27th April

We had a reprieve from the largely uneventful last few days when on Saturday evening Joe Wynn discovered a lovely Wood Sandpiper on the floods. This scarce county wader is a bit less than annual but is somewhat of a speciality of Port Meadow where we must be vying for the top county spot for sightings, along with Otmoor of course.

Wood Sandpiper courtesy of Joe Wynn
Quite a few birders (myself included) were on site early the next day but sadly it had moved on already. It's always fascinating to get a glimpse into the journeys of these waders: stopping off overnight for a refuel at somewhere like the Meadow floods before carrying on northwards.

Talking of overnight stop-offs, over the last week or so I've noticed a pattern of Little Ringed Plover sightings. I often head out to check the floods just before dinner at around 5pm where there's usually not much to be found at the moment apart from a few Yellow Wagtails and the usual Shelduck and Oystercatchers. However a couple of hours later when Ollie Padget pays a visit he more often than not turns up an "LRP" or two. So it seems very much to be a case of this species dropping in at last light to rest up before carrying on again as soon as it's light.

I've noticed a definite build-up in Black-headed Gull numbers over the last couple of days. There is a spring passage for this species which can often carry other more interesting species with it. This includes Bonaparte's Gull for which April and May are the months for county records (see my blog post here from last year). Accordingly each visit I've been checking out all the BHG's carefully. You never know!

There's not been much to report in Burgess Field of late. On Sunday morning there was a nice Lesser Whitethroat signing briefly by the gate before moving on and I've had a couple of reports of House Sparrows in there now. This species, whilst common in the surrounding residential area is not normally seen in the nature reserve at all.

Finally I should mention insects. We've got to that time of year: the usual butterfly species are now on the wing and our resident "insect whisperer" Nicola Devine has been turning up all sorts of goodies in the Trap Grounds already including a lovely Broad-bodied Chaser recently. Myself and Steve Goddard have been running our moth traps each night though the clear rather cold overnight conditions of late have made for rather low catches.

Broad-bodied Chaser courtesy of Nicola Devine
This Shoulder Stripe is not especially rare though it was a first for my garden

Brindle Beauty
Expect more on insects over the coming months as the birding dries up. Incidentally there is a new county dragonfly blog where you can see lots of hot Odonata action - see here.

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