28th June

At last the unseasonal wet weather that dominated much of June has given way to proper summer weather. Such was the amount of rainfall for much of the month that the flood waters even had a reprieve for a few weeks, attracting a few Black-headed Gulls to loaf around the reformed pools, including the first juvenile birds of the year.

Juvenile Black-headed Gull on the reformed flood waters

Apart from that there has been little of note on the bird front. House Martins were busy gathering mud at the start of the month and could be seen congregating in good numbers on the banks of the river.

House Martins gathering mud

Wood Pigeons are present in large numbers on the fresh grassy area that used to be the flood zone. They are everywhere you look.

The humble Wood Pigeon is often overlooked but they can be quite smart looking birds
It's a lovely time of year to be wandering through Burgess Field. The Marbled Whites and Ringlets are on the wing and with the sunny weather they are easy to spot.

I found this freshly emerged Marbled White composing itself under a bush before taking its first flight
The combination of lots of rain and now bright sunshine now has meant that Burgess Field is a riot of plant life - there are flowers everywhere you look. It's well worth a visit just to admire it all.

One of my favourite Meadow plants, the rather strange Tubular Water-dropwort

Each year this Wild Clary comes up in the same spot at the southern end of the flood area
The Bee Orchids in Burgess Field are just coming into flower now
The Trap Grounds are looking really good presently with some of the newly planted wildflower meadow areas now in full bloom. The dragonfly and damselflies are now on the wing and can be seen hawking over the ponds and grassy areas.

Southern Hawker courtesy of Nicola Devine

2nd June

So here we are in June at the start of the summer birding doldrums. Actually with the floods having dried up so early this year it's felt like that for at least the last month. Still there have been a few additions to the year list to mention. Interestingly enough three of them have all been "heard-only" and it just goes to emphasise how important listening is as part of bird "watching". 

The first was a CUCKOO which Mary MacDougall heard calling away in Burgess Evening one evening. Somehow each year we manage to get at least one record of this increasingly scarce summer visitor. In fact last week I did think I heard another calling very distantly from out of my open bedroom window but it was just too far away to be sure.

The second record was also heard from out of my bedroom window. This time it was the distinctive call of a RING-NECKED PARAKEET. Now that these colourful Parrots are breeding in the University Parks I expect that we shall have more occasional fly-overs in our air space.

The third record is of an elusive male SEDGE WARBLER which has taken up residence in the Trap Grounds behind the pool in front of the screen. The song is subtly different from that of a Reed Warbler being more animated and less "conversational" and as it's more in deep scrub rather than reeds that it's singing from I'm happy enough to say that it's this species though should I eventually get to see it (not luck with that so far) it's possible that I'll have to retract this tick.

Finally, we had an exciting record from Nick Boyd of a fly-over COMMON CRANE up at the Wolvercote end a few days ago. This is probably one of the Slimbridge release scheme birds but Nick says that it was too dark at the time to see if it had leg rings and given the paucity of ticks about I'm happy to take it!

Azure Damselfly, courtesy of Nicola Devine

Four-spotted Chaser courtesy of Nicola Devine

Hairy Hawker courtesy of Nicola Devine