Sunday 21st March

So we've reached the Vernal Equinox and with the coming of Spring we've had the first migrants appear when Steve Goddard saw a couple of SAND MARTINS up in Wolvercote this morning. It's always a very special moment for me when the first migrants return.

What started out at the beginning of the week as a rather quiet period on the Meadow has by the week's end turned into quite an amazing wader fest. Numbers have been building throughout the week but has really only been the last couple of days when it's all really kicked off. Sunday's tally (courtesy largely of Ian Elkin) was 3 RUFF, 7 BLACK-TAILED GODWIT, 24 DUNLIN, 4 RINGED PLOVER, 1 CURLEW, 6 REDSHANK and 4 OYSTERCATCHERS. These are really good wader counts for this time of year - to have 49 waders on the floods and it still being March is very good. I'm particularly pleased about the Curlew which I've been hoping for for several weeks now as this isn't a straight-forward bird to get on the year list.


By contrast duck numbers are slowly starting to dwindle though we're attracting several SHELDUCK to the floods (as we usually do at this time of year), there are still a few GOOSANDER coming in to roost and a few PINTAIL are still around. Talking of Goosander, there were a pair on the Castle Mill Stream this week which gave lovely close views.

So, now that the first migrants are in, what can we expect over the next couple of weeks? Little Ringed Plover is the obvious one and it's prime Med. Gull passage so it would be great to get one of those on the list. Talking of the year list, at the start of the year I made a list of all the winter species that I'd expect to have seen by about this time of year and now that we've got Curlew the only two things that are left are Nuthatch (which is probably still lurking in the Medley Farm copse) and bizarrely Kestrel, which I've not managed to see yet so if anyone sees one on the Patch then do let me know (it's only a matter of time before they return to Burgess Field I expect).

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