28th June

It was my first visit to the Meadow for a few days and I was saddened to see how the weekend's heat had taken its toll on the flood levels which were now much depleted. It's a pity as the autumn passage seems to be kicking off nicely with another nice variety of waders present this evening. Top of the bill was a single BLACK-TAILED GODWIT in Burgess Channel, with a REDSHANK and one of the OYSTERCATCHERS's along the North Channel and to round it off there was a nice party of 10 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS near Burgess Field gate. There were also two STOCK DOVES on the Hinterland this evening and a few common terns were reported along the river. Let's hope that we get some decent rain to replenish the floods so that we can enjoys some more wader passage action.

25th June

There was a reasonable scattering of passage waders about today with the 6 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER still about along the North Channel and joined by one extra one and a RINGED PLOVER. The two REDSHANK were still about and there were a total of four OYSTERCATCHERS reported though there was no sign of yesterday's godwits. To round it off a PEREGRINE was also seen. My thanks to Tom Wickens for some of these sightings.

Friday 24th June

Richard Foster had a nice haul of returning waders today: 6 OYSTERCATCHERS, 3 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER which flew in at 5.45, 2 RINGED PLOVER, 2 BLACK-TAILED GODWIT and a COMMON SANDPIPER.

Port Meadow on BBC Radio Oxford

I was interviewed for Radio Oxford on Thursday afternoon. One of the readers of this blog, Martin Feynes (I hope that I've spelt the surname correctly), has developed a walk all around the outskirts of Oxford which they are featuring on the Jo Thoenes show on BBC Radio Oxford over the coming weeks, looking at a different section of the walk each time. This time it was the starting point at Port Meadow and to add some local interest they brought me in to talk about the bird life on the Meadow. The relevant section starts 13:50 minutes in and lasts about five minutes. Please note that the podcast will only be available until next Wednesday and can be found here

Thursday 23rd June

Not much to report this evening and it was pretty much the same birds as in the last few days: the 6 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER are still around with one juvenile bird included in their number. The "extra" REDSHANK has left to leave just the two of them still in Burgess Channel. I only managed to spot one of the lapwing chicks this evening though they can be extremely well hidden so the other two may still be around. I forgot to mention a fly-over STOCK DOVE yesterday evening.

I managed to spot these mating moths this evening. I'm guessing that they're hawk moths of some kind and will look them up tomorrow but if anyone knows what they are then drop me a line.

Addendum: Thanks to the power of twitter I was told that they are Poplar Hawk-moths. My thanks to Les Hill (@dorsetmoths) for the ID.

22nd June

The last couple of days have been pretty similar in terms of bird interest: the 6 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER have still been around both days and as of Wednesday there are now three REDSHANK in Burgess Channel. On Tuesday there were three OYSTECATCHERS feeding in the flood water though I didn't see any yesterday. Apart from that it's the usual mass of black-headed gulls and ducks still. The three lapwing chicks were seen on Tuesday and though I didn't see them yesterday the parents may well have moved them further off somewhere in the Hinterland now.

One of the three redshank (c) Adam Hartley

Monday 20th June: Autumn Already!

Despite the Mid-summer solstice just around the corner from a birding perspective it seemed to be autumn already with both the weather and the birds combining to give this impression. When I went out in the evening it was grey, cloudy with a persistent drizzle, in fact classic weather for grounded waders and the weather lived up to expectations with a fine haul of returning waders: 6 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, 2 REDSHANK, 1 GREENSHANK and 1 COMMON SANDPIPER were all to be found along Burgess Channel in addition to the usual black-headed gulls. In addition the usual OYSTERCATCHER was over on the Hinterland and Richard Foster saw the HOBBY fly through once more. All in all a great variety of birds for a June day!

I actually took this greenshank photo a couple of weeks ago in much better light (c) Adam Hartley

Tuesday 14th to Sunday 19th June

June trundles on bringing with it the usual birding doldrums. One bright spot (from a birding point of view at least) has been the amount of rain which has kept the remaining floods nicely topped up. If this continues then we may well have some reasonable flood waters to attract some decent waders for the return passage.

As far as sightings this period have been concerned, it's been pretty much the usual stuff. The main species on the floods at present is black-headed gull of which there are several hundred all picking their way over all areas of the water and mud with quite a few juveniles in amongst them. There are one or two larger gulls about and it will soon be time to start looking out for yellow-legged gulls.

A typical Meadow scene at present with black-headed gulls everywhere

Plenty of mallards with their ducklings around and the three lapwing chicks seem to be doing fine. The OYSTERCATCHERS have still been around in varying numbers and yesterday evening there were three of them flying around in their usual agitated state. They've recently taken to feeding actually in the flood water itself down at the southern end rather than on the Hinterland.

On one occasion I found one of the oystercatchers in amongst the geese

There have been a few LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS going through and I can only assume that these are failed breeders on their way back again. In a similar vein a couple of COMMON SANDPIPERS down at the Southern Tail on Saturday were probably on their way back south again so one could argue that the autumn passage has already started.

The two common sandpipers skulking in the churned-up mud

There have been a few STOCK DOVE sightings both on the Meadow and in Burgess Field itself and the HOBBY has been seen occasionally flying across the Meadow. Common terns are regular sighted and a LITTLE EGRET was loitering on the Meadow one morning.

On the butterfly front I've seen a MARBLED WHITE and a RINGLET in Burgess Field already as well as a COMMON BLUE.

Once again the wild-flower sections of Burgess Field are very colourful.

Monday 13th June

I'm now very much in summer blogging mode so will only be updating this blog when I've something to say. The recent rain has topped up the floods nicely though the margins are still very messy and unappealing. There's been the odd wader still going through: Richard Foster had 4 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER recently and the OYSTERCATCHERS have still been out on the Hinterland. I also had a sparrowhawk fly over and the common terns are often about still. On Saturday morning I was sitting in bed with a cup of tea staring out of our Velux window at the sky and as well as the usual swifts and martins I managed to see a great-crested grebe, a BUZZARD, a KITE and best of all a HOBBY all fly over. Richard Foster had a fly-over HOBBY the same day though I don't know if it was the same one.

"Our" spoonbill seems to have turned up at Otmoor now which is probably a better place for it as it's not going to get disturbed there in the way that it was on the Meadow. We've had spoonbill for the last three years on the Meadow now which is remarkable given how rare they used to be.

The main thing of note is all the wonderful new bird life around. My garden is full of fledglings now all coming to my feeders. There have been fledgling great tits, blue tits, goldfinches, greenfinches and blackbirds on view from my window and our cat has been particularly interested in the three fledgling blackbirds though the parents are very attentive at looking out for him and sounding their annoying alarm call whenever he's about. On the floods there are quite a few juvenile black-headed gulls about, looking rather exotic at first glance. In Burgess Field there are plenty of family parties and young birds around of all the usual species that you might expect. The highlight though was yesterday when I spotted three lapwing chicks along the North shore of the floods. It always amazes me that lapwings are able to breed on the Meadow what with the dogs, the walkers, crows and the cows and horses but but somehow they do. Of course now the chicks have to run the gauntlet of these same hazards so let's hope that at least some of them make it to the point when they can fly. The Meadow geese seem to have had a good year and there are loads of half-grown geese around. Sadly Richard Foster found a goose that had been savaged by a dog and had had half its food chewed off. I called the St. Tiggywinkles animal rescue to come and take a look though they couldn't find the bird so it must at least be well enough to fly and may well be able to survive OK on the Meadow.

Mary Gregory reported 2 RINGED PLOVER and a COMMON SANDPIPER today on the Meadow.

An "exotic" juvenile black-headed gull (c) Adam Hartley

8th June: Spoonbill Still

The SPOONBILL was reported (Pete Styles) as still being around this morning though it had gone by mid-morning (per Richard Foster). Pete also saw a YELLOW WAGTAIL (the first that has been seen for some time). This evening when I visited there was a single OYSTERCATCHER in the Hinterland and two LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS still near Stint Corner.

The floods were looking much reduced today despite a reasonable amount of rain falling. They may not be around for too much longer.

The spoonbill still this morning (c) Pete Styles

Tuesday 7th June: Spoonbill!

I had decided only to do updates to this blog every few days now that we'd reached the June doldrums. However the find of a splendid SPOONBILL at the North end of the floods today has rather put paid to the notion that it's all gone quiet.

After the rain today, this evening was absolutely gorgeous with no wind and a wonderful sunny sky. The rain had freshened up the floods a little and seemed to have cleared some of the green algae from the centre of the flood area. I was not expecting anything particularly interesting and was idly working my way around the floods when I came across the SPOONBILL feeding away in the North Channel. It seemed to be finding plenty of food and was gradually working its way east along the channel. When I left just before 9pm it seemed to have settled in one spot and was tucking its head down so it may well roost there tonight though the chances of it staying any length of time tomorrow are rather small to be honest.

Apart from this star bird there were the five OYSTERCATCHERS again and a couple of LITTLE RINGED PLOVER near Stint Corner. A wonderful start to what is usually a very quiet month for the Meadow.

The spoonbill on the floods this evening (c) Adam Hartley

Some digiscoped shots of the spoonbill (c) Adam Hartley

Monday 6th June

This evening there was a GREENSHANK, 4 LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS, a common tern and best of all a fly-over HOBBY seen by Richard Foster which is a year tick for the Meadow. We more usually get them in the autumn rather than in the first half of the year.

Tonight's greenshank (c) Adam Hartley

Saturday 28th May to Saturday 4th June

I came back from my week away (see Gnome's Birding Diary if you're interested in what I got up to) to find the floods more or less at the same level as they were when I left. I've been told that there was quite a lot of rain for a couple of days which I guess topped them up a bit but at this time of year they recede again pretty quickly. The sad fact is the main channel of water is rather clogged up with weed now so there is just a rather narrow strip down the west shore which still seems to attract the odd wader. Given that it's been the driest spring on record (or something) it's a miracle that we still have flood water in June.

This week has seen the usual stuff passing through with peak counts of 8 RINGED PLOVER, 5 OYSTERCATCHERS and 2 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER. In addition there was the first REDSHANK for some time on the floods. On Saturday evening there were 9 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS in the deepest part of the remaining water more or less opposite the Burgess Field gate. They looked like juveniles but I suspect it's too early for returning juveniles bred from this year so perhaps they are first summer birds - I'm not really sure about the finer details of godwit plumage.