Saturday, 24 October 2020

RSPB Otmoor :: 24 October 2020

I set off for RSPB Otmoor soon after sunrise and after 10 minutes of driving started to think I shouldn't have bothered - the windscreen wipers sweeping the rain from the windscreen. I did think about turning back but hey, it might not yet be raining at Otmoor I thought. Amazingly, it wasn't.

I walked from the car park and eventually stopped at the feeder staion to see if anything showed - I waited for a few minutes but nothing more than the usual tits, pheasant and chaffinch so I continued on. On the bridleway I heard cetti's warbler but as is mostly the case with this species, I didn't even get a fleeting glance - it wasn't the only ocassion this happened today.

I came upon a mixed flock of tits which on investigation included goldcrest and chiffchaff. Some of the Otmoor Massive passed in the opposite direction and mentioned that they'd seen upwards of 20,000 starling leave the roost and that there were large numbers of both lapwing and golden plover; they'd also seen a peregrine hunting in these flocks.

In the pools on Greenaways I managed to pick out eight snipe. This was only possible due to the fact that one flew in and allowed me to see them move about as it joined. Without this I probably wouldn't have been able to see them in the scrub.

I reached the fence overlooking Big Otmoor and spotted a stonechat feeding from the barbed-wire fence. It was joined by a chiffchaff that mirrored the feeding habit of the stonechat, dropping to the grass and returning with insects.

Chiffchaff and stonechat

In the distance I could see a sizeable flock of golden plover and decided to make for the 1st Screen. To my left I could see the stonechat continuing to feed and two wrens that hopped between the reeds and brambles.


The flock of golden plover joined with another that had taken to the wing and came my way, high but almost over. Great to see such good numbers and hopefully replicates the early spring when the flocks were 5,000+ and glistening in the sun - no change of that today!

Golden plover

At the 1st Screen there were good numbers of wigeon and gadwall. Over the reedbed, two female marsh harriers quartered from left to right. Flocks of golden plover and lapwing danced over The Flood. Several cetti's called to the left, right and behind.

Marsh harrier

There were then a few spots of rain and so I decided to make my way back. Along the bridleway, I saw two couples heading the other way. One couple appeared to have bins and a camera and those on the inside by the fence moved past as the others stopped for a photograph. I realised the couple taking photos were Mr and Mrs @old_caley. I stopped for a catch-up and we saw the tit flock pass us by, again with chiffchaff and goldcrest. We eventually went our separate ways but immediately I spotted a bittern take to the wing and fly off towards The Flood / 1st Screen. @old_caley followed after it.


@old_caley had mentioned that he'd seen a redpoll and a marsh tit at the feeding station and so I stopped there on the return. After about 5 minutes the marsh tit flew in from the left and onto the feeders. The rain started again, and this time a bit heavier. I opted to head for the car and journey home, rather than to The Pill where some interesting birds have been seen of late. Maybe next time.

Sightings (41) included: bittern, black-headed gull, blue tit, buzzard, canada goose, carrion crow, cetti's warbler, chaffinch, chiffchaff, coot, *****, dunnock, fieldfare, gadwall, goldcrest, golden plover, goldfinch, great tit, grey heron, greylag goose, kestrel, lapwing, long-tailed tit, magpie, mallard, marsh harrier, marsh tit, mute swan, pheasant, red kite, redwing, reed bunting, robin, rook, snipe, starling, stonechat, tufted duck, wigeon, woodpigeon and wren.

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