We've been blessed with a pretty wet October which has restored the floods to their full glory. With the returning waters have come the wild fowl once again and the Meadow is once more back to its birdy best. In terms of what's actually been seen this last month, if truth be told, things have been rather quiet though there has been enough to keep things ticking over as well as one real patch mega.
Starting with the ducks, the usual species are back with mostly Wigeon and some Teal about in reasonable numbers. A few Shoveler are about as well as some Gadwall and Pintail. All the usual geese are about including our Barnacle Goose flock which are now pretty much resident here for the time being. Four Shelduck have been an unusual sighting for this time of year. There have also been some Goosander sightings on the river.
|The usual dodgy White-fronted Geese have paid occasional visits to the Meadow this month (photo courtesy of Steve Lavington)|
With the returning waters we've also started to attract some gulls again and a 1st winter Caspian Gull has rather taken a liking to the floods and has been seen fairly regularly. At the moment the gull roost is mostly Black-headed Gulls but in past years, it's not really until December that the gull roost gets going properly.
|1w Caspian Gull, courtesy of Steve Lavington|
We've not had much on the wader front though we did have up to 4 Dunlin for a couple of days. We are started to get a gathering of Lapwing and Golden Plover now as well, though it's still early days, especially for the latter species which has been rather sporadic.
Onto raptors and it's this category in which we got our patch mega when a Marsh Harrier was spotted soaring over Wytham Hill on the 14th. I've long thought that this would be a reasonable species to get in transit over Wytham but it's thanks to the vigilence of Steve Lavington for putting the hours in that it goes on the patch list.
Steve also managed to get a probable fly-over heard-only Rock Pipit though he couldn't rule out Water Pipit from what he heard. Either species is a great record for the Meadow though Water is certainly the rarer of the two in the county.
There's been plenty of Egret action this last month. When the floods were just starting to return and the newly formed water was flooding out all the worms, this attracated an amazing total of 27 Cattle Egret! We've had more modest counts quite a few times over the month though they now mostly seemed to have moved on. We also had a couple of Great White Egret seen flying along the river one morning this month.
Finally, on to passerines where we've had up to 4 Stonechat hanging out in the uncut Thistles at the southern end of the Meadow. Two of these are still hanging about and might even over-winter as long as the weather doesn't get too severe.
|Female Stonechat courtesy of Steve Lavington|
|There has been an unprecedented number of Money Spiders about this month with their gosamer threads absolutely everywhere. It's been quite a sight!|
(photo courtesy of Mary McDougal)