I'd been to RSPB Otmoor earlier in the year but there was little about that I could see (dipped on the garganeys), though the new hide looked promising, albeit unfinished back then. And I'd got drenched there too, when the heavens opened as I was at the furthest point away from shelter. However, at this time of year there should be hobbies present, so I set off with these wonderful agile birds in mind.
On reaching the reserve the sun was out and it was quite an effort to walk to the gate without sweating profusely. I walked along the bridle-way, towards the military range and chuckled at the warnings on the Gate. There was a warning about not picking up debris as it might kill you. Another than cows with calves can be aggressive and a third saying that there was a bull loose in the field. With this in mind, I turned back and returned to the main part of the path again!
Scanning the skies as I went, it became pretty clear that there were no hobbies present. Just a sole kestrel, hunting way out over the marshes. I was about to head along the path to see the hide and what it looked out on, when a bird shape caught my attention. It looked brown and pointy, and was sat on a bar of a fence of a cattle enclosure. Bins out in a flash and I had clocked a cuckoo. And a juvenile one at that. As with the adults though, as soon as I'd fired off a couple of shots, it flew off.
Unlike the adults, it stayed in the same sort of area, and I moved position to get a better view of the enclosure, from the gate on the reserve. I did expect it to take flight, but it was far more interested in the caterpillars around, and wasn't bothered by me at all. In fact, it flew a lot closer, and sat on a post, yards from me.
From here it would then swoop down into the undergrowth, and return with a caterpillar, knock the insides out of it, and consume. Then look for another. This took it to different perches, while I waited patiently, taking shots as it went about its business. What a cracking bird though.
Eventually, it was spooked by someone walking along the path, and took flight further into the reserve, but by then I had bagged a load of shots and had all but forgotten about the lack of hobbies. And with the light fading as dark clouds rolled in, I opted to head back home, as I had a flight for work in the morning, meaning a get-up at 4am.
While there is no hope of seeing eagles or puffins when out and about locally, the trip had proved that you can still dig up gems and had raised my spirits no end.