Monday, 5 October 2015

Saturday and Sunday 3rd and 4th October

Peregrine (c) JR
The mist lifted quickly this weekend giving way to soft golden sunshine that complemented the autumn colours shining out in the hedgerows. On Sunday the complete lack of wind and the atmospheric conditions meant that we could not hear the normal traffic noise from the A34 and the M40. The silence was complete and so every cheep, chirp, call and song was clear and discernable.
The water levels at the first screen have finally fallen and the muddy banks and stubble from reed cutting are creating a perfect feeding area for Snipe. There were well over thirty on both days either roosting, preening or picking and probing busily along the margins or wading in the shallow pools. We examined them carefully but could find no Jack Snipe amongst them but one was found later on Sunday by the Robys out on the MOD land.
Snipe (c) JR
There is still one Dunlin amongst them and on Sunday there were three Green Sandpipers. There are now well over forty Wigeon on the southern lagoon, a small number compared with the thousand or so that will be with us in winter but a significant increase on last week and another sign of the changing season. Another sign of that change was the first significant party of Golden Plover this autumn with at least twenty five being seen on Sunday morning.
Green Woodpecker from the first screen (c) Pat Galka
There have been no winter thrushes yet on Otmoor but there was a significant passage of Skylarks moving over. They appeared mostly to be heading in a south westerly direction in small parties of up to ten birds. They might of course have been the same birds flying in a big circle but I think not!
Rodent control on Otmoor (c) JR
There are at least ten Stonechats out and about on the moor, with a pair near July’s Meadow another pair close to the hide and six birds out on the MOD. There were also three Whinchats in the same location on Sunday. A small party of Redpolls was seen again on Sunday in the Carpark Field and there are two large flocks of Goldfinches that are feeding on the seeding thistles both in July’s Meadow and along the path to the first screen. The larger flock contained at least sixty individuals but they were flushed by a Sparrowhawk before I could finish counting them.
Several chiffchaffs are still feeding with the roving tit flock. Amongst the tits in the Carpark Field were a couple of Coal Tits, not a common species on the moor. In the Roman Road on Sunday there were four Marsh Tits that were probably a family party.
Blue tit and Chiffy (c) Bark
More raptors are about and on Friday a Snipe was seen to have a lucky escape when stooped on by a Peregrine, that just missed it. Two different Marsh Harriers are being seen both over the reedbed and the along the back of Greenaways. Two Short Eared Owls are being seen on the MOD land and perhaps there may be more soon.
The last of this years Hobbies? (c) JR
A mystery raptor was seen on Saturday morning by three of us. It came across Ashgrave being pursued by several corvids. It was carrying prey and at first we thought it was a Buzzard but it was longer winged and longer tailed . It was a uniform dark underneath and I managed to get a scope on it just before it disappeared over the hedge into Greenaways, it showed a very slightly notched tail. None of us were confident enough to call it and so we put it out as a possible Black Kite. By the time we had rushed round to the bridleway from the hide it had gone, leaving us out of breath and with the adrenaline rush of seeing something unusual and the frustration of not being able to firmly I.D. it. Such is birding!
Fox on closes (c) Pat Galka

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