Wednesday, 22 May 2013

Feeling Lackey Punk

Tuesday morning.  Arriving at the Carpark i was feeling slightly disconsolate as i viewed the grey gloomy skies. A chill wind was blowing from the north and a heavy drizzle accompanied the drab atmosphere. I very nearly turned around and went home. But i am so glad i didn't. Although the weather struggled to improve, at least the drizzle stopped. I had not gone far before i saw my first Turtle Doves of the year. Two of them flying past the cattle pens, heading towards the Roman road. I could also hear another purring in an Oak tree along the bridleway. I soon found the one in the Oak tree and another i could see perched in one of the dead Elms further along the track. I had only been walking five minutes and already seen four of these magnificent creatures. Their soft purring calls matching their delicate appearance, one wonders how any of them make it through on their perilous journeys north and then south past the French guns among others.
One of the highlights of the day, was finding balls of Caterpillars in several locations. One of the volunteers had directed me to one and from then on i found several along the path to the screens. Clustered in balls, some of them clinging to silken web nests. Others had woven along branches creating silken highways. Others were dropping to lower branches on single strands, reminiscent of specialist soldiers sliding down ropes from a helicopter on some urgent mission. The caterpillars in question are of the Lackey Moth (Malacosoma Neustria). These caterpillars have an almost comical look about them. Colourful stripes along the hairy body of orange, yellow, white, blue and black. With their blue heads and markings that give the appearance of little faces.

Feeling Lackey Punk. Faces in the crowd.

Another insect to look out for are the Alder Flies that are scurrying back and forth on the screens. On the top boards of the viewing slots, along with the birds, they were a constant and welcome distraction, from the cold wind that blew across the water.

It was at the 1st screen that i first saw the Female Marsh Harrier. Drifting effortlessly over the reeds and frustratingly directly over the 2nd screen. It would land in the reeds and appear again about every 15 minutes or so. I had better views from the 2nd screen. Each time it got to close to the lagoon. A common Tern would rise from the raft and chase it off screeching angrily.

Return to base mission accomplished. (Common Tern)

Two Oystercatchers were probing away with their long orange beaks, on Ashgrave in front of the hide. They were joined by a curious lapwing who followed them around wherever they went.

The curious Lapwing..

Three Hobbys were seen today. A Buzzard and several Red Kites were also present.
Reed Warblers are calling with their scratchy song all along the bridleway and the flutier calls of the Sedge warblers also common on much of the reserve. A pair of Linnets have taken up residence at the end of the path to the 1st screen. Swifts were again everywhere on the reserve with smaller totals of Swallows and house Martins. A solitary Curlew was on Greenaways. All in all a thoroughly enjoyable day.

Photos from Tuesday plus Reed warbler and Moorhen From 16th May.

Photos from Tuesday..

Hobby On Greenaways.

House Martin taking the plunge at the 2nd screen..

Male Linnet..

Imm Herring Gull..

Turtle Dove on Oak tree..

Turtle dove on dead Elm with optical illussion of giant blackbird flying past.

More Lackeys..

Lackeys abseiling..

Tuesday, 14 May 2013

Otmoor Tuesday 14th May

Very exciting news from the R,S,P,B, this afternoon. A Curlew Sandpiper was spotted on Ashgrave by Zoe Edwards (Estate worker) along with Dunlin, Black tailed Godwit, Ruff, Ringed Plover and Gargany. All on Ashgrave.
My morning was somewhat quieter. The best bird being a Female Marsh Harrier. A Peregrine was flying over the bridleway (Big Otmoor)  Two Cuckoos Otmoor lane and Greenaways.  A Common Tern over the 1st screen. A huge influx of Swifts today, over all parts of the reserve. I was pleased to pick out three Sand Martins amongst the myriad of Swifts, Swallows and House Martins flying over the Reed bed at the 1st screen. Water rails were Squealing from the reeds close to both screens.
A strange sight greeted me as i walked up the path alongside the Car Park field. Approaching the gate to the seasonal path, On top of the gatepost. A mass of feathers was being waved towards me. It took me a second or two to realise what was going on. A male Pheasant was shaking his rear end for all he was worth.

What do you think of this ladies ?

Not bad, but wipe your nose. You've got a dewdrop.


Other photos from today..

Roe Deer On Closes.

Common Water Crowfoot.


Reed Bunting.

Sedge Warbler Singing.

Common Tern.

House Martin.

Sand Martin.

Monday, 13 May 2013

Sunday 12 th May

The most noteworthy birds on Sunday were a pair of female Marsh Harriers. One of which appeared to be an immature as it was showing hardly any colour on the crown. Both could be seen at various times during the morning, hunting over the reed beds and Greenaways and a Barn Owl, again over the reed bed and Heading over Greenaways towards the Car Park. The aerial duels between Red Kites and Lapwings are growing apace. Last week only a couple of Lapwings would rise to the threat. On Sunday however an almost constant battle was taking place over Big Otmoor. With twenty plus Lapwings rising to mob the air born pirates. I can only assume the more persistent aggression shown by the Lapwings, means they must have chicks to protect now. I did witness at least one successful raid by a Kite. as it dived to the ground with its pursuers hotly in pursuit. I saw it peck at its talons as it flew off and what appeared to be feathers fall from its grasp. Other birds of prey seen on Sunday were. Two Sparrowhawks (A male and a female ) Hobbies and Buzzards.The two Garden Warblers were still singing along the bridleway. (Grenaways) They have been joined by at least three singing Lesser Whitethroats. A Curlew was on Greenaways, to the right of the diagonal path. Reed Warbler numbers have increased, with six seen or heard along the Bridleway (Greenaways) alone. Snipe were everywhere, especially over Greenaways. I saw five in the air together. I heard and saw them drumming over Greenaways, Closes and Big Otmoor. Other waders are still noticeable by their absence. with nothing on any of the scrapes apart from the odd Redshank. Any waders that are present, are being reported from the  lagoon on Ashgrave, but again just dribs and drabs. The multitude of Swifts, Swallows and House Martins continued to hawk over the reed beds and fields of Otmoor (No Sand Martins today). The majority being over the reed beds. Grasshopper Warblers were heard calling from three locations in the Car park field. Willows, Chiffchaffs and Whitethroats also present. A Grass snake was seen sunning itself near the R,S,P,B hut and another along the path next to the Car park field. There are lots of Hares to be found especially on Ashgrave. A Roe Deer was again on closes and a Weasel shot across the path to the 1st screen.

Photos from Sunday..

Reed Warbler (Greenaways)

Snipe Drumming.

Marsh Harrier over the Reed bed.

Marsh Harrier over Greenaways.

Barn Owl.


Tufted Landing.

Applying the brakes.

Little Grebe cleared for take off.

Greylags Taking off.

Aerial dogfights over big Otmoor.

The squadron homes in.

The lone fighter.

Reminiscent of a Stuka with fighter in pursuit.