Monday, 14 November 2016

November 12th and 13th

Ravens (c) Bark

Saturday and Sunday could not possibly have been more different. Saturday grey, wet and gloomy after heavy overnight rain and Sunday bright, calm and sunny with an intense light in the clean rain-washed sky. The remaining leaves blazed gold from the hedgerows and trees. The oaks in particular were at their most brilliant.

Fieldfares Above (c) Bark   below (c) Derek Lane

Fieldfares and Redwings are everywhere feeding. As well as their familiar chuckling flight calls they keep up a much quieter continuous chattering as they feed. The carpark field seemed full of them when I arrived. They are still cautious, exploding out of the hawthorns ahead of us as we walked along the bridle way. If one waits patiently they will come closer but they always appear to be on the far side of the bush to where we are standing. As food becomes scarcer they will lose some of their inhibitions and then the second screen can become a great place to get close views of these handsome thrushes.
Marsh Harrier (c) JR
Raptors once again were the starring birds this weekend. The Marsh Harriers have become a regular feature of any visit out to the reedbed. On Saturday morning one was seen to swoop into the reeds and come out clutching an unfortunate Starling. It settled down to pluck and consume its meal but flew off all too soon as it was mobbed by several corvids and a hungry Kestrel. Kestrels will often harry other birds of prey in an effort to steal their catch. We have often seen them harassing Barn Owls into dropping prey items. One Kestrel on Sunday morning swooped down onto Greenaways and came up with a large frog in its claws. I had not heard of them eating frogs and had mistakenly thought that the frogs would have been hidden away for the winter by the second week in November.

;A stunning adult male Peregrine made a pass over the reedbed before settling in the spindly tree in one of the Noke sides hedgerow. The tree appears a bit out place, I always think it looks as if it twenty minutes allowing Badger to get some super video footage of it. As far as we know there are still two Ring-tailed Hen Harriers present, they are only seen sometimes together, usually at the starling roost.
Ringtail over the reedbed (c) JR
They roam a much larger territory than the Marsh Harriers and are not so tied to the reedbeds and wet fields. Merlin are certainly present but as always views are fleeting and unpredictable. The Short-eared Owl that roosts sometimes in the carpark field was seen on Saturday but by Sunday had perhaps moved elsewhere.

Goldfinch (c) JR                 Stonechat (c) Derek Lane

A Green Sandpiper made a brief appearance on Sunday flying in and landing on one of the Greenaways scrapes before flying off high and north. A Ruff was on the muddy edge in front of the first screen on Saturday morning feeding among the loafing Ducks.
Loafing Ducks (c) JR
Last week’s Pink-footed Goose has moved on, we spent a long time “grilling” the goose flock on Sunday morning but were unable to spot it. The family party of White-fronts is still there as is the lone Barnacle Goose. Wigeon are starting to graze out on Big Otmoor and their numbers have continued to creep up as have the numbers of Gadwall at the northern lagoon.
The drake Gadwall are looking particularly neat and tidy, as if dressed for a day in the office in their spruce clerical grey suits.
Five Ravens (c) Bark
Five Ravens flew over together on Sunday calling loudly and tumbling in the sunlight. Their feathers were so shiny in the bright sunshine that they flashed both silver and black as they flew. It is unusual to see more than a pair together on the moor and they may have been a family party in transit.
Bitterns were yet again seen at the weekend and during the week two were seen at the same time. There is no way of knowing for certain how many we have here at the moment but at least four individuals not an unreasonable guess.
Steve and Pete Roby will keep you up to date with happenings on the moor over the next couple of weeks while I pursue Bustards, Bee-eaters, Babblers and Barbets in the Southern hemisphere. Keep an eye open for the odd ”Notmoor” posting.
Muntjac in the reedbed (c) Derek Lane

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