Sunday, 22 April 2018

RSPB Otmoor :: 21 April 2018

It was a beautiful morning and the temperature was set for 23C by lunchtime - although 13C when I left, there would be no need for a coat today. RSPB Otmoor hosts cuckoo in the summer months and so, having heard of their return, I was off to catch a glimpse, or just hear their calls.

As I got to the car park (08:30) it was absolutely full and there I met a rather grumpy looking gentleman in camouflage gear. CuckooI asked if he had been lucky with any shots but he replied how he was annoyed at having seen great pictures of wheatear on the Oxon Birding Blog but they weren't around this morning.

The next guy I met was in a better mood and enthused that I would be unlucky not to see cuckoos this morning as he had 5 encounters in his time there. At the feeders grasshopper warbler reeled but I couldn't locate them through my bins.

Walking along the bridleway I could hear sedge and reed warbler but only caught short glimpses of sedge [#110]. Sedge warblerA couple of people were staking out a dead tree, hoping that the cuckoo would stop there on it's next passage along the tree line. I continued on and very shortly after watched the cuckoo [#111] land in a distant tree - waiting were I was it flew left and then towards me, landing in a tree ahead. Fortunately I was close enough to get off a few shots before it moved on. A single snipe drummed overhead.

A significant flock of linnet were feeding and resting in the trees around the hide but I didn't stay there long; as I left a yellowhammer dropped into the tree ahead.

Common lizardHeading to the first screen I talked with a woman I'd parked next to in the car park and she passed on that a whimbrel had been spotted out on Big Otmoor. Just visible over a ridge this was another year tick [#112], almost right behind it was a barnacle goose [#113], lying down but sticking up it's head. More sedge then as I got to the first screen a reed warbler [#114] sang and climbed the reeds to my right - just as I managed to get a focus through the reeds it took to the wing and flew off.

Looking back down the path I could hear and see the cuckoo in trees near where I had seen it, then it flew right and into some very tall trees and I lost it when it left.Willow warbler

Marsh harrier and red kite quartered the reed bed but again no bittern here. Onto the second screen I picked up willow tit, joining in with the throng of chiffchaff. Nothing much at the second screen but as I returned I could hear the bittern boom but couldn't see it anywhere - I waited but it stayed hidden.

I stopped at the first screen and watched the common lizards for a few minutes before heading back to the bridleway. As I went through the gate there were a few people watching sedge in the brambles opposite; Lesser whitethroatI joined them and as we watched we saw a lesser whitethroat [#115] hop by.

Skylarks rose from Greenaways and in the distance a lone hobby [#116] worked the far hedgerow. A curlew flew past and stopped briefly between Greenaways and Moorleys, too far away for a decent photo. Heading back I then added common whitethroat [#117] - a showy bird hopping between trees and the overhead cable.

It was noticeable that I didn't hear the cuckoo again as I walked along the bridleway to the car park - early is obviously best at present. Common whitethroat

Sightings today (47) included: barnacle goose, black-headed gull, blackbird, blackcap, blue tit, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, coot, cuckoo, curlew, dunnock, gadwall, goldfinch, great crested grebe, great tit, greylag goose, hobby, lapwing, lesser black-backed gull, lesser whitethroat, linnet, magpie, mallard, marsh harrier, moorhen, mute swan, pheasant, pochard, red kite, redshank, reed bunting, reed warbler, rook, sedge warbler, shoveler, skylark, snipe, teal, tufted duck, whimbrel, whitethroat, willow warbler, woodpigeon and yellowhammer.

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