down vegetation that is vital to other species.
We are now getting into the start of real migration and I fully expect much more of an influx of Wheatears, Whinchats and of course Waders.........wonderful.

Sprawk and Common Snipe over the reedbed (c) JR
Great white Egret from the first screen.

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