Tuesday, 11 February 2014

Spectacular Otmoor

All of the Otmoor stalwarts i have spoken to, all say the same thing. They have never seen so much water on the reserve. The flooded fields make for spectacular landscapes and even more spectacular birding, with thousands of Golden Plover, Lapwing and wildfowl present. At any given time a mass of birds can erupt from Greenaways, Big Otmoor or the Flood field, filling the sky in starling like proportions. Having being waylaid by other commitments and horizontal rainy, gale force days, Finally i managed to pick a few days between the rain and last week saw my first visits of the year. With powder blue skies and birds everywhere it was truly a magnificent place to be. It continued on Monday 10th Feb. Again a fantastic day, meeting up with a few friends and strolling around the reserve with blue skies and just a light breeze to accompany us. It was one of those days when you just don't want it to end.
It's not just the sight of mass flocks taking to the air that is of interest, but also the sheer variation of birds and other wildlife that is present.
My first visit last Monday started with a bang. A ring Tailed Harrier was swooping menacingly around the car park field causing panic among the Starlings and Redwings that were feeding on the ground and the various small birds around the feeders. Ruff were seen every day with the best flock being thirty two seen together on Ashgrave last Tuesday. I even managed to add two new birds for my Otmoor list over the last few days. Sanderling And Grey Plover.
Three Sanderling were feeding amongst the Teal and wigeon on Big Otmoor. At one point a Ruff was feeding next to one of the Sanderling giving a real perspective of the size difference. A solitary Grey Plover was also on Big Otmoor. Other highlights from the 10th  were undoubtedly two Otters at the 2nd screen. Although only a brief sighting lasting just a few seconds. To see two together was a real treat. A female Bearded Tit gave fantastic views by the 1st screen. A Chiffchaff was busy fly-catching by the hide junction.
It is always a pleasure to see a striking male Pintail and to see so many together is a real bonus, the best count for me was 115 drakes on Big Otmoor last Monday. There were still forty eight present on the 10th.
A few birds have started singing. Notably Song Thrush, Skylark and Dunnock. A Great Spotted Woodpecker was drumming on one of the telegraph poles near to the feeders this morning. There are half a dozen or so Bullfinches to be found adding a splash of colour around the Car Park and Car Park field area.
Birds of prey.. There are two Hen Harriers present with at least one being seen most days. Three Owl species have been reported, including at least two Short Eared. Peregrines are also in residence. Their presence often given away by the erupting mass flocks of Plovers and wildfowl. Buzzards, Red Kites, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel also seen regularly anywhere on the reserve.

Bearded Tit...











Stonechat...



Dunnock singing...


Fly-catching Chiffchaff...



Dunnock with bodyguard...



Rough picture of Ruff...


Canadas...


Bio mass...


Wigeon over big Otmoor...


Wigeon over Greenaways... Courtesy of Derek Woodard.


Snipe flypast at the 1st screen...





Yellowhammer... Courtesy of Derek Woodard...


Female Bullfinch...


 Male Bullfinch... Courtesy of Derek Woodard.


Courtesy of Derek Woodard...


Hen Harrier... Courtesy of Derek Woodard.


A huge thank you Derek for sending me your wonderful pics.. (Above)

Sights of Otmoor..

Flooded Car Park, Friday 7th.


Greenaways under water...