Monday, 26 October 2015

Saturday and Sunday 24th and 25th October

Redpoll (c) JR
Once again it was a Jekyll and Hyde weekend. Saturday cold, grey and wet and then on Sunday the most perfect autumn day, bright clear sunshine that lit up the orange, yellows and gold of the fading leaves. Over the next few weeks frost and strong winds will strip them from the trees but on days like Sunday they glowed with intense colour.
Autumn colour (Bark)
The annual College Lake and Otmoor Bird Race was held on Sunday and the winning total of sixty five species seen in four hours highlighted the good birding that can be had on the moor even at what can be a sparse time of the year. One of the highlights was a Barn Owl seen up at the Noke End of the reserve and also a fly over Siskin. I was personally pleased to hear that the record of seventy species, the winning total in a previous race was not bettered!
One of the Marsh Harriers over the reedbed. (c) JR
Marsh Harriers are still present with two different individuals, on Saturday they were seen to be interacting rather aggressively over Greenaways. Merlin was seen briefly on both days, as usual it flashed through low and at high speed.
Redpoll (c) JR
Redpolls are much more noticeable now and are taking advantage of the abundant seeding Rose-bay Willow Herb and other seeding plants along the paths and in the Carpark field. They can be very approachable once they settle to feeding and their small size and subtle plumage can really be appreciated. The numbers of Reed Buntings is going up rapidly and the mixed flock of finches beside the hide is largely made up of them, along with a few Linnets and some Chaffinches. As the winter progresses this mixed finch flock will grow and could well attract other seed eaters such as Bramblings, Tree Sparrows or even something more unusual.
Reed Bunting (c) JR
Bittern was seen again in flight as it re-located  in the reedbed, as the water level on lagoons rises it may alter its habits and be seen occasionally along the margins.
Fieldfares and Redwings, birds that epitomise autumn for me, are now well established in the hedgerows and the Fieldfares chuckling call joins the whistling of Wigeon as some of the signature sounds of Otmoor in winter.
Fieldfare (c) JR
Golden Plover were also around this weekend with several smaller flocks seen fast and low over the reserve and a much larger flock of approximately nine hundred seen high and to the west of the moor on Sunday.
Golden Plover racing through (c) JR
Both Snipe and Jack Snipe are being seen with at least three Jack Snipe reported on Friday. Short Eared Owls are also being reported  and we are hoping that this is going to be a year when we have good numbers of these birds over wintering. It seems that as the winter draws on they start hunting earlier in the afternoon and in the past have favoured the Carpark Field and Greenaways. It will also be worth keeping an eye on the scrubby area up towards the wood on the southern side of Ashgrave it looks like  a very happy hunting ground for owls.
Autumn colour (c) JR

Autumn colour (c) Bark

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