Inspired by my good friend Pete Walkden's blog on his recent visit to Otmoor I thought I should pay this RSPB reserve a visit so early on Thursday morning I set off on on the 50 odd miles trip to deepest Oxfordshire.Got to the reserve car park not long after 8.00 AM having been caught up in a jam at the M5/A34 junction.
My target birds were Glossy Ibis (fat chance as it had not been seen for a few days). Turtle Dove ( not seen one for many years now). Cuckoo (would like some closer shots than the ones I'd got so far this year).Hobby (love these chaps).
I'd only walked 50m down the path from the paddocks when I heard a purring noise coming from a nearby tree.Hadn't heard this wonderful sound for ages and which made it easy to locate a Turtle Dove perched in a tree not too far away.
As I walked down the path to the hide a Red Kite drifted by and I was able to rattle off a couple of shots.
The path to the hide from the paddocks is pretty long and whilst having to rest up I had a go at getting shots of some Swifts zooming around.What a game that is.Only fools try.Amongst the blank sky shots I managed a couple of half decent shots.
I eventually got to the hide and found a volunteer on duty.He told me there had been 4 Cuckoos earlier and some Bearded Tits (He'd got some nice shots of a male).When asked if he'd seen the Glossy Ibis he pleased me no end when he said it was in the reeds on the left.Wow ! ! Got to see it as it would be a lifer for me.
I found it about 70m away behind some reads.After an hour and a half it only showed a couple of times and I struggled to get some shots.These are the best so you can tell how bad the rest were.Still who cares.
A lifer ! !.
It suddenly took off and I struggled to get onto it as it flew along the hedge line.
I then took up a new to me type of photography. Silhouette photography.The Ibis very annoyingly flew right into the sun.
After a long walk down a bridle path chasing a Cuckoo and failing badly plus having a long battle with a pair of Lesser Whitethroats and not getting a single shot I headed back to the hide for lunch.It was full of a novice birders being shown the ropes by a warder.It was amusing seeing them getting excited by Coots and Lapwings.After lunch I walked down the path to the first screen and it was along this path I very nearly missed something special.
As I was scanning the marsh for a Hobby I noticed a bit further down the path a few birders scanning high in the sky to the North.I looked up and saw a high flying Grey Heron.Must be the novice birders to get excited by a Heron.Seconds later when the birders were now getting more excited I deigned to get my bins out and have a look.It was not a Heron.This is what it was :-
It was a Common Crane very high in the sky and I very nearly missed it completely.If I'd checked it out earlier I would have got some shots when it wasn't so high in the sky.
After this bit of excitement it was 2.00 PM and I was ready to go as I'd been on my feet for 6 hours.Did OK especially with seeing the Glossy Ibis and the Crane but missed out on the Cuckoos and surprisingly with the Hobbies which didn't show at all.Great reserve but you do have to do a hell of a lot of walking.