I love this time of the year, you can go down onto the reserve and everyday is different. New birds are singing everyday, the thorns are coming into flower and the flowers are starting to pop out.
So what can you expect if you come for a visit to Otmoor at the moment?
The changing seasons are a great time to get out and see what is about. The crossover of our Winter visitors and the returning breeding birds means the site is packed full of things to see. Our winter birds are still using the site in good numbers with Golden Plover present all across the site. They provide a great spectacle as they rise up into the air as one and swirl around trying to evade a Peregrine or a Sparrowhawk. There are still over 20 Pintail, particularity on Big Otmoor. The males look fantastic in all the breeding finery and the Wigeon are using the grasslands to feed up before their journey back to their breeding grounds.
The signs of Spring are everywhere from the singing Skylarks out over the grassland to the Coltsfoot that is now well into flower on and around the tracks. Waders can be seen across the site in decent numbers with returning Redshank and Snipe on most of the fields and the Lapwings are 'scraping' out their nest sites, it shouldn't be too long before we see the first nests.
Its not just the birds that are providing great viewing at the moment. The early butterflies are making their first appearances with Brimstones, Small tortoiseshells and Peacocks which have all been seen onsite and a few grassnakes have been seen, basking in the warm spring sun. The Brown hares are now really noticeable and if you are lucky, you may see them boxing out in the open on any of the fields, Big Otmoor is your best chance to see them performing this impressive display.
As the weather picks up and the temperatures rise, we should start to see more migrants coming back and passing through. A Chiffchaff was singing in the thorn on the bridleway yesterday and a Wheatear was a nice sighting at the Noke end of the reserve over the weekend, hopefully there will be a few more of these long distance travelers stopping off on their journeys North. Sand martins should be moving through soon, hot on the heels of those should be Lesser whitethroats and House martins followed swiftly (get it?!) into April and May by more warblers and the rest of the hirundines, plus the excitement of a possible wayward vagrant or two...
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