On one of our recent outings we went to Otmoor which is a Nature Reserve managed by the RSPB. The AA (Automobile Association) describe it thus:
'A stone's throw to the north of Oxford lies Otmoor, a canvas of fields and hedgerows that seems to have been bypassed by the rest of the county. A curious ghostly stillness pervades this wilderness, inspiring various writers over the years to describe it romantically as 'the forgotten land', 'bewitched Otmoor' and 'sleeping Otmoor cast under a spell of ancient magic.
With its flat fields, ditches and dykes, it is, in places, reminiscent of East Anglia. On a cold winter's day, and even occasionally in high summer, you can sense Otmoor's sinister, sometimes unsettling, atmosphere. At times it is dark and mysterious, at times it exudes an air of calm and tranquillity. Cross Otmoor as a light mist drifts over the meadows and you'll find the image will linger long in the memory.
If time allows, journey to the village of Beckley, perched 400ft (122m) over the southern edge of Otmoor, and you'll see why Lewis Carroll was supposedly inspired by the view of this primitive 4,000-acre (1,620ha) landscape to write about the giant chessboard in Alice Through the Looking Glass. John Buchan, who lived at nearby Elsfield, described Otmoor in great detail in his novel The Blanket of the Dark.'
'For some minutes Alice stood without speaking,
I declare that it is marked out like a large chessboard!'
As I said at the beginning it is an RSPB managed Nature Reserve and unfortunately the birds were just that, reserved! However it is a beautiful place, well worth a visit and we will definitely go there again. The photo at the top of the post of Canada Geese was taken near the end of our visit, you can see the sky was preparing for 'shepherds delight' and the promise of another good day to come.
Red sky in the morning; sailors warning.'
While the birds were shy the butterflies were more noticeable, it was a beautiful warm and sunny day although a little windy. The Painted Ladies which we have all been so privileged to see in good numbers this year were in evidence.
On colored wings that catch the eye.
On wings of orange, and silvery blue,
On wings of golden yellow, too.
Butterflies float in the air,
Making their homes most anywhere.'
I think this is a
On a wooden rail leading to a hide I saw another sunbather
'A Peacock Butterfly one day
Across a garden took its way,
Unto a spot where roses grew
Of noble form and lovely hue;
And seeing one of goodly size,
To sip its sweets she quickly flies;
And lighting on its crimson leaves,
Her breast with exultation heaves.'
I may not have been lucky with bird sightings but there was quite a plethora of insects, this one is usually not seen on its own and has the rather indelicate name of Bonking Beetle for obvious reasons!
'Swiftly walk o'er the western wave,
Spirit of Night!
Out of the misty eastern cave,
Where, all the long and lone daylight,
Thou wovest dreams of joy and fear,
Which make thee terrible and dear--
Swift be thy flight!
Wrap thy form in a mantle gray,
Blind with thine hair the eyes of day;
Kiss her until she be wearied out,
Then wander o'er city, and sea, and land,
Touching all with thine opiate wand--
(Percy Bysshe Shelley)
I saw these
As we left the hide I heard and saw flocks of Canada Geese which made quite an impressive sight in the evening sky.
are heading home again.
Whoever you are, no matter how lonely,
the world offers itself to your imagination,
calls to you like the wild geese, harsh and exciting
over and over announcing your place
in the family of things.'
and we did the same.