I thought I would do a (slightly late) end of June update on the Port Meadow flora and fauna. We are now firmly in the summer doldrums with not much to be expected on the bird front and it still being too early for any autumn return passage migrants. Still there have been a few things to report.
To start with we have a fantastic record of a Crossbill that flew over Leckford Road on the 1st of June. To my knowledge this is the first record of this species, at least during the time that I have birded here (so since 2007). It's not impossible that we could have more records in the future, after all we've now had a couple of flyover Hawfinch records in the last few years.
There was good news on the Little Owl front where our resident pair once more successfully fledged a family in the usual place. To top this off, we had another summer record of a hunting Barn Owl near the Perch, just as we did last year. Maybe this species breeds somewhere within the patch boundaries as well. Talking of breeding, there are two family groups of Egyptian Goose around on the Meadow this summer with a total of ten birds (3 adults and 7 young) now gracing the Meadow. There are also lots of young birds around in the Trap Grounds with busy Reed Warbler parents to be seen gathering food for their young.
|One of the parent Little Owls courtesy of Ben Sheldon
To round off the birding news there was a Cuckoo heard up near King's Lock on the 2nd and we had a pair of Common Sandpipers along the river shorline opposite the poplars for one day - the first clear sign of autumn!
|A Little Egret hunting in the river
Onto flowers and sadly there don't seem to be any orchids in Burgess Field this year. My guess is that it was just too dry for them this year during the crucial growing period. However, it's been a good year for Birthwort with plenty of this nationally scarce flower growning in the usual location.
|Birthwort, a nationally scarce plant
I've been spending a fair bit of time at the Trap Grounds over the last month looking at the damselflies and dragonflies. It's been the usual stuff to see but it is surprising what a variety of different species can be seen just in the small site. The Downy Emeralds seemed to disappear rather quickly but the Hairy Hawkers have been around for much of the month. A Brown Hawker was seen in recent days and there have been quite a few Four-spotted Chasers and Broad-bodied Chasers. The first Ruddy Darters have now also started to appear. On the damselfly front, we've had Azure, Blue-tailed, Red-eyed and Large Red so far. I've been looking out for Small Red-eyed which should start appearing soon but as yet have not seen any. Along the canal there are plenty of Banded Demoiselles and I did have a very exciting sighting of a possible Southern Migrant Hawker. This species is spreading rapidly across the country and having been seen just at Otmoor over the last couple of years has started to be seen elsewhere this year as well. Sadly I only saw this "possible" in flight briefly over the canal and haven't seen it since so I have been unable to firm it up yet.
|Banded Demoiselle along the canal near the Trap Grounds
|Ruddy Darter in the Trap Grounds
Looking ahead, July is still a bit too early for any proper autumn passage on the bird front so it will in all likelihood still be slim pickings. As far as Odonata are concerned we should have Southern and Brown Hawker on the wing as well as Common and Ruddy Darter. Small Red-eyed Damselfly should also be getting going as well