September So Far

Despite it being a rather dry autumn so far with hardly any rain and certainly no floods, there has been a definite uptick in sightings in and around the Meadow over the last couple of weeks.

At the start of the month there was a decent sized flock of Yellow Wagtails, perhaps up to 20, in amongst the cattle. I did search for Blue-headed in amongst them but couldn't find any. 

One of the many Yellow Wagtails
 

There was a Hobby on the 2nd September seen by Ollie Padget. Osprey were seen along the river and King's Lock area on two separate occasions on the 8th (seen by Claire Robinson) and 20th (Mary MacDougall). In both cases the bird was actively hunting in the river and gave the observers some great close up views. Whether it's the same bird or two different ones which are both following the river south is hard to tell.

Our only new year tick came on the 10th when Nick Boyd spotted a Great White Egret flying along the river in the company of a Grey Heron. That same day he also spotted three Tufted Duck circling the Meadow. On the 12th a Ring-necked Parakeet visited my garden briefly before being chased off by some Jackdaws. Finally on the 16th Ollie Padget found a Stonechat in Burgess Field.

On the insect front, the main news is that there have been regular sightings of Willow Emerald in the main Swan Pond in the Trap Grounds. With at least two ovipositing pairs and two others seen by Nicola Devine it seems that a new colony is establishing itself here.

Willow Emerald
 

Other good insects seen include some Brown Hairstreak sightings, both in the Trap Grounds in the School Yard Meadow (by Nicola Devine) and also on Burgess Field (Ollie Padget) as well as some Vapourer moths also in the Trap Grounds. There are good numbers of Migrant Hawkers and "red" Darters about still and Steve Goddard caught a rare Clifton Nonpareil moth in his Wolvercote garden in the last few days.

Looking forward, we are coming up to the prime time for rare autumn vagrants though whether any will find their way inland to somewhere that is presently rather featureless without any flood waters remains to be seen. Still we should get some more interesting passage migrants in Burgess Field, perhaps a Tree Pipit or Whinchat. Finally, with an invation of Wryneck in the country at the moment it's not impossible that one might turn up somewhere on the patch.

August

Once again it's been a fair while since my last post. The combination of holidays, a busy work schedule and the lack of any flood waters is making for rather quiet times on the patch of late. However, there have been a few snippets of news to report. As I mentioned last time, in the absence of any flood waters, winkling out autumn migrants from Burgess Field is going to be the main source of interesting birds. Ollie Padget and Thomas Miller have been dutifully checking out this area and have been rewarded with quite a few Spotted Flycatchers - according to my tally there have been a total of 8 birds since the middle of August! No sign of any chats so far but we have had a few Lesser Whitethroats, a Reed Warbler and several sightings of a Hobby.

Here's a Spotted Flycatcher from the archives

The pre migration flock of Hirundines is building up around the general Meadow area with several Sand Martins in amongst the House Martins and Swallows. As is usual, come September the bulk of the Swifts have departed though there will be one or two stragglers to be seen still. There have been one or two Yellow Wagtails to be seen and now that we are into September, cheking out the livestock herd should produce a lot more of these lovely birds. As usual the name of the game is trying to find some rarer wagtail species or sub species in amongst them.

On the Odonata front, apart from the usual Migrant Hawkers and just when I was starting to give up on any Willow Emeralds this year, our odonata whisperer Nicola Devine went and found an ovipositing pair on the Swan Pond in the Trap Grounds. Given that there were at least three pairs last summer I'm somewhat disappointed if this is all that have managed to emerge from their reproductive efforts but maybe I should give it a bit more time before judging.

Ovipositing Willow Emeralds courtesy of Nicola Devine