The hawthorn blossom in the Otmoor RSPB reserve car-park was already out, on 20 April. I felt cheated—this is such a special moment of the year, and it shouldn’t happen in April. Hawthorn was called May because that’s when it flowers: April does not have the same ring to it.
Once I’d got over the blossom I began to enjoy the birds. It was one of those days when I heard many more than I saw.
Grasshopper warblers were whirring in the field by the car park, to a backdrop of willow warblers.
Cuckoos called from both sides of the Otmoor reserve, though I didn’t see them. Also offstage I could hear curlews bubbling—appropriate as today (21 April) is World Curlew Day.
Reed and sedge warblers chattering away among the reeds and willow, not to be seen.
A bittern boomed many times, its foghorn sounding incongruous on such a clear, sunny day.
But I did see marsh harriers and some dapper gadwall from the first screen
and a pair of garganey from the second—I hadn’t seen garganey since my walk at Stanwick Lane, Northamptonshire, with Mark Avery on 12 May 2012, described here.
On the way back I wandered along the Roman road to listen to warblers.
I saw a blackcap family, making vestigial song.
I need to return in a fortnight or so to catch more of the warblers.