4th October

There's a definite autumnal feel about the Meadow now. The recent prolonged rain has recreated the two flood areas now which are starting to attract some birds again. A bit more rain and we could have the two areas joined up. Having some proper floods around for October would be really great: we might manage to pull in some decent if that happens.

The big news since my last post has been the large flock of Cattle Egrets that have discovered the Meadow livestock. Even to be writing that last sentence last year would have been unthinkable but thanks to the sudden commencement of breeding by this species on Blenheim Palace lake this year they have gone from a county scarcity to a (presumed) resident breeder within the space of a year! For the most part since leaving Blenheim, the flock had been hanging out at Otmoor but suddenly in the last couple of weeks some of them started to appear in amongst the livestock on the Meadow. We had a peak count of 20 birds with one or two Little Egrets thrown in for good measure though numbers seemed to vary each day. After a while the flock seemed to split in two with some of them following the livestock in the fields on the road to Wytham instead.

Fighting over a frog that one of them has caught! Courtesy of Matthew Lloyd

Just some of the Cattle Egrets in amongst the cattle, courtesy of Matthew Lloyd

Gradually the livestock numbers have been decreasing and with it our star birds so by Sunday there was just a single bird sitting in one of the three big Poplar trees along the river.

The last Cattle Egret, posing in a tree

Apart from that, the embryonic flood waters have been attracting some "winter" birds. In amongst the Greylags and Canada Geese, the usual 150 odd Barnacle Geese have arrived back. Talking of geese, four of the young Egyptian Geese from this summer's brood were around in amongst the Greylag flock by the river. There are lots of Linnets, Pied WagtailsMeadow Pipits and Skylarks about on the Meadow itself and in the rank vegetation it's possible to put up the odd Snipe or two. 

On the insect front, Nicola Devine has been spotting more Willow Emeralds in the main Swan pond at the Trap Grounds. There have also been some Migrant Hawkers hunting along the Castle Mill stream at the southern end of the Meadow.

Willow Emerald, courtesy of Nicola Devine

Some Siskins were seen by Nick Boyd this morning - a definite harbinger to autumn and winter. With the first Teal back on the floods this morning along with some loafing Black-headed Gulls and a smattering of Lapwing, we're starting to head towards the re-emergence of the floods and some proper Meadow birding again!

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