Natural History Diary : December 2019
Monday 9th December
I visited Otmoor this afternoon. There was a great deal of water on the fields; quite a change since my last visit. There were lots of Lapwing and Wigeon on The Closes. A Great Spotted Woodpecker and the usual tits were on the feeders. Suddenly all the birds scattered as a Sparrowhawk shot through. I stayed there for 10 minutes or so, during which the Sprawk made four more passes (all without catching anything). I suspect that my presence put it off. There wasn't much to see on Greenaways, just a lot of Greylag Geese. Big Otmoor was hosting a lot of Canada Geese. There were quite a few Linnets and Reed Buntings, and three Yellowhammers, feeding on the track near the hide. A couple of Moorhens joined in.
Gt Spotted Woodpecker ♂, Otmoor, 09-Dec
Grey Squirrel, Otmoor, 09-Dec
Yellowhammer ♂, Otmoor, 09-Dec
Gt Spotted Woodpecker ♂ | Otmoor Grey Squirrel | Otmoor Yellowhammer ♂ | Otmoor
As dusk approached I walked up to the second Starling viewpoint. Just before I got there I noticed a Brown Hare feeding on top of the bund. He (or she) was quite unconcerned by me standing quite close as I took a few photos. Before the murmuration started, a large flock of Golden Plover lifted off from somewhere further north. Ron Louch reckoned that there were about 2000 of them. Groups of Starlings started to arrive. The early arrivals were harried by a Sparrowhawk. The murmuration was fairly large, but didn't last too long after sunset. A female Marsh Harrier appeared soon afterwards. I heard a Water Rail (maybe two) squealing in the reeds. More surprisingly a Cetti's Warbler was heard calling after the sun had set.
Linnet, Otmoor, 09-Dec
Reed Bunting ♀, Otmoor, 09-Dec
Brown Hare, Otmoor, 09-Dec
Linnet | Otmoor Reed Bunting ♀ | Otmoor Brown Hare | Otmoor
Sunday 8th December
I visited a very windy Farmoor again this morning. There were five Goldeneye at the north end of F1, but they were hard to see because of the rough water. There were still Redwing and Fieldfares on the berry bushes in the NW corner, but not as many as last weekend. From the Pinkhill hide I saw a Little Grebe, and eventually about fifteen Snipe. The Little Egret was still in the NW corner of F2, and the Snow Geese were still down at the south end. The leucistic Coot was still present as well.
Snipe, Farmoor, 08-Dec
Goldfinch, Farmoor, 08-Dec
Cormorant, Farmoor, 08-Dec
Snipe | Farmoor Goldfinch | Farmoor Cormorant | Farmoor
Wednesday 4th December
There were two Coal Tits in the garden this morning.
Tuesday 3rd December
I visited Farmoor again this afternoon, but there was no sign of the Slav Grebe. I did find both Scaup, a solitary Knot and a Little Egret. The gull roost was quite large. I spotted a Common Gull in the NW corner of F2. The feral Snow Goose flock was down at the south end of F2.
Knot (juv), Farmoor, 03-Dec
Scaup ♀, Farmoor, 03-Dec
Little Egret, Farmoor, 03-Dec
Knot (juv) | Farmoor Scaup ♀ | Farmoor Little Egret | Farmoor
Sunday 1st December
I had a walk at Lower Radley in the hour before sunset. There wasn't a lot about, apart from numerous Rooks and Carrion Crows feeding on a freshly-cultivated field. Other sightings were half-a-dozen Redwings, a Buzzard and a Green Woodpecker.