Sunday, 14 May 2017

RSPB Otmoor :: 13 May 2017

We decided to make the postponed trip to RSPB Otmoor to catch up with the turtle doves. From the car park we could hear cuckoo and groper calling, but not the turtle dove. Previously I've heard it in the trees behind. As we set off it started to drizzle and I began to question my choice of clothing - no waterproof today. I needn't have worried as it lasted less than 5 minutes and never got particularly heavy. CuckooAs we got to the feeders the turtle dove could be heard purring round on the bridleway. We ignored the draw of the groper calls and continued on. As we turned a turtle dove [#132] landed on top of the telegraph pole, just about the worst place it could be for photos given the light. As we watched, I spotted a cuckoo on the telegraph wires above the feeding station, too far for a decent photo and with one of the wires partly obscuring the bird. Both flew off shortly after.

The cuckoo then worked the tree line along the bridleway, occasionally stopping to tease with a brief view. Not to be outdone the turtle dove joined in, not affording the usual pose from previous encounters. Snipe drummed overhead and the warblers sang at full voice from the reeds.

CuckooWe stopped to talk with some of the regulars who mentioned the departure of a male ruff and the remaining blackwits on Big Otmoor. We strolled down but initially couldn't see them, finding only redshank as lone wader. There were also very large numbers of gulls: herring; black-headed; lesser black-backed. We scanned around and saw three birds approaching - the returning godwits. Not in strong summer plumage but still a welcome sight. Two common tern landed just behind the waders and looked like they might be having an argument - at least that was the body language. In the background the cuckoo continued calling.

We dropped into the hide but nothing to note, other than as we left a cuckoo was resting in a dead tree in the direction of the bridleway and better for photos. It obliged and I managed to take a few photos before it dropped onto a post behind the hedge line, unfortunately not affording a photo from my angle. I decided not to circle round in case the couple in the hide had a better view and I might scare it off.

Turtle doveDown to the first screen we didn't hear any reeling gropers and the number of hirundines grew. Reed warbler could be heard a little clearer than before and danced around the reeds. Quite a few birds on the water but nothing particularly notable. A single skylark rose into he air and climbed high before falling back on the other side of the hedge.

On to the second screen and quieter on the water with views of reed warbler and marsh harrier.

On the return we passed the turn for the hide and noted the large number of hobbies now hunting in the far distance. Almost at the turn for the feeders a turtle dove began calling again, posing in a clearing amongst the branches. Having taken a couple more photos we moved on to the feeders, only to be joined by a cuckoo - the best view I think I've had.

Black-tailed godwitsA top visit and brightening into dappled sunshine as we left.

Sightings (49) included: black-headed gull, black-tailed godwit, blackbird, blue tit, bullfinch, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, chiffchaff, common tern, cormorant, cuckoo, dunnock, gadwall, goldfinch, great spotted woodpecker, great tit, grey heron, greylag goose, herring gull, hobby, lapwing, lesser black-backed gull, linnet, little egret, long-tailed tit, magpie, marsh harrier, moorhen, mute swan, pheasant, pochard, red kite, red-legged partridge, redshank, reed bunting, reed warbler, robin, rook, sedge warbler, shoveler, skylark, snipe, swallow, swift, tufted duck, turtle dove, woodpigeon and wren.

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