The Great Bustard

Its been sometime since I last blogged. I was thinking that with all the restrictions and less work I would have more time on my hands but I have decided that 2020 is in some sort of time warp and 24 hrs seems like 12 hrs, especially now that the evenings are so dark.

We have been blessed recently to have a rare bird visit Oxfordshire. “The Great Bustard”. I have had the pleasure of seeing it in several different locations.

In the UK, the great bustard became nationally extinct when the last bird was shot in 1832. This iconic species of the Wiltshire landscape returned to the UK in 2004 when the Great Bustard Group initiated the 10-year trial reintroduction. The project sourced birds rescued from agricultural operations in Russia, with a plan to release 20 birds per year onto Salisbury Plain.*

The first sighting was early one morning, it was a bit misty and the light was very poor. I noticed he/she on the brow of a field. So then had the challenge of getting closer. I had my three dogs with me so capturing it on camera was going to be a challenge. The image quality is not great due to the conditions.

The Great Bustard (Otis tarda) is one of the heaviest flying birds alive today.

The Male Bustard is much bigger than the female. I am thinking this is a female but thats just a guess.

Males: Standing height 90-105cm. Wingspan 210-250cm. Weight 8-16kg.
Females: Standing height 75-85cm. Wingspan 170-190cm. Weight 3.5-5kg.

The Great Bustard is omnivorous, meaning it eats both animal and plants. Its diet is mainly composed of plants during spring, autumn and winter.

They favour lowlands, river valleys, and undulating open land.

They are long-lived birds, those that make it through their first year apprently usually live on for another 15 or 20 years.

The wing span is huge and it is very impressive in flight.

The next time it was around, it was a very foggy morning. I was given a tip off that it was around. Visibility was very poor. After searching for 3/4 hr I was about to give up when I suddenly spotted it lurking in the fog.

Although the image quality is poor, you can see in the image below how big the Great Bustard is compared to the phesant to its right.

Putting its size into perspective below with a ewe.

Thankfully some slightly better weather and a few days later another oppertunity to see this lovely bird in another location.

Not always so easy to find!

Beautiful in flight

On the look out!

Getting a little peckish!

Thank you for reading. I hope you enjoyed the blog!

All images are copyright of Mel Taylor Photography and should not be used without permission.

*Reference RSPB Website. https://www.rspb.org.uk/our-work/conservation/projects/reintroducing-the-great-bustard-to-southern-england/