|Reed Warbler (c) JR|
A peerless clear blue sky, warm sunshine and gin clear air contributed to a beautiful weekend on the moor. There were lots of people down there to take advantage of it, when I arrived in the car park at six thirty a.m. there were already fifteen cars in the car park. On Sunday there was what I assumed to be a camera club outing, with a group of about ten people clicking their way along the bridleway. I am hugely in favour of everyone enjoying the reserve, appreciating it and wanting to preserve it. This is all the more important when there is the shadow of the express way hanging over the whole of the Otmoor Basin……of which more later in this posting.
|Turtle Dove (c) Old Caley|
|Turtle Feeding (c) Old Caley|
|Cuckoos (c) Old Caley|
This weekend on Otmoor one could be forgiven for thinking that all the fuss from conservation groups about a declining Cuckoo population was a massive exaggeration. At one point there were five Cuckoos in the air at once, four males pursuing a female and even then we could hear yet another bird calling. The hepatic female was also seen well again this weekend. The large Reed Warbler population is what attracts them, and we assume that previous years breeding successes means more birds are returning to the place where they fledged. Radio tracked birds have proved to be very site faithful. Only the Reed Warblers might be less than happy to hear these birds that are so emblematic of summer.
|Apprehensive Reed Warbler (c) Bark|
Elsewhere we had either seen or heard nine of our ten warbler species by the time that we got to the first screen. The only one we failed to catch up with was Grasshopper Warbler, it seems to have a pattern of reeling when it first arrives and then going quiet for two or three weeks before striking up again. We appear to be in one of those quiescent phases at the moment. Whitethroats and Lesser whitethroats are currently particularly vocal and noticeable.
|Whitethroat (c) JR|
|Black Tailed Godwit (c) Bark|
On Big Otmoor there was a Black Tailed Godwit feeding and there were reports of a Garganey that was seen on both days of the weekend, but the vegetation and contours are such that it would have been a matter of luck to spot it out there.
|Redshank ashgrave (c) Bark|
|BHG (c) Bark|
On the reedbed one of the male Bitterns continues to boom sporadically and indeed was spotted sitting out on the edge of the reeds calling and pretending to be a clump of reeds early on Sunday morning. Coots continue to behave like aggressive drunks in a pub near closing time. Two individuals started lashing out at each other and from the other side of the lagoon a different individual made its way over just to join in the fight!
|Brawling Coots (c) Bark|
|Tufties...... above JR.... below Bark|
|Marsh Harrier (c) Bark|
It is impossible not to be aware of the signs that have sprung up in Beckley , in the surrounding countryside and on the approach to the reserve, that are protesting against the proposed Expressway between Oxford and Cambridge. The proposals suggest three possible routes and one of them would cause significant disturbance and disruption both to the reserve and to our closest neighbours. I and everyone that I speak to from the local birding community could not be more opposed to such a destructive, irresponsible and vandalising approach to development. Until there are more concrete proposals to challenge I will say no more, but should the Otmoor route become more favoured there will be very much more that can be said both in terms of ecology and in terms of the vital amenity which Otmoor is.
|This field needs a road through it !|
Apologies to my regular readers that this posting has been a bit of a rant but sometimes it’s necessary, next week more bird news I hope.
|Small Copper (c) Paul Greenaway|