24th April

There's been a distinct sense of things going quiet over the last few days. There's not been the same buzz of news about birds on the patch and whenever I've visited myself it's been the same few species.

The floods are rapidly shrinking. This prolonged dry and sunny spell is doing them no favours at all and in fact I'm surprised that they've lasted as well as they have. In the meantime we've had to be content with the usual Shelduck and a few Yellow Wagtails. Even the Oystercatcher visits have tailed off -  I guess that they're now tending their eggs where ever it is that they are nesting. The passage of White Wagtails seems to be over as well - I've not seen any in the last few days. Swallows and House Martins are "in" now and being seen daily on the Meadow though Swifts have yet properly to arrive.

Yellow Wagtail

Perhaps the highlight since my last post is the record of a Cuckoo up along the Thames path beyond Wolvercote from Steve Goddard's daughter who both saw and heard it call. Whilst the location may perhaps be more part of the environs rather than core patch, as you know, I'm fairly flexible in that respect, especially when there's a tick at stake!

On the Warbler front, our usual species now all seem to be "in" as well. Nicola Devine had the first Reed Warblers in the Trap Grounds reedbed - always an exciting event! Garden Warblers have taken up residence in Burgess Field, as have the Whitethroats and Blackcaps. I'm still hearing Willow Warblers working their way northwards through Burgess Field each visit though I don't think any have established a territory yet. We've had a few sightings of Lesser Whitethroats in various areas though again  they don't usually actually breed on the patch. 

Reed Warbler courtesy of Nicola Devine
Reports of our star Ouzel have stopped. I did take a brief look this evening without any luck and given how we're heading towards the end of April I would indeed have expected it to move on. There have also been a few Raven sightings of late. I suspect that they breed on Wytham Hill so will be fairly regular visitors.

So what is there still to look out for? The key Warblers that we've yet to see are Grasshopper and Cetti's. The former used to be guaranteed with up to four pairs in Burgess Field but they just suddenly stopped turning up. Cetti's on the other hand is less than annual anyway but we may well get one still. There are also some of the later migrants such as Spotted Flycatcher to search for and we still need Whinchat and Hobby for example. However, the main area for potential progress is waders. We do have a period of more unsettled weather coming  up. Rainy weather in May with some floods still present is really as good as it gets for spring Meadow birding and theirs nothing more exciting that a real "fall" of waders. So expect me to be out in the rain this week looking hard!

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