Monday 30th July - Wood Sandpipers Still

A pretty similar day to yesterday for my evening visit. There I found the two WOOD SANDPIPERS, 2 COMMON SANDPIPERS & 1 GREEN SANDPIPER, the 13 DUNLIN still and the single OYSTERCATCHER. In addition Paul Boult reported the 2 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS and a HOBBY from earlier in the day. On the gull front there were good numbers of black-headed gulls once again with a couple of COMMON GULLS in amongst them. Still relatively few larger gulls to speak of.

Black-tailed Godwit, taken a few days ago (c) Roger Wyatt

Sunday 29th July - Wood Sandpipers Still

I'm back to my standard evening visits at the moment, today in the company of Jarrod Hadfield. There was another good haul of waders this evening with some birds coming in whilst we were there. The two WOOD SANDPIPERS were still about and there were two BLACK-TAILED GODWITS still left over (or perhaps they were new birds) as well as the OYSTERCATCHER and two or three juvenile REDSHANKS. Two COMMON SANDPIPERS were working their way along the shore though were often hidden and hard to see. Two GREEN SANDPIPERS dropped in whilst we were there as did a flock of 13 DUNLIN. There was another good gull roost with more than 1000 birds though the vast majority are still black-headed gulls. There was once again a smattering of larger gulls about though still no yellow-legged gulls yet.

One of the two Wood Sandpipers, taken by Roger Wyatt (c) a few days ago.

Saturday 28th July - Wood Sandpipers Still Present

Well, I've got back from my holidays to find that the sunny weather has at last dried out the floods enough for a decent bit of shoreline. Sure enough this has done the trick and the Meadow has got from a bleak and boggy place to a wonderful wader magnet in the space of a few days. Fortunately people have been popping in to visit this week so I was able to report some of the birds that were around and today was a particularly good day. I myself couldn't visit until last light when in the gloom of dusk I got rather excited by the yellowish colour of a wader's legs. Fortunately, thanks to a quick call to Ian Lewington, he managed to talk some sense into me and I realised that it was simply a juvenile REDSHANK - I remember being caught out by this issue this time last year. I must remember for future reference how yellow their legs look, especially in the reddish glow of a sunset. 

Anyway, enough of my ID inefficiencies, there were lots (easily one thousand plus) gulls roosting on the Meadow, including the 1st summer LITTLE GULL, now sporting more or less proper white primaries - it was nice to see that it was still around. There were also a few large gulls finally starting to make an appearance, mostly lesser black-backed though with a few herring gulls as well. No sign of any yellow-legged gulls despite the good numbers over the hill at Farmoor presently. The full wader tally from today was: 2 WOOD SANDPIPERS, 4 COMMON SANDPIPERS, 6 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, 1 DUNLIN, 27 Little Egrets, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 3 GREEN SANDPIPERS (flew over South calling), 1 REDSHANK and 1 OYSTERCATCHER. My thanks to Justin Taylor and Jarrod Hadfield who contributed some of the sightings.

A stunning photo of one of the wood sandpipers taken by Stephen Burch (c).

Friday 27th July

Jarrod Hadfield & Badger report:

2 wood sand,
1 green sand,
2 Black Tailed Godwit,
3 snipe,
1 sanderling,
1 little-ringed plover
1 ringed plover (juv)
1 oystercatcher
2 common sand.
24 little egrets
1 wigeon

Monday 23rd July

 Jarrod Hadfield reports:

5 Wigeon and 1 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER this morning.

Richard Foster  reports:

3 Green Sandpiper
2 Little Ringed Plover

(c) Jason Coppock

Saturday 21st July

Jarrod Hadfield reported the following:

1 green sand (a Patch Year Tick)
1 oystercatcher
2 LRP over
17 little egret

at 8-9am this morning

Thursday 19th July

The soggy Meadow has begun to dry out a little in the last couple of days so it wasn't quite as boggy under foot for my evening visit. Three very noisy OYSTERCATCHERS made their presence known almost as soon as I arrived this evening but there were no other waders about apart from a couple of dozen lapwings. On the gull front the MEDITERRANEAN GULL was still about but there are still no large gulls in the roost at all.

I'm going to be away for a week or so on holiday. Please feel free to add any sightings as a comment to this blog posting and I'll update the blog on my return.

Tuesday 17th July

Today was actually reasonably sunny so for the first time in far too long I went out for a run around the patch. The insect life was certainly appreciating the sunny conditions with plenty to see along the route. Along the canal by the Trap Grounds there were several Ringlets and Common Blue Damselflies. At the Trap Grounds themselves there was a male Emperor Dragonfly still patrolling the central pond area with more Common Blue and also Blue-tailed Damselflies around the edges. At the start of the board walk there were a couple of Souther Hawkers holding territory. On the bird front a Reed Warbler was singing away occasionally in the reeds themselves. I also found a Slow Worm on the path, the first I've seen there this year.

Southern Hawker - photographed through my bins with great difficulty
 Slow Worm

On to Burgess Field where there were loads more butterflies: mostly Ringlets with one Marbled White, a few Small Skippers and Small Heaths and a couple of fresh Gatekeepers. There were also some Shaded Broad-bar moths out which I'd not seen before there though they are a common species.

 Shaded Broad-bar

The floods themselves were pretty empty apart from the usual black-headed gulls and little egrets and ducks. With the weather forecast to improve next week we should get the floods receding enough for a bit of shoreline to re-appear and that should bring back the waders.

Monday 16th July

I wasn't able to make it to the Meadow over the weekend and there were no reports from anyone else so I thought that I'd better take a look today. Although it wasn't raining it was rather windy and the word "bleak" sprang to mind when surveying the swollen floods. These were almost birdless apart from the large contingent of black-headed gulls still with their guest MEDITERRANEAN GULL this evening. Apart from that it was just a few ducks, terns and swans about on the floods. There were one or two sand martins in amongst the hirundines this evening.

Still no bird photos in the gloomy conditions so here's another 
moth from the garden which is turning up in quite good numbers 
at present, it's a Dark Arches.

Friday 13th July

Another evening visit to the Meadow which is still heavily flooded with the river also at the top of its banks. The conditions are too flooded for the shore-line waders such as sandpipers and plover but the long-legged waders such as godwits are well suited and there are now three BLACK-TAILED GODWITS on the floods. Four noisy OYSTERCATCHERS flew in calling as I was leaving. In the gull roost the 2nd summer MEDITERRANEAN GULL was still about and there was also an interesting "ghost" black-headed gull which is nearly all white apart from some colour on its head - presumably it's a partial albino.

Videograb record shot of the partially albino black-headed gull

Some footage of the Med. gull this evening

Mary Gregory reported a BARN OWL (a year tick) in Burgess Field late afternoon.

Thursday 12th July

9 Little Egret
2 Black-tailed Godwit
3 Oystercatcher
31 Lapwing: At least, difficult to count in the long grass.
Red Kite: Over west.

per Gareth Blockley

Wednesday 12th July

After the daily postings of last week unfortunately things did get a bit quiet. On Monday there was just one COMMON SANDPIPER to report. Fortunately today things were back on track with the (or another) BLACK-TAILED GODWIT wading in rather deep water up to the top of its legs. There were also a total of five noisy OYSTERCATCHERS around and I heard the sandpiper again. The pick of the day's sightings however was a splendid 2nd summer MEDITERRANEAN GULL in amongst the hoard of black-headed gulls.

Some video footage of the Mediterranean Gull

Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th July

Unusually for me I managed to get down to the Meadow both days this weekend. Saturday was another good wader passage day with a BLACK-TAILED GODWIT, a REDSHANK and a good total of 8 COMMON SANDPIPERS. There's been a reasonable passage of wood sandpipers elsewhere in the country the last few days and I've been hoping for one on the Meadow but so far I've not had any luck. The rain has taken its toll on the shoreline though and the plover-friendly mud is now underwater again and consequently the plovers were no where to be seen. The wigeon is still about along with the tufted duck and the usual gadwalls.

On Sunday there were just the 2 COMMON SANDPIPERS again and little else on the wader front. 

As it's been rather gloomy in the evenings when I've been on the Meadow I've not been able to take any photos of late so here are a couple of moths from the garden recently: the upper one is a Bordered Sallow which is not that common in the county (this was the first Oxon, Berks & Bucks record of the year that I know of); the lower one is a Brimstone.

Friday 6th July

After a day of solid unrelenting rain, miraculously come the evening it brightened up and there was even some sunshine for my visit. The mini wader-fest continues with the COMMON SANDPIPER and 6 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER today joined by 5 DUNLIN, 2 OYSTERCATCHERS and a REDSHANK (the last two seen by Richard Foster). In addition, Jarrod Hadfield reported an amazing total of 24 little egrets in the morning. The drake TUFTED DUCK is still around and there is a single wigeon back in amongst the other ducks.

Here's a Ringlet from Burgess Field taken last week

Thursday 5th July

Two visits to the Patch today found some more good passage birds. This morning the LITTLE GULL was back again (the first time I'd personally seen it for a while though others have continued to report it) along with at least 10 common terns, 9 little egrets, the two COMMON SANDPIPERS still and two OYSTERCATCHERS. This evening I was able to add 6 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, 1 GREENSHANK and a CURLEW which spent five minutes in the tall grass just to the North of the floods before flying off again calling. In addition Sydney Penner had a possible Mediterranean Gull this afternoon.

I've been meaning to mention this Bee Orchid that I found in
 Burgess Field recently. I've no idea whether they've been around in 
previous years but it was nice to see.

Wednesday 4th July

More autumn passage birds today. The 2 COMMON SANDPIPERS were still around, today along the North Shore and the number of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS has now grown to 7 birds, a mix of adults and juveniles. The (or another) smart summer plumaged BLACK-TAILED GODWIT was back and a calling CURLEW flew over but didn't land. There were 6 little egrets on the floods this morning adding an exotic touch to the floods. The gull roost is still almost entirely black-headed gulls though I was reminded by Nic Hallam today that we can soon start to look for juv. Med. Gulls in amongst them.

Some rather grainy video footage of the bird, filmed in gloomy conditions

Tuesday 3rd July

The early autumn passage has been continuing the last couple of days, enough so to warrant another posting. Yesterday there were 4 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER and today they were still present and joined by two COMMON SANDPIPER. In addition there were 1 BLACK-TAILED GODWIT and an OYSTERCATCHER earlier in the day (per Ian Smith) though they'd gone come the evening. The LITTLE GULL was reported again (per Ian Smith) though it seems to be roosting elsewhere as it's not been around for a while when I've been making my evening visits. A couple of juvenile skylarks hiding in the long grass in the gloom of dusk gave me some excitement for a while until I worked out what they were!

There have been up to 6 little egrets around of late

Sunday 1st July

Another week has gone by and at last we're starting to get the first hints of the return passage.  Highlights on the bird front this week were a COMMON SANDPIPER and two LITTLE RINGED PLOVER today and also a second LRP and an OYSTERCATCHER mid-week reported by Sydney Penner. The flood waters have receded enough to reveal some nice mud that the plovers require in order to stop over so as long as the waters aren't topped up again too much we should continue to get the odd wader dropping in occasionally from now on. Gull numbers are building continually and tonight there must have been about 500 black-headed gulls roosting on the floods. I've not seen the LITTLE GULL this week though Sydney Penner reported it mid-week. There are at least 4 common terns about and a few larger gulls are starting to drop in now so it will soon be time to start looking out for yellow-legged gulls. On the duck front it's the usual stuff though I did notice that the Rosy-billed Pochard was back on the floods for the first time in quite a while. There have been up to 9 little egrets around and good numbers of grey herons as well. Along the Castle Mill Stream I saw a kingfisher this evening and the little grebe is still about. Mid-week I had a HOBBY fly over my house which nice to see, that's only the second one seen this year on the patch though we usually get more sightings in the autumn.

 The Common Sandpiper this evening on the floods...
...and one of the Little Ringed Plovers. Both shots taken in very poor light.

On the butterfly front in Burgess Field the Marbled Whites, Meadow Browns and Ringlets are now out though only in modest numbers. There are still loads of Small Heaths and we should be getting the Small Skippers joining the Large Skippers soon. On the Trap Grounds there is a male Emperor Dragonfly holding court on the pond and loads of Common Blue Damsels there and along the ditch besides the allotments. I also saw a male Black-tailed Skimmer by the Meadow this week. Whilst still on the insect theme, I've been running a moth trap occasionally in the garden and this week I had my first immigrant moth of the year in the form of a Silver-Y.

 Common Blue Damselfly
It's nice to have the Marbled Whites out now

The immigrant Silver-Y moth. It's amazing to think that such a 
small creature migrates across the sea.

Let's hope that the return passage continues to build and that we start to get some decent birds. It's been a very poor year on the Year List front so far so there's some catching up to do.