Tuesday, 7 March 2017

Saturday and Sunday 4th and 5th March

Red legged Partridge by the Hide (c) Derek Latham
It was a very squally and unsettled weekend. So much so that I didn’t even venture out on Sunday until the afternoon. Once again heavy showers alternated with bursts of sunshine and out of the wind the sun felt warm. Just as last week it was the sheer numbers of birds that caught the eye especially the Golden Plover.
Goldies and Lapwings (c) Bark
They are the flightiest of birds panicking easily although usually with good cause. The full range of raptors were on show again. We were lucky enough to get excellent views of the Hen Harrier as it worked its way across the reedbed and along the northern edge of Greenaways. It has been instructive to have both Hen and Marsh Harriers present at the same time. It is possible to distinguish between the two species simply by how they fly. The Marsh Harrier appearing heavier and slightly more ponderous whilst the Hen harrier is lighter and more buoyant, looking like it requires less effort to remain airborne.
Hen Harrier (c) JR
The Peregrines are also ever-present attracted no doubt by the abundant prey species. On Saturday morning, as Steve and Pete Roby were walking back from the first screen a great mixed flock of Lapwings and Golden Plovers came low over their heads. As they looked up one of the Peregrines swept in and targeted a Lapwing, which it managed to seize and carry off towards the reedbed. Either the raptor wasn’t holding on to it too tightly or the Lapwing got loose, but the end result was the two birds flying off in different directions.
Peregrine (c) Bark
There are definitely two pairs of Grey Herons nesting in the dead Oak tree in the wet woodland that sticks out into Ashgrave, all four birds were sitting on the nests on Saturday morning and a Little Egret was sat a just below them on Sunday afternoon. Out in the reed bed there are another two and possibly three pairs of Herons nesting. The Starlings and the weather have flattened the reeds down so they are easy to spot. They can be seen bringing nest material in from different parts of the reserve as well as from within the reed bed itself. Marsh Harriers too can be seen transporting material and it appears that perhaps there might be two different potential nest sites.

Nest Building Grey Herons (c) JR

There was some good news on Sunday morning the Short-eared Owl has returned to its favourite perch in the car park field after a nearly two-week absence, it was flushed by an over eager, insensitive and selfish photographer. I would ask anybody who does see anyone flouting the clear signs that say this is a conservation area to remind them of this clearly and politely. If they take no notice a photograph would be much appreciated and we will publish it on the Oxon Bird Log to ensure the widest possible audience and maximum disapproval.
Wader numbers continue to grow.
Shortie back where he / she belongs (c) JR
There were four Dunlin on Big Otmoor on Sunday afternoon and the same three Black Tailed Godwits that we had noted last week. Four Oystercatchers flew up from Big Otmoor and headed out towards the Ashgrave lagoon. At least ten and probably more Redshanks were out stalking around the pools on Big Otmoor and several more were on The Closes. Their numbers will certainly continue to go up over the next few weeks as the breeding season starts.
Amourous Brown Hares (c) Norman Smith
At Noke there were four Stonechats together on the wire fence. They will be moving off to breed soon and the winter appears to have been kind to them. The other beneficiary of the gentler winter has been the Cetti’s Warbler. They seem to be back stronger than ever calling from thick hedges and clumps of reed. It is difficult to estimate their numbers accurately but there are certainly a minimum of eight calling from different parts of the reserve.
Ringed Plovers (C) Badger
A Coal Tit found on the feeders yesterday along with two Ringed Plovers out on big Otmoor have taken the yearlist up to ninety nine species I wonder what will be number one hundred.

Gathering Storm with Lapwings and the first Otmoor Lamb (c) Bark

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