|Bullfinch (c) JR|
On Friday before the proper weekend went the way of most recent weekends………..in other words became grey, damp and dismal……. I had an early morning walk on the moor. I went down specifically to look once again for the Hawfinch that has been reported several times in and around the car park field and Long Meadow. I checked carefully round the field and along the Roman Road before ending up in Long Meadow.
Unsuccessful I went back to the carpark and took off my boots and put
my kit into the boot of the car. An Otmoor regular who I had not seen for a
long time stopped to chat and I told him about the Hawfinch invasion and how
frustrating it was that I had yet to catch up with the Otmoor one. Looking past
me and up to the top of the tallest willow beside the gate he said, “what’s
that, It’s too big for a chaffinch.” It was the Hawfinch! By the time I had
retrieved my camera from the boot it had inevitably flown off towards the rifle
range. I had only enough time to confirm its identity but a more recent report
and clearly a better view has conformed it as a 2nd winter male.
|Spring in the carpark field.(cBark|
|Cetti's Firt screen (c) Bark|
Saturday and Sunday despite the indifferent weather were both enlivened by the sheer numbers of birds that were present on and over the moor. Golden Plovers, Lapwings, Teal and Wigeon are all close to their winter maxima. Additionally there are always large flocks of Starlings that choose not stray too far from the evening roosts, feeding on the flooded fields. It is an excellent time to spot raptors and some regulars reported that they had seen all eight species of raptor that are likely, on just one evening visit.
|Marsh Harriers Above (c) A Harris below (c) Bark|
The Marsh Harriers are very much in evidence over the reedbed and Greenaways. We were certain that we had seen four different individuals on Saturday, two of them mature adults, a subadult female and a 1st winter juvenile. The regular male Hen Harrier is being seen more frequently but still hunts more over the northern edge of Greenways, the northern end of the reedbed, over the flood and the MOD land. It has this area very much to itself as Saunders Ground and the Hundred Acre Field are flooded.
|Shelduck on Closes (c) Bark|
On Sunday morning there were a pair of Shelduck on The Closes and I understand that they have hung around. On the southern Lagoon there were over twenty Pochard. They were mostly males and very interestingly the Leuchistic individual from last year was still with them acting just the same as a testosterone fuelled drake but with a very blonde head! This is the third year that we have seen this individual and he is now fully mature, but this has made no difference to his colouration. We have not seen him closely enough to see whether he has the deep red eye that the drakes show in full courting plumage.
|"Blondie" the leuchistic Pochard top left (c) JR|
The Bullfinches in the car park field are now concentrating fully on eating Blackthorn buds and are much less flighty than they seem to be the rest of the time. Their absorption with their browsing allows a quiet, patient observer to get very close.
Chaffinch (c) F.Josephs and Yellowhammer (c) JR
Bitterns are still very active in and around the reedbed. We are confident that there are a minimum of three there but there could well be more. In some parts of the Somerset Levels booming has already been heard and now is the time to listen out for this special haunting sound coming from the reedbed at night and early in the morning.
|We take pheasants for granted! (c) Bark|