This week, RSPB Otmoor is saying goodbye to the current Warden, Joe Harris, who is leaving Otmoor after five years to become the new Site Manager at Langford Lowfields, one of the other fantastic reserves we have in the Midlands region.

Joe’s main task this week (apart from clearing his desk) has been showing me (Gary Smith, the new Warden) the ropes around Otmoor and Church Wood, which we also help look after.

I’m coming to Otmoor after a few years of working for different organisations such as the National Trust, Berkshire, Buckinghamshire and Oxfordshire Wildlife Trust and the Countryside Council for Wales. I've also spent time volunteering for the RSPB in recent years starting off at Rainham Marshes in Essex, Ynyshir in Mid-Wales and spending a Winter counting Barnacle geese at Mersehead on the Solway Estuary.

Otmoor is such an amazing reserve at any time of year and coming in at the end of Spring is a fantastic time to be starting. This week I've managed to get out with the team and do some surveys spending a couple of evenings listening for drumming snipe, making an early start for a 5.30am breeding wader survey and rope dragging across Greenaways looking (successfully) for snipe! I joined a guided walk last weekend (lead by our Assistant Warden, Fergus) and it was a real treat to hear Blackcaps, drumming Snipe, Turtle doves purring away contentedly and see Hobbies and a Marsh harrier coming down over the reedbed. On other evenings on the reserve I've seen hunting Barn owls and had choruses of Curlew bubbling away.

Otmoor is a fantastic reserve with an amazing reputation and I’m really excited about joining the team as Warden. It’s a real privilege to be working on a reserve like this. It’s been great to meet some of the volunteers that we have here this week and I’m looking forward to meeting the rest of the volunteer teams and to get out working with them around the reserve.

This year we've had record breeding numbers of Snipe, Redshank and Lapwing at Otmoor so Joe is leaving me a great legacy to try and follow. No pressure! 

Gary Smith, Otmoor Warden