22°, the sun is shining and the birds are singing, we are overdue some nice weather after the last few miserable weeks and we are certainly experiencing it now! As the temperatures increase, the wildlife is responding brilliantly.
So what can be seen down on Otmoor at the moment?
The highlights are, without a doubt the showy Turtle doves that have arrived back over the last few weeks. There are at least 3 spending their time around the cattle pen and gate of Greenaways, feeding on the seed we are putting down for them. Listen out as well as you can regularly hear their 'purring' song being sung from the Oak trees and the power lines. If you want to know more about Turtle doves, why not check out the RSPB page here!
The wet grassland is home to stacks of waders at the moment. Everywhere you look there are Lapwings, quite often with their young in tow. Redshank and Snipe can be seen on most of the fields and if you are lucky you may catch a glimpse of the resident Oystercatchers and Curlews.
The Hobbies have been showing really well recently with as many as 10 whizzing around over the grassland or the reedbed as they catch dragon and damselflies and sometimes the occasional Swift. They will start to disperse to their breeding areas shortly after feeding up on Otmoors insects!
The reedbed is full of song at the moment with Reed and Sedge warblers among those that are bursting out their scratchy song. These birds can be tricky to tell apart when they are singing so a good way to remember is the phrase, 'sedge on the edge', basically meaning that if the confusing bird is singing in the hedges and vegetation at the edge of the reedbed, this is more likely to be a Sedge warbler, while a Reed warbler tends to favour signing deep into the reedbed. Listen out for the sudden burst of the Cetti’s warbler that can be heard around the reedbed. This bird, which can be susceptible to harsh winters, is making a bit of a comeback and there are at least 3 singing around the reedbed.
The Common terns are back on their raft which can be viewed from the 2nd screen. They can be seen all over the site fishing in the ditches so keep listening for their unmistakable screeching call as they fly overhead. The reedbed is a great place to spot our resident ducks with Gadwall, Shoveler, Tufted duck, Pochard, Teal and Mallard all on show from here and you might even catch a glimpse of a Kingfisher.
The Brown hares are still around, Big Otmoor and Ashgrave are the best place to see these. You have a chance of seeing Grassnakes anywhere on the site but start looking on the Willow stumps on the track to the feeders as the can quite often be seen basking here in the mornings and the Common lizards can be spotted lazing on the 'lizard lounge' behind the 1st screen.
The butterflies are showing quite well, try the Roman road that runs from the car park to the SE corner of Greenaways where you could see Brimstone, Speckled Wood, Common blue, Peacock, Small tortoisehell and Orange tip and keep a look out for Painted ladies, we have seen a few around Closes and Greenaways over the last week.
Other things to look out for include a growing number Little egrets, 13 is the max count so far, all the warblers including Blackcap, Grasshopper warbler, Whitethroat and Lesser whitethroat and Garden warbler to name a few and the fantastic sight and sound of the Cuckoos which have come back in good numbers. The Reed warblers and Meadow pipits will need to keep an eye on their nests! There are also Hairy dragonflies and Banded demoiselle damselflies amongst the ever increasing number of dragon and damselflies using the reserve water systems. The flowers are looking fantastic aswell, look out for Flag iris, Ragged robin, Yellow rattle and Pink clover amongst many others.
Yellow flag iris
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