3rd April

Things have continued to be quite exciting on the Meadow since my last post with more spring migrants passing through. Starting off with waders the highlight has been the first Little Ringed Plovers of the year. The first bird wasn't seen until the 28th March but since then we've had them pretty much every day with a peak count of 7 birds. In addition there has been a strong supporting cast of more winter waders with a couple of Ruff (including a striking white-headed bird), Black-tailed Godwit, Dunlin and up to 4 Redshank. A single Curlew flew through low over the floods one evening and we had a flock of 5 drop in as well for a few minutes. That now makes three records of this species this spring which is pretty good for the Meadow. There have also been up to 7 Oystercatchers about though I view those less as a winter wader as I think they breed nearby

It's always heart-warming to see the first Little Ringed Plover of the year back on the Meadow

As far as other spring migrants are concerned, there has been a single sighting of 4 Sand Martins going through and we've had a couple of Swallow sightings as well. So far none of these has lingered on the floods at all and were just passing through. In the coming days this should change as more arrive. We've also had the first White Wagtails and an unconfirmed single record for a Yellow Wagtail.

White Wagtails (from last year) courtesy of Thomas Miller

On the duck front sadly our Garganey pair had gone by the next day but we did have another drake that dropped in mid morning on Saturday though that too was gone the next day. We've had up to 8 Shelduck about, and up to 5 Pintail and we are getting the usual spring Gadwall gathering. 3 Egyptian Geese were seen by the river so perhaps they will breed again on the Meadow after their success last year. Apart from these highlights, in general duck numbers are declining across the Meadow as birds start to move on from their winter stay.

On the passerine front the main news is the continued presence of the Siberian Chiffchaff. It has stayed faithful to the location by Burgess Field gate for quite some time now and is now singing (as opposed to calling). There have continued to be some Brambling by the feeders with up to 5 seen. A single flyover Redpoll was also seen recently. The Cetti's Warbler up at Wolvercote Lake was heard again over the weekend as well.

We managed to get Cattle Egret on the year list thanks to some Herculean efforts by Ben Sheldon who managed to scope the Wytham birds by standing on a canal bridge near Wolvercote Lock. This does of course spark the age old question of whether the bird or observer should be within the patch boundaries for it to count on the list. This issue has whiled away many a night of pub debate amongst birders but as regular readers will know, I tend to be quite flexible in this respect so have no qualms about including it on the list. In any event I am hoping that they will return to the Meadow in the summer like they did last year.

Extreme Scoping! Those white blobs are Cattle Egrets!

On the bird of prey front a Peregrine has been seen occasionally and there are lots of Buzzards and Red Kites to be seen now. With the firs Osprey record of the year in the county it's time to start looking out for them flying over the Meadow. Talking of expectations, going forward we should see the first Warblers start to arrive as well as more spring waders passing through. Fortunately the cooler more showery weather should keep the floods with us for a bit longer over this key period in the year listing calendar.

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