Tuesday, 11 October 2016

October 8th and 9th

Short Eared Owl (c) Roger Wyatt
A quieter weekend but not unexpected for this time of year. Nonetheless there were changes in the bird population with new arrivals and fresh departures. Saturday was grey and drizzling but Sunday was crisp and bright, cold at first but soon warming up. As I drove down towards the moor on Sunday morning I could see pockets of shallow mist, looking like pale grey pools, lying in the lowest pockets of ground.

Misty morning  (c) Tom N-L
Goldfinch warming up in the sunshine (c) Bark

The heron “previously known as Prince” finally seems to have departed. It was last seen on Tuesday and has not been reported since. The drop in night time temperatures seems to have finally prompted its departure. It has been a great bird to have on the moor and has attracted many admirers even if it has been very reluctant to show itself.

Chiffys Above (c) JR  below (c) Bark
Other departures include the summer visiting warblers that are now being replaced by smaller numbers of over wintering warblers like Chiffchaffs and Blackcaps. Our Cetti’s warblers continue to shout from the hedgerows, albeit with quieter voices and not a full song. Their call certainly seems to be stimulated by seeing movement going past. There is one along the bridleway to Noke that certainly calls almost every time you walk by.
Stonechat (c) Tom N-L
We still have a few passage migrants on the moor, there was a Wheatear out on big Otmoor and a Whinchat on the Pill and another in July’s Meadow. Four Stonechats were out on the MOD land and a further three up at July’s with the Whinchat. Some of the Stonechats will of course remain throughout the winter.
Julys Meadow Stonechat (c) Bark

On Sunday there was a small flock of approximately one hundred and thirty Golden Plovers seen in flight, a number that will have swollen to the thousands by the end of the winter. Two Jack Snipe were found on Saturday; it is interesting to note that there were reports of this secretive species from several other sites around the county on the same day. It will be worth examining the muddy margins in front of the screens for a small snipe with a bit of extra bounce!
Snipe (c) Derek Lane
Most interesting new arrivals are a small family group of two adult and one juvenile White Fronted Geese. They were spotted out on Ashgrave with the resident feral Greylag and Canada Geese on Sunday morning. Closer examination revealed another juvenile that appeared to be separate from the family group. One of the advantages of having a settled feral flock of geese on the moor is the way it can make other truly wild geese feel more secure and settled. I just hope that they don’t fall prey to any of our trigger happy neighbours.
Bittern over the reedbed (c) Tom N-L
Raptors continue to harry the Starlings that are coming in to roost in the reedbed a female Sparrowhawk harried them on Saturday evening and a Peregrine was also seen. Among the Marsh Harriers seen this week was a wing tagged individual, clearly not one of “our” birds and obviously on passage. On the same day a Short Eared Owl was seen on the northern edge of Greenaways, the first recorded from this winter period.

Shorty (c) Roger Wyatt

Bitterns too are being seen from time to time and not just in or over the reedbed. There have been three sightings of birds along the stone track and on the edge of some of the smaller reed clumps on Greenaways.

All we really lack now for our full suite of wetland species are Bearded Tits. We are approaching their prime eruption period now and I do hope that we have some of these delightful birds dropping in in the next few weeks.
The fallow deer that spent the last three or four years with the cattle on Ashgrave seemed to have disappeared and  we assumed she had wandered off and ended up as venison! However she is back and is now accompanied by a fawn about half her size, although she is much more cautious now and reluctant to take the fawn too near to the cattle.
Fallow and fawn (c) Paul Greenaway
White-front family on Ashgrave courtesy of Badger please view at 1080 HD

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