Thursday, 13 September 2012

Merlins return

What a difference a day makes. The walk from the car park to Greenaways on Wednesday, was the quietest i think i have had this year. Not a single bird in the hedgerows until i reached the feeders. Where just a couple each of Great and Blue tits were feeding. On the return journey, again very quiet with just this one Linnet on the wire to show for it.

Thursday however was a completely different story. The hedges and the path were full of activity. I had seen three Great spotted and two Green Woodpeckers before i had reached the conservation area gate. Several Linnets, Reed Buntings, Goldfinches, blue tits and Chiffchaffs were on the wires. Almost every bush along the path seemed to contain birds. Lots of Chiffchaffs, Great and Blue tits. At least two Willow Warblers, Four Dunnocks were on the path with goldfinches and even a Chiffchaff and a Willow Warbler was feeding on the ground among the Goldfinches.

Four Jays were in and around the car park field. A whinchat was present on both days on a fence post (diagonal path Greenaways)
With more on the posts near hide and sw corner of Greenaways. With five seen on Thursday.
A juvenile Redstart was in the bushes near the three Oaks. But only gave the briefest of views. A Treecreeper was again on the middle Oak tree also another Great Spotted Woodpecker perched on one of the bare branches.

Acrobatic Treecreeper

From the hide a superb Merlin was gracing a fence post along the path, giving fantastic views through the telescope. Unfortunately it was quite a long way down the track and this was the best i could muster with my limited photographic ability. A shame because it was preening itself and at times it had its tail and wing feathers completely splayed.
None of the photos i took of it preening were usable.
Little Egrets are still present in good numbers with eight seen on Wednesday and again on Thursday. These two were feeding in front of the hide on Wednesday and there are several Teal in the background.
A big female Grass snake was again sunning itself in the bushes. (path to 1st screen) I spooked it before i could get a picture. (That will teach me to stand admiring it for to long).
A Common Lizard was present on wednesday by the first screen. This was only a tiny one. I assume a juvenile.
Thursday continued...One of my favourite birds, a Kingfisher was giving fantastic views from the 1st screen. Landing and fishing from just about every available perch in sight. (I have been in love with these beautiful birds ever since i was about eleven years old when one perched on the end of my fishing rod.)
The Kingfisher was joined by a Sedge Warbler whilst perched in the reed bed.

I particularly like this next picture. With the bird almost in silhouette apart from the sun catching the electric blue on its back.

A Water Rail was feeding at the far end of the right hand channel and five Green Sandpipers also there.
On the walk back to the car park, i checked up on the Hornets stripping Ash tree saga.
They seem to be stripping more bark than ever. There were at least a dozen Hornets at any one time chewing on the main trunk.

Catching up with one of the Otmoor stalwarts by the cattle pens. He put me onto a lovely Wheatear perched on the fence post. (cheers Paul ) It promptly flew over to the sticks in front of me. Where it proceeded to pose for the camera, in between feeding.

Sorry to end on a sour note. But whilst watching the Merlin from the hide. A large military helecopter buzzed Ashgrave. Flying very low At one point it was hovering not far off the ground right over the big scrape. Hundreds of gulls ducks and waders were put to fright. I thought they had agreed not to do these kind of manouvers over the reserve.
Apart from that, it has been a great week with lots to see and enjoy. With migration starting in ernest it is a very exciting time of year and the Otmoor larder is crammed full, awaiting the arrival of our winter visitors.

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