Sunday, 6 August 2017

RSPB Otmoor :: 05 August 2017

This trip to RSPB Otmoor had been postponed a couple of times lately - firstly for the green sandpipers at WkWT Brandon Marsh and then the ruddy shelduck at Farmoor Reservoir. WhitethroatHoping that this wouldn't be too late or prove difficult, I set off early to make sure I got a couple of hours before the forecast showers set in.

Leaving the car park I could hear turtle dove over the hedgerow running up the Roman Road. I stopped and considered whether to look for a view but decided to push on. As I walked up Otmoor Lane and passed the entrance to the Rifle Range, I saw what I first thought was a collared dove; on closer inspection it turned out to be a turtle dove. Unfortunately it flew up and to quite a distance, feeding along the drive, outside sensible photo territory.

Red kiteThe entrance to Long Meadow is immediately after this gated entrance and advertised by a yellow arrow footpath sign - a very low stile gives access to the meadow proper. A good number of birds were making good use of this hedgerow, including two green woodpeckers who flew up and into the trees above.

Sightings of redstart I heard were towards the far end of the meadow beyond the old brick stop-butt so I set off, keeping an eye for movement in the odd bush scattered ahead. Muntjac deer showed and moved right into the trees and to my right I could hear two tawny owls calling; nothing immediately visible to I continued on. As I came into range of the brick stop-butt I saw a bird drop into the grass from a bush then as I got my binoculars on it I was sure I saw the flash of colour indicating restart. Not close enough to be sure. I waited for a while on the far side of the stop-butt but with no success so walked on from here to a denser grouping of bushes ahead. I saw three birds fly in to the bushes to my left and quartered around to see if I could get a view. Yes, male redstart [#145]. RedstartRedstartQuite distant for a photo but a tick. A couple of minutes later it showed again but then everything went quiet - I did find a big group of goldfinch feeding on the seeds of wild flowers on the field fringes.

I doubled back the the stop-butt but nothing immediately evident. As I turned to go (the skies beginning to darken) I caught a glimpse of the tell-tale colouring rising from the grass again. I stepped back and then heard a male call and although at distance, managed a couple of photos. Difficult to get close to these birds and they seemed to be on the move or hidden.

Red kite over as the rain started to fall and I hastely returned to the car. As I got to the car park a group of birders who had been out on the wetlands seemed to have the same idea as me and were all back to get out of the showers.

Sightings in Long Meadow (17) included: blackbird, blue tit, bullfinch, carrion crow, chaffinch, dunnock, goldfinch, great tit, green woodpecker, long-tailed tit, magpie, red kite, redstart, turtle dove, whitethroat, woodpigeon and wren.

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