Monday, 2 December 2013

Whoopers and Harriers

What a fantastic start to December. Whilst sitting in the second screen having just observed a female Marsh Harrier floating over the reed bed for the last ten minutes and a lovely male Pintail drifting sleepily in front of the screen. When suddenly all of the assembled ducks erupted from the calm still waters. Scanning around looking for a predator of some sort, i noticed Joe and a colleague walking around the reed bed doing their webs count. After a few minutes a face popped up at the far viewing slot.
"Hello Pete. What are you like at identifying Swans".
Joe informed me that they had just found four Swans on the field just past the screen and were not sure weather they were Whoopers or Bewicks. As it turned out, there were four fantastic Whoopers. As we stood there watching them a Barn Owl floated ghost like in front of us and alighted on a small willow tree and just like a ghost disappeared into the hollow trunk. On the walk back, a second stop at the building site which will soon become the new two storey 1st screen, equipped with coffee machine, comfortable sofas and a cooking and dining area. (Might have exaggerated just a bit ) I observed, all too briefly, my second Harrier species of the day, a magnificent Ring Tailed Hen Harrier flying along the causeway between the reed beds and dropping down somewhere in the reeds. A second stop at the hide was also worthwhile as i noticed a flock of 150 - 200 Golden Plovers wheeling around the far side of Asgrave. they were amongst 300-400 Lapwing and 100 (approx) Wigeon. Two Snipe were feeding along the waters edge in front of the hide and two Stonechats made their way busily along the fence posts and bullrushes. Fieldfare and Redwing numbers have increased rapidly over the last week. spectacularly large flocks of Fieldfare were just about everywhere on the reserve. Redwing also in good numbers. I saw one flock where i had counted sixty five and still going when they disappeared behind the trees. Yellowhammers and Bullfinches also in good numbers with double figures of both species seen during the day. On the walk back along the bridleway a large flock of Starlings were feeding on the ground by the scrapes, when a blur of wings shot past me over the pathway and hurtled towards the Starlings. A mass of birds exploded from the grass as the sparrowhawk sped towards them. It picked on one that had become separated from the flock. A dog fight ensued and the fortunate Starling made its escape, at the last minute, by going to ground. There are also a good number of Wrens on the reserve. It seems that every few steps along the path to the screens a Wren will flutter across the path. Snipe can be seen all over the reserve with several small flocks of up to seven birds seen today. Water Rails were again calling from the reedbed at the 2nd screen. At least two calling, one from either side of the lagoon.

Whooper Swans..

 Distant Marsh Harrier..




Distant Golden Plover..

Starling reflections..

Otmoor November photos..

Hen Harrier.. Taken from inside the hide through glass as the bird flew right past the window..

Green Sandpiper..

Lapwing and Shoveller. Ashgrave.

Snipe with a Dunlin (third bird from left.).







Giant bird flying along bridleway..

Grey Heron..

Light through Starling wings..

December 2nd list..

Mute Swan, Whooper Swan, Greylag, Canada, Mallard, Wigeon, Pintail, Gadwall, Teal, Tufted, Shoveller, Coot, Moorhen, Water Rail, Cormorant, BH Gull, Snipe, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Grey Heron, Hen Harrier, Marsh Harrier, Buzzard, Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Barn Owl, Kestrel, Raven, Rook, Crow, Jackdaw, Magpie, Pheasant, Green Woodpecker, GS Woodpecker, Song Thrush, Fieldfare, Redwing, Starling, Blackbird, Reed Bunting, Skylark, Stonechat, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, Great Tit, Blue Tit, LT Tit, Goldcrest, Wren, Robin, Dunnock, Pied Wagtail.

Total 57..

Tuesday, 12 November 2013

Otmoor November 12th plus Autumn update.

November 12th 2013, Otmoor.
What started out as a very quiet gloomy start to the day, turned into a stunning morning, that just got better and better as it progressed. Approaching the hide the first rays of sunshine split the clouds,. Shining on Julie's meadow, causing a rising mist to grace the landscape.

Reminiscent of some of the glorious October misty mornings from a couple of weeks previously. Where observing the moor from Otmoor lane With bright sunshine and clear blue skies contrasting with the moor below shrouded in fog, with only the tree tops visible above the blanket of haze.

A flock of eighty Fieldfare  and five Redwing flying over the car park field, Four Stonechat along the path to the first screen and a fantastic Peregrine Falcon perched in the tree, just as described by Peter Barker in the brilliant and informative Otmoor birding blog. were the highlights of the outward bound walk. On the way back after passing the 1st screen for the second time the moor just seemed to come alive. A flock of some two hundred Lapwing and even more starlings reeled around the sky on the far side of Greenaways. Small flocks of both Greylag and Canadas regularly flew over in all directions. Shovellers were also much in evidence with several flocks of up to thirty birds seen flying over the reed beds and Greenaways. My second visit to the hide was much more productive than the first. With a flock of ten Yellowhammers in the bushes behind the hide and a male and female Stonechat busily catching insects on the waters edge and hovering just above the water and plucking prey from the surface in front of the hide.
Leaving the hide i observed a flock of at least one hundred snipe flying over closes and heading for Greenaways. After alighting for a few minutes, smaller flocks of twenty or so birds would rise and reel around the field before rejoining the main flock. A murder of Crows harangued first a Kestrel followed a couple of minutes later giving the same treatment to a Sparrowhawk. The high pitched calls of Goldcrests accompanied me from several places along the bridleway on the way back to the car park. No sign of the Ring Tailed Harrier this morning, although i heard a report of a male, apparently seen in the last day or two  (exciting news). Two Kingfishers seen today one on Big Otmoor and a second flying on Greenaways.
I must say a special thank you to Andrew Marshall and Nigel Woodley who have sent me some wonderful pictures from Otmoor to use in the blog.
Firstly Andrew's pictures from today. His talent for taking fantastic pictures never ceases to amaze me. Bringing to life even a humble bird like a robin with stunning vibrancy.

Red Kites (c) Andrew Marshall.

Robin (c) Andrew Marshall.

Long Tailed Tit (c) Andrew Marshall.

Stonechat (c) Andrew Marshall.

To see more of Andrew's photos go to  WWW.GOWILDLANDSCAPESPHOTO.COM

Not one but two people have been kind enough to allow me to use their fantastic sets of photos. The second being Nigel Woodley who has sent me some beautiful shots of the Bearded tits and Great White Egret from a couple of weeks ago. Thanks Nigel (Brilliant)

Bearded Tit Photos (C) Nigel Woodley.

Great White Egret (c) Nigel Woodley.

My photos from today...

Meadow Pipit.

A brace of Swans..

Greylag Jumble..


A Wisp of snipe..

Kingfisher over Greenaways..

Pied Wags from the hide..

Time for a Chat or two..
Stonechat silhouette..

Stonechat hovering over water. From the hide.

Male and Female Stonechat..

Undoubtedly the highlight of the autumn so far was the Great White Egret that graced the moor for a couple of weeks in October. Seen over much of the reserve and giving fantastic views for many. The Bearded Tits, although elusive are being seen regularly. The Bittern is also putting in the odd appearance, for those fortunate enough, to be in the right place at the right time, to catch brief glimpses of it flying over the reed bed. Numbers of Wildfowl and winter Thrushes are building, as is the number of Lapwings and Snipe. With over two hundred of the former and one hundred plus of the later present on the 12th November. The Starling roost is now in full swing and a stunning sight for any late afternoon observers.


Lapwing on Ashgrave..

Teal with Snipe in foreground..

Wigeon in fine fettle..


Redpoll in Car Park..


Sparrowhawk, Kestrel and Crow.


Buzzard on Greenaways..

And over..

Red Kite..

Blurred pic of Marsh Tit and G,S Woodpecker on feeders..

Grey Heron..

G, W, Egret..

There are still a few insects to be found. The hornets are still chewing on the Ash saplings as of 12th November. One or two Ruddy Darters were flying when the sun came out and a Red Admiral Butterfly also seen today. Caddis Flies and Noon flies still abundant and even a not yet fully grown Garden tiger moth Caterpillar was crawling across the path October 30th. A Rousells Bush Cricket was also found on 30th October.

Rousells bush Cricket..

Ruddy Darter among the Haws..

Noon Fly..


Whats that coming over the hill ?

Is it a Monster ?

Caddis fly..

A monster ?

Gertcha !!!