Sunday 20th October

Since my last post the continuing rainy conditions have meant that the floods have steadily got larger to the point that when I visited this weekend they are looking quite extensive. They are starting to eat into the rank vegetation surrounding the core flood area though at present there are lots of annoying Meadow Thistles still standing and obstructing the view - once they've died off then things will be a lot easier.

Port Meadow was looking particularly photogenic yesterday
In the last week or so we've had some Widgeon and Teal back in residence as well as  quite a few (a couple of dozen or so) Shoveller. There's not been much of a gull roost to speak of so far though it's still quite early in the season: it's mostly been Black-headed Gulls working their way over the newly flooded areas. In amongst the geese there's been a single BARNACLE GOOSE occasionally. I don't know what the origin of this bird is but there are some feral birds that have now taken up residence at Farmoor so it could be one of those.

The recent highlights have been a pair of EGYPTIAN GEESE (a year tick) that dropped in briefly on Saturday, four Gadwall today (more usually a spring visitor) and three (a drake and two females) PINTAIL this morning. To round things off Phil Barnett found a SHORT-EARED OWL (another year tick) a few days back in Burgess Field - it's nice to get this species back on the year list as it's a less than annual visitor. 

Now that the floods are back again we should start to get a decent amount of birds back on the Meadow again. Under good flooded conditions over the winter Port Meadow can be one of the most birdy places in the county - it's when it really comes into its own.

Nicola Devine took this lovely photo of a Chiffchaff in the Trap Grounds.
See the new Trap Grouds Wildlife blog for more photos

Monday 30th September

The very rainy conditions over the last few days have meant that there are some embryonic floods in place and with more rain forecast for the coming week I am hoping that they'll grow in size. So far there's not been much bird life attracted to them though a few Black-headed Gulls are starting to congregate by them. There are plenty of Pied Wagtails but just one YELLOW WAGTAIL hanging on, though now the cattle have been rounded up it may be the last of the season. There are about 9 or so Lapwing to be found each day on the Meadow now and Meadow Pipit numbers have grown noticeably with at least 60 hanging out in a rather large flock at the southern end of the Meadow. Thomas Miller reported 15 or so Golden Plover recently one evening, the first of the autumn.  I've been tramping around across the Meadow area most days to see if I can kick up something of interest but apart from a couple of Skylarks and loads of Meadow Pipits that's been about it.

I had rather assumed that the rainy conditions might have finished off any remaining Odonata but when the sun has been out I've still been seeing a few Migrant Hawkers buzzing about both in the Trap Grounds and along the Castle Mill Stream. With more rain forecast sadly they'll probably not be around much longer.

Without much in the way of flood waters yet, the main excitement on the birding front is looking out for the mixed roving tit flocks that are often to be found working their way along the many hedgerows in Burgess Field and in the Trap Grounds. These areas can seem completely devoid of bird life until you come across one of these flocks and suddenly there are birds everywhere! There are nearly always Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits in these flocks but you can often find a Treecreeper, Chiffchaff or Goldcrest tagging along with them and there's always the chance of something even more interesting turning up, you never know.

Without much in the way of photographic offerings at the moment I'm giving you a Kingfisher that I came across in the Trap Grounds. The new Trap Grounds blog is going strong so do go and check it out for more updates from this lovely gem of a nature haven