8th May

The fact that it's been nearly a week since my last post tells you all you need to know about the  birding so far this month. Far from being the bonanza of rarities that I'd been hoping for, instead it's a been a light run of interest, with even that drying up to no more than a trickle over the last couple of days. The truth is that the weather is just too nice: any late passage migrants are just carrying on through rather than stopping. What's more the hot conditions are starting to take their toll on the floods - we've now lost half the southern leg already and are approaching the point where the floods split into two pools. 

Our Greenshank hung around for a couple more days at the start of the week and we had a good flock of 8 Ringed Plover one evening along with one or two Dunlin and a pair of Little Ringed Plover. Mid week a late Black-tailed Godwit popped in for a couple of days and unusually we had a fly-over Lapwing one morning. But, apart from the near resident Oystercatchers that's been about it on the wader front.


The Black-tailed Godwit on the floods

There's been a late smattering of Yellow Wagtails and another Wheatear was also seen working its way north along the Meadow. On the duck front there's been the usual gathering of Shelduck of varying numbers and interestingly there have been a few Egyptian Geese hanging around as well. On the warbler front a Sedge Warbler and a Lesser Whitethroat both working their way northwards along the allotment hedge next to the floods were both nice to see this week. 

In Burgess Field the usual warblers are well established by now. I reckon that we have six warbler species on territory this year with just Lesser Whitethroat and Sedge Warbler missing from the common list of eight species that we might get.


Northwards on the Godstow to King's Lock stretch there have been a couple of Cuckoo sightings and there were also several Sedge Warblers seen there as well as several Egyptian Geese (probably the same ones which are popping in on the floods from time to time). Talking of Cuckoo's, one resident of Kingston Road heard one calling at close quarters just to the east, so very much in the residential area - a most unusual record! 

The Swifts are back in the area and are to be seen on a daily basis flying over the Meadow and surrounding areas. It's always lovely to have these "devil birds" screaming in the skies overhead.

As far as birds of prey are concerned, I had a Hobby fly low over my house one afternoon, just above roof-top height which was nice to see. My wife had a kettle of 6 Buzzards soarding over our house another afternoon as well though I didn't get to see it. Apart from that it's been the usual species though a resident Sparrowhawk has been giving good views on the Meadow of late.

Sparrowhawk with male Reed Bunting prey courtesy of Nick Boyd

Looking ahead, from what I remember of May records we're about in the last week of good possible sightings though the way things have been going I'm not holding my breath. What we really need is a good sudden downpour to bring down a fall though there's not a drop of rain forecast for the next couple of weeks. Failing that we're just going to have to hope that we get lucky somehow with something dropping in though to be honest I'm starting to get "patch fatigue" from checking out the same area for such a long time!

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