Skip to main content

Oxfordshire to Essex

Lori at Otmoor RSPB Reserve
The sound of Chiffchaffs singing on Friday prompted us to get out this weekend and see what's around. On Saturday Lori and I headed out to Oxfordshire to Otmoor RSPB Reserve. The weather started out drizzly but soon turned to torrential rain! Luckily, by the time we got to Oxfordshire the sun pushed through, so what we drove into was the beginning of a beautiful day. Otmoor, though lacking in facilities, such as restaurant, shop and toilet; did make up for this in wonderful surroundings.

Reed Bunting
Not far along the trail we noticed a feeder which had Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Lesser Redpoll and Reed Bunting all feeding at it. Our first good bird, looking across the wet meadows, was two Curlew; circling and calling. Further along we got a single Redshank on a small pool. At the main hide there was a good selection wildfowl to scan through plus our first Wheatear of the year; male and female.

Otmoor Reserve
At another blind which was located on the other side of the reserve we sat and watched Tufted Duck and Wigeon, until a squealing shattered the silence: Water Rail! Scanning the edge of the reeds we got two brief glimpses of this elusive bird showing its bright red bill.


At about 1:30pm we decided to grab a bite to eat at the local pub; The Abingdon Arms. A great little pub with wonderful food. While enjoying a pint, Lori scanned through my 'Where to Watch Birds in Britain' book and found a really cool reservoir close to where we were. So, with full bellies we headed to Farmoor Reservoirs; close to the River Thames.

Scanning for Little Gull at Farmoor Reservoirs

The reservoirs are divided by a long causeway which leads to a footpath and a hide close to the river. We didn't get time to check out the hide as we got a little distracted with a nice bird! We had only been there about 10 minutes when two birders came walking by and began chatting. They asked if I would look at a video they had taken to settle an argument they had been having! I got off lightly, it was clearly a Dunlin; which one of them was happy about and the other, well, not so much:) Anyhow, just as they were leaving they mentioned that a Little Gull had been seen in with about 300 Black-headed Gulls. My ears pricked up! Looking across at all the other gulls I didn't hold out too much hope. However, in my first scan I picked it up across the reservoir; its fast buoyant flight flashing slate black underwings: LITTLE GULL!!! This is only the second time I have seen this bird; the first at Staines, not long after returning from Canada. All four of us watched for about a minute before it decided to settle on the water, across the reservoir; and disappeared into the blur of Black-headed Gulls. A great end to the day. After a drive through Oxford town we headed home.
Lori and Nolan at Rainham Marshes - Essex
The following day we headed out on another excurtion; this time to Rainham Marshes in Essex. I had heard lots about this RSPB Reserve, and was happy to go take a look. Though it is set within an industrial area, and not necessarily the prettiest reserve, it certainly had some birds. Lots of dabbling ducks, geese, waders, egrets and more. We enjoyed our leisurely stroll around the circuit, with its impressive hides and great educational programmes. Bird of the day for me was Little Egret!

Rainham Marshes

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Pied-billed Grebe

Silly o'clock and a drive to Summerset + a 2 1/2 hour watch at Ham Wall RSPB Reserve produced good looks at my first British P ied-billed Grebe. We turned up just after eight and just in time to miss this North American mega by  minutes! Little Grebes kept us on our toes but we had to wait it out until about 10:40 am when it appeared from the corner where it had disappeared. There was a nice crowd here, all remaining hopeful and humorous during this very cold vigil. This little beauty made a b-line to open water, affording all great views. Bonus bird at this site was a  Great White Egret .

Stains Moor

Today I checked the Staines Reservoir for some reported birds including Black Turn and Ruff. My target birds were not relocated but I did get another year bird: Wheatear . This was across the road; perched on a fence post. After an hour I headed to Staines Moor , a site I have never been to before. Good directional signs were non existent and I ended up asking the locals. It takes about 25 minutes from parking to actually getting onto the moor. This route is basically two public footpaths. It is definitely worth it and is a fantastic site with good visibility in all directions.The River Colne meanders through; making it very attractive and good for wildlife.  One of the features here that really stands out is the amount of yellow meadow ant hills; a favored perching spot for Wheatear I here. Birds seen included Coot, Moorhen, Mute Swan, Linnet, Goldfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Wren, Robin, Whitethroat, Chiffchaff, Black-headed Gull, Grey Heron, Buzzard, Kestrel, Hobby, Green

Kefalonia -Greece 2015

K efalonia is the largest of the Ionian Islands, (700 sq km) and is located off the west coast of Greece. Though, in recent times, it is most notably known as the location for Captain Corellis Mandolin; it also has lots of history, interesting geography and endangered fauna.  As it sits in the earthquake zone it has seen lots of changes, especially the 1953 earthquake which badly affected all but the northern town of Fiskado. Mount Ainos dominates the landscape and at 1628 meters can be seen from most areas. One of the most famous residents is the endangered Loggerhead Turtle which breed on the southern beaches.   What follows is a short trip report highlighting my casual observations from 23rd August – 30th August 2015. Though this was not a birding holiday, I did manage a few morning sorties in various areas and hope that this will give some indication of what to expect. Kephalonia is not a ‘birding destination’ but for those of you who visit, a little effort will afford