Sunday, 18 April 2021

RSPB Otmoor :: 17 April 2021

I arose and decided to make for RSPB Otmoor - it was around 6.45am when I pulled in and there were 17 cars already parked up. I set out and stopped behind a couple of chaps who had arrived just before me as they watched a couple of birds, including a wren, hop around the top of bushes. I looked along the bushes in blossom to find a couple of common whitethroat, along with a chiffchaff - my first whitethroat of the year.

Common whitethroat

Sedge warbler called from the bushes and I kept my eyes peeled for the glossy ibis which is still being reported in The Closes but didn't add anything significant. I reached the bridleway and found a small group chatting, including: Peter Barker, John Reynolds and Mark Chivers. They said 'hi' but didn't appear to be on anything and were just scanning Greenaways. In the reeds to my right I spotted my first reed warbler of the year. It stayed very low and made it impossible to get a photo with a clear shot of it's head and so I didn't bother.

Blackcaps, goldfinch and chiffchaff all fed in the bushes to my left and there were sooo many Cetti's warbler calling. I saw one dart across the path and so was happy that at least I could add it to my day's list. A few steps further on the chaps from the car park had caught up with me and another Cetti's called from a bush ahead. This time it didn't leave but hopped around the branches and amazingly gave a view where I could take a photo - well chuffed.

Cetti's warbler

Along the bridleway I met up with Trish and Dan Miller - it is great to see them and Dan looking so well after his illness. They had been waiting for a bittern but hadn't been lucky so far. Dan had heard a grasshopper warbler in the scrub to the right of the brideway but it didn't show and had since gone silent and/or gone.

We joined up and made our way to Big Otmoor and on the way I heard a grasshopper warlber reeling down the path to first screen. I decided to have a look. 20-30 minutes later I hadn't seen or heard a peep out of the groper but had been entertaned and teased by Cetti's warblers at every turn. Sedge called from the bushes to my side. Dan and Trish had joined me here and we decided not to go on to first screen as all the guy coming back from there said there was nothing of note. Big Otmoor it was then.

At the crossroads we stopped and talked with Mark Chivers who had relocated there. He was waiting (and hoping) that a Cetti's would perch in the blossom bathed in sun. A Cetti's was moving around although landing everywhere but there. Suddenly it perched in a bare bush directly behind us giving fantastic views and a few of us rattled off a few shots - this then repeated again and again. This must be the best views I've ever been afforded by this (usually) skulking species.

Cetti's warbler
Cetti's warbler
Cetti's warbler
Cetti's warbler

Dan and Trish set off to look around Big Otmoor and I finished chatting to Mark - by now Peter Barker had reported bar-tailed godwit and ruff on Big Otmoor. At this point Mr and Mrs @old_caley appeared and I stopped to chat some more. The Cetti's continued to perform. I left the three talking and went to catch up with Dan and Trish. A beautiful red kite soared through and I took a couple of snaps as the light was very nice. A red kite later would be mobbed by lapwing as they protected their nests.

Red kite
Red kite
Red kite

I joined them and we scanned the scene, moving along a bit to get a better vantage point. After a short while I picked out one of at least two ruff and within minutes Dan had the bar-tailed godwit. It was turning out to be quite a day. A chap stopped to our left and our excitement grew when he said that he had a spotted redshank in his sights. At first we couldn't find it but not many mintes later we all had good views. I took photos of these three birds but the haze and distance made it impossible to get anything but record shots - amazing to add the spotted redshank as it hadn't been mentioned earlier, and we'd all dipped it on previous visits.

We made our way back to the car park and it was very busy - Dan and Trish were quick to get away but I had decided to change my shoes. I was about to get into the car when Peter Barker returned and told me of the experience he and John Reynolds had just had with a grasshopper warbler - he showed photos and later John's were on view on the Oxon Birding Blog.

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