Saturday, 20 April 2019

RSPB Otmoor :: 19 April 2019

The weather forecast was set fair and so we decided to visit RSPB Otmoor. We dropped into the petrol station and stocked up with lunch on the way. When we arrived the car park was full but amazingly I saw Nick Truby and his wife arriving at their car, ready to depart. I hopped out the car and over to chat with Nick and congratulate him again for his photos being selected as in the Birdguides' "Photo of the week - Other notable images". Lesser whitethroat

Nick had spotted redstart (common) in Long Meadow last Sunday, and so we decided to have a look - not many seem to survey Long Meadow and so the lack of reports didn't mean they weren't showing. We set off and immediately came across a lesser whitethroat, showing well, but mobile.

Down Long Meadow we spotted chiffchaff, yellowhammer, blackcap (m&f) and a distant muntjac deer. As we approached the last bush before the large brick wall, I saw what initially appeared to be a blackbird. Ring ouzelBut looking through my bins it then presented as a ring ouzel! - who'd have thought?! I just spend a day looking for these at Linky Down but here was one on Otmoor.

We continued on but failed miserably to locate any redstarts but were entertained by several willow warbler. I decided to work back down the opposite side of the meadow and came across the ring ouzel and flushed it back across to distant bushes and out of sight - not one minute later I then flushed a woodcock which shot off ahead and quickly out of sight too - another tick.

We circled back to the car and ate our lunch. BitternThe weather wasn't disappointing us and the temperature was already up to 23°C. Refreshed we were off around the reed beds.

On the bridleway we could see distant marsh harrier and a single redshank preening in one of the shallow pools. By the bench we were told that the 'booming' we had been hearing was coming from the reeds ahead and that two bittern had been showing from there. We watched from here until one of the guys to our left spotted one on the edge of the water in the distance - a challenge for the camera at around 200m! All this time a reed warbler sang below us, but out of sight. BitternI waited for the warbler to appear, so Charlotte continued on to the hide. Eventually the it showed, briefly, then skulked back into the dense reeds.

I joined Charlotte in the hide but there wasn't much there, other than a few reed bunting and a smaller flock of linnet than we have seen through the winter months. We didn't hang around.

Down the first screen we could hear 'booming' from the channel beside the path but obviously no sighting. No sign either of the reeling grasshopper warbler near the kissing gate that Nick had mentioned. We reached the screen and had views of distant marsh harrier and tumbling buzzards; not a behaviour I have seen in this species before. A cuckoo called in the distance and I picked him out in a far tree; confirmed by a silhouette on the photo I took, and later by a group with a scope.

As I was standing by the rightmost window of the screen a flying bittern came inoto view - I wasn't ready with the camera and only managed to get it focussed at 300mm before it was almost passed. At least I managed to alert everyone in the hide and we all got what must be the longest flight I have seen. Cracking.

On the bridleway, as we returned to the car, we had closer views of marsh harrier and then a cuckoo dropped into the trees behind me. Unfortunately it was off before I could get round but at least I had better views of it in flight.

Sightings (39) included: bittern, blackbird, blackcap, blue tit, bullfinch, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, chaffinch, chiffchaff, coot, cuckoo, gadwall, goldfinch, grey heron, greylag goose, jackdaw, lapwing, lesser whitethroat, linnet, magpie, marsh harrier, mute swan, pheasant, red kite, redshank, reed bunting, reed warbler, ring ouzel, robin, rook, shoveler, teal, tufted duck, whitethroat, willow warbler, woodcock, woodpigeon and yellowhammer.

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