Thursday 19th September

It's actually been a pretty good couple of weeks since my last update. Granted there's still no water on the Meadow and in fact it's been unusually dry of late but at least we've been getting some good passage passerines to talk about.

To start with we've got one more year tick to mention: Steve Goddard has had a NUTHATCH visiting his garden in Wolvercote recently.

It's been a very good year for SPOTTED FLYCATCHERS in the county with unusually large counts passing through. Here at Port Meadow we've been in on this action as well: we'd already had two of them that I mentioned in my last post but we've now had at least three more to report. Thomas Miller turned up a couple on one day recently: one in Burgess Field near the railway line and one over in Binsey churchyard. Nicola Devine then had one (or possibly two) in the Trap Grounds a few days later. For a species which we're normally lucky to get one of it's been quite a year!

Spotted Flycatcher courtesy of Nicola Devine
WHINCHAT are normally even rarer that Spotted Flycatchers but we've managed a second bird this autumn, again found by Thomas Miller in the Snipe Field in Burgess Field. What's more a few days later he found a juvenile STONECHAT there as well. Sadly these days this species is about as rare as Whinchat are on the patch. There was also a WHEATEAR at the southern end of the Meadow briefly earlier on this week.

What might have been the bird of the year had it been firmed up was a record of a possible Twite. Seen briefly and heard calling by Thomas Miller over by the Perch it was sadly never promoted beyond a "possible" and wasn't seen again. By way of compensation HOBBY was spotted later that day whilst he and I were out looking for it.

Finally, one of my favourite pastimes in the autumn is hunting for BLUE-HEADED WAGTAILS in amongst the YELLOW WAGTAILS. For those of you who aren't familiar with this sub-species it's the continental version of our Yellow's and we often manage one each autumn. Today I managed to find one in amongst the half a dozen or so Yellow Wagtails down at the southern end in amongst the cattle. Incidentally the peak tally of Yellow's so far this autumn is a paltry dozen or so, well down on counts of at least double that that I've got in previous years. This is sadly all too indicative of the decline in this farmland species.

Fairly rubbish photos of the female Blue-headed Wagtail.
The key factors for females are the pure white throat, upper breast and supercilium
compared to the yellowish tinge that our adult female Yellow Wagtails have

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