It's been another good week with once again the weekend providing the icing on the cake. With settled high pressure dominating the weather for the whole week, my daily visits to the gull roost were proving to be decidedly unproductive. However on Tuesday things were livened up when the Glossy Ibis from last week popped in again at last light. It was first seen flying low over Otmoor at 4:25 pm before arriving at the Meadow at 4:40 pm. The distance is about 8 km so that makes a nice 32 km/h average speed. It seemed settled enough as it fed that evening though sadly it was gone the next morning. A special mention must be made of a heroic twitch to see it by Thomas Miller who managed to get from Farmoor to Botley in time to tick it in nearly total darkness.
The Glossy Ibis on the floods at dusk
Apart from that there was precious little during the week but at the weekend there was lots of action. Ollie Padget and I were in Burgess Field Saturday morning doing some vis migging whilst we were chatting away. A flock birds flew fairly low overhead and we both independently called them as Hawfinches! Thanks to the winter invasion of this species a couple of years ago everyone has become more aware of them and it's paid off with what is a patch first! Things carried on in a similar vein that afternoon when Ollie saw a Woodcock fly over Burgess Field mid afternoon. This is a less than annual species on the Meadow and is pretty hard to come by though they do occasionally roost in the long grass in Burgess Field. What's more on Sunday evening Matthew Lloyd had another (or maybe the same) Woodcock fly over near the gate to Burgess Field at dusk. Let's hope that it's roosting there and so might be seen again. Talking of nocturnal birds, a female Tawny Owl was heard again in Burgess Field on Saturday evening by Ollie. Also, during the week Andrew Siantonas managed to find a Little Grebe on the river which (amazingly) is actually the first one of the year.
Apart from these highlights it was pretty much the usual stuff. The four Goosander have continued to hang around in the vicinity, often to be seen on the river. The Barnacle Geese have not been around so much though there have been more Canada Geese by way of compensation. Talking of geese, there was an Egpyptian Goose on the floods on Saturday morning. A couple of Black-tailed Godwits dropped in and spent a couple of days with us before moving on and a Dunlin was hanging out with the Golden Plover on Saturday morning.
Thanks to Matthew Lloyd who has been educating us, we are all getting much more clued up on our local bats. Most evenings there are two species of Pipistrelles, Noctules and Daubenton bats to be seen (though you need a bat detector in order to separate the Pipistrelles). The Pipistrelles are the small ones, the Noctules are the large ones and the Daubentons hunt just above the water surface. Matthew has had other species as well though they are harder to tell apart without a detector.
So all good stuff! The Hawfinch, Woodcock and Little Grebe have now taken the year list total to 135 which is actually the record since I've been birding the Meadow. More confirmation if it were needed that this is indeed a vintage year. As far as what we might still hope for in terms of year ticks it would have to be one of the rarer waders (on which we are rather light this year), a Short-eared Owl perhaps or something pretty unusual. Given the year so far, it might just be a monster rare!