It's not just young birds that can be seen on the moor at the moment. I came across this pair of roe deer fawns during a recent early morning survey.
In terms of wading birds on Otmoor, it's not only the lapwing that are having a successful breeding season. Redshank are too. If you've been to the reserve recently you'll no doubt have seen and heard these red-legged birds, particularly around the new scrapes on Big Otmoor. It was in this area that I stumbled across the very well camouflaged redshank chick in the photo below.
Other recent bird sightings have included ruddy shelduck, hobby, common tern, turtle dove, short-eared owl, drumming snipe, oystercatcher and garganey.
Following the succesful hatching of a good number of lapwing nests on the reserve this year, particularly inside the Big Otmoor predator fence, it has been great seeing fluffy chicks running around the reserve. I had really good views of four large chicks feeding around the edge of the Greenaways scrapes last week and then very recently had the nice surprise of stumbling across this almost fledged chick hiding in the grass.
At this time of year Otmoor is a brilliant place to see hobbies. Up to 15 have already been seen together, hunting over Greenaways and the reedbed. Hobbies time their return to the UK so they arrive as the dragonflies and damselflies are emerging. The wet weather seemed to delay the emergence of these insects this year but luckily there were lots of other flying beasties around for the hobbies to feed on, effortlessly catching them in the air and eating them un flight. Scan across Greenaways and check the fence posts to get great views of these magnificent raptors, with their dark masks and rusty brown bellies.
Yet more birds have arrived onto Otmoor. I heard, and was even lucky enough to see my first Cuckoo of the year on the 23rd April. Just a couple of weeks on and they seem to be ‘cuckooing’ from every hedge. The fact you can hear and see Cuckoo’s on Otmoor is very special. They are one of the fastest declining migrants in the UK. Sadly, we have lost over ½ of our breeding pairs in the last 25 years.
Another migrant from Africa that has suffered in recent years is the Turtle Dove. Smaller than a collard dove, the Turtle Dove is beautifully coloured and has an unmistakeable ‘purr’. The first sighting was on Friday last week (4th May). More recent sightings of this lovely bird have been from the Bridleway. Keep us posted of where and when you see them :)