Calm Between The Storms

With recent weeks dominated by gales and seemingly constant rain, this last weekend offered some respite and an opportunity to make an impromptu trip to Otmoor.

I arrived early on Sunday morning to frosty but calm and sunny conditions. Fieldfare and Redwing were still moving over Morleys Field in considerable numbers, picking the still plentiful red winter berries.

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A Kestrel hovered over the Closes and to complete the perfect winter scene, a healthy number of Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and the regular Tits, busied themselves on the feeders.

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Big Otmoor saw a Peregrine hunting on the far side, sending up a large flock of skittish Lapwing and Starlings. There were also at least two Bullfinch seen along the bridle path as I made my way to the first reedbed hide.

Water levels had risen since my last visit, not surprising considering the amount of rain that has fallen over the country in recent weeks. This has seen duck levels at Otmoor rise heavily with an estimated 500 Teal present and good numbers of Shoveler and Wigeon. The Whooper Swans mentioned in my last entry have also settled just north of the reed-bed and are making regular forays onto Otmoor.

I arrived at the second reed-bed hide just in time to be told by the Otmoor Massive that I had only just missed a Bittern. Chilli chocolate truffles and a nip of Sloe Gin care of Graham, came as some consolation.

I decided to hunker down at the hide in the hope that the elusive Bittern would show again but no luck for me this time around. I made my way back with Paul Greenaway and we had a lovely view of a male Peregrine perched in a tree just west of the reserve.

Paul also pointed out this very well hidden Snipe on Big Otmoor. It had barely moved since Saturday morning by all accounts and I had already walked past it once myself earlier in the day. It goes to show that we probably miss a lot more than we see.

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This really would be my last outing of 2013 and although not spectacular, life at Otmoor was healthy and abundant. Thanks to everyone who takes the time to read our musings. Here’s to 2014 and another year of feathery fumbling!

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