31st December

December has been unusually quiet, largely due to the Big Freeze that gripped the country over the first part of the month. It was so severe and prolonged that the Meadow became largely birdless though it did mean that my garden feeders suddenly became a much sought after source of food for the local Goldfinches and Greenfinches. They ended up in residence in the garden for the entire time - a welcome sight when everywhere else was frozen and barren. We've also had a pair of Blackcaps gracing the garden on a regular basis. This species is pretty much annual in my garden over the winter. After this frozen weather, it was back to mild and wet weather and a welcome return of the birds. Indeed the Meadow has been very "birdy" for the second half of the month with lots of the usual suspects.

Perhaps one of the highlights was a distinctly dodgy Caspian Gull which graced the roost one evening. Definitely with some mixed genes it was so marginal a call as to whether it could be classed as a Caspian or just a hybrid that even I (normally only too ready to claim a Casp when I see a candidate bird) thought it wasn't one. It was only our esteemed county recorder who said that it was "good enough" to be one. In any event it's not a year tick as we had plenty of this charismatic species at the start of the year, but it's nice to have the first of the season under our belt. There was not much else on the gull front apart from a few Yellow-legged gulls. The real gulling season kicks off properly the new year.

The Dodgy Caspian Gull

On the waterfowl front it's been the usual species in fairly good numbers. There are plenty of Wigeon and Teal about with a dozen or so Shoveler. On some days we've had a few Pintail gracing the floods as well. A couple of Shelduck for several days running were an unusual sight for this time of year. There are plenty of geese about with the Barnacle Goose flock more or less in permanent residence and plenty of Canada Geese. The Blenheim White-fronted Geese (sadly not tickable) have been popping into the roost on occasion as well. There have been up to 8 Goosander along the river, with some occasionally appearing on the floods at dusk. There was an intriguing "reported" Ring-necked Duck on RBA recently though with a couple of Tufted Duck on the river and nothing more know about it than this one mention I can't really in all good conscience claim this as a tick.

Winter Duck, courtesy of Peter Batty (www.batty.photos)

Waders have been mostly represented by Golden Plover and Lapwing in modest numbers. We have had the odd Black-tailed Godwit and Dunlin record though none that have lingered. A couple of Redshank were seen along the river in their usual place near the fallen trees towards the end of the month. During the frozen period a lot (50+) of Snipe were seen in the Hinterland where presumably the ground was less frozen.

There's not been much else to report apart from the pair of Stonechat which seemed to be wintering in the thistle area between the Aristotle Lane and Walter Well Rd exits. However, the cold spell eventually proved too much and they seem to have departed now.


Pied Wagtails, courtesy of Peter Batty (www.batty.photos)

The only other piece of news is a report (in a comment of the previous blog post) of a Whooper Swan flying low over Wolvercote on the 20th November at around 11 am. This is a welcome year tick which pushes the final total to 137 strict BOU + 1 bonus bird (Red-breasted Goose). This compares very favourable to last year which was 136 + 4 (White Stork, Crane, Red-breasted Goose, Snow Goose). So in terms of strict BOU records this is a record breaking year. In any event it's a great effort given how quickly the floods disappeared during the crucial spring passage period.

Finally it only remains for me to wish all blog readers a very Happy New Year. My thanks go out to the great team of patch birders that Port Meadow has. It's been great birding the patch with you all this year and our year list total is a real team effort. Here's to another great year for 2023! 

Kingfisher, courtesy of Peter Batty (www.batty.photos)

 PS As usual I will post the end of year review sometime next month.


3rd December

November is not normally known for great birding excitement. However there have been a few things of note to keep ones interest up. Firstly, by way of background, the floods reformed at the start of the month and have been growing steadily in size so that now they are a pretty good expanse. Indeed the Meadow is looking superb at the moment and has once more attracted a host of different bird species. 

On the duck front, alongside the usual Wigeon, Teal and a few Shoveler, we've had up to 4 Pintail and a few Goosander on the floods. The latter species has also been reported along the river quite a bit this month as were Two Tufted Duck one day. The Barnacle Geese are now a regular feature on the Meadow at this time with up to 130 present throughout the month. The highlight of the month as far as water fowl is concerned has been a dark-bellied Brent Goose, presumably the Dorchester bird, which was found on the floods this morning and which hung around all day. We've also had up to 8 White-fronted Geese coming in at dusk to roost. One of the birds looks like a hybrid but as yet we've not been able to ascertain whether the remaining 7 birds are part of the Blenheim flock or are proper wild birds. There were 6 White-fronts on Otmoor recently though that was a family part of two adults and four first winters so these are different birds. Genuine wild White-fronts are very rare on the Meadow so it would be great if they can be properly seen at some point

The Brent on the floods, courtesy of Ben Sheldon

...and in flight courtesy of Matthew Lloyd

There have been slim pickings as far as waders are concerned. A couple of Dunlin were reported mid month and over the last few days we've had up to 3 Black-tailed Godwits. Lapwing numbers have increased noticeably and we're starting to get bigger numbers of Golden Plover as well. The highlight was an unseasonable Curlew that was picked out of the foggy gloom one evening.

The gull roost has got to a reasonable size now. So far just a few Yellow-legged Gulls have been found but now that we are into December it all really kicks off on the gull front.

In terms of passerines, there have been a few snippets to report. By far the best sighting was a Hawfinch which flew over south, seen by Phil Barnett. This is only the second record of this species on the Meadow after a few were seen a couple of years ago flying over Burgess Field amongst some Redwing. Both the male and female Stonechat have been seen this month. As they are generally rather elusive and covering a large area they are often hard to spot even when they are there so it's not known if they are still about or not. A singing male Cetti's Warbler has been heard a couple of times around the Wolvercote Lake complex this month as well.

In other news there have been a few Noctule bat sightings from our resident bat expert, Matthew Lloyd.

In terms of the year list, thanks to the Brent Goose we are now on 136 + 1 extra (Red-breasted Goose). Depending on how you measure it, this compares well with last year's record breaking tally of 136 + 4 extra (White Stork, Crane, Red-breasted Goose, Snow Goose): equalling it on strict BOU terms and only 3 behind on "extra" ticks. Looking ahead to the last month of the year, it's going to be water fowl and gulls mostly though something left field could turn up. Last year we had the Dotterel in December so there's still plenty to play for.

31st October

There have been a couple of proper Patch Mega's since my last post. Nothing of national importance but enough to get locals hurrying out to the Meadow. The first was a Rock Pipit found by chance by Phil Barnett out in the Hinterland to the north of the flood area. There have only been four records of this species since 2007. There were several in the autumn of 2007, then a couple in 2010 and then this bird today. It didn't linger and (bar a possible sighting along the river shore the next day) was not seen again.

Rock Pipit, both courtesy of Joe Tobias

The next Mega was even rarer and came in the form of a Water Pipit. Again found by Phil (who is having a great autumn in terms of rare bird findings on the patch) this is only the second record since 2007. Actually, a Water Pipit had been seen on and off at Farmoor and a "buzzy" sounding Pipit was kicked up from the grass a few days earlier but wasn't found again so in all likelihood it's been the same bird loitering in the general area and commuting between various local sites. This bird has been seen on at least two subsequent occasions though is often not on the Meadow so is continuing to roam widely.

Water Pipit record shots above and below courtesy of Steve Lavington

The Cattle Egrets have been settled up at Wytham for some time now with 30 lingering in amongst the cattle to the north of the Field Station.

Just some of the 30 odd Cattle Egrets

The three Stonechats lingered for a while and another pair were found up near King's Lock. It's proving to be a good year for these charming chats.

Stonechat courtesy of Mathew Lloyd

One of the Great White Egrets has been seen a couple more times, once on Wolvercote Lake and once along the river. 

Great White Egret on Wolvercote Lake

There was another potential Patch Mega, indeed what would have been a patch first in the form of a Mandarin Duck when a "probable" was flushed from the trees up at Wolvercote Lake. Sadly it could not be refound but the habitat looks good for them so it's possible that one may turn up there again at some point in the future.

In other news, a Little Grebe was seen on the river near the Perch one day by Andrew Siantonas. 12 Ring-necked Parakeets flew over calling one morning. These are probably from the University Parks but it's a record count for the Patch with sightings up until now comprising just of one or two birds. At least one Barn Owl is continuing to be seen up past the ring road towards Kings Lock. 

Now that we are well into autumn there are noticeable changes in the bird population with regular Siskins, Redpolls and Fieldfare see or at least heard overhead. In the Meadow area it's now Skylarks, Meadow Pipits, Linnet and Redwing that are being seen. At long last we have some flood waters back again and the first winter duck sightings have been had with a few Wigeon and Teal seen. The Barnacle Geese are being seen regularly along with a couple of Egyptian Geese. We are even starting to get a bit of a gull roost with about 500 Black-headed Gulls reported recently one evening. As the flood waters extend it will soon be time to start grilling the gull roost once more. Happy days!

11th October

Things have been ticking along nicely on the patch, especially considering that the floods are still bone dry.

Firstly things really stepped up a gear when Phil Barnett found a Yellow-browed Warbler in the Trap Grounds on Sunday 25th September. This is only the third record for the patch of what is no longer the national or county rarity that it used to be. However, for Port Meadow it is still very much a Mega and although it proved mobile and elusive throughout the day a number of locals and county birders managed at least to hear if not see it.

In the absence of a photo of the Yellow-browed Warbler, here is one of the first one for the patch, found back in October 2013, taken by master lensman Roger Wyatt

We also managed another year tick when Jonathan Parsons found a Whinchat at Wolvercote Allotments along the south boundary facing the meadow. This species is just about annual so it was good to get it on the list.

Talking of chats, we've had a flurry of Stonechats arriving with three found on Monday in the rough grass/thistle area between the Aristotle Lane gate and the southern end. A pair of them lingered in the same place and either the third bird or a fourth relocated to Burgess Field.

One of the three original Stonechats

In terms of other birds, our Grey Plover ended up hanging around for a little while. It wasn't always present at the southern end and was sometimes seen to fly in so it may have been lingering unseen higher up the Meadow. On the wader front, apart from the Grey Plover, 2 Redshank were the only real point of interest. There have been a few Lapwing and the occasional Golden Plover hanging around.

On the water fowl front, the only real point of interest has been a flock of about 180 Barnacle Geese. As they were ringed it was possible to tell that they were from Merseyside, this being the first sighting of them since they were originally ringed. 

Some of the Merseyside Barnacle Geese

One of the Great White Egret dropped into Wolvercote Lake on Saturday 8th October.

There have been 3 or 4 Barn Owls hunting over the fields towards King's Lock (part of the "extended patch") at dusk over the last couple of days along with a couple of Cetti's Warblers.

In general, Meadow Pipit and Linnet numbers have been building up on the Meadow and the first Snipe are starting to be flushed from the longer grass. The first Redwings have been seen and autumn passage birds are becoming hard to find now. We are now definitely well into autumn.

23rd September

Since my last post the good autumn passage has continued. For a couple of weeks Burgess Field was on fire with two more Redstarts and five more Spotted Flycatchers. That makes four Redstarts in total and eight Spotted Flycatchers which are pretty amazing totals by Port Meadow standards. 

One of Three Spotted Flycatchers that turned up one lunchtime.
At one point they are all in the same tree

The fourth Redstart to grace Burgess Field this autumn

It does rather seem that this passage has passed as Burgess Field has been decidedly quiet for the last week and a bit. Yellow Wagtail numbers have taken a nosedive as well. We peaked somewhere in the mid twenties in terms of numbers but the last week or so there have been just three birds at most. We've had a few Lapwing and Golden Plover starting to assemble on the Meadow so far. In addition there was a Sedge Warbler along the river (sadly this species is pretty rare on the Meadow these days) and a single Tufted Duck on the river for one afternoon.

Ever since the large number of Cattle Egrets starting congregating at Otmoor in the late summer, I have been hoping that some would disperse to Port Meadow as they did last year. Sadly this doesn't seem to have happened. There was a single bird briefly in amongst the livestock on the 7th but that's been it. At least we've managed to get a genuine on-the-patch tick for this - up until now our year tick was done by extreme-scoping all the way to the Wytham cattle fields with only the observer actually being on the patch. A regular flock is now being seen over at Wytham so it looks like they have all moved over there for the winter now. 

Our one brief Cattle Egret

Talking of Egrets, we've had a couple more Great White Egret sightings. These are presumably the Cassington GP birds popping over to the Meadow for a visit. One spent a couple of hours at Wolvercote Lake one morning and another was seen on the river again. We've had a few more Wheatear sightings with one at the north end of the Meadow and then two more which have lingered at the southern end on the dried up flood area.


Despite my fretting about the state of the year list we have managed to rack up quite a few more ticks. Firstly a Marsh Tit was seen by Phil Barnett in a Hawthorn near the Aristotle Lane entrance briefly before moving off. Presumably this is a bird dispersing from Wytham Wood where they breed. Secondly, Steve Lavington has a brief Stonechat sighting as one flew into the allotments. I often wonder what gems get missed within the allotment area! Finally, Phil Barnett found another goody in the form of a juvenile Grey Plover that spent the afternoon on the Meadow. There's  been a flurry of sightings nearby at Farmoor so it was good that we managed to get this just about annual species on the list. With the early demise of the floods I was sure that we'd missed it this year.

The Grey Plover, courtesy of Ben Sheldon

Looking ahead, with the continued drought there's no sign of the floods returning any time soon. So I would continue to expect slim pickings on the Meadow. However, we've managed to do OK so far this autumn without any water so it's worth staying optimistic.

September 3rd

It's been a pretty reasonable start to autumn on the Meadow. Given that there are no flood waters at all we've had to make do with migrating passerines but fortunately we've been well served on this front. We've had at least two Redstarts in Burgess Field, a male and a female. I say "at least", this is because after no reports of the female for about a week, one was caught in the ringing nets there. It could be the same one or it could be a new bird. 

Female Redstart in the hand courtesy of Thomas Miller

We've also had a couple more Spotted Flycatchers: one in the north east corner of Burgess Field and one in the Trap Grounds. Sadly both were single observer sightings. That does bring the tally for this species to three birds already this autumn, which is pretty good!

We had our first Great White Egret record of the year with a couple of birds seen flying south along the river before heading back north again. Since then there have been several more sightings so they seem to be migrating regularly to the area, probably from Cassington GPs though they may well be finding the Meadow a bit too noisy for them to linger. Vidya Menon did capture a nice photo of one on the river early one morning which would tend to support this thesis.

Early morning Great White Egret courtesy of Vidya Menon

Yellow Wagtail numbers have increased dramatically since my last post and we are now getting over 20 birds in amongst the cattle. 

There have been quite a few sightings of Hobby around the general area, including over Kingston Road and one over the Trap Grounds. 

Hobby courtesy of Nicola Devine

Geese numbers are starting to climb again despite the lack of water on the Meadow. In amongst them have been 3 Egyptian Geese recently which seem to have taken a liking to the Meadow.

On the insect front there have been more sightings of Willow Emeralds on the Trap Grounds with up to 10 seen at a peak count. They are also discovered up at Wolvercote Lakes as well as other new sites throughout the county so they have definitely colonised Oxfordshire now. Apart from that, records of other Odonata species are starting to decline now as we head into autumn. There is one interesting record to report, that of a Southern Migrant Hawker on the Castle Mill Stream opposite Worcester College. Whilst this is strictly off-patch it is certainly possible that this species, another recent colonist of the county, will become more regular in years to come.

Migrant Hawker courtesy of Nicola Devine

Willow Emerald courtesy of Nicola Devine

Southern Hawker courtesy of Nicola Devine

Looking ahead, until we can get some flood waters back, it's going to be more of the same. We still need Whinchat, Stonechat & Marsh Tit which are reasonable possibilities but beyond that it will have to be something rather unexpected. 

August 11th

Autumn has definitely kicked off, at least in the birding world. This does at least mean that we have some things to report at last. The highlight was an Osprey seen and photographed flying over Wolvercote this evening by Joe Taylor. Whilst not a year tick, it's always tricky to see these wonderful birds as their stay over the Meadow air space tends to be very brief. It's a matter of happening to be in the right place at the right time in order to get a sighting.

Courtesy of Joe Taylor

What was a year tick was a Spotted Flycatcher that was found by Steve Lavington near the Perch though due to the number of people about, sadly it didn't linger. There was also a Hobby seen by Nick Boyd hunting near the railway line by Aristotle Lane this week. Nick also saw a couple of Yellow Wagtails in amongst the cattle on the Meadow. I would hope that this number will build as we progress through the autumn. In the past we have had a peak count of more than 20 birds on the Meadow during the autumn. A few Lapwing are starting to gather on the Meadow now - they should be joined by a few Golden Plover in due course. A couple of Egyptian Geese were reported by Andrew Siantonas along the river as well.

Apart from the above headline birds, there are lots of young birds around at the moment. Nicola Devine had a family of Grey Wagtails along the wildlife corridor near the Trap Grounds recently. I suspect that the rain-free weather has been kind to breeding efforts so there should be good numbers of young birds around. 

Grey Wagtail courtesy of Nicola Devine

As far as Odonata are concerned, it's still high summer. Common and Ruddy Darters are out in large numbers now and Migrant and Southern Hawkers are on the wing. The good news is that Willow Emeralds have been seen in the Trap Grounds already. Whilst August is traditionally the time when they start emerging, up until this year we've not really seen them until September so it's good to have them out in numbers at the "proper" time. Up to five have been seen already, including mating pairs.

Willow Emeralds

Another top find for the Trap Grounds has been a good number of Small Red-eyed Damselflies. Prior to this year, this species has only been seen once before on the Trap Grounds but suddenly we seem to have a breeding colony with at least 10 seen by Nicola Devine including ovipositing pairs. It is another of these species that is rapidly colonising new areas in the South East and is yet another resident species to add to the burgeoning Trap Grounds list!

Small Red-eyed Damselfly

Nicola has also managed to find a Brown Hairstreak along the wildlife corridor. Through her diligence and sharp eyes she usually manages to find this rare butterfly species each year though the rest of us usually struggle find them!

Brown Hairstreak courtesy of Nicola Devine

Looking ahead our Odonata should be with us for a little while yet. We should also start to get more migrant birds passing through. With Redstart, Stonechat and Whinchat not yet on our year list we should just squeak past 130 if we manage to get those.

June & July Update

I didn't mean for it to be so long since my last post but somehow the days have slipped away and then I was away for a while and suddenly here we are on the threshold of autumn already (at least in the birding world). So I'm going to do a big round-up post of all the news over the last couple of months.


Despite it traditionally being a very quiet time of year on the birding front we in fact have several things to report including a real patch Mega! This was in the form of a Little Tern that was seen by Denise Wawman, fishing briefly at the south end of the Meadow by the boats. It was seen to catch a fish and then flew off with it. This is presumably the same bird that has been seen at Farmoor a few times over the last couple of months but in terms of Port Meadow to my knowledge there has only been one previous record when a bird spent the afternoon fishing on the floods back in April 2009. It's a shame that this current bird didn't hang around as it would have been much admired. Through sheer rarity value this must be a contender for Port Meadow Bird of the Year though it's a pity it was only seen by one person.

Some video of the 2009 bird. Miraculously this was shot digiscoping
whilst it was flying around - no mean feat!

Less rare though still wonderful to see has been a family of Little Owls that are being raised somewhere on the greater Port Meadow catchment area (I'm being deliberately vague here). There are three young birds, now nicely fledged. This species is recorded a bit less than annually on the Meadow though is probably more or less resident.

Little Owl courtesy of Joe Tobias

Some great footage courtesy of Matthew Lloyd

Talking of Owls, there was also a Barn Owl which was seen for a couple of nights in the fields around Binsey. This too is less than annual and a most welcome year tick.

Barn Owl courtesy of Ben Sheldon

The only other thing to report is a Hobby that was seen over Burgess Field by Thomas Miller towards the end of June.


I don't usually write much about flowers here as it's generally the same ones in the same places each year. However, I would like to report that it's been another good season for orchids in Burgess Field. I went to take a look and found 22 different Pyramidal Orchids and 5 Bee Orchids. There were probably a lot more than this and I didn't search everywhere but it was lovely to see them out in force in Burgess Field. There used to be Pyramidal Orchids in the Trap Grounds but I haven't seen any there for quite a few years now.

Bee Orchid

Pyramidal Orchid


This time of year is very much about insects. There have been the usual butterfly species on the wing which have been nice to see. This year I have also been appreciating more and more just what a good site the Trap Grounds is for Odonata. We've been very lucky with Downy Emerald seemingly starting to establish itself as an annual visitor as well as all the usual species. Luckily Nicola Devine has been capturing a lot of the Odonata action there. Below are some of her photos.

Emerging Southern Hawker courtesy of Nicola Devine

Brown Hawker courtesy of Nicola Devine

Beautiful Demoiselle courtesy of Nicola Devine

Thanks to the keeness of some observers who have been visiting Burgess Field in the dark, there have been Glow Worms recorded there again this year.

Glow Worm courtesy of Zichen Zhou

Looking Ahead

Autumn is usually the best time of year for birding though without any floods it's going to be slim pickings for us on the Meadow. The best we can hope for are some passage birds such as Redstarts and Spotted Flycatchers which we have yet to get on the list. The very dry first half of the year (the driest in the last 48 years across the country) meant that our year list is rather low this year with quite a few of the rarer waders missing. With luck we might break 130 which is my measure for a reasonable year though it could be a tough few months trying to winkle out these extra ticks. Still you never know what might be around the corner. 

4th June

So we've slipped quietly into summer already. In the end the floods didn't last as long into May as I'd hoped and there was little to report on there since my last update before they dried up completely. There have been a few bits and pieces on the bird front to report. A Hobby was seen on the 8th flying over the Meadow. There were a couple of Wheatear sightings this month, one unusually on Burgess Field and one on the Meadow. Given how late these sightings are they are probably the Greenland subspecies. There have been a few Curlew and Cuckoo sightings (or at least hearings) to report throughout the month. There was also a Common Sandpiper record along the river shoreline - only the second record of the year of this species.

Common Sandpiper courtesy of Michael Enticott

Apart from this smattering of interesting records there are of course the usual species busy going about their business of rearing their young and the first fruits of their labours can now be seen blundering their way about in the undergrowth whilst they learn the ropes.

As is only natural at this time of year people are starting to take a look at insects instead. The Trap Grounds continues to go from strength to strength as one of the top Odonata sites in the county, punching well above its weight given its small size. The main highlight has been up to three Downy Emeralds on the main Swan pond. We got very excited last year when we had just one of them for a few days but this year seems like a particularly good year for this scarce Oxon species and with both male and females seen we can have high hopes of them becoming a regularly feature at this site. Another really good record was a Club-tailed Dragonfly that was photographed by Michael Enticott on the main river. This is another scarce county species that is normally confined to the river Thames down at Goring and Cholsey so to have a record on the Meadow is really great! 

Club-tailed Dragonfly courtesy of Michael Enticott

Apart from these two stand-out records we've had good numbers of Hairy Hawkers in the Trap Grounds and another record of a Red-eyed Damselfly there as well. Whilst this species is relatively common along the Castle Mill Stream they are not normally found in the Trap Grounds themselves. 

Hairy Hawker courtesy of Nicola Devine

Looking ahead, there's not much of particular note to expect over the summer months so it's a chance to relax and enjoy the usual species doing their thing. After all there is always delight to be had in enjoying the simple ebb and flow of the natural world at any time of year.

Common Terns courtesy of Michael Enticott

Oxford Art Weeks

Time for a bit of shameless plugging! This weekend (7th/8th) and next (14th/15th), as well as Thursday 12th  my wife is exhibiting as part of the Oxford Art Weeks programme. I wouldn't normally mention it on here (indeed I have not in the past) except that this year the majority of her new work features local areas of interest. In particular Port Meadow, Burgess Field and the Trap Grounds are the main subjects of her work.

You can see her Art Weeks web page here and her website is here. Below are a couple of examples of her work which feature local sites. I'll be around too so do come along and say hello!

Blackthorn (Burgess Field)

Winter Pond (The Trap Grounds)

3rd May

Once again it's been far too long since my last post, especially since it's the peak time of the year for sightings. Still, my tardiness in this respect does reflect the rather quiet spring passage that we've been having, especially as far as waders are concerned. Indeed it's been very quiet across the county for waders. Still we've managed to get just enough interesting birds drop in to keep the year list ticking over nicely. 

Starting with waders, we've had a couple of good solid county scarcities. A couple of Saturday's ago we had a Bar-tailed Godwit on the floods, part of a national passage through the centre of the country. There are generally only a few records of this species a year though it's been just about annual the last few years on the Meadow. It obliged by hanging around for at least another day.

The Bar-tailed Godwit

Courtesy of Thomas Miller

The second really good wader was a Wood Sandpiper which unfortunately only hung around for an hour after it was found before being flushed by a first summer Peregrine. Again Wood Sandpiper is scarce (though annual) in the county and just about annual on Port Meadow as well.

The Wood Sandpiper

The 1s Peregrine Falcon, courtesy of Joe Tobias

Two other waders worth mentioning are a Green Sandpiper that dropped in for just five minutes on the floods - fortunately whilst there was an observer to spot it. Green Sandpiper is unusually scarce for the Meadow so it's good to get it on the list. A pair of Greenshank were more obliging, with one of them hanging around for multiple days and still present at the time of writing this. Other than these star birds, there have been the usual Little Ringed Plovers in small numbers (peak count was 8) and a few Oystercatchers

Moving on to Gulls and Terns there have been some good sightings to report, thanks largely to an increased "sky watching" efforts by some of the keenest patching regulars. We managed to get Little Gull on the year list when a flock of 9 birds was spotting flying high over the floods by Thomas Miller. This species is less than annual on the Meadow so it's a great record to have. Thomas, along with Ollie Padget, then went one better with an Arctic Tern flying over later in the week. There have only been one or two records of this species on the Meadow during my entire time birding on the Meadow so this is a fantastic record. Apart from these two stand-out records there was a 1w Mediterranean Gull on the floods in amongst the many Black-headed Gulls that are picking over the ever dwindling floods. There have also been up to 4 Common Terns regularly on the Meadow.

In terms of warblers, gradually all the usual species have been seen though we've had to rely on the "extended catchment area" up to King's Lock for Sedge Warbler and Grasshopper Warbler. The first Reed Warblers have been seen in the Trap Grounds and the Garden Warblers are back in Burgess Field. There have been quite a few sightings of Lesser Whitethroats dotted about the place as well.

There's not been much to report on the wildfowl front. Egyptian Geese numbers have been steadily climbing with up to 7 birds seen on the floods. There have also been a few Shelduck seen but that's been about it. 

The spring passage of both Yellow and White Wagtails has been rather muted this year which has been rather disappointing. There have been a few about though no great numbers on any given day. Rounding things up we have had a few more Cuckoo's being heard and a Cattle Egret flew south over the floods. On the raptor front, in addition to the Peregrine mentioned above (which was a rather pale bird) a distant Hobby was seen flying north over towards Wytham Hill.

Looking ahead, the floods are very much on their last legs though there will probably be some kind of puddle for a few more weeks. May is when the Dunlin and Ringed Plover passage starts going so we should expect a few of those and we might get lucky with a Sanderling as well. This month is traditionally the peak one for rarities in the first half of the year and whilst the lack of floods aren't doing us any favours you never know what might drop in.