Wednesday, 13 June 2012

Otmoor Corncrake

However I look at it, I can't deny that it's June. My local patch at Port Meadow hasn't had anything good for some time now and all the birds that I'd be interested in on RBA are on the coast or at the other end of the country. The appalling weather meant that I couldn't even find solace in chasing butterflies and to be frank I was bored. Therefore a call from Peter Barker yesterday afternoon saying that the RSPB staff at Otmoor had found a calling Corncrake on Greenaways was a most welcome diversion. What's more it was at a convenient time and my VLW had no objection as long as I was back in time for her to go off and play tennis.

I arrived to find just Terry Tossell there but gradually other birders turned up with Peter Barker, Peter Law, Tom Wickens, Ewan Urquhart and some RSPB staff all there. Poor old Badger was up in Stroud but was heading back toute suite (he managed to hear it that evening). The bird was calling intermittently and like all Corncrakes it was very difficult to pin point. It sounded like it was a mere 30 yards in front of us but Tom went fifty yards along the path so that he could triangulate the source and he reckoned that it was actually much further away than we though being more like 100 yards away. Other birds seen whilst there was a Cuckoo (my first of the year amazingly), a Sparrowhawk, a couple of Redshank and the usual singing warblers. Anyway, as expected there was no chance of seeing the Corncrake but it was nice to listen to. In fact I spent longer there chatting to the other birders than I had intended and it was touch and go for me to arrive back in time for my VLW to head off though I did just make it.

This is all you get for a "heard only" bird

This does of course raise the issue of whether to count heard-only birds on one's county list. This has not been an issue for my Oxon list so far (I've even seen Quail) and we'd all prefer actually to see a bird rather than just hear it. However when presented with the dangling carrot of a Corncrake county tick I realised that I didn't have a problem with ticking it at all - funny that!

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