Tuesday, 28 February 2017

Saturday and Sunday 25th and 26th February

Wren (c) JR
Last week’s posting certainly stirred up a great deal of comment both directly and even more so in e-mails and conversations. Everyone commenting were in complete agreement, the birds must come first and photographers should show restraint and respect for their subjects.
This weekend was mild but very windy and for a few hours on Sunday morning the sun shone over the moor but at the same time dark, inky, indigo clouds were gathering all around. This led to a very spectacular effect as thousands of Golden Plover wheeled and whirled in the sunshine against a very dark background. They sparkled and glittered like windblown snowflakes and as the sunshine became more broken they flickered as they flew in and out of the shafts of light.
Goldies (c) Bark
Big Otmoor was once again the place to be and it was covered with birds, in addition to the Lapwings and Goldies there were very high numbers of Wigeon and Shovellers. At least fifty Pintail could be seen on the farther reaches of the field and several pairs were much closer, yet another pair was on the nearest scrape to the trail beside the Closes.
Closes Pintail (c) Bark

Curlew numbers were up to five on Saturday and there have been a small number of Black Tailed Godwits present out on the Big Otmoor scrapes. Amongst the Golden Plover standing out on Big Otmoor we picked out a Dunlin feeding alongside them. I saw my first Redshank of the season patrolling the edges of a ditch on The Closes. At the same time Lapwings were calling, tumbling and doing their strange courtship behaviour which involves a bird on the ground sticking its rear end up in the air and waving it about!
Chaffinch (c) Bark
All of this made one feel that spring is only just around the corner. In addition, there were more singing Chaffinches this week, a Song Thrush has taken up a song post on an oak along the bridleway and a couple of Reed buntings were scratching out their songs from the reedy ditch beside the path to the first screen. On Sunday morning, we could hear one of the Grey herons vocalising from one of the dead oak trees in the piece of woodland that juts out into Ashgrave. There were already two birds standing on one of the established nests so it could indicate another potential breeder. The sound could not reasonably be termed a song as it consisted of a series of grunts and squawks and it took a moment or two to locate the source of it.
Blackwits (c) JR
There are now five Barnacle Geese keeping company with some of the Canadas and the six White Fronted Geese reported last week have probably gone. Two Shelduck continue to spend time on the Ashgrave lagoon.
The Hen Harrier is still on the moor and was seen on both days this weekend. As before the best chance of seeing it requires a patient wait on the southern edge of Greenaways watching the hedge on the far side. It is most often seen hunting along this hedge although it was reported from the northern reedbed on Sunday morning. A large adult female Peregrine has taken to spending considerable amounts of time sitting up on a gate on Greenaways somewhat to the east of the stone track.
Marsh Harrier (c) JR
The marsh Harriers continue to haunt the reedbeds and we have yet to establish if there are one or two pairs present. Bittern was seen on a relocation flight on Sunday but as the water levels have risen so they have become more secretive and harder to see.
Otter (c) Tezzer
An Otter has been spotted again and as before both its whereabouts and its likely behaviour are impossible to predict. If you should be lucky enough to catch a glimpse of it is worth standing still and quiet, as it can be very confiding and confident, and so can be seen really well.
In the car park field the Snowdrops, the Pussy Willow and the trilling territorial calls from Wrens tell us that winter is nearly over.

Signs of spring.   Flowers (c) Bark    Wren (c) JR

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