Thursday, 9 May 2013


May 9th.

A very blustery morning, with dark heavy clouds ever threatening as they rapidly blew across the moor. Interspersed with lovely blue sky and welcoming sunshine.
I was extremely glad to have been in the hide when an isolated, brief, horizontal shower thundered against the windows of the hide on the Noke wood side.
With the ever present howling wind the hide has developed a strange high pitched buzzing sound. As if someone has hidden a Kazoo in the rafters.
My first encounter this morning was a Roe deer sitting in the car park field between two bushes happily munching away at the leaves. Try as i might, straining my ears against the wind, I did not hear any Grasshopper Warblers today. I also failed to hear the Turtle Doves purring. Both were reported this morning. A Buzzard caused a bit of excitement, as i noticed a dark band around the belly and it initially appeared larger and longer winged than a normal Buzzard. But then i noticed barring on the tail and no obvious black tips to the tail feathers my first ever Rough Legged Buzzard at Otmoor turned sadly but inevitably into an ordinary Buteo Buteo.




Car park field Deer..


Two Garden Warblers were still singing from the same area as earlier in the week. (50 - 60 metres before the bench. Greenaways ). Ashgrave was fairly quiet in front of the hide. the two Whimbrel are still to be found on the grassy bank beneath Noke wood and a solitary male Wheatear was hopping around on the bank on the far side of the pool. Walking along the bridleway towards Noke, I saw my first few Swifts, Swallows and House Martins of the day. This was the prelude to a spectacular passage. The reed bed was fairly quiet to begin with, but from the 1st screen i noticed a mixed flock of around fifty Hirundines and Swifts hawking above the water over at the 2nd screen. For the next half an hour an almost continuous stream of birds came from that direction and over my head. First it was mixed flocks of anywhere between 50 and 80 birds. Then it changed to smaller flocks of 10-30 individual species. 20 or so Swifts then a dozen Swallows then 30 house Martins and so on. It was fantastic to watch as a new batch would suddenly appear from the 2nd screen direction. Hawk over the water for a while then disappear over big Otmoor to be replaced by another lot a minute or two later. It is difficult to put a number on the amount of birds passing through but it must have been in the hundreds if not more.
I only saw eight Sand Martins in a mixed flock of Swallows and house Martins.

Scimitar Winged Swifts..




House Martin..


On the walk back along the bridleway at 11:30 am, I watched a Marsh Harrier floating over Greenaways and then over the Reed bed. Although it was a long way away i did manage to get a few very distant photos.

Distant Marsh Harrier..





Rich blue waters at a breezy first screen..




Threatening sky. Storms a coming..