• Water, waders and wildfowl

    As a wetland reserve we can get a bit obsessive about water, always wondering if there's going to be too much or not enough to keep the wildlife as happy as possible. Variation is important and a few really wet or really dry periods can add dynamism and benefits to the wet grassland habitats, but in general we aim for wetness during the winter, with the fields then slowly drying out through the spring and on into the…

    • 21 Nov 2014
  • The winter begins

     The Otmoor tractor season is now over! It was a big success and no one got the tractor stuck this year!! To keep the site in prime condition as a wetland wonderland, the grass has been topped, the edges of our shallow footdrains and scrapes have been rotavated, the fields have been aerated to improve soil condition and the visitor paths have been flailed. With this hard work out the way, we can now raise the…

    • 6 Nov 2014
  • Starling saga

    In the lands of the North, where the Black Rocks stand guard against the cold sea, in the dark night that is very long, word spreads amongst the starling flocks. Tales of an amazing, food-rich, safe haven are told. The name Otmoor is squawked from thousands of bills. And so (almost!) every year at this time, the numbers of starlings feeding and more importantly roosting on Otmoor starts to build up, as birds…

    • 23 Oct 2014
  • Autumnal Otmoor

    A guest blog from Bev, a RSPB community engagement officer who joined the Tuesday work party for the day. 

    I am not going to lie, the alarm sounding at 6.50am on a chilly, autumnal Tuesday morning did not fill me with enthusiasm. After hitting the snooze button one too many times, I forced myself to leave my warm, safe bed, grab a flask of coffee and start the misty journey from Bristol to Beckley in Oxfordshire. For…

    • 8 Oct 2014
  • Red-backed shrike!!

    Some amazing photos of the red-backed shrike found today at the Noke end of the reserve taken by Terry Sherlock.

    The shrike was still present at 7pm this evening so may well still be lurking around tomorrow morning (2nd October). It's always exciting when an unusual visitor turns up on the reserve and this shrike was no exception. It gave brilliantly close views as it tucked into the plentiful insects on offer…

    • 2 Oct 2014
  • Birds, manure and mud

    Swarms of wading birds, rotavating, aerating, weed wiping, spotted flycatchers, rotary ditching, gypsum spreading, lots of redstarts, manure spreading, hay cutting... It’s all happening on the moor at the moment!

    The first viewing screen over-looking the reedbed is currently the place to head to for wildlife on the reserve. A big gang of lizards are making use of the Lizard Lounge, with the highest count so far…

    • 8 Sep 2014
  • Night and day on Otmoor

    After the success of last year’s event, we are holding two more ‘Otmoor as Darkness Falls’ walks this year. One is happening on 16th August from 20:00-22:00 and the other is on 20th September from 19:00-21:00, see the website for more details http://www.rspb.org.uk/events/details.aspx?id=tcm:9-374778 Not many people come to the reserve during the hours of darkness and so these walks are a great opportunity…
    • 7 Aug 2014
  • Long grass, but still lots of wildlife to see

    This year has proven to be an amazing one for wildlife on Otmoor, highlighted by how well some of our key bird species have done, in particular the lapwings, redshanks and snipe. A pair of common terns have successfully nested on their floating raft again and we are now just waiting with bated breath to see if there will be any juvenile turtle doves this year. Last year the first one was seen on the 10th July so hopefully…
    • 10 Jul 2014
  • Family event 5th July, 'Otmoor's Wild Adventure'

    Don’t forget our exciting ‘Otmoor’s Wild Adventure’ event for children on 5th July. You can turn up any time between 13:00 and 16:00 and help find the hidden animals on Otmoor. Have a go at pond dipping to capture creatures of the deep, go hunting with a net to find elusive mini beasts and discover what is on nature’s dinner plate.
    Otmoor’s Wild Adventure will be suitable for children aged…
    • 26 Jun 2014
  • A snipe haven

    The breeding season on Otmoor this year has been amazing and this was highlighted again today when we found another three fledged snipe. This brings the total found on the reserve this year to 15, loads better than any years previously. Snipe are very secretive and very well camouflaged, with a fondness for muddy, wet areas with long vegetation. Otmoor is the only place in Oxfordshire and the surrounding counties…

    • 10 Jun 2014
  • Rare birds and turtles

    Otmoor played host to an interesting array of 'exotic' species this weekend; an elegant looking glossy ibis, which seems to be enjoying its prolonged stay on the moor, a great white egret, which popped in for a couple of days and a bee-eater seen by one very lucky visitor. Bee-eaters are found during the summer months as far north as central France, but they are a rare and exciting visitor to the UK, with a few wayward…

    • 27 May 2014
  • The glossy nomad

    After the whiskered tern a couple of weeks ago, we now have another rare bird making use of the wetland haven that Otmoor provides. The bird in question is a glossy ibis, a long-legged, long-billed, browny-purpley-glossy looking beast. They are normally found in Spain and Southern France but like wandering quite far afield and so the adventurous one on Otmoor is living up to the species’ nomadic tendencies. It is probably…

    • 14 May 2014
  • Dawn Chorus Walk 11th May

    Starting at 5am this Sunday (11th May), the Otmoor Dawn Chorus walk will provide an ideal opportunity to see and more importantly hear nature's orchestra, as our song birds sing in the new day. Please phone the office if you'd like to book a place on the walk 01865 351163.

    I was carrying out a bird survey early this morning and heard loads of birds in full song as they let each other know that they are still…

    • 6 May 2014
  • Swarms of lapwing chicks

    Have a good look across the fields at the moment and you should be able to see lapwing chicks scurrying around, 35 of the nests we're monitoring have hatched so far. The best places to look are along the wet muddy edges of the ditches and scrapes, particularly on Big Otmoor, at least one chick has also been seen in front of the Wetland Watch hide. These are great places for the well-camouflaged chicks to find tasty…

    • 30 Apr 2014
  • A tern up for the books

    After Zoe and Adam heard about a strange, dark-bellied tern eating insects over the reedbed last Friday, they decided to go and have a closer look. At this time of year we get common terns passing through the reserve and so initial thoughts were that it was one of these graceful 'sea swallows', checking out the nesting potential provided by the newly refurbished tern raft. When they tracked down the bird though it was…

    • 28 Apr 2014
  • Lizard Lounge open for business

    After a bit of spring cleaning the legendary Otmoor Lizard Lounge is once again open for business. We are expecting lizards from miles around to come flocking to this purpose built reptile hotel and relaxation area. Hopefully some will have hibernated in cosy holes under the rock pile, whilst others will be drawn to the logs and stones that provide perfect sun bathing sites. Lots of grass snakes and a few common lizards…

    • 8 Apr 2014
  • Night time otters

    Because of how elusive they are, it is always a real treat to see otters on Otmoor. We got some great night time footage of them recently (click on images below to view video) and then two days later I actually saw the same two otters playing in a ditch. They were really close and I got great views for a couple of minutes, until I was spotted and after some growling and bubble blowing they swam out of sight. These two…
    • 2 Apr 2014
  • WeBS count 17/03/2014

    Spring migration is definately underway with duck and wader numbers much lower than two weeks ago. For comparision wigeon were 3613, teal 2831, pintail 123, golden plover 3306 and lapwing 2113.

    It was nice to see 5 black-tailed godwits with one in breeding plumage. The female bearded tit was pinging away again this morning, obviously looking for a mate. Chiffchaffs are in evidence across the reserve I had 4 around the…

    • 17 Mar 2014
  • The viewing screen is open!

    I‘m pleased to announce that after weeks of hard work the Tuesday volunteer team have (almost) finished building the viewing screen on the southern edge of the reedbed. It still needs a few finishing touches, but the team put in a few hours overtime this week and got the floor laid so visitors can now make use of this great wildlife viewing area. With the reedbed in front of the screen and the lizard hotel and a…
    • 13 Mar 2014
  • Monday's WeBS count

    There feels less around, and indeed there was (numbers are still high but compared to the record numbers of two weeks ago they are lower). It is nice to see curlew and redshank back on the moor and with some of the golden plover in summer plumage, its easy to think its almost spring! Water levels have dropped, but are still high for the beginning of march, hopefully with a dry week forcast, the levels will fall further…

    • 4 Mar 2014
  • Flying lapwings and fly-tipping

    Annoyingly we have had another pile of rubbish dumped in the reserve car park; it looks like it’s from a recent house clearance. We have had to close off the end of the car park until the rubbish can be checked by the council for evidence of where it came from, but we hope to get rid of it early next week. The RSPB will have to pay for a skip to remove the rubbish, so on the off-chance you know of someone who’s recently…
    • 28 Feb 2014
  • Rediscovering the grass

    The floods are finally receding around the reserve so it’s time to shift some of the water from the fields to rediscover the grass and allow it to grow, putting it in optimal condition for the breeding waders. We have dropped the sluices and turned on Greenaway’s pump to aid drainage. We will still keep the fields relatively wet, with all the scrapes, ditches and footdrains full of water, to provide plenty of edge for…
    • 25 Feb 2014
  • Excellent WeBS count 17/02/2014

    The reserve is still incredibly wet with water levels at the highest for many years, however the wildfowl seem to be loving it. On this grey and damp morning we had the highest numbers of the year and the highest numbers of lapwing, golden plover and shoveler recorded since the RSPB purchased the reserve.

    Mute Swan 60
    Greylag Goose 281
    Canada Goose 363
    Wigeon 3415
    Gadwall 13
    • 17 Feb 2014
  • A little bit damp!

    If you can put up with the wet conditions, the wildlife spectacle on the moor at the moment is amazing. There are literally 1000’s of birds on the reserve, feeding on the flooded wetland fields and it conjures up images of how the whole of Otmoor must have looked before the land was drained and modified for farming. Big Otmoor is currently holding a lot of the birdlife and a quick scan across should reveal wigeon, teal…
    • 10 Feb 2014
  • WeBS count 03/02/2014

    There are still good numbers of birds on the reserve, with them concentrated on Big Otmoor and Flood field. Wader numbers have increased, along with shoveler and pochard, the latter a species which is unuaual in high numbers and declining nationally. When they are all flushed by one of the many raptors calling the moor home, it is an incredible sight.

    Mute Swan 55
    Greylag Goose 243
    Canada Goose
    • 4 Feb 2014