Natural History Diary : March 2019
Saturday 23rd March
I visited two local sites today, with a friend was was down from Edinburgh. We went to Farmoor first, where there was still not much change in species, but Jan was pleased to see the Snow Geese. We heard a couple of Chiffchaffs singing near Shrike Meadow. An interesting visitor to the Skrike Meadow feeder was a female Great Spotted Woodpecker. Unfortunately the feeder was empty, so she didn't stay long. On the wy to the Pinkhill hide we saw three Brimstones. There was a Little Grebe on the Pinkhill lagoon. We returned round the north of F1, where we saw a mating pair of Mute Swans, and a pair of Buzzards.
After lunch we visited Standlake Common. There were lots of birds singing along Shifford Lane: Wren, Greenfinch, Robin, Dunnock, Chaffinch and Great Tit. We saw one male and five female Goosander on pit 27. A Green Woodpecker was calling from the big island, but we couldn't locate it. A Kingfisher flew past - my first of the year. On the way to the Langley Lane hide we saw at least thirteen Red-crested Pochard on pit 28. There were still the usual ducks on pit 60, but in reduced numbers. There were also three more Goosander. A pair of Curlew flew in, and had a wash and brush up before departing. I then spotted a Little Ringed Plover on the island - another addition to the year list.
Great Spotted Woodpecker ♀, Farmoor, 23-Mar
Brimstone ♂, Farmoor, 23-Mar
Curlew, Standlake Common, 23-Mar
Great Spotted Woodpecker ♀ | Farmoor Brimstone ♂ | Farmoor Curlew | Standlake Common
Thursday 21st March
I visited Farmoor between 5 and 6pm today. There was a low cloud base but almost no wind. There wasn't much change in species since my last visit, but there were 2500 or more Black-headed Gulls. The noisy ones seemed to be on F1. There had been a large hatch of midges, and at least a dozen Pied Wagtails were feeding on them along the causeway. The pair of Gadwall was still present. A male Kestrel was sitting on the water inlet building, the Snow Geese were still at the south end of F2, and a Chiffchaff was flycatching from a tree.
Kestrel ♂, Farmoor, 21-Mar
Kestrel ♂ | Farmoor    
Sunday 17th March
After a week of very windy weather, it was quieter this morning, with some sunshine. I headed over to Farmoor. The first birds of note were a pair of Gadwall on F2 - not an obvious place for dabbling ducks, it must be said. There were lots of Black-headed Gulls on F1, most in full breeding plumage. Many Great Crested Grebes were also sporting breeding plumage. I noticed that the flock of feral Snow Geese was on the grass at the southern end of F2. I continued down to Pinkhill, where I saw my first Chiffchaffs on the year. There was a Song Thrush on the grass. The feeders at Pinkhill were well patronised by Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches and Reed Buntings, and the usual Water Rail was picking up scraps. Next stop was the hide at Shrike Meadow, where there was lots of activity on the feeders but no sign of a Kingfisher. Lastly I went to see the Snow Geese. I counted 94 of them, including seven blue-morph birds. They took to the air in front of me, before circling round and landing back on the grass a little further east. Back at the car park I heard a Chiffchaff singing.
Chiffchaff, Farmoor, 17-Mar
Song Thrush, Farmoor, 17-Mar
Snow Goose, Farmoor, 17-Mar
Chiffchaff | Farmoor Song Thrush | Farmoor Snow Goose | Farmoor
Wednesday 13th March
A female Blackcap was in the garden this morning. I also saw pairs of Great Tit, Blackbird and Robin. The Wood Mouse also put in an appearance.
Tuesday 5th March
I visited Otmoor this morning. It was cool and quite sunny, but cloud increased as the morning went on, and there was a moderate WSW wind. There wasn't much down the roman road - drumming Great Spotted Woodpecker was noteworthy. There wasn't much on Greenaways either, but a deer carcass had attracted a number of Red Kites. A Redshank was feeding on one of the scrapes. The main activity was on Big Otmoor. There were lots of geese (including two Barnacle Geese), Wigeon, Shoveler, Golden Plover and Lapwing (although the latter two were much reduced in numbers), but around twenty Curlew were the most interesting sighting. I'd never seen that many Curlew at Otmoor before. At the first screen there were the usual ducks, including the leucistic Pochard. I also saw a Little Grebe that was coming into summer plumage. At the hide I saw a pair of Oystercatchers. The mixed flock feeding on seeds on the track by the hide was much reduced; the majority were Reed Buntings.
Redshank, Otmoor, 05-Mar
Pochard, Otmoor, 05-Mar
Pochard (leucistic), Otmoor, 05-Mar
Redshank | Otmoor Pochard ♂ | Otmoor Pochard (leucistic) | Otmoor
Monday 4th March
There was a load of frog spawn in the garden pond this morning. In the evening I counted nine Common Frogs in the pond.
Sunday 3rd March
The Wood Mouse was out and about in the garden yesterday morning and today.