The weather has continued with it's unsettled and quite frankly cold theme over the last few days. I've still been dutifully checking out the floods once per day but with no reward at all worth speaking of and apart from the two SHELDUCK that seem to have taken up residence here there's been nothing of note. However, suddenly this afternoon the weather seemed to lift and we had glorious sunshine and no wind for the rest of the day. It was therefore with a certain feeling of optimism that I went for an evening visit to the Meadow where I was delighted to find a decent fall of waders: two GREENSHANK and a BAR-TAILED GODWIT were the most obvious birds present but closer inspection found a whole army of small waders: 25(!) RINGED PLOVER no less, 8 DUNLIN and to top it all a single SANDERLING (a Patch year tick). This last species is just about annual on the Meadow but by no means a certainty so I always get excited when I manage to find one. Unfortunately the flock was disturbed and flew up and circled for a while. The Plover and Dunlin duly returned but the Sanderling decided to move on.
Videograb of one of the Greenshanks and a Ringed Plover
In other news Adrian Gray reported a couple of TREE SPARROWS coming to his feeder at Wolvercote - a nice Patch year tick. In talking to veteran Meadow watcher Matthew Foster (who's been visiting regularly for literally decades), he told me how in days gone by Tree Sparrows used to nest all around the Meadow in the various willow trees. He also said that when the Medley Farm was in full swing there used to be loads of Yellowhammers and Corn Buntings everywhere. How sad that things have changed in this way.
With a total of 37 waders that's a great improvement over recent weeks and I've got my fingers crossed that this might be the start of the overdue May purple patch. During this time, large numbers of waders come and go in quick succession so it's all eyes to the floods!