|Teal (c) JR|
It was a very “birdy” weekend with change starting to happen, lots to see and plenty going on. The weather too was better, crisp and bight on Saturday morning with plenty of winter sunshine and on Sunday a foggy start gave way to a pleasant bright morning before rain arrived in the afternoon.
|Great Spot and Goldcrest (c) JR|
|Goldies (c) Bark|
Yet again it was impossible not to be impressed by the sheer numbers of birds present. As before the huge flocks of Golden Plover and Lapwings were impossible to ignore. Sometimes after they had been flushed, headed up high and were starting to descend it appeared as if the whole sky was speckled with birds.
|Golden plover and Lapwings (c) Bark|
|Wigeon and Teal (c) Bark|
Wigeon and Teal are spread over the whole reserve but are in the largest concentrations on Big Otmoor, The Flood Field and the big lagoon on Ashgrave. There were also three Shelduck on Big Otmoor on Saturday and ten or twelve Pintail. The twenty or so Pochard are still around on the Southern Lagoon and “Luke” the leuchistic drake is still keeping company with a female but is now remaining more separate from the rest of the flock.
|"Luke" (c) Bark|
On Sunday morning the fog meant that the distant sounds of traffic on the A34 and the motorway were all but eradicated and the natural sounds were clearer and easier to appreciate. At the first screen the metallic clicks and harsh monosyllabic tacks of the Coots was particularly noticeable as it echoed around the lagoon. Every so often the sounds would accelerate and rise to a crescendo and one of them would suddenly launch itself across the water and attack another. They do seem to be a particularly aggressive and ill-tempered species. The behaviour did not always appear to be about defending a territory or a potential mate, but much more about an individual throwing its weight about. The avian equivalent of a drunk in a pub attacking someone else because….” he looked at me a bit funny!” Perhaps they are just establishing a pecking order in the local Coot population, a hierarchy maybe. It can be very splashy, energetic and dramatic, and even more so if two evenly matched individuals square up and then start lashing out at each other with their feet.
|Angry coots (c) Bark|
The quiet also meant that it was easy to hear two competing skylarks singing and from the brambles Wrens were also starting to call. We estimated that there must be at least six different Cetti’s Warblers in and around the reedbed area alone.
|Wren (c) JR|
|Sunday morning Curlew (c) Bark|
It was another good weekend for seeing Raptors. All the expected species were seen over the two days. On Saturday the male Hen Harrier put in a sustained appearance. It worked its way along the hedge and then spent three or four minutes quartering the northern half of the reedbed, giving superb views to all in the screen.
|hen Harrier (c) JR|
|Marsh Harriers above (c) JR below (c) Nick Truby|
A Bittern was seen from the bridleway on Saturday morning flying along the ditch and then out and into one of the smaller clumps of reeds, where it promptly disappeared.
|Bittern (c) Nick Truby|
|female stonechat (c) Norman Smith|
|Grey Herons above (c) JR below (c) Bark|
If anyone is planning to come down to the reserve for the Starling roost and murmuration or if you know anyone who is planning to, please be advised that the roost has collapsed and there is no longer any kind of display. It carried on for a long time this year and will not get going again until next autumn.
|Barn Owl at dusk (c) Tom N-L|
Ps Redshank next week!
|Swimming Vole......Water or bank? (c) Tezzer|