Monday 2nd May: White Stork!!!

The Meadow has been on such good form over the last few days that it was only a matter of time before something really good showed up and today it happened. I was at home in my study when I got a call from Richard Foster saying that there was a WHITE STORK at the southern end of the floods but that given how many people were around it was bound to flush pretty quickly. I've never made it down to the Meadow so quickly - literally 2 minutes from call to arrival and arrived just in time to see the bird fly up at close range and head over to the northern end of the floods where it settled about 25 yards from the North Shore. I made my way up to Burgess Field gate where in the company of half a dozen or so other local people we watched it for a couple of minutes before it flew off quite low to the east. During that time I was able to ascertain that it was unringed. Someone there managed to get some great video footage of the bird which I am hoping to be able to get a copy of in due course. Subsequently the bird was reported flying low over Otmoor and then over Bicester so unfortunately it didn't stop off elsewhere. I managed some point and shoot record shots:

The white stork just to the north of the floods..

..before taking off....
...and flying off low to the east.

In a further twist when I came back from my trip to the Meadow I told my eldest daughter who casually mentioned that yesterday she'd seen a "funny large bird" perched on the chimney pot of a house more or less opposite ours though it had flown away as she watched it. When I showed her my photos she immediately identified it as what she'd seen so it had apparently been around in the area undetected for at least one night. I've given her a stern lecture on telling me when she sees anything unusual in future!

Other news, last night's WOOD SANDPIPER was still around at first light (per Justin Taylor) but flew off at 05:55. The GREY PLOVER remained all day and there was a continual passage of BAR-TAILED GODWITS through with perhaps about 80 being reported during the day that I heard of. The three GARGANEY were still about and there were a couple of RINGED PLOVERS down at the southern end.

Apparently this isn't the first White Stork record for the Meadow. Richard Foster found the follow reference in British Birds vol X. (1916-17), p. 273:


On October 15th, 1916, Miss M. Price saw a White Stork (Ciconia c. ciconia) in Port Meadow, near Oxford. She first noticed it on the wing and saw it settle about a hundred yards away. It remained in view for about a quarter of an hour, during which time Miss Price and a friend who accompanied her had good opportunities of observing it, and noticing the differences between it and a Heron which was in sight at the same time. Miss Price is also familiar with the appearance of the Stork in Holland, so that there could be no possible mistake as to its identity. When last seen it was flapping slowly towards Wolvercote. F. C. R. Jourdain.'

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