Well another year has come and gone on the Meadow. It's been a rather unusual one, largely due to the weather. It has of course been unfeasibly wet this year which has meant that we've been blessed with floods all year. This is a good thing in birding terms but somehow much of the year has seemed rather low key. We've managed to see the usual birds on the patch but for most of the year it was nothing more than that with nothing particularly outstanding to celebrate.
In the first half of the year we'd usually expect something good like a Temminck's Stint or a Spoonbill in May but despite the usual flurry of nice waders moving through there was nothing special. In fact spring was noteworthy for failing to produce any Grasshopper Warblers at all. Burgess Field is a really good spot for them and one can usually rely on three or four reeling males in a typical season. I've been told by Matthew Foster who's been making records of his sightings on the Meadow for several decades, that the last time there were no Groppers at all was in 1995. Apart for the usual waders, highlights for the first half of the year were a Red-breasted Merganser, a fly-over Shag, a Channel Wagtail and a Raven that hung around for quite some time in the spring.
Having floods around for the start of the autumn passage is always a good thing as it attracts loads of return passage waders. This year we had a fantastic period of several weeks when there were at least 20 waders dotted around the floods, including a couple of Wood Sandpipers, plenty of Common and Green Sandpipers and Godwits and Plovers galore. Still that extra special bird eluded us. It wasn't until well past the autumn passage that finally we got our Bird of the Year in the form of a splendid American Golden Plover that at least stayed longer than the two hours of the last one but still not long enough for everyone's liking. After that things seemed to pick up and we had quite a good couple of months with four different Caspian gulls (2 adults, a 4th winter and a 1st winter) and a first winter Iceland Gull. I was also delighted to add Little Owl to the patch year list, a bird that I've only once previously come across on the patch a number of years ago.
Wood Sandpiper (c) Roger Wyatt
Port Meadow Bird of the Year - American Golden Plover (c) Jason Coppock
So all in all it's been an OK year. The Patch Year list total was a creditable 134 which once again puts us third in the county behind the two county giants of Farmoor and Otmoor. We managed one rare and a good smattering of patch scarcities - what more could you ask for for your patch birding.
Finally of course, I'd like to wish a Happy New Year to all my readers. I should add that I always enjoy it when people come up to me on the Meadow saying how much they enjoy this blog, it's much appreciated.