Friday, 2 November 2012

Ray the Otter

Feeling very frustrated at not being able to get down to the moor all week. What with half term and computer problems. (Having to argue with PC World that my warranty did in fact cover the problems i was encountering.) I finally managed to blag a day on friday. Leaving home much later than intended (Damn those toasted Bacon and Mushroom sandwiches) I was feeling quite buoyant as i drove slowly down the lane towards the car park. Bramblings had been reported all week, near the cattle pens. Virtually jumping onto peoples binoculars and posing for the photographers. Bearded Tits, Hen Harriers, Bittern, all being regularly reported. My spirits didn't diminish, even when i nearly lost a wheel and smash my suspension to bits. When i hit one of the huge potholes as you round the last corner before the farm entrance. However whilst walking up from the car park i noticed a vehicle parked by the cattle pens. cows were milling around by the gate. That put paid to any Bramblings being there.
The new feeding station looks very good. Much better than the metal climbing frame that preceded it. Much more natural. The grass side of the bridleway is awash with mud after the cattle drive. Thank goodness for the gravel path. Birding was pretty slow today. A stark contrast to my last visit the previous Saturday. When there were flocks of birds everywhere you looked. Four Redwing and around a dozen Fieldfare were mixed in with a flock of fifty or so Starlings on Greenaways. One Stonechat was perched on a bush, just down the path to the first screen. another seen from the first screen. One very late swallow flew past over Greenaways. Five Bearded tits were seen near the 1st screen. Two more were seen in the reed corridor by the path to the 1st screen. Presumably two of the ones seen earlier. A female Hen Harrier floated effortlessly over the far side of the reeds (1st screen)
Hen Harrier picture from Saturday 27th oct
Stonechat along path to 1st screen
Then the highlight of the day for me. Since i started visiting the reserve on a regular basis since early March. this animal has always eluded me. The amount of times i have been at the reserve and someone, usually the first time they had ever been to the reserve would say "Oh you should have been here five minutes ago. One crossed the path in front of us. " Or "One was frolicking in the water just by the bridge near the cattle pens." I have finally put that particular frustration to rest. I was at the first screen, scanning the virtually empty sky and reeds. When a cry went up from one of the other birders.
"OTTER!"
I swung round and all to briefly i saw a dark shape on the surface, submerge out of sight. Then after a few seconds it reappeared. What a fantastic creature. Although the sighting lasted for just a few seconds. It was magical.
I could go home happy now. The Bramblings and Bittern could wait for another day.
As i only had a limited time today and the sky was looking threatening i made my way back to the car park.
(As the Otters are known to inhabit the nearby river Ray. i think naming it Ray the Otter is, as my son says a terrible pun) Never mind he's a Goodfella

An interesting observation from last week 26th oct.
Walking along the path to the 1st screen. I saw a Heron wrestling with something large and black. Raising the binoculars, I was very surprised to see the Heron was trying to eat a Jackdaw. At least i think it was a Jackdaw. It had it in its bill and kept dunking it into the water. I thought on one occasion i caught a glimpse of a greyish head. I don't know if the Heron had killed the Jackdaw. Or if it was carrion. I presume it was dunking it for lubrication, as it was having difficulty swallowing it.
Apologies for the poor quality photos. It was a long way away and very poor light. (That's my excuse and I'm sticking to it)







Eventually the Heron did swallow it.
Also from last week. It was nice to see a female Goosander dropping in briefly at the 2nd screen on the 27th oct.


And finally two lovely shots of the Bramblings i missed near the cattle pens. Courtesy of Derek Woodard. (Thanks Derek much appreciated)