|Heron touchdown (c) John Reynolds|
The season is changing again and we are moving into the high summer. The moor has changed colour over the last couple of weeks. The bright lush greens of early summer are being replaced by softer subtler ochres, warm browns and golds. This is particularly obvious across the fields as the grasses set seed and desiccate. It is very beautiful to be on the moor at this time of year.
The wildlife too is undergoing subtle changes. A few passage waders are resting over and feeding up before moving on. The powerful drive to get to the breeding grounds in the spring that sent them north in a hurry, is replaced by a much less urgent movement southwards. This weekend there were Green Sandpipers, Greenshanks a few Dunlin and a Black tailed Godwit on the reserve. The First Screen is the best place to catch up with the action. As the water levels on the southern reedbed are drawn down rich feeding areas are being exposed and islands are re-emerging to make safe loafing areas for Ducks, Cormorants and Herons. The Glossy Ibis also favours both roosting and loafing on one of the spits at the back of the lagoon.
|Subtle Snipe (c) John Reynolds|
|Heron and Egret (c) Mark Chivers|
Superbly camouflaged Snipe are busily picking at the edges and several Water Rails are behaving in a less than skulking manner, frequenting the muddy margin to the left of the main channel. There is still more water to be drawn off and more attractive wader habitat will be exposed. Although not seen to my knowledge this weekend one of the two Bitterns from last week was seen flying over and around the reedbed on Friday. There are still two Marsh Harriers present and they have been seen quartering the whole site not just the reedy areas. Two Peregrines were seen over the reedbed on Sunday morning, relocating from a noisy Didcot possibly?
|Woodpigeon Touchdown (c) John Reynolds|
|Still Calling (c) Bark|
|Young Sedgie (c) Bark|
It is worth keeping ears and eyes open as one and possibly two Bearded Tits were seen last week on a remote part of the reserve. Last year they became very mobile at this time of the year and were often roaming the reed fringed ditches and so could pop up anywhere. A Grasshopper Warbler was reeling from the far side of the reedbed on Saturday and another was heard in the carpark field on Friday. There are still a number of Redstarts in Long meadow but they can be frustratingly elusive.
|Brown Hairstreak nectaring (c) Peter Law|
|Ruddy Darter (c) Bark|
|Common Blue (c) Bark|
In the Roman Road area we found the first Brown Hairstreaks of the year, once again flying around the large spindly ash trees towards the MOD end of the ride. There were at least three Clouded Yellows in front of the hide on both days and Painted Ladies have also been recorded.
Otmoor is never the same twice and I am looking forward as keenly as ever to whatever we find next.