Tuesday, 5 March 2013

Fowls, Owls, Bitterns and curlews

After snow, bad weather in general, family commitments and a nasty prolonged chest infection. I finally managed to get down to Otmoor for the first time this year. And what a day it was. Gloriously warm sunshine, followed a sharp overnight frost. I was begining to think that fate was conspiring against me. Especially after passing the golf course at Horton Cum Studley, and finding the road was blocked off by the police, due to a road accident. After a quick diversion through Stanton st John. I arrived at the car park not much later than expected. Peering through the early morning mist, My first Otmoor bird of 2013 was a very welcome, confiding Kestrel perched on the wires. Lots of birds around the feeders and Cattle pens. Mainly Chaffinches, Great and Blue Tits. A flock of ten Reed Buntings were feeding close to the gate, near the cattle pens. a lovely male Chaffinch fed on the path near the feeders. Completely oblivious to my presence, at one point i thought he was actually going to walk over my feet.

Other birds seen around the feeders. Marsh Tit, Lesser Redpoll, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Robin, A lone Yellowhammer was perched on a bush in the car park field. Great spotted Woodpecker. A Song Thrush accompanied the Reed Buntings and two Meadow Pipits near the Cattle pens.

Lots of birds on Greenaways, especially over the far right hand side. Large skitish flocks of Lapwing, Wigeon and Teal with the odd Pintail thrown in for good measure. Would Periodically and for no apparent reason, take to the skies. Before settling down again moments later. A flock of one hundred or so Golden Plover were also joining in the throng. A second flock of Plovers of equal proportions was also seen on Ashgrave.
Reed Buntings were much in evidence along the bridleway. With several singing males calling from the reeds.

Male Reed Bunting.

Female Reed Bunting.
Half way along the bridleway. I noticed in the distance, an unmistakable white shape floating effortlessly over the path to the first screen. Raising the bins to confirm it. YES my first Otmoor Barn Owl.

Distant Barn Owl.
The moor is dominated by wildfowl at the moment with flocks of Wigeon just about everywhere on the reserve. The reedbed is home to hundreds of Teal that only become apparent when they take flight. Canada Geese are also very numerous and vocal. With smaller numbers of Greylag seen today. Unfortunately no sign this morning of the Whitefronts that have been widely reported recently.
Wigeon grazing. Male Pintail on far bank.
Nagging Canada (Reminds me a bit of home)

Canadas in flight with 5 Little Egrets behind top left.

Canadas with Little Egrets flying behind


Canada in reflective mood.


Buzzard in the distance keeping a watchful eye over the nervous wildfowl

Birds of prey seen today.. Buzzard, Red Kite, Hen Harrier, Peregrine Falcon, Kestrel, Barn Owl.

Another new Otmoor bird for me today were two Bitterns, witnessed from both the 1st and 2nd screens. Also my first Curlews of the year seen from the 2nd screen.

Two Curlews from 2nd screen.

At least six Little Egrets were seen today with five flying together over the reedbed.

Otmoor had a real feeling of spring today. Skylarks were singing and the haunting cries of the Lapwing and Geese echoed across the fields. Lapwings were practising chasing and mobbing a Red Kite. The male Chaffinches were also very vocal. These very smart birds are often overlooked because they are so common. But to me as a budding photographer they give a great deal of pleasure and opportunity.

It was a great day to be out and meeting up with Derek Woodard who had taken some great shots of the Barn Owl. Compare these to my long distance out of focus effort.

Thanks for sending them to me Derek. ( Fantastic shots.) Oh and incidently i know you were desperate to get some shots of the Barn Owl. But that's the last time i dress up as a mouse for ANYONE.

Peaceful suroundings at the 1st screen.
List of todays species..

Mute Swan, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Greylag, Canada Goose, Mallard, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pochard, Tufted, Teal, Pintail, Gadwall, Coot, Moorhen, Cormorant, Great Crested Grebe, Curlew, Snipe, Golden Plover, Black Headed Gull, Buzzard, Red Kite, Peregrine Falcon, Hen Harrier, Kestrel, Barn Owl, Pheasant, Woodpigeon, Stock dove, Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Magpie, Green Woodpecker, Great spotted Woodpecker, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Starling, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Robin, Wren, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Yellowhammer, Lesser Redpoll, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit, Marsh Tit, Reed Bunting,


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