Saturday, 20 January 2018

RSPB Otmoor :: 13 January 2018

It was time for my first visit of 2018 to RSPB Otmoor. Always a pleasure and a good place to move on with my year list. I decided to go early in the morning, as I usually do, although this prevents me seeing the spectacle of thousands of starlings in their winter murmuration. The car park was relatively quiet when I arrived and you could see evidence of reserve management taking place with lots of trees cut down and logs piled.

There were lots of bullfinch around the car park, joined by good numbers of blue and great tit. From here there wasn't much evidence of any movement in the sky but I could hear some distant geese calling. Soon these were seen in The Closes. Golden ploverNothing unusual at the feeders I continued on and wondered if it was quiet and it was going to be "one of those" Saturday mornings. As I got closer to the hide I was greeted by a very large flock of golden plover taking off from Big Otmoor. The number on Big Otmoor alone has been estimated at 2,500 and as high as 5,000 on the whole site.

Into the hide and distant flocks could be seen - good numbers of linnet and reed bunting. As I waited the flocks got closer and were joined by chaffinch, dunnock and yellowhammer. As I sat a large fox ran past on The Closes side and crossed towards Greenaways.

Through the gate and towards the first screen I got better views of the golden plover, sharing the field with large but lower numbers of lapwing. At regular intervals they both were spooked and took to the air creating a swirling mass of birds - great to watch and be directly under.

From the first screen I had three marsh harrier, a pair and a juvenile female. It appears all the others have left the reserve. Joining them were large numbers of red kite across to the trees and hedgerow beyond. At one point I thought I had spotted the hen harrier but unfortunately not. A handful of snipe could be seen in their usual spot. No sign of bittern (three seen over the last weeks) nor water rail.

Rather than continuing onto the second screen I opted for a return toward the hide and a look along the path between Ashgrave and Big Otmoor. As I walked I could feel the mud getting deeper and wetter and wondered if this was a good idea ... up popped a female stonechat to be added to the year list, then wigeon. A group walking in the opposite direction suggested it might not be worth continuing on as nothing special had been seen further on.

Marsh titAs I approached the turn for the feeders I could see a goldcrest flying and hovering beside branches ahead. At the feeders I then added marsh tit.

A pleasant visit and added 12 species to take me to #70 for the year.

Sightings (41) included: black-headed gull, blackbird, blue tit, bullfinch, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, cormorant, dunnock, goldcrest, golden plover, goldfinch, great tit, grey heron, greylag goose, lapwing, linnet, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, marsh harrier, marsh tit, moorhen, mute swan, pheasant, pied wagtail, pochard, red kite, redwing, reed bunting, robin, rook, snipe, starling, stonechat, teal, wigeon, woodpigeon, wren and yellowhammer.

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