Tuesday, 14 January 2020

RSPB Otmoor :: 12 January 2020

After spending a lovely lunchtime with friends on Saturday, we decided Sunday should be a birding day. SparrowhawkLooking at the weather and time available we decided to head for RSPB Otmoor. The road was closed between Islip and the first Beckley turn and so we had to detour through Woodeaton and Elsfield. Flooding was still very evident all around this area.

Shoes on, we marched down the track and paused at the feeding station. A sparrowhawk was running circuits around the feeders and trees, only minutes apart, and trying to catch anything dropping off the feeders. We watched over a dozen attempts but it failed on each pass - I tried a couple of photos but it was just too dense to allow a tight focus. A jay and great spotted woodpecker flew to our right. Golden plover

Nothing by the side of the bridleway but we could see cloud of birds over Big Otmoor. Over the fields we could see flocks of golden plover and lapwing; estimated at c.5,000 and c.4,000 respectively. Occasionally they would all rise and fill the sky above - almost like glitter against the sky and even more so when dark clouds passed over - eventually this attracted a peregrine who failed to catch either species and it cruised off to try its luck elsewhere.

Golden ploverWe dropped into the hide to see what was showing there and added close views of linnet, bullfinches, chaffinch and reed bunting. Waiting here we scoffed our sandwich lunch before moving on to the first screen. Here we picked out a few snipe on a small island and numbers of gadwall. Over toward Noke more golden plover and lapwing could be seen.

We moved on again towards the second screen and encountered a hare, allowing us good views. Around the same area we also watched a muntjac deer feeding on the bank, leaving as a group came in the opposite direction. A kestrel landed in the treetop ahead but a couple were walking ahead of us and as they approached it took to the wing and departed.Hare

On our right, in the reduced edge, a pair of stonechat kept level with us. Entering the second screen the stonechat showed very well right in front of the hide. A marsh harrier quartered the distant reed bed and more golden plover and lapwing flocked in the sky. More than a dozen pochard slept or dived ahead. Good views of red kite directly above.

On the way back we bumped into the Millers and stopped for a chat while standing in a pool of mud. The was a constant stream of people heading in the opposite direction to us, presumably hoping and preparing for a starling murmuration.Stonechat

Sightings (43) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, bullfinch, buzzard, Canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, collared dove, coot, dunnock, gadwall, golden plover, goldfinch, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, grey heron, greylag goose, jackdaw, jay, kestrel, lapwing, lesser black-backed gull, linnet, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, marsh harrier, moorhen, mute swan, peregrine, pheasant, pochard, red kite, reed bunting, robin, snipe, sparrowhawk, starling, stonechat, tufted duck, wigeon and woodpigeon.

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