31st July

I thought that I'd do an end of month update to round up what's been happening on the patch. Despite the time of year, there have actually been quite a few good things to report.

I'll kick off with birds where I've personally been distinctly neglectful but other more enthusiastic members of the Port Meadow team have been out and about finding stuff. By far and away the best record and indeed even a possible candidate for bird of the year was a Quail that was heard calling by Nick Boyd on Burgess Field at midnight. It called four times but not again so I am wondering if it was actually flying over and calling - something that apparently they do do (see Gavin Haig's "Not Quite Scilly" blog here). It's been a good year for Quail in the county but I never thought we'd get a record on the Meadow! Mind you, I never expected a Ring Ouzel either, so you just never know!

The second birding record was another report of a Little Owl by Nick along the northern boundary of Burgess Field. With two records now in this area, they may well be resident in this area - worth keeping an eye out for them then.

I've been spending most of my time mothing of late. It's always exciting to start the day unpacking the trap to see what's turned up. One day recently on top of the trap I came across a rather unassuming micro. I couldn't find it in the field guide which either means you've stumbled on something truly rare, or more usually, you're just being dense. So I asked my go to moth ID expert, Sean Foote (@MothIDUK on Twitter) and he came back with Zelleria oleastrella which I'd never even heard of so in this instance it was actually the "truly rare" option after all! It turns out to be an immigrant moth with fewer than a dozen national records and a first for the county (well more strictly VC23 which is the legacy county boundary that is still used for mothing). Its larvae mine Olive leaves so it's most likely route into the country is via imported Olive trees. It's not often that you get a county first when mothing!

Zelleria oleastrella - a real national Mega & county first!

Apart from that there's not been anything else that unusual on the mothing front though with my more concerted efforts than usual I'm catching lots of "new for garden" species to extend my rather modest garden moth list.

Also on the insect front, Nick Boyd has been seeing lots of Glow Worms in Burgess Field. Apparently numbers are diminishing now as we reach the end of the month so I guess we're at the end of their season but it's great to know that they're around here. Next year I must make an effort to try and see them.

There are plent  of the usual Odonata about and Migrant Hawkers are now starting to turn up in the county. Below are a couple of photos courtesy of the eagle-eyed Nicola Devine.

Female Emerald Damselfly courtesy of Nicola Devine

Southern Hawker courtesy of Nicola Devine

9th July

I see that it's been over a month since my last post. This is of course a reflection of the quieter time of year that we now find ourselves in. It's also a reflection on the fact that I am presently much busier than in the past so am not so easily able to get out during the week. So this post is a round up of the various snippets of news from the last month.

Firstly on the birding front there has been very little news. The resident and summer visiting breeders have all been busy trying to raise their young which can be seen blundering around the place as they learn to master their environment.

A young Reed Warbler blundering around in the reeds

There was one piece of good bir news: Nicky Boyd has been hearing a Grasshopper Warbler up just past the Trout Inn near the ring road. Whilst the bird I think was located just outside the ring road it could apparently be heard from Godstow Nunnery and in any event we've counted bird for the year list just past the ring road in the past so it's going to be a very welcome tick.

As we're now into summer it's all about the insects and flowers now. The usual butterfly species are now on the wing with all three skipper species to be found on the patch as well as Marbled Whites and Ringlets.

A Marbled White

On the odonata front there have been some exciting finds in the county in the last month with a colony of Southern Migrant (Blue-eyed) Hawkers on Otmoor and a colony of Scarce Blue-tailed Damselflies up near Banbury. Sadly neither of these rarities have yet to be found on Port Meadow or the Trap Grounds but it's not beyond the realms of possibility. Another one to look out for is Willow Emerald (though it's still a bit early for them) which is spreading rapidly across the country and which was seen for the first time last year in the county not too far away in Whytham Wood. So plenty to look out for! In the meantime we've had to make do with the usual species which are of course just as enjoyable as ever.

Male Azure Damselfly in the Trap Grounds

Blue-tailed Damselfly in the Trap Grounds

A female Emperor in the Trap Grounds

Red-eyed Damselfly on the Castle Mill Stream

There have been some snippets of botanical interest in the last month. I managed to find a Pyramidal Orchid in the unmown field between the sailing club and Binsey village. However, the most exciting news was the find of some Common Broomrape growing in some Musk Thistle at the south east corner of the Meadow. Broomrape is a parasitic species which taps into the roots of a host species and takes its nutrients from there. For this reason they don't have any chlorophyl and so are often rather strange colours. To my (admittedly limited) knowledge this is the first record of this species on the Meadow though I will check this with an expert.

Pyramidal Orchid near Binsey

Common Broomrape

So for the rest of July expect more of the same really. Things will start to change in the autumn when we can start to look for returning migrants though without any water it will have to be restricted to passerines in Burgess Field.