Monday, 18 March 2013

Talon't spotting and Kamikaze Pheasants

Driving along the road, that had been closed all last week, from Horton Cum Studley.  I was surprised to see, that only half of the hill has been resurfaced. The remaining half has so much water torrenting down it. I half expected to see a Kingfisher perched above it. A further surprise was the amount of snow at Beckley village and on Otmoor itself. Driving carefully down an icy frozen Otmoor lane. A pair of Pheasants were standing on the bank by the side of the track. As i approached. One of them decided, at the last second, to do a Kamikaze run across the road in front of the car. Instinct took over and i jabbed the brake. It's a funny feeling going down the road sideways. Fortunately i was only doing about five miles an hour. Otherwise i could have had a closer look at the Otmoor hedges than i normally do.
Arriving in the carpark, it looked fantastic. A sharp frost overnight had covered every branch, twig and blade of grass in a film of sparkling white ice chrystals. it was more like December than March. To add to the Christmassy feel a Robin was perched among the frosted branches singing its melancholy song.







frosted car park
Lots of birds, unsurprisingly given the weather conditions around the feeders and cattle pens. I counted twenty six chaffinches and ten Reed Buntings feeding on the ground by the pens. Along with several dunnocks and a Songthrush. The feeders were dominated by Great and Blue Tits. A flock of Forty or so Snipe, Five Curlew and thirty plus Golden Plover were milling around with one hundred plus Lapwing, on Greenaways. Four Ruff were seen at the same location later on. Staying on the wader front. One Redshank was flying over Big Otmoor. One hundred Golden Plover (Ashgrave) and Twenty two more on Big Otmoor. A total of eight Curlew Today. Five Little Egrets and two grey Herons (Ashgrave).

Three Curlew




Curlew


Snipe in the grass
Golden Plover

Grey Heron.


An icy Greenaways


Wildfowl are still numerous. The pick of the day being seven White fronted Geese on Ashgrave and four Pintail on Big otmoor. Greylag, Canada Geese, Wigeon, Mallard, Teal, Tufted, Shoveler, Gadwall, Pochard all present.


Wigeon dabbling in a hole in the ice. five little Egrets behind.





Tufted.


Greylag






Canadas.

It was a good day for Talon't spotting. Birds of prey that is. Just past the hide. A fantastic male Merlin flew along the bridleway in front of me. A menacing Peregrine was hunting over Big Otmoor. A Ringtail Hen Harrier floated over the reedbeds. Red Kite, Buzzard, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel made up the impressive Otmoor's got Talons list.
A lone Chiffchaff was keeping company with two Goldcrests and several Long Tailed Tits along the bridleway past the hide. Another bird of note was a Raven Cronking away as it flew over Big Otmoor.


Chiffchaff



It was a bitterly cold day. Several thankfully brief hail showers accompanied me along the bridleway. Apart from, for a few all to short minutes, the sun broke through the clouds. Causing steam to erupt from the hedgerows.


Steaming hedgerows.
Not a Gorilla, it's a birder in the mist
Floating tower
Hail storm heading this way.
Icy Teasel.
I had a fantastic day today but it wasn't over yet. Driving slowly up Otmoor lane. Approaching the farm entrance on the right. I observed a flock of some fifty Fieldfare fly over the road and alight on the bushes in front of me. they were followed by what i can only describe as a swarm. They were landing on every available bush and tree. I made a conservative estimate of three hundred. But on reflection it could easily have been double that. It was hard to keep track. As large flocks were continuously flying back and forth across the road and into the fields either side.
The Hedges on Otmoor today had been pretty Spartan. But this 300 more than made up for it.

A tiny portion of the huge Fieldfare flock

Today's list of species....

Mute Swan, Whitefronted Goose, Greylag, Canada Goose, Mallard, Wigeon, Shoveler, Pintail, Gadwall, Pochard, Teal, Tufted, Great Crested Grebe, Coot, Moorhen, B.H Gull, Herring Gull, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Curlew, Redshank, Ruff, Snipe, Grey Heron, Little Egret, Buzzard, Red Kite, Hen Harrier, Peregrine, Merlin, Sparrowhawk, Kestrel, Raven, Crow, Rook, Jackdaw, Magpie, Pheasant, Woodpigeon, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Starling, Skylark, Meadow Pipit, Reed Bunting, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Dunnock, Robin, Wren, Goldcrest, Chiffchaff, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Long Tailed Tit.

Total...59