Wednesday, 8 November 2017

Saturday and Sunday 4th and 5th November

Bittern (c) JR
I did not go down to the moor on Saturday morning as it was raining so hard. I ended up regretting a little. I had a phone call at about eight o clock from JR to say that he was on the bridle way watching a Bittern across the ditch, that was just a few metres away. It had flown along the ditch and landed clumsily in the reeds and then realised that JR was close by. It appeared to be in a dilemma as to whether it should fly away or freeze and point its head towards the sky and pretend to be a clump of reeds. It chose the latter option and JR was able to stand and watch the bird for almost an hour, while the rain trickled down his neck! I was not sorry to miss the rain but sad not to have had such a close encounter with such a beautiful and secretive bird.

Bittern pretending to be reeds (c) JR
Also on Saturday morning there was a fine male Brambling feeding with the Chaffinches by the hide, unsurprisingly it was not around by Sunday morning.
Brambling (c) JR
Sunday was fine and bright and there was still a great deal to see. First thing I was lucky enough to spot the male Hen Harrier on the northern edge of Greenaways harrying the Starlings as they left the roost. Their tactic when threatened by a raptor is to make a tight ball, which must make it very difficult for the predator to single out an individual to take down.
Raptor food (c) Bark
On Sunday there were four or five separate flocks of Starlings feeding on and around the moor and their behaviour often alerts us to the presence of a Sparrowhawk or Peregrine. Despite their evasion tactics at least one of them was seen to be taken by a Sparrowhawk. The Marsh Harriers continue to patrol the reedbed. The adult male when seen well does show a very pale rump and tail and we wondered if perhaps if only seen briefly and at a distance it might sometimes have been mistaken for a ring tailed Hen Harrier.

Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harrier and Kestrel (c) Derek Latham

The finch flock beside the hide is growing and the trimming and pruning carried out by the volunteer work party has made it much easier to see them. There were many Chaffinches and Reed Buntings on Sunday and at least fifty Linnets.
Linnets (c) JR
We failed to find the Brambling that had been there on Saturday but several Bullfinches and Greenfinches added to the mix. As the winter draws on and the feeding regime is increased, it will be worthwhile spending some time checking through the finches for scarcities.
Bitterns made several appearances flying here and there within the reedbed, on several occasions lately when a Bittern has flushed close to us it has made a croaking call as it has flown away. Water

Water Rail and late Darters (c) Derek Latham
Rails are being seen quite often along the reedy edge opposite the first screen, given patience and a sharp eye it is possible to get good views of this normally shy species.

We looked in July’s meadow and along the edge of Sling Copse (the finger of woodland on the eastern side of Ashgrave) for Hawfinches but with no success. The only migratory flock we did see was of thirty or so Redwings, but the views were fleeting and I had hardly raised my bins before they were gone. I feel sure that if these enigmatic finches are to be added to the Otmoor list they will be seen either there or in Noke Wood. This coming week we will have another really good look.

Long Tailed Tit and Wren (c) JR

1 comment:

  1. It was so nice of John to wait in the heavy rain to enable me to see the Bittern. Very much appreciated, Thank you