Mid April Update

It's actually later than mid April but somehow things got away from me! In general it's been a steady start to the peak spring passage. We've managed to get most of the things on the year list that we might expect though there has been a definite feel of it being a trickle of migrants rather than a real flood. I've heard of a blocking weather pattern over Spain holding things back - whatever the reason it will be good when birds really start to move in numbers.

The first Willow Warbler and first Swallow of the season arrived nice and early on 1st April and since then things have turned up in dribs and drabs. House and Sand Martins have come through regulars in modest numbers. Yellow Wagtails have started to turn up with a peak count of 12 recently. Just in the last few days some White Wagtails have been found with up to four counted. Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warber have all started to turn up. One of the highlights has been not one but two Grasshopper Warbler in Burgess Field, one of which was ringed. Whilst they used to breed in Burgess Field, this species is much harder to get on the year list these days. Common Terns arrived in small numbers though didn't linger.

A Grasshopper Warbler in the hand


On the wader front we've had a couple of flocks of Black-tailed Godwits go through and a few Greenshank have been recorded as well. 4 Curlew flew over and up to 4 Oystercatchers have also been seen. A (heard-only) flyover Whimbrel was nice to get on the year list - they are by no means guaranteed. One notable feature has been the relative absence of small waders. I think the shoreline has been a bit too boggy for them: so far we've had just a couple of Ringed Plover and a flyover Dunlin but remarkably, no Little Ringed Plover as yet.

Yellow Wagtail courtesy of Matthew Lloyd

We've been blessed with the usual Great White Egret for the whole preiod, joined by a second bird over the last few days. Cattle Egrets have been seen distantly on Wytham Hill and in the fields near Wytham Field Station.

Rounding things up, some heard-only Little Gulls flying over Jericho in the early hours was an unusual record. We've had a couple of Osprey go through and a late Short-eared Owl as well. On some days there has been a distinct movement of Red Kites with up to 20 seen going through. A Cuckoo was heard up near the King's Lock area. There's been little to report on the duck front with no Garganey as yet but there have been up to 6 Shelduck and 4 Egyptian Geese loafing around.

Looking ahead, we should be getting more top quality spring migrants passing through now so it's everything to play for. We're a bit light on waders on the year list so far so it's a critical time to try and get them before the floods dry up.

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