Sunday 22nd February

My apologies for lack of posts over the last couple of week. I was away last week and fully intended to post something before I left but in the end I ran out of time. In my absence I've received a few reports from other people which I've reproduced below. Normal service should resume shortly.

Mary MacDougall writes on the 14th
I went down to Port Meadow at about 5.15pm and there was a fabulous gull roost.  My guesstimate would be about 6,000.  I don’t have a scope so I could not search through for any unusual gulls etc.  Amongst the Wigeon and Teal here were 20-25 GOOSANDER, the majority of which seemed to be male which are easier to pick out, but there were may well have been more females but they were more difficult to pick out in the gathering dusk. There was a large mixed flock about 3000 Wigeon and Teal.  I could only pick out one pair of PINTAIL.  The whole scene was amazing, as there was no wind to speak of and the water was exceptionally still.  The noise the gulls make together and whistling Wigeon, on such an evening was magic.

Then along came a woman, who was dressed quite smartly with wellies.  She determinedly walked right round the whole waters’ edge and managed to put up the whole lot!  Half the gulls flew off towards Farmoor and the Goosander disappeared.  I did not see where they went in the general melee.  You do wonder sometimes what on earth gets into peoples’ heads when in such a peaceful scene!

There was a beautiful adult Green Woodpecker on Burgess Field just by the gate.

Adrian Gray writes on the 19th from Wolvercote
Nothing much new going on in the gullet of late - it's been a fairly dull winter all told! The only news of note is that at long last the regular flock of Wigeon by the top pond on the common have appeared, maybe thirty or so, and that the drake Shoveler that's been hanging around for a while turned up dead this morning. It was in the water and unmarked, so I guess it just reached the end of its days. 

James Evry Reported on Going Birding on the 21st
6 REDSHANK: On their usual fallen tree perch along the river.


Sunday 8th February

It's been very quiet this last week and a half on the bird front on Port Meadow. The main reason for this of course has been the weather: with it being persistently cold the floods have been frozen for most of the time which dramatically reduces the birds that hang out there. That's not to say that the Meadow has been completely deserted: as long as there are some gaps in the ice there are always some hardy ducks and gull hanging out there. The main points of interest since I last posted have been three REDHSANK eking out a living along the shoreline for several days, a couple of GOOSANDER on one of the ice pools mid week as well as a single drake PINTAIL. Apart from that it's been mostly Teal and Black-headed Gulls

Hardy birds in one of the ice pools
On recent visits there have been a few Linnets and Meadow Pipits along the southern shoreline of the flood water which I've been dutifully checking through carefully but so far there have been no hidden gems in amongst them. There have been lots of winter thrushes about foraging on the ground of late. I presume that all the berries have now gone and they're switched over to worming. When it's quiet on the sports field at Aristotle Lane you can get more than fifty of them all working their way over the ground. The flock is mostly Redwings with usually a few Mistle Thrushes and Fieldfares thrown in for good measure. It's always worth checking through the flock for something rarer - you never know!

The cold weather has brought more birds in to my garden and we are now getting regular visits from a female BLACKCAP. We put out half apples impaled on a nail for her which she seems to appreciated. I also had a CHIFFCHAFF in the garden briefly a week or so ago.

Our Blackcap