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.

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