On The Road

IMG_0203On Easter Sunday I took a long overdue opportunity to head to our favourite RSPB Reserve, Otmoor in Oxford.

Otmoor is a 1,000 acre mixture of reedbeds and meadows which offers a tremendous variety of bird and other wildlife.

My return to Otmoor (31st March 2013) coincided with the first sunny albeit chilly day for some time.

Arriving just after 0730 I wrestled with having to carry 3 items of visual media now, bins, scope and the camera and staggered off on a now familiar path in a mostly deserted reserve. It was still frosty but the light was excellent and the sky was just taking on a cold blue hue as the sun rose.

After snapping some badly focused Dunnocks on the frosty ground I managed to get this bird fixed nicely. I am however still struggling to id this one so any offers are gratefully accepted.

Dunnock?

Dunnock?

Passing the feeders where a lone Pheasant loitered I reached the cattle pens as a fellow birder pointed out a distant Barn Owl hunting over the reedbeds as the usual array of crows, Great and Blue Tits passed overhead and among the trees. A brief sighting of a Ring-tailed Hen Harrier brought encouragement of more to come.

Lapwing and Redshank were showing well although the first reedbed hide was fairly quiet. I met up with some members of the “Otmoor Massive” and as they usually seem to attract birds like magnets I joined the small party.

Redshank

Redshank

The second reedbed hide was partially frozen with some species floating along while others, especially the ubiquitous coots slipped and stumbled on the frozen section. I managed to capture a Great Crested Grebe serenely coasting among the chaos:

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IMG_0227

IMG_0228

The main reason for heading up to this hide was to try and see a floating rarity, a drake Ferruginous duck. Normally found in Eastern Europe and Asia the Ferruginous duck (named after the iron colour of its plumage) was among the Tufted Ducks and Pochards. A few turn up in the UK every year but apparently this is the first to find its way to Oxfordshire since 1989. Despite a shy demeanour I managed to get one shot of the Fudge Duck, typically burying its head just as I focused:

Fudge Duck

Fudge Duck

With Red Kites overhead and a brief glimpse of the Barn Owl quartering in a distant oak we moved off. Other sightings this day included Curlew, Ruff, Dunlin, Shoveller, Pintail, Stonechats, White-Fronted Geese and Reed Buntings.

It was good to be back at Otmoor and I hope to be a regular again, especially as hints of spring were beginning to show.

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