Sunday, 21 February 2016

RSPB Otmoor :: 20 February 2016

A friend visited RSPB Otmoor this week and returned having seen stonechat, linnet, golden plover and marsh harrier. YellowhammerSpurred on to increase my year list I decided to head down. The weather forecast wasn't favourable but would probably affect my wife's tennis match in Cholsey, more than my stroll round the reserve.

It was raining when I arrived and so began the visit spotting from the car. A red kite overhead and a few LBJs in the nearby bushes and trees. The rain appeared to subside and so I headed off down the track from the car park. Lapwing and coot from the path but with binoculars I couldn't see any of the golden plover. A kestrel on my left was hunting but in what appeared to be flooded edges of the fields.

Round to the hide and here found a couple of chaps enjoying visits from a fixed flock on linnet, yellowhammer, reed bunting, goldfinch and chaffinch. Female Marsh HarrierSetting up my scope I could then pick out hundreds of golden plover in amongst the lapwing. Red kite again out towards the mast in the distance. The wind was really howling and threw rain onto one side of the hide.

From here onto the first screen. Before I got there I could see a pair of marsh harriers quartering the reed bed ahead, but at quite some distance. A couple of record shots taken but only of the female which got close enough. One of the chaps from earlier joined me and spotted a bittern across the top of the reeds someway in front. No sooner than I spotted it, it dropped down and out of sight. Almost immediately a bird began hovering almost above where the bittern had dropped, at first thought to be a sparrowhawk but eventually showed as a peregrine.

The starlings were starting to collect for the evenings murmeration but it was time for me to leave. As I picked my way from the feeders down the path a family came towards me from the car park. I wish I'd had my camera ready as they were quite unaware of a red kite dancing not 25 feet above them - it would have made quite a picture.

Species noted today (37) were: red kite, pheasant, dunnock, blue tit, blackbird, carrion crow, robin, lapwing, coot, canada goose, greenfinch, chaffinch, reed bunting, great tit, marsh tit, mallard, moorhen, grey heron, wigeon, golden plover, linnet, greylag goose, woodpigeon, teal, yellowhammer, magpie, starling, stock dove, kestrel, shoveler, marsh harrier, tufted duck, lesser black backed gull, bittern, peregrine falcon, great crested grebe and mute swan. 86 for the year.

Wednesday, 17 February 2016

RSPB Arne :: 15 February 2016

Visiting my eldest in Bournemouth during the school half term - as good an excuse as I need. NuthatchGreat few days break and also made it possible to make another visit to RSPB Arne. Started again with lunch at Mortons House, a 16th century Grade 2 Elizabethan manor house hotel and restaurant in the heart of historic Corfe Castle. The hotel is said to have been previously linked by underground tunnels to Corfe Castle. . Over the garden wall the steam train to Swanage passed by - must try and get down to the station at the right time to see the approach from a better angle.Many more people at the reserve than last October but the weather was significantly better.

Decided to try the green route again and picked up a few species in the wood prior to our encounter with the ska deer. Soon after this a pair of jay passed by - just managed a record shot. Once we got to the beach we could see a diving duck offshore - eventually spotted more and identified as red-breasted merganser, a year tick. Continued round to the hide and picked up curlew, spoonbill and a great black backed gull over. Spun back on the red route and found a pair of missile thrush in a large field with jackdaw and carrion crow.

Red breasted merganserWhen we reached the reserve visitor centre we also added nuthatch and great spotted woodpecker. Unfortunately didn't have time to make loop round the Coombe Heath trail so missed avocet and dartford warbler.

Sightings (34) included: robin, blue tit, great tit, chaffinch, coal tit, siskin, house sparrow, greenfinch, goldfinch, blackbird, woodpigeon, carrion crow, wren, jay, goldcrest, oystercatcher, redshank, great crested grebe, red-breasted merganser, wigeon, shelduck, teal, spoonbill, mallard, curlew, herring gull, black headed gull, lesser black backed gull, great black backed gull, magpie, jackdaw, mistle thrush, nuthatch and great spotted woodpecker.