14th March: First Spring Migrants!

You can tell that things are picking up as I'm doing a new blog post so soon after the last one. In March we start to anticipate the arrival of the first spring migrants and as things are generally happening earlier each year, we might start to look out for things that would normally be arriving in April. Indeed we've already had our first spring migrants in the form of a total of three Wheatears. Two were found yesterday loosely following the river north on the Hinterland and then another single bird was seen today in the morning and was still present late afternoon before moving on.

The first Wheatear, courtesy of Matthew Lloyd

These are the first Wheatears in the county this year to my knowledge though we've already been beaten to the first Little Ringed Plover by Grimsbury Reservoir. It used to be the Meadow that got this species first most springs but the last few years Grimsbury has taken that award - indeed they've now had two of them already whilst we've yet to have our first.

We did get what was probably our first White Wagtail of the year today though the light was very bright and harsh and the birds were very distance so I wouldn't swear to it. This species normally turns up in April so it would be a very early record if it were one.

There was another Mediterranean Gull in the roost this evening: a fine 2nd summer bird. This is now the fifth Med Gull of the spring season already - a great total! Apart from that the gulling has been a bit quiet with just the regular appearance of a 2nd winter Yellow-legged Gull in the roost worthy of note.

The 2s Med Gull

On the wader front we've had the usual 2 or 3 Oystercatchers and 1 or 2 Redshank. We did have a flock of 4 Black-tailed Godwits on the 7th but they didn't linger. A pair of fly-through Curlew on Friday were a welcome year tick: this species normally is seen in February or not at all so I'm pleased to have it on the list.

On the duck front we've been getting up to half a dozen or so Pintail and Shelduck with the occasional Goosander as well. Number seem to be holding up at the moment but I guess will start to dwindle in due course.

On the passerine front the Siberian Chiffchaff proved to be a one day wonder. I've since been told that there have been no prior records of this subspecies on the Meadow so it's currently holding the bird of the year slot though it's early days of course. The 2 Brambling have been more obliging and have been hanging around in Burgess Field for a while now. There was also an intriguing report of a Black Redstart up in Wolvercote but it wasn't firmed up at all so I'm inclined to leave it off the year list.

Looking ahead, we should expect our first Sand Martins and Little Ringed Plover very soon now. My main concern now is the weather: with some fine settled conditions forecast for the rest of the month the floods will start shrinking far too early. Also good weather tends to mean that birds are more inclined to keep on with their migration rather than dropping in for a rest on the Meadow. We shall see!

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