Monday 11 November 2019

Otmoor visits in November

The leaves on all the trees and in the hedgerows are flaring with last blaze of autumn colour making for a lovely sight on a clear morning.

Once again the moor is a proper wetland. The rain of the last few weeks has transformed many fields into lakes with just hedgerows, bunds and banks standing clear and they are attracting huge numbers of birds. 

We estimated that there were in excess of one thousand Lapwings in several different flocks that erupted from separate parts of the moor when flushed by one or other of the attendant raptors. The Lapwings were accompanied by flocks of Starlings that were not feeding far from their reedbed roost site. There were also large numbers of Golden Plovers that were more difficult to count, but certainly their numbers are in excess of 500.

As is to be expected with such a high biomass present on and around the moor we have been seeing lots of raptors and seeing them more frequently. Where initially the Starling roost was their prime attraction, in addition it is also the flocks of larger prey species feeding out on the floods. There were four different Buzzards around the reedbed and there are still two Ring-tailed Hen Harriers roaming across the moor. 

The resident Marsh Harriers are also likely to be seen as well as Kestrels and Sparrowhawks. Peregrines are now being seen regularly. We also had the bonus of seeing a Short eared Owl from the bridleway today.

Duck numbers across the moor have gone up very significantly but they are not being seen on the lagoon in front of the first or second screens. They have plenty of other places to be at the moment and undoubtedly the continuing presence of a family of three Otters in the reedbed is keeping them away for now. 

The Otters are being seen almost every day and seem quite used to being watched from the screen. Sometimes the youngsters can be seen rolling and tumbling in the water, at other times hunting and feeding and once today out on the edge of the bank. 

A few smaller birds are staring to come onto the reserve now so hopefully the winter feeding program will start soon which should attract several different species.

There is a substantial Starling roost taking place but as yet there have been no spectacular displays. The birds have been arriving and going straight down to roost without producing a shape shifting spectacle. This roost has been attended by Marsh Harriers and by at least two Barn Owls.

Over the coming months I think that this could be a very exciting place to visit which should provide a great days wildlife watching. Just get out and enjoy it DT.

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