Dawn Marsh Harrier

Dawn Marsh Harrier

Sunday, 28 June 2015

A Lot More at Otmoor

A morning stroll around RSPB Otmoor in Oxon with Sharpy this Saturday. A cracking reserve, well under the hour from home, Every time I visit I wonder why I don't more often. Borderline Midlands, this place has a fantastic diversity of not just birds but wildlife in general. An ideal place for ex-cricketers to have a wander and marvel at the great work of the RSPB.

Birdsong resounded from every hedgerow, field and reed bed as the sun rose and Snipe were drumming overhead but typically for this time of year birds were easier heard than seen. Warblers were everywhere. Reed, Sedge, Blackcap, Common Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Garden, Willow and Chiffchaff. A friendly local gave us directions to a field where Grasshopper Warblers were reeling and often showing, but we both managed to misinterpret the directions as we found out later, so the Groppers eluded us. Bittern and Common Crane had both been seen from the screens before our arrival but a hunting Marsh Harrier low over the reeds was enough to keep us happy. No sign of the Common Lizards basking on the dead wood outside the 1st screen today. Maybe warm enough that they didn't need to bask. Aside from the Marsh Harrier the raptor role call included maybe double figures of Red Kite, several Common Buzzards and a Hobby. A Raven treated us to his best sea lion impression from a poplar tree and the ever wonderful Bullfinches made regular though fleeting appearances.

In the now glorious sunshine the resident odonata were a lot more showy than the birds.

Four Spotted Chasers were abundant in a variety of colour forms. I think they do this to confuse novices like me. But I've solved the conundrum with this particular species, I've learned to count to four which has proved a cunning strategy.

Blue Tailed Damselfly
Common Blue Damselfly

Broad Bodied Chaser (f)
Broad Bodied Chaser (m)
Black Darter???
The warm morning had butterflies on the wing as well.

Large Skipper

Red Admiral


Blue sp


The walk back towards the car park provided us with the bird we'd been hoping for. Otmoor is one of the few remaining places you've still got a chance of seeing the tragically declining Turtle Dove (incredibly it's LEGAL to shoot these rares gems on migration over Malta).

I can only hope that I can go to see these beautiful birds and hear their stirring purrs for years to come.

We made our way to the car park where we were tipped off by another friendly regular that there were Black Hairstreak butterflies down the Roman Road, and a Spotted Flycatcher in the MOD ground. Drive home on hold we made our way down the Roman Road. We found the spindly Ash tree he'd described and we were soon trying to follow the manic flutterings of a Black Hairstreak. It seemed determined not settle but a new species for both of us. The gate to the MOD ground where the Spot Fly had been viewed was only 50yrds away so we walked down to check it out. Sure enough, there it was.

So it was back to the spindly Ash tree in the hope of a photo opportunity. As we waited an unexpected and much wanted insect life tick appeared before us. The very aptly named Beautiful Demoiselle.

An Emerald Damselfly (I think) put in an appearance as well.

Eventually a thoroughly enjoyable morning in a thoroughly enjoyable place was made complete when a Black Hairstreak rested in view just long enough for a few shots.

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