Otmoor has evolved from unenclosed marshland in the early 19th century into agricultural land (converted by enclosure and drainage) and, since acquired by the RSPB in 1997, back to a habitat of wet meadows, wetland and reedbeds.

A large hide looks east, west and south over wet meadows and two viewing screens look out over the reedbeds. Most of the rest of the reserve can be viewed from the visitor trail or bridle ways. However, there are few other facilities you might associate with RSPB reserves; in particular, there are no public toilets on the reserve or in the nearby villages.

Although access is available from other villages, if you are travelling by car, you are recommended to arrive via Beckley (off the B4027 Islip to Wheatley road) and use the car park at the end of Otmoor Lane, Beckley (Grid ref. SP570126). Access to the reserve is via the visitor trail, bridle ways and permissive paths; the wider Otmoor basin is accessed via bridle ways and footpaths. The land to the east of the reserve belongs to the Ministry of Defence and is used as an army firing range. If the red flags are flying do not enter this area.

The main attractions vary with the seasons. As well as breeding waders and water birds, spring can boast 10 species of migrant or resident warblers: chiffchaff, willow warbler, whitethroat, lesser whitethroat, blackcap, garden warbler, grasshopper warbler, reed warbler, sedge warbler and Cetti’s warbler. Other migrants include turtle doves and cuckoos (scarce now in much of the UK) and hobbies, which time their arrival with the appearance of the first dragonflies. Early spring is also a good time to see brown hares ‘boxing’ in the dryer meadows.

Summer gives opportunities to see wildlife other than birds. There is a wide diversity of wildflowers, butterflies and dragonflies. Common lizards frequent a lounging area near the first reedbed viewing screen. Grass snakes can often be seen soaking up warmth alongside ditches and paths. There are no adders on Otmoor; all its reptiles are non-venomous!
Autumn is a time of movement, winter visitors replacing the summer ones and passage migrants stopping off on the way to their wintering grounds. It is a great time to look for unusual waders and raptors.

In winter, lapwings and golden plovers can be present in flocks from hundreds to thousands. Large numbers of wigeons, teals and other wildfowl congregate and there is the chance of occasional winter swans. The wader and wildfowl flocks draw in raptors such as hen harriers and peregrines. Barn owls and short-eared owls may also appear. At dusk in early winter there is often a starling roost of many thousands of birds, creating amazing displays as they flock together before roosting for the night in the reedbed.

At any time of the year, you might be one of the lucky few to get a sighting of an otter. Our Links page gives a shortcut to the reserve’s own website for more information and planned events. Recent sightings can be found on the Otmoor Birding website

Best time to visit:
Anytime! Spring for birdsong; summer for dragonflies and butterflies; autumn and winter for wader and wildfowl flocks

Location

Postcode: OX3 9UR

Latitude / Longitude: 51.8094861, -1.1747498

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