Tuesday, 12 June 2018

RSPB Otmoor :: 11 June 2018

The June meeting of the Banbury Ornithological Society was an outdoor meeting at the RSPB Otmoor Reserve. This visit followed a talk in January, by David Wilding of the RSPB, who gave us an insight into the range of tasks and activities that take place on the reserve throughout the year in order to maintain suitable habitat not only for birds but also other wildlife.

The early start time of 6.45pm was to maximise the time spent at the reserve. As it happened quite a few people were already there when I pitched up at just after 6.15pm. As we approached the official meet time numbers had swelled and there was as big turnout as when we have indoor events. We were bathed in glorious sunshine - well organised!

Mike Pollard gave a short introduction to the visit and the reserve, telling us the reserve was established in 1997 and restored large areas of marshland. The reserve is now about 1,000 acres (405 hectares). WhitethroatAs he spoke we could hear the turtle dove purring from the Roman Road and cuckoo from somewhere over the car park field.

We set off and saw reed bunting and whitethroats on the wires overhead. I had a nice chat to Jo and Colin Morgan as we walked. About halfway down to the bridleway we could see garden warbler in the trees to the right; we stopped to listen to a calling cuckoo but as people ahead moved on I picked out the cuckoo in the top of a tree, largely obscured by a branch - I gathered a few ahead and scopes were trained on the bird as it stayed for a good while.

SnipeOn reaching the bridleway, we saw chaffinch feeding on the ground by the pens and snipe drumming high above. Stock dove, skylark and little egret flew across while we were serenaded by reed, sedge and cetti's warblers - unfortunately I didn't see either of the latter two. Apparently a curlew had also been seen.

A few made it to the kissing gate before the masses and headed out towards the first screen; they were afforded views of a bittern out on a feeding flight. I'm annoyed I missed that! Overhead we had more snipe drumming, all the way round to the first screen. The usual suspects from here (on the water) with the late addition of two marsh harrier, but no bittern. Sunset on Otmoor

More drumming snipe and cetti's / reed warblers on the walk back to the bridleway - a real feeling of summer about the evening. I fell back, hoping to get a better view of reed or cetti's warbler but wasn't in luck. I caught up with Jo and Colin as they paused having a drink from their flask, sitting on a bench. We chatted some more and then worked our way back to the car, stopping to see a distant hobby and listening to grasshopper warbler.

You couldn't have asked for a better evening to visit - just a shame a few of the species were only heard, not seen, and that I missed the bittern ...

Sightings (40) were: black-headed gull, blackbird, blackcap, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, common tern, coot, cormorant, cuckoo, dunnock, gadwall, garden warbler, goldfinch, great tit, grey heron, greylag goose, hobby, lapwing, linnet, little egret, magpie, mallard, marsh harrier, mute swan, red kite, reed bunting, reed warbler, shoveler, skylark, snipe, starling, stock dove, swallow, swift, tufted duck, whitethroat, woodpigeon and wren.

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