26th November

A few bits and bobs to report since my last post. There's still been no real rain to speak of though the floods are making a reasonable hash of staying put in the circumstances. There are still no duck to speak of on the floods - there's too little water for them I think. The evening gull roost has been pretty well covered most nights, usually by Thomas Miller when I'm not there. There have been a few YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS in the modest roost sizes but the highlight was a cracking 1st winter CASPIAN GULL that Thomas found on Saturday. It's great to get this lovely species on the list for the season so quickly

A gorgeous 1w Caspian Gull courtesy of Thomas Miller
With that now under our belt already it's just the two white-wingers to get and we'll have seen all the regular noteworthy gulls this season already. Mind you these are by far the hardest species to get and we're lucky if we get one at all each winter.

In other news, the SHORT-EARED OWL was reported in Burgess Field again by an unidentified gentleman on both days over the weekend. I did have a look myself this evening but yet again drew a blank - I've still yet to see this bird. In my garden I've had a pair of male BLACKCAP and a Coal Tit on my feeders. This latter species isn't that common on the Patch so I'm always pleased to see one. I have finally started to see some Redwing about though numbers seem unusually low compared to normal. Maybe conditions aren't that bad on the continent so they're not moving so far at the moment.

18th November

The floods have managed to hold up reasonably well so far given that there's hardly been any rain all week. We've been getting modest gull roosts most days and indeed the 1w MEDITERRANEAN GULL was present again yesterday (for the 5th day in a row) but not this evening. However Thomas Miller found the first YELLOW-LEGGED GULL of the season in the roost tonight.

Yesterday Mary MacDougall saw a SHORT-EARED OWL in Burgess Field at around 4:10 pm and she saw it again this evening at roughly the same time. It doesn't appear to be lingering so I'm wondering whether it's just roosting somewhere in the area and then flying off to hunt elsewhere perhaps over the river by the fields at Medley Farm or something. Still it's a nice addition to the year list.

16th November

I've been checking out the gull roost most evenings when I can manage it, usually in the company of Thomas Miller. Our lovely MEDITERRANEAN GULL has been there three days in a row now which is rather unusual - it clearly likes it here! Apart from that we had our first DUNLIN of the season with a single bird that didn't linger this evening. Also present today were 5 Golden Plover, 30+ Lapwings, only a modest Wigeon flock and a reasonably sized gull roost. Yesterday three of the usual feral WHITE-FRONTED GEESE dropped in, calling noisly, for about five minutes before heading off again, .

I mentioned last time looking out for the errant drake American Wigeon in amongst our Wigeon flock. Well, another bird to look out for is a splendid adult Rose-coloured Starling which has been seen in Botley recently. The only reason why I mention it is that each evening large flocks of Starlings fly over the Meadow heading towards the huge roost in the Otmoor reedbed. Well, a straight line between Botley and Otmoor goes straight over the southern half of the Meadow so there's a chance that it might fly over our air space. Worth keeping an eye out for perhaps though we'd need brighter conditions than the intense gloom that we've had over the last couple of days in order to be able to see anything at all.

Some video footage of our Med. Gull in amongst the throng

14th November

In my excitement at the news that the floods were back in my last post I forgot to mention a couple of snippets of other news. Firstly the GREAT WHITE EGRET was seen again up at Wolvercote Lakes by Steve Goddard a day or two later. It wouldn't surprise me if it become a regular visitor there. Secondly Mary MacDougall reported a BARN OWL sighting in Burgess Field last week so it might be worth keeping an eye out there in the days and weeks ahead.  I did go and have a look for it the next day but all I saw was a small flock of FIELDFARES - my first of the season (and I've still personally yet to see any Redwings).

As a point of interest a couple of days ago a Glossy Ibis was seen at 3pm at Farmoor and then some fifteen minutes later was spotted flying over Otmoor. Now a straight line between the two locations does pass over Port Meadow so it looks like we missed a nice sighting there. As a matter of interest, this distance is some 9 miles so at 36 mph this bird was going at quite a pace! One other item: a drake American Wigeon was spotted in the west of the county at a private location a day or two ago though apparently had gone the next day so it's worth checking out the Meadow Wigeon flock carefully in case it's come our way.

This evening I went to check out the floods for the gull roost to find the whole area almost completely empty of birds. Having been out earlier in the day on a run and seen plenty of Wigeon and Teal I can only assume that some dogs must have run amuck just before my arrival. Just about the only birds present were some gulls though in the pleasant weather conditions the roost was typically small and the birds were typically skittish, with great chunks of the flock periodically being scared off by something and heading off to Farmoor. As a general rule, the better the weather the worse the gulling. Anyway, unusually there were hardly any small gulls around at all but just at last light Thomas Miller managed to spot a first winter MEDITERRANEAN GULL in amongst the few dozen Black-headed Gulls - a great find! This species is pretty much annual on the Meadow though with just one or two records a year it's always something to get excited about and it marks the first noteable gull of the season. Let's hope for plenty of others to follow!

A dodgy video grab taken at last light of the Med Gull

12th November

The floods are back! The recent rain has produced the usual two pools though they're not properly joined up yet. However, the larger northern pool is now big enough to attract a reasonable gull roost so over the last few days I've been taking a look. In amongst the hoards of Black-headed Gulls there have been plenty of larger gulls to look through there's not been anything of particular note so far. On the duck front this evening there were about 230 Wigeon and 30+ Teal and waders have been represented by 30+ Lapwing and 3 Golden Plover. With the feral Greylags also enjoying the damper conditions and plenty of Linnets, Meadow Pipits and Pied Wagtails it's suddenly looking really "birdy" again! So all good stuff! The only fly in the ointment is that there is no rain forecast for the next week and even we don't get some decent follow-up rain fairly soon we're going to lose these floods again.

It's nice to see Golden Plover back on the Meadow. Over the last couple of years there haven't been the numbers that we used to get.

Whilst Wytham Woods isn't strictly part of the patch, I'm going to give it a bit of a mention as it's not too far away from the Meadow. This weekend I was up there on Sunday afternoon en famille in order to enjoy the autumn colours. Whilst up on the ridge in the Hornbeam section I'm pretty sure I heard and briefly saw a Hawfinch. They have a distinctive "tic" call which first alerted me to it though it seemed to be moving through quite rapidly so it have been just passing through.

1st November

As predicted, our embryonic flood waters didn't last. We really need a good prolonged period of rain to re-instate them again. In their absence there is precious little to report. It's still the usual Linnets, Meadow Pipits, Pied Wagtails and a few Lapwings out on the Meadow. I'm still seeing my Jay commuting back and forth past my back garden on a regular basis. Overhead as far as seasonal migration is concerned it's mainly been Skylarks and Wood Pigeons that I've seen or heard. There have been reports of quite a few Brambling in the county already and it looks like it might be a good winter for them so it's worth keeping an ear out for their wheezing call.

The highlight since my last posting was yesterday when I got a text from Jonathon Parsons saying that he was watching a GREAT WHITE EGRET on the roadside one of the two Wolvercote Lakes. I hurried up there and managed to watch it for a while in very gloomy light until it took exception to my presence and flew off low towards the rear lake. This species is currently transitioning from a rare bird to something much more common place, in a similar way that Little Egrets did as they colonised the country. However, I still get excited seeing them and this is indeed the first one that I've ever seen on the Patch though it has already been seen this year by others.

The Great White Egret in the gloom