Friday 30th October

Since my last posting things have been gradually picking up on the Patch. Whilst the embryonic floods haven't increased in size yet at least they've held their own and it's been enough to start attracting a regular flock of 20 or 30 Lapwings and up to 50 Black-headed Gulls. Today for the first time the Teal were back with them with about 40 of them sleeping by the North Channel water. There was even a flock of a couple of dozen Golden Plover this week and Mary MacDougall had a flock of about 60 last weekend. Winter Thrushes have been at least flying over the Meadow this week if not actually feeding on it and there has been a regular light passage of Skylarks going over the last week or so, some compensation for the fact that they didn't seem to breed on the Meadow this year for the first time since I can remember.

There are finally a few year ticks to report with a couple of fly-over Lesser Redpolls during the week, a calling TAWNY OWL in the small hours this morning and best of all a Dark-bellied BRENT GOOSE that spent half an hour or so today grazing on the grass down near the boat moorings this morning before being flushed by a dog walker. A singleton Brent was seen at Farmoor about a week ago so it may be the same bird. This species is less than annual on the Meadow and is in fact not that common in the county at all so it was nice to see this morning. Let's hope that it's the prelude to more interesting sightings over the coming weeks.

The Brent Goose

Wednesday 21st October

My apologies for the lack of posts but I've been away birding down in Cornwall and to be honest there's not been a lot to report. The big news is that we're starting to get some embryonic floods now forming with a thin pool along the North Channel at present and a puddle opposite the entrance to Aristotle Lane. So far this has just attracted a few Black-headed Gulls and Lapwings but as it grows it should start to pull in some other birds and we should start to get some Wigeon and Teal back on the Meadow in due course. There's a definite wintery feel to the Meadow now: the Linnet flock is numbering about 200 birds and there are now Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails feeding on the flood area. Mary MacDougall reported a flock of Golden Plover flying over within the last couple of weeks and I had a flock of about 30 Fieldfare which flew over late afternoon today though I've personally yet to hear any Redwings. Up in Wolvercote here are a few Shoveller and Teal on the Gullet now though the pool on the Meadow opposite has hardly any water in it. In other snippets of news I saw a Sparrowhawk today and a Kingfisher down on the Trap Grounds pond.

I've been rather neglecting my garden mothing of late as numbers have been so low and it's getting to the end of the season now. I did manage to trap this Red-line Quaker the other day though

One of the most interesting birding sights around at present is when one comes across a foraging mixed feeding flock. These dynamic flocks of feeding birds work their way rapidly through the trees, calling constantly to keep together. There's an advantage to all the birds in joining forces like this: with more birds in the flock they can each spend proportionally more time feeding and less time on the look-out for predatirs which is why different species will join in. As well as the usual Great, Blue and Long-tailed Tits, there are often Chaffinches, Goldcrests, Chiffchaffs and Treecreepers to be seen in these flocks and it's always great fun trying to pick out the different species as they work their way along the tree line and it's always possible that something rarer may tag along in the flock.

The main flower that's out now is of course the Michaelmas Daisy - these ones are looking rather faded now already and have lost their pinkish blush

Sunday 4th October

So September has come and gone and sadly there's still been little to report. The lovely Indian Summer weather has been great for wandering about in but it has done little bird bird movement and we're left scratching around for news. The most interesting report was of a possible HONEY BUZZARD seen by Steve Goddard over the Woodstock Road on the 17th. They are tricky birds to ID in flight so sadly it's one that got away. Talking of fly-overs Adrian Gray ("our man in the north" who's sadly moving on the pastures new) has a RAVEN fly over Wolvercote "cronking" loudly. Visitor Anne Redstone reported a few Lapwing back on the Meadow though as yet there have been no Golden Plover. There was a single YELLOW WAGTAIL in amongst the cattle last week and I've seen a Grey Wagtail a few times around the patch. On the rivers the Kingfisher has been seen on and off and a LITTLE EGRET has been fishing on the Thames of late. I've been seeing or at least hearing SISKINS fairly regularly about the Patch now. Apart from that it's been the usual stuff in the usual places.

Little Egret on the river
Given the paucity of bird action I've been spending time down at the Trap Grounds admiring the last of the summer Hawkers and Darters. There have been one or two Migrant and Southern Hawkers around still as well as a few Common Darters though sadly they won't be around for much longer.

Common Darter
Now that the settled weather has gone perhaps we'll get enough rain to re-create the floods and bring in some nice gulls! It's also time to start listening out for Redwings and Fieldfares which should start arriving this month. Finally, there's been a huge number of Yellow-browed Warblers hitting the east coast this autumn. No doubt a few will be trickling down through the county so it's worth listening out for their distinctive call - it would be great to get this fabulous county Mega on the patch two years running!