Once again I've left it longer between posts than I would have liked and there is a fair bit to catch up on. As I've said previously, February is generally a fairly quiet month on the birding front but we haven't done too badly on the Meadow.
Starting with gulls, the roost is moving towards more of a spring feel to it with lots of Black-headed Gulls but far fewer larger gulls. Sifting through the smaller gulls we've had a great Mediterranean Gull passage so far with single adult birds on four occasions: 15th, 21st, 26th and 6th. Traditionally the Med Gull passage is more of a March phenomenon so it's a bit early this year. It's great to have had so many records already this year.
|Med Gull courtesy of Thomas Miller|
There have still been a few Yellow-legged Gulls around and a splendid 2w Caspian Gull was the star bird on the 3rd March.
|Caspian Gull courtesy of Thomas Miller|
On the wader front whilst it's still too early for spring passage waders there has been some definite movement on that front with Redshank numbers changing from the singleton that overwintered with us and up to 5 birds seen one day. A few Dunlin have also started to make an appearance with a peak count of 3 birds. There have been up to 3 Oystercatchers, they seem to be a pair and another single bird. A Black-tailed Godwit has been seen on a few occasions as well. The most unusual record is a couple of Ringed Plover on the floods one day: this is very early for this species which more usually passes through the Meadow in April.
Duck numbers are still good though we might start to see numbers diminishing over the coming weeks now as birds start to move on. We've had up to 11 Shelduck, a few Pintail, good counts of Shoveler (with over 70 seen on one day!) and a few Goosander coming into roost or being seen on the river. The first spring Gadwall are now also starting to appear.
Away from the floods we've had up to two Brambling in Burgess Field which have hung around for a few days now. This is quite a rare species for the Meadow so it's great to have one stay so long so that people can get to see it.
|The male Brambling in the feeder cage (for squirrel proofing)|
Up at Wolvercote Lake a Little Grebe was heard there recently and a calling Cetti's Warbler (a nice year tick for a less than annual species) was heard one day. A Nuthatch is back at Medley farm after not being heard there for quite a while now.
One of the star passerine records of the period was a putative Siberian Chiffchaff which was hanging around by Burgess Field gate this afternoon. This Siberian subspecies of Chiffchaff is quite distinctive looking, being a grey brown on the head and mantle with only a hint of colour in the wings and this one fit the bill perfectly. Strictly you need to hear them call to be 100% certain of the ID but it looked good to those who saw it.
|...and again courtesy of Matthew Lloyd|
So all in all, quite a lot of good birds over the last three weeks! Looking forward, over the next few weeks we should start to see Sand Martins appearing and maybe even the first Little Ringed Plover though both these things will very much depend on the weather and the current cold northerly wind won't help matters at all. As usual I am also fretting about the floods: a nice spell of wet weather would certainly help to top up the all important flood waters ready for the spring wader passage.