Wednesday, 27 June 2007

RSPB Otmoor, Oxon. 10th June 2007.

A close friend of mine and I had been to see the Manic Street Preachers at the Hexagon, Reading on the Saturday night and decided that we would take a trip over to RSPB Otmoor the following day before he returned to London on Sunday evening. Sunday afternoon we headed off to Otmoor and on arrival we were greeted by the "purring" of a Turtle Dove coming from just behind the car park. Plenty of Common Whitethroat in and around the scrub from the car park to the main track of the reserve. Sedge and Reed Warbler were present in the reedbeds along the path towards the first screen and even a Cetti's Warbler burst in to song a couple of times, further down the path a Redshank flew across the main meadow calling as it passed by. At the first screen we were lucky enough to witness 5 or maybe even 6 Hobbies hawking above us in the afternoon sun. Reed Bunting, Little Grebe and a calling Cuckoo was the best of the rest.

We made our way to another location near the Hambleden Valley in the hope that we might catch a glimpse of a pair of Ravens that have turned up on previous years. A single Willow Warbler was singing at one end of the copse with a Chiffchaff singing at the other but their was little else about, arriving at the site it didn't take long to pick up on the usual Red Kites as they searched for food across the nearby fields but sadly there were no sign of any Ravens this year.

TABCG Nightjar Walk, Padworth, Berks. 6th June 2007.

The Annual TABCG Nightjar walk at Padworth is always a good chance to get some excellent views of both Nightjar and Woodcock, open to non-members of the group it seems to becoming increasingly popular each year.I had already heard Nightjar on this years Berks bird race but had yet to see one this year and had almost stepped on a Woodcock earlier on in the year near Padworth Common.

As the group walked towards the Nightjar site I picked up on a Willow Warbler calling from the distance, as we stopped to listen it obviously decided to stop singing and remained silent while we waited. A roding Woodcock then passed across the sky in front of us as we looked across the heathland followed shortly by another heading in a different direction. We decided to continue on and as we did the Willow Warbler called again giving most of us the chance to hear it. As we continued along the path the "churring" of at least 2 Nightjars could be heard faintly from the conifer plantations alongside us, we made our way quietly towards them and before long could hear the churring coming from next to us. It was still very light and we stood quietly on the path, all of a sudden two wing claps and a Male Nightjar appeared in the air right in front of us, he flew around our heads wing clapping as he went and then returned to the conifers next to the path, we were so busy discussing the views we got that we didn't notice that he had returned, during this time another Nightjar was still churring nearby. Finally the other churring Nightjar flew in to view and for a short time both birds were flying around us before again they disappeared in to the plantation. Another Woodcock approached overhead and could be heard long before it passed over, the "twissick" calls giving everybody the chance to see it as it continued it's roding display, by the end of the evening we had at least a dozen sightings. We made our way further along the path to another viewing spot and waited patiently, the light was now starting to fade but we still managed another few more Nightjar sightings with another individual flying extremely close. By now the night was well upon us and it was time to go, well worth the visit and undoubtedly my best views of Nightjar to date.