|Female Stonechat (c) Bark|
There seems little doubt that if we wish to give the year-list a boost when it gets stuck, all I have to do is to go overseas! While I have been away four new species have been added to the list taking it to one hundred and fifty three. It was good to get a Whooper Swan down on the moor as we did not have a visit from either of the winter swans last year. It is interesting that at the same time on the same day there were half a dozen at Farmoor.
|Brent Goose (c) Stoneshank|
There has been significant change since I was last on the moor. The autumnal yellows and golds have intensified on the leaves that are still clinging to the trees after the stormy winds of last week.
|Otmoor and Harrier in the strange light (c) Tom N-L|
|Mallard (c) Bark and Shovellers (c) JR|
From the first screen the ducks are looking much smarter in their crisp new plumage and instead of loafing around preening, are courting and displaying especially the Mallard drakes. We do tend to take them for granted but their bright emerald green heads, conker coloured breasts and yellow bills really shine out brightly in the autumn sunshine. Shovellers spin in pairs creating a vortex to draw up food from deeper water. There is still a slow but steady increase in the numbers of both Wigeon and Teal.
|Bittern (c) Bark|
Bitterns are once again very much in evidence and seem to be undertaking longer flights between feeding areas. We estimate that there are at least three different individuals, based largely upon where we see them fly to or from and where they next appear. A very imprecise method but the only one at our disposal.
|Hen harrier (c) Derek Latham|
The second winter male Hen Harrier is still with us and has now been present for a whole year. It seems likely that as the starling roost gets established, with its ready supply of food for raptors, there will be no need for it to stray too far from the moor. A Ringtail was reported on Saturday and might just be the one that was present early last month.
|Lesser Black backed Gull over screen (c) Bark|
A Short-eared Owl was seen well on Saturday and again briefly on Sunday morning, hunting along the hedge on the north-eastern side of Greenaways.
I have been reliably informed that this is the optimum time for Stonechats to be on the move and we have seen really good numbers on the reserve and surrounding areas. Six were seen in one location on Saturday and at the same time we were watching a further pair just up from the hide towards July’s Meadow. On Sunday ten were counted out on Greenaways and a late Whinchat was seen on both days, associating with the Stonechats.
|Stonechat (c) Bark and Whinchat (c) Pete Roby|
On both days we saw small parties of both Fieldfare and Redwing passing over but as the wind finally comes out of the south westerly quarter I am sure their numbers will rise dramatically.
|Kingfisher at the Pill (c) Stoneshank|
Finally on Saturday we watched a young Fallow Stag make its way across Ashgrave. It is probably the offspring of our resident Fallow hind. The one that had serious identity issues as for a whole year it appeared to think it was a cow! The hind also had a fawn this year and we will enjoy watching the small herd develop.
|Young Fallow Stag (c) Bark|