Tuesday, 9 February 2016

Sunday 7th January

Bittern (c) Neil Long
The weather this weekend meant only one visit to the moor was practical so we attempted to dodge the showers on Sunday morning. It was certainly worth the effort and we had some stunning atmospheric views of the masses of birds that are currently feeding and roosting on and just off the reserve.
Lapwings and Goldies (c) Tom Nicholson- Lailey
Early on Sunday we had very sharp showers and dark lowering skies punctuated by patches of blue sky and sunshine. Rainbows are always good to see but out on the moor we seem to have so much more sky for them to shine in. A complete arc set against the leaden sky of the clouds that had just past was beautiful in itself; but looked even better when sprinkled with the glittering flight of windblown Golden Plover and the flicker of hundreds of Lapwings.
Sparkling goldies (c) Tom Nicholson-Lailey
Both species are present in their thousands but there seemed to be very many more Lapwings and we tentatively estimated over five thousand individuals. Water levels have increased and there are now many more scrapes and pools for the wildfowl to occupy and there were very large numbers of all the duck species out on Greenaways, Big Otmoor and on Ashgrave. These included over forty Pintail on Big Otmoor
A larger party of over fifty snipe (c) Tom Nicholson-Lailey
Occasional Snipe can be spotted, especially when flushed up from the wet grassland by raptors. The raptors themselves are still present and all the regular species were seen. The male Marsh Harrier is now showing much more mature male plumage especially on his wings and the female continues to patrol both the reedbed and the flooded fields. From time to time the two birds can be seen to interact confirming their status as a pair.
Yellowhammer (c) Norman Smith
Numbers are continuing to rise in the finch flock south of the hide. More Yellowhammers are being seen and a few Greenfinches too. There is an odd looking Reed Bunting that has rather more white in its tail than is normal but it is nonetheless a Reed Bunting.
Reed Bunting (c) Norman Smith
Bitterns are being seen daily usually in flight but also occasionally in the reedy margins out from the second screen. We had one that flew up from the bund as we walked along the footpath to the second screen. There would appear to be a very healthy population of Water Rails as well, as can be gauged from the number of squeaks and squeals that we are hearing from the reedbed and from the ditches. From time to time they can be glimpsed as they fly from one side of the reeds to another.

Yellowhammer and MuteSwan (c) Tom nicholson-Lailey

A Song Thrush is already starting to call in the carpark field and on Sunday morning at least three Skylarks were in song over Greenaways. There are three different Cetti’s Warblers calling now and if the winter carries on in this same mild vein we can hope that they will make it through until spring. Let’s hope that this winter doesn’t come with a sting in its tail.
Goldies (c)Neil Long

1 comment:

  1. Just come across this blog and it is really fascinating. I can't believe the sheer variety of birds at Otmoor, and in Oxford in general. I went to Otmoor a couple of days ago to see the Starling murmuration (http://zoes.gallery/2016/02/10/otmoor/) and will go again in a few days to try and spot some otters. Doubt I will see any as I've heard you've got to go early morning or late evening, for that.

    Thanks for writing this blog :)