Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Wading through the numbers

The sheer numbers of birds on Otmoor at the moment is breathtaking and careful scrutiny of the mass flocks of Golden Plovers, Lapwings and Wildfowl can produce a few surprises. 5 Blacktailed Godwits were present on Sunday on Greenaways. I found them again today Wednesday 19th on Big Otmoor, along with
15 Dunlin and 4 Ruff. Sanderling and a solitary Grey Plover have also been seen over recent days. Peter Barker thought he heard Redshank on Sunday but couldn't find them. I thought i heard Redshank today on Big Otmoor but again couldn't find them. However i have just seen on the Oxon Bird Log Redshank have been seen on Big Otmoor.
My first Otmoor Curlew of the year was feeding among a small flock of Canadian Geese on Greenaways on Tuesday evening and was found in the same area Wednesday morning.  Bearded Tits are being seen regularly around the 1st screen area and the path to the 2nd screen. I have found them on my previous two visits giving fantastic views by said screen area. Hen Harrier and Peregrine were both viewed over the reedbed heading towards the flood field. Every time a raptor flies over the Flood field or Big Otmoor thousands of Goldies, Lapwing and various Wildfowl take to the air making for some spectacular sights.
Among a plenitude of Tits, Finches and various other passerines, the Marsh tit is still a regular visitor to the feeders in the Car Park field. It provided welcome entertainment whilst waiting for either a Short Eared or a Barn Owl to make an appearance in the Car Park field on Tuesday evening. That and a most spectacular sunset, didn't quite make up for the fact that i gave up at 5:45 pm when the light had all but gone. Only to get home, look at the Oxon bird Log, to see Short Eared Owl seen in Car Park field at 6:00 pm. ARGHHH!! The second time recently, i have missed them by minutes. The first being last Friday. Ambling slowly back to the car i met a chap by the Cattle pens, who informed me he had just seen a Short eared Owl fly over him as he was getting out of his car. That's birding for you.
There are still a few Redwings around. A flock of 20 plus were in the car park field early am Wednesday. With the odd one or two in various other locations on the reserve. fieldfare are also still present but in smaller numbers. With only three found feeding on Greenaways (Wednesday). A Chiffchaff  was again in the bushes at the top of the path to the screens. Two Little Egrets and three Snipe were located from the hide. One of the resident Great Spotted Woodpeckers was very confiding around the feeders and posed nicely for the camera. Showing it's falcon like talons, chisel bill and vibrant colours.
My list for February is up to 71 so far. Not bad considering there are a few Otmoor residents i have yet to catch up with.

Otmoor photos...

Confiding Great spotted Woodpecker..

Sunday's Bearded tit..

Bearded Tit in flight..

Long Tailed Tit in evening sunlight..

Goldies in V formation..

Golden Plover..

Marsh Tit.. 

Buzzard over Big Otmoor..

And surprising a Coot..

Two very distant Black Tailed Godwits..


L,B,B Gulls..



Early morning mass..

Going down of the sun. Fiery Sunset Tuesday 18th..

Dawn's early light. Wednesday 19th..

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...


Dunnock singing...

Fly-catching Chiffchaff...

Dunnock with bodyguard...

Rough picture of Ruff...


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...