The weekend was a mix of overcast mornings and warm sunny afternoons and evenings. I saw people in short sleeved shirts, and kids in shorts, as everyone enjoyed the sunshine and warm weather. Not what you normally expect in the middle of October. No wonder the winter birds haven’t turned up yet, it still feels like summer.
Last week there was a nice female Brambling in with the mixed finch flock at the Wetlands Watch Hide. We couldn’t find it on the weekend so it’s probably passed through. The RSPB are putting out seed for the birds along the track so it’s always worth checking through the feeding birds for something unusual. It is also a great place to get some close photos of the birds.
|Brambling courtesy of Pete Roby|
This is the time of year to listen out for the high pitched “tseep” call of the Redwings as they fly overhead. This is how we picked up a few small flocks flying around from the bridleway. I was hoping for a picture of one on the reserve this weekend but they haven’t arrived in numbers yet. They are often heard after dark as they migrate, so listen out for them if you are outside in the evenings.
Even though Greenaways often looks empty it’s always worth a scan with the bins or a scope. Straight away we got onto a nice couple of Roe Deer that are often out in the middle of the filed. Another six Roe Deer can often be seen over Noke Sides as you walk up to the second screen. Further panning over Greenaways turned up a Sparrowhawk sat on a post, a Kestrel on another, unfortunately no sign of the Merlin, but there were at least four Stonechat perching up on top of some distant rushes. It’s difficult to get an accurate count of the Stonechat but there could easily be eleven or more on Otmoor at the moment. Six were seen at the Pill area on Saturday morning and another three were at Noke, with at least another two or more on Greenaways. A Whinchat was reported with the Stonechat on Greenaways on Sunday so there is still a chance to catch up with one of those passing through.
|Stonechat courtesy of Tezzer|
On Saturday four Redpoll were seen feeding on rosebay willowherb along the track to the first screen. A nice bird to catch up with on the reserve and the second sighting this week. Hopefully there will be more sightings in the coming weeks. They flew towards the bridleway where there is another patch of rosebay willowherb but they weren’t seen again. Siskin was also reported in the week and again from the Wetlands Watch Hide on the weekend.
|Lesser Redpoll courtesy of John Reynolds|
Around a hundred Lapwing were seen flying around north of the reserve and small flocks of Golden Plover flew overhead calling and circling the reserve. The largest flock was eighty one birds and we should get more turning up in the coming weeks. They always look great as they twist and turn in the sunshine
The male and female Marsh Harriers were seen drifting around the reserve as usual and what great birds they are. We see them so often it’s easy to take them for granted but what a loss they would be to the reserve if they ever left. There were at least two Bitterns, and possibly three seen flying about on Saturday and Sunday over the reed bed, and also over Greenaways from the bench along the bridleway. During the week around 150 Pied Wagtails were seen gathering around the reed bed before going to roost.
|Pied Wagtail courtesy of John Reynolds|
Five Water Rails were heard squealing along the ditches from the car park to the second screen, and at least five Cetti’s warblers acted like motion detectors as they blasted out their calls whenever you walked past. From the hedgerows we could hear the piping call of the Bullfinches and the busy calls of the Long Tailed Tits as the mixed tit flocks passed along. There are still a few Chiffchaffs flitting around with the tit flocks as well as the tiny Goldcrests. I was beginning to think that the excellent male Hen Harrier had left as it hadn’t been reported since last Wednesday, but we managed to see it on Sunday afternoon hunting along the back hedge of Greenaways. If it hangs on until next Monday I might have to bake it a cake as it would have been on the reserve for a year.
|Wheatear courtesy of Pete Roby|
With hurricane Ophelia passing close by you never know, it might just blow something new onto the reserve this week!