Otmoor 20 April 2023

The party of fifteen assembled at RSBP Otmoor found themselves in bright and sunny conditions tempered by a brisk north-easterly. As usual the car park was awash with the song of warblers. Willow Warblers set the musical tone with the accompaniment of Blackcaps, Chiffchaffs and a couple of scratchy Whitethroats. On the nearby entrance track the first of numerous Cetti’s Warblers shouted loudly while a Green Woodpecker browsed the grass in a meadow. By the feeders noisy Pheasants were gathered while Chaffinches, Great and Blue Tits, Dunnocks and Great Spotted Woodpecker feasted on the seeds. Curlews were ubiquitous usually displaying in pairs and uttering their haunting cries. Over the marsh a speedy Sparrowhawk was marauding while Red Kites drifted overhead and a Common Tern passed through. A handsome male Marsh Harrier coursing close by was much admired while close attention was given to a Muntjac browsing in the reeds; sadly it had obviously suffered a serious leg injury. A few Reed Warblers sang intermittently in the ditches and finally the first of a handful of Barn Swallows passed over. The wetland past the crossroads held limited numbers of waterfowl, chiefly Shovelers, Teal and Gadwall, while a Barnacle Goose and a juvenile Shelduck as well as an Oystercatcher were noted. Then three Common Cranes flew in along the tree line and put on a fine display until it was interrupted by the arrival of a Hobby that proceeded to practice its agile evasive manoeuvres through a squadron of unappreciative Lapwings. Meanwhile a Raven passed over, almost unnoticed amid the entertainment. Then it was on to the hide for lunch and views of the Reed Buntings and Linnets putting on their usual show. The Cranes landed and allowed further admiration while a Fallow Deer was noticed in their vicinity. Back at the crossroads a Sedge Warbler was intent on establishing a territory, singing vigorously and making numerous display flights. From the first viewpoint a few Common Pochards and a Great Crested Grebe further increased the sighting list. The second viewpoint offered the oddity of a leucistic male Pochard, mainly white in colour with a faintly orange head. In the adjacent field a pair of Brown Hares was stretched out on the grass. The return to the car park proved uneventful as the chill wind strengthened and forced the birds to hunker down.

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