More Otmoor

It was a pretty good day, 52 bird species including my first swallow and chiffchaff of the year and my second short-eared owl (the first was on 4 June 2004 in the Goyt Valley, Peak District).  I wandered around Otmoor for nearly six hours on Good Friday, and for once forgot about time.

I heard, then saw, the chiffchaff as I walked along the path to the main hide.  At this time of year it is easy to see birds in the trees.  However, as I approached the first hide there was a cacophany in the bushes and I couldn’t see anything.

4 noisy bushes

The noisy bushes

It was coming from a mix of birds which were flying down to where RSPB has put out seed for them.  They make a colourful display—linnets, reed buntings, goldfinches, yellowhammers and chaffinches. Once again I failed to see a brambling but it was good to see stock doves.


1 seed area

Path where the seed is thrown.

At the first and second screens I had wonderful views of two marsh harriers.  I sat in each for some time; the activity of ducks is mesmerising.  There I saw my first swallow of the year, it seemed far too early.  I heard a water rail but didn’t see one, so annoying!

2 second screen

View from the second screen, there is a marsh harrier (not visible) near the tree in the distance

I walked round to Big Otmoor where there were Canada and greylag geese and lapwings. A sparrowhawk shot out of the bush beside me and across the marsh, disappearing amid a shower of feathers as some poor creature bought it.

I passed a tree which had a large number of linnets in it.

3 linnet tree

Tree with linnets

As I walked back, flocks of golden plover came shooting over, twisting in the sun.

5 golden plover

Golden plover (also not visible!)

I returned to the bird feeders and found a group of people waiting with telescopes for the appearance of owls.

6 feeders

Bird feeders

There is a meadow called Moorleys which is perfect for owls (and later in the year for grasshopper warblers).  After a while, at about 5.15 pm, a long-eared owl appeared and sat for a long time in a tree before flying around. With its streaky body it blended into the browns of the meadow.  I also saw a barn owl.

7 owl country

The meadow, known as Moorleys

As I walked back a Cetti’s warbler shouted at me from the bushes.  When I return in a month or so there will be reed and sedge warblers and, I hope, turtle doves and hobbies. Plenty to look forward to.

Do look at the video for the 19-20 March entry on the Otmoor birding blog, it says it all.



About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
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