After an extremely dry Summer, the rain has finally arrived, and it is here in style! The ditches are topping up, the fields are getting wetter and the birds are responding to the change!
Wigeon are back in decent numbers, 300+ can be seen distributed around site or flying overhead if they are spooked. Listen out for their distinctive 'whistling' call if you seen them. Over wildfowl on the reserve include Mallard, Shoveler, Gadwall, Teal, Tufted duck and Pochard.
The hedgerows are alive at the moment with Redwings and Fieldfares numerous across the site. These Scandinavian migrants have moved onto Otmoor for the Winter after their breeding season all over Scandinavia and they can be seen taking the berries from all the trees and bushes. Also look out for Lesser redpoll, Siskin, Brambling and the fantastic Goldcrest. This tiny bird can be seen and heard from a lot of the hedgerows, listen for its high pitched 'ziiiiii' call as it patrols the bushes looking for insects.
The seed is being spread by the hide again and this is a great place to see a spectacle of birds. Over 80 Linnet, 40 Reed bunting and 30 Chaffinch were there on Tuesday with more to come and they are a brilliant site as they drop down to the ground to feed and suddenly fly up calling as they try and hide from a predator. Keep a look out in this flock, a beautiful male Brambling was associating with the flock this week.
The reedbed is always a great place to spend a bit of time, the Bittern is being seen most days, look out from the first screen and you will have a good chance of seeing it flying from one feeding area to another. Also from here you might see the blue dart of a Kingfisher or elegant Great crested grebe, both searching for the small fish that are numerous throughout the reedbed.
Keep your eyes peeled at the reed edge and you might be lucky enough to see the skulking shape of a Water rail. These elusive birds spend most of their time creeping through the reeds looking for small fish and invertebrates on the floor to eat but listen out for their distinctive call, a sudden squeal or a pig grunting from the reeds?, you might just have a Water rail. Read more about the brilliant bird here.
While the Water rail is a secretive and seldom seen bird, they are beautiful when seen well.
Other birds that have been seen recently include the resident Marsh harriers, Short-eared owls, Merlin, Little grebe, Stonechat, Snipe, Peregrine and Woodcock to name a few.
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