Wednesday, 14 November 2012

Bearded and well Chiffed

Or well chuffed as it turns out. What a glorious day at Otmoor today. Sun shining, hardly a breath of wind, The trees looking resplendent in their golden autumn finery and birds galore. I had my first really good view of the Otmoor Bearded tits today. Three of them were pinging away in the corner of the reed bed next to the 2nd screen. When you see them close up you realise just how exotic they look.

More of today's sightings later.
I couldn't do a blog last week as i had computer problems. Hopefully it is all sorted now. So a quick summary of last week. The highlight of the week was a Firecrest found in the bushes just past the corner after the 1st screen. I had met a friend, halfway down the path from the first screen. He informed me of a couple of small warbler type birds he had seen, but could not identify, as it was only a fleeting glimpse. He described them as being small with very short tails and white eye stripes. Intrigued, i hastened to the area he described. Rounding the corner after the first screen, i could here goldcrests calling from several locations. after finding two of them a third bird appeared low down and at the back of the bushes. This one was different however. It had a definite white supercillium. Bobbing and weaving like Mohamed Ali, desperately trying to follow it, and get a better view as it flitted around near the base of the bush. On several occasions i got glimpses of it. The final view was as it flew and i saw, (all to briefly) a flash of orange on its crown as it disappeared. I have no way of knowing if this was one of the birds my friend saw. But a brilliant sighting non the less.
I was immediately disturbed by loud voices. Two young ladies suddenly appeared from around the corner. Wearing bright figure hugging Lycra jogging suits and a hound also in attendance. They jogged past me with a cheery "Good morning".
Needless to say, all of the birds went decidedly quiet for some time.
The Firecrest, when i saw it last, was flying right in the direction of the second screen. I spent the next two and a half hours or so walking back and forth along the path. Lots of goldcrests could be heard all the way down the path. Four were together in a bush behind the second screen. But alas no further sighting of their fiery cousin.

One of the many Goldcrests.
 Lots of Fieldfare and Redwing also along the same path feeding on the many fruiting bushes.

One of several flocks of Fieldfare to be found on the reserve.
 Bullfinches were seen near to the hide and along the bridleway (Greenaways)

Closes field is getting better and better. With lots of wildfowl inhabiting the newly flooded areas. The Hen Harrier was also seen from the 2nd screen.

Wednesday 14th November....

As i have already said, today was absolutely glorious on the moor. Up to one thousand Lapwing were seen reeling around the skies. Doing their best to upstage the Starling displays.

Part of the massive Lapwing flock.
 Lots of Snipe seen today. Five were present on the scrape (Greenaways) Their impressive camouflage making them quite difficult to see among the grass stems and mud. Blending in almost perfectly with their surroundings.

A pair of Snipe.

Three Snipe. (Find the third Snipe ? Answer at bottom of page)
Several flocks of fieldfare and Redwing were still present. With lots of birds feeding between the screens.

Redwing between the screens.
A flock of twenty plus Chaffinches were feeding around the Cattle pens along with Goldfinches, Greenfinches and Dunnocks.
Female Chaffinch.

Birds of prey were much in evidence today. Two Peregrines were present. With one on the ground on Big Otmoor and another seen flying between the two screens.

Distant Peregrine on Big Otmoor.
 Hen Harrier seen hunting over the reed bed. With one lucky birder watching it hunting very close to the 1st screen for several minutes. Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, and Red Kite also seen today.
Perhaps the most surprising sighting today was three Chiffchaffs. The first was found along the new path in the car park field. The second was by the feeders and a little later singing from the top of a nearby Willow tree. The third was close to the RSPB hut. Although the third bird was heard only. Making it's familiar "Wheet" contact call.
A flock of fifteen or so golden Plovers flew over. In a charachteristic V formation. Heading towards the M.O.D. land. Early a,m saw lots of Greylag, Canada and wigeon feeding close to the path on Closes field.

It's heartening to see birds using the lagoon in front of the hide at last. A flock of fifty Mallard were on the right hand pool. small flocks of Teal and wigeon were on the main pool, along with three Little Egrets. A total of six Little Egrets were on Ashgrave.

Several species of Duck can be seen on the reserve. With Pintail, Wigeon, Teal, Shoveler, Gadwall and Mallard all reported.

Shoveler in flight.
Wigeon in flight.

 Sitting at the 1st screen. I had the unusual experience of having it to myself for the best part of an hour. It was so peaceful. There wasn't even the sound of aircraft. Perfect tranquillity. Just the sound of birdsong occasionally breaking the silence. A pair of Mute Swans showing their threat display floated serenly past. seeing off a family of four others.

With hardly a breath of wind, the water was like a mill pond. As the sun broke through the clouds, it seemed to pick out individual trees and bushes. Making for some spectacular views.

Calm waters.

Selective sunshine.

A couple more views of a beautiful Otmoor day...

Golden Oaks.

Early morning Greenaways. Muddy path and all.

Thousands of gossimer Spiders webs filled the air in a spectacular display.
There were so many webs, at times it was like horizontal rain.

A lone Hornet was still feeding on the Ash tree on the 6th November. No sign today though. A Horntail or Wood Wasp as they are sometimes called was seen along the bridleway. Lots of insects seen today. Wasps continue to chew the screens. Gnats, flies and day flying Moths were abundant. I would be surprised if the Bearded Tits have gone over to seed yet with so much insect life still around.

The lone Hornet.

Flies on golden leaves against a powder blue sky.

Last but not least. This noisy little Wren was just outside of the 1st screen.
(Answer to third Snipe puzzle)

Today's list of Species...

Mute Swan, Greylag, Canada, Mallard, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Shoveler, Little Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Snipe, Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Magpie, Jay, Wood Pidgeon, Stock Dove, Pheasant, Peregrine, Hen Harrier, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Red Kite, Fieldfare, Redwing, Blackbird, Starling, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Pied Wagtail, Robin, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Bearded Tit, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long tailed Tit, Chiffchaff, Wren, Goldcrest, GS Woodpecker, Green Woodpecker, Reed Bunting.
TOTAL... 52

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