Tuesday 29th August

There seems to be a bit of a change in the weather with the first hints of autumn. The birds seem to be sensing it too as after a prolonged period with the same birds on the floods suddenly there has been some movement. The three long-staying (3 weeks!) GREENSHANK have finally moved on leaving just one bird left. Still hanging on though there are the 7 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS, the 2 RUFF and 6 COMMON SANDPIPER. There was quite a movement in RINGED PLOVERS yesterday with a count of 7 birds mid-afternoon (per Dave Lowe) becoming 16 by the time I visited with one LITTLE RINGED PLOVER thrown in for good measure as well as three DUNLIN. Other birds reported by Dave were 1 WHEATEAR and 1 YELLOW WAGTAIL. To add to the autumnal theme there were 7 golden plover back on the floods as well.

Little Ringed Plover (c) Roger Wyatt

Sunday 26th August

The Meadow floods have continued to hold a good variety of waders over the last few days though I'm still waiting for the "really good bird". The habitat is looking first rate though we don't want to lose much more water before the floods start getting a bit on the small side: a decent bit of rain now to top things up would be ideal. On the bird front the BLACK-TAILED GODWITS have stayed put with up to 8 birds though by Sunday later afternoon this number had gone down to 6. There have been 3 or 4 GREENSHANK the whole time so the core three birds have been with us almost a month now. The two RUFF are also still about, looking very much at home. Other peak counts over the last three days have been 1 REDSHANK, 10 RINGED PLOVER, 3 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, 13 COMMON SANDPIPER, 2 DUNLIN, 2 golden plover and several SNIPE.

The Black-tailed Godwits in flight (c) Roger Wyatt

I also spotted the "ghost" leucistic EGYPTIAN GOOSE back in amongst the feral greylags again - it's been quite some time since I've last seen it. Talking of leucistic birds there was a leucistic lesser black-backed gull in the gull roost on Saturday night.

The "ghost" Egyptian Goose back on the scene

Thursday 23rd August

We're continuing with the theme of more or less same waders which all seem very settled. In fact the Greenshank have now been with us since the 2nd August so that's a real testament to the habitat quality the Meadow floods offer. New in yesterday were a couple of RUFF and a GREEN SANDPIPER and a few more RINGED PLOVER which brings the total up to 12 now along with the 3 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER still. The 7 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS are still about and yesterday there was a 4th GREENSHANK briefly (per Roger Wyatt). The two REDSHANK are still around as well as the 6 remaining COMMON SANDPIPER and yesterday Roger Wyatt reported a HOBBY over the Meadow as well.

The two Ruff (c) Roger Wyatt

The previous day I went for a run around the patch. In the Trap Grounds there were quite a few dragonflies about with a Southern Darter, a Brown Hawker and a couple of male Ruddy Darters all seen. Burgess Field held remarkably few butterflies though I did spot a Small Heath and a Common Blue as well as a female Ruddy Darter and another Southern Hawker.

The Burgess Field Southern Hawker

The other exciting news was the discovery of a Great White Egret at Farmoor which then relocated to Cassington GP. I checked on the map to see if this flight path would have involved going over Port Meadow air space but unfortunately it doesn't. I'm not sure about the ethics of ticking it had it done so anyway but we'll leave that moral can of worms for another time.

Tuesday 22nd August

Same birds as usual pretty much sums it up! The floods have been receding somewhat because of the warmer weather but with a prolonged rainy period forecast for the end of the week there should be no problem about them drying out. The actual counts from today were: 3 GREENSHANK, 2 REDSHANK, 5 RINGED PLOVER, 3 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, 9 COMMON SANDPIPER, 1 Golden Plover. Yesterday the 4 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS were still about though there was no sign of them today. Hirundines were on the move through with several Sand Martins hawking over the floods with the Housies and Swallows. There have been one or two Swifts lingering over my garden the last few days

The three Greenshank have been in residence for quite a while now (c) Roger Wyatt

Sunday 19th August

The birds on the floods have been very predictable the last few days with the same bunch of waders basically guaranteed for each visit: 3 GREENSHANK, 1 REDSHANK, 6 RINGED PLOVER, 1 DUNLIN, quite a few SNIPE and up to 10 COMMON SANDPIPERS all seem to have taken up residence. Let's hope that their continused presence pulls in something good soon!

Jaddod Hadfield found 4 BLACK-TAILED GODWITS and 1 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER in addition to the usual waders tonight and the Common Sandpiper total was an impressive 14.

It turns out that Steve Burch's Peregrine from last week is one of the chicks produced this year from the Aylesbury Council building pair. It's great to see that they were successful and that the youngster is apparently flourishing.

This afternoon I went for a walk with some members of my family down the canal and back up the Thames to the Meadow. It was lovely and cool in the shade of the trees along the river. There was nothing particularly noteworthy but when you start looking out for things there's always something to see: a Banded Demoiselle was the first this year of that species on the patch; there was a small Pike in the tiny stream next to the river; there were also quite a few Moorhens with chicks which we encountered on various parts of our walk. Below are some photos that I took.

 Banded Demoiselle
 The Little Grebe is still about on the Castle Mill Stream
 Moorhen Chick
 Moorhen plus chicks
The Pikelet

Thursday 16th August

The Meadow is continuing to look good with the periodic rain keeping it nicely topped up and it continues to play host to a nice variety of waders. Over the last couple of days there have been 1 BLACK-TAILED GODWIT, the 3 GREENSHANKS and 1 REDSHANK still, 8 COMMON SANDPIPERS, 6 RINGED PLOVER, quite a few SNIPE and 1 DUNLIN. Little Egrets, Grey Herons and increasing numbers of returning teal offer a nice supporting cast. In addition there have been a couple of YELLOW WAGTAILS in amongst the numerous pieds and linnets down in the south west corner near the boats.

This evening there was a single swift hawking over the roof tops by my house and a single sand martin over the floods. Apart from that its largely house martins and swallows now.

One of the Ringed Plover (c) Roger Wyatt

I'm running a new home-made moth trap in my garden again: the main catch is Large Yellow Underwings at present with Brimstone, Ribband Wave and Willow Beauty also fairly numerous.

Large Yellow Underwing - the black "check" marks near the base 
of the wings are diagnostic for this species. As it's name suggests it has 
striking yellow hindwings with a black border.

Tuesday 14th August

Things are rather "samey" on the Meadow at present. The same sorts of waders are present in varying numbers, which of course are very nice to see but it's about time we had something really good to spice things up a bit! Anyway for the record the counts for today were: 8 RINGED PLOVER, 5 COMMON SANDPIPER, 3 GREENSHANK, 1 REDSHANK, 1 DUNLIN. In addition Jarrod Hadfield reported  a couple of YELLOW WAGTAILS and a few SNIPE. On Monday there was a GREEN SANDPIPER to add to the mix.

Here's a smashing photo of Saturday's Peregrine taken by Steve Burch (c)

Sunday 12th August

Weekends are usually harder for me to visit the Meadow because of family commitments etc but I did manage to sneak in a visit on Sunday evening just as it was starting to get dark. The floods have receded somewhat in the recent hot weather but are looking very good at present. For my efforts I was rewarded with a fine SANDERLING accompanied by a DUNLIN and a couple of RINGED PLOVERS. There were still 3 GREENSHANK around, 8 COMMON SANDPIPERS and a single REDSHANK. There were relatively few gulls around but I did pick out a nice juvenile COMMON GULL. There was also a YELLOW WAGTAIL calling away near the boat moorings.

Also to report, Steve Burch saw a PEREGRINE over the floods on Saturday.

The Sanderling

Friday 10th August

I decided on an early evening visit to the Meadow today: late enough so the heat haze wasn't too much of a problem but not so late that it became hard to view the birds. The recent heat has resulted in a nice bit of shoreline appearing so conditions looked pretty good. There were reasonable numbers of waders about too though perhaps not as good as in the last couple of weeks. The scores on the doors were: 5 REDSHANK, 5 COMMON SANDPIPERS, 4 GREENSHANK, 3 GREEN SANDPIPERS, 1  juv. DUNLIN and several SNIPE.

My photographic efforts were still hampered by the heat haze and 
the distance the birds were away but I did manage this digiscoped record 
shot of one of the Greenshanks

Wednesday 8th August

I decided to visit the Meadow mid-afternoon today for a change: I wanted to see the birds in proper light rather than in the rather gloomy dusk of my recent trips. I had been thinking also about catching up on some photos but it turned out to be a rather bright and hot afternoon and the heat haze was so bad that I soon gave up any thoughts of photography and instead busied myself with trying to get an accurate count of all the waders. This not that easy a task at present because they tend to move around quite a lot and I kept finding myself double-counting them. My finally tallies were: 1 TURNSTONE, 1 BLACK-TAILED GODWIT, 2 GREENSHANK,1 GREEN SANDPIPER, 8+ COMMON SANDPIPER, 4 DUNLIN, 5 RINGED PLOVER, 4 REDSHANK and a few SNIPE and a couple of teal. I also noticed huge numbers of (presumed) Common Damselflies hawking low over the water, often paired up as well as quite a few larger dragonflies which looked like Black-tailed Skimmers from a distance.

 So still no waders photos - instead here's a Gatekeeper from 
Burgess Field from a few days ago

Tuesday 7th August

Today I decided to go for one of my long-overdue runs around the Patch this lunch-time to check out places such as the Trap Grounds and Burgess Field. There was not much to report at the former apart from the pair of Southern Hawkers still though they've now moved towards the "meadow" area. There were also a couple of juvenile Sparrowhawks squawking away in the trees. In Burgess Field there were only a few butterflies though I did manage to find the first Essex Skipper of the year there. 

All the action was still on the floods which have been nicely topped up by the recent rain. Sadly there was no sign of the two Wood Sandpipers so it looks like they did depart as I'd feared yesterday. By way of compensation there was yet another TURNSTONE (the third in the last week or so) and this time I actually got to see it myself. This species is normally less than annual and rarer than Wood Sandpiper on the Meadow so we've had a really good autumn for them. Other waders were: 1 BLACK-TAILED GODWIT, 3 GREENSHANK, 3 REDSHANK, 8 RINGED PLOVER, 3 DUNLIN, half a dozen or so COMMON SANDPIPER and a few SNIPE

In addition, in a visit this morning Gareth Blockley managed to find a MARSH TIT (a Patch Year Tick) in the vegetation by the railway at Aristotle Lane - a great find! I've personally yet to see Marsh Tit on the Patch though several others have seen them. He also had a juv. YELLOW WAGTAIL.

Meadow Turnstone (c) Jason Coppock

Monday 6th August

By the time I went for my evening visit today it was so dark and gloomy (and rainy) that I had real difficulty in making out some of the waders along the North Channel so all the counts today are rather approximate. The two WOOD SANDPIPERS were still around though rather agitated and I could hear them calling as soon as I arrived on the floods. As I got nearer they took to the air and spent some time flying around and calling loudly - I hope that they decided to come back down on the floods again as it's been great having them around for so long. The three GREENSHANK and two REDSHANK were still about and there were several GREEN SANDPIPER and COMMON SANDPIPERS - I got the impression of fewer birds than in recent days. There were four or so DUNLIN and a new addition today was a BLACK-TAILED GODWIT. On the gull front for the first time there were lots of larger gulls including plenty of juveniles though I couldn't find anything of particular note. There was a single juv MEDITERRANEAN GULL in quite an advanced moult towards first winter and several COMMON GULLS, mostly juveniles though one adult.

Once again in the gloom I am struggling to produce any pictures so here's a micro 
moth Agapeta Hamana which is quite common in amongst the thistle patches on the Meadow

Sunday 5th August

A torrential downpour this evening put paid to any thoughts of a Meadow visit for me. Fortunately Jason "Badger" Coppock had visited earlier in the day where he found the following birds:

 2 Wood Sandpipers
3+ Green Sandpipers
8+ Common Sandpipers
1 Turnstone
5 Greenshank (per R.C Watts)
3 Redshank
4 Dunlin
11 Ringed Plover
1+ Golden Plover (per Clackers)
20 Snipe
1 Yellow Wagtail (juv)

 Not only that but he also made this excellent video

(c) Jason Coppock

Saturday 4th August

This morning there were loads of county birders down on the Meadow. Not surprising really considering how at the moment Port Meadow is where all the hot county birding action is at present. Steve Roby, Jarrod Hadfield, Dave Lowe, Ewan Urquhart & Badger between them managed to come up with the following list of sightings: 1 TURNSTONE, 3 GREENSHANK, 3 GREEN SANDPIPER, 2 WOOD SANDPIPER, 5 DUNLIN, 12 COMMON SANDPIPER, 1 RINGED PLOVER, 1 LITTLE RINGED PLOVER, 2 REDSHANK, 1 SNIPE, 16 Little Egret, 1 YELLOW WAGTAIL & 1 WHITE WAGTAIL (per Ewan).

The Turnstone is a real treat as it's less than annual on the patch and it's another Patch Year Tick. I went down for my customary evening visit where the only real changes were additions to Green Sandpiper (now totalling 5), Ringed Plover (now 7) and Snipe (6). I couldn't find any Med. Gulls tonight though I didn't do as thorough a scan as usual as I wanted to get back for the Olympics on telly.

Friday 3rd August

The wader-fest on the Meadow continues, albeit in slightly reduced numbers this evening. In the company of Jason Coppock we found: one WOOD SANDPIPER still, the GREENSHANK trio, 1 GREEN SANDPIPER, a handful of COMMON SANDPIPERS (they move around too much to count them easily),  a couple of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS and 4 DUNLIN. All but the latter were in the North Channel though the dunlin seem to prefer the South Channel in amongst the black-headed gulls. Talking of gulls there were a couple of juv. MEDITERRANEAN GULLS in amongst the throng this evening.

You gotta love juv. Med Gulls!

Thursday 2nd August: Wood Sandpipers & Med Gull

Another excellent evening visit with plenty of waders to look at, almost all in the North Channel. Firstly the second WOOD SANDPIPER is back (perhaps he was just hiding yesterday) - this pair has been around for almost a week now so they're obviously enjoying the wonderful conditions on the floods. The two REDSHANK were still about and today's COMMON SANDPIPER count had gone up to a fabulous 10 birds with a single GREEN SANDPIPER still. There was one RINGED PLOVER and a couple of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS hiding along the shoreline. New in today and adding a bit of variety were three GREENSHANK (two juveniles and an adult) but the highlight of the visit was the presence of a huge whisp of 44 SNIPE all dotted along the southern shore of the North Channel. I have had larger counts of this species on the Meadow (once approaching 100 birds!) but it was still quite a sight to see. There were just a couple of DUNLIN left over from the recent large flock and to round it all off there was one juvenile MEDITERRANEAN GULL in the roost this evening. The Meadow is certainly enjoying some good waders at present, perhaps making up for such a poor spring passage. Long may it continue!

A rather gloomy video grab of some of the snipe

Wednesday 1st August: Wood Sand & More Med Gulls

Another evening visit to the Meadow found it to be on great form which I enjoyed in the company of Steve Jennings and Paul Jepsom who did much of the donkey work in counting all the waders for me! To start off, as I was walking through the cattle towards the floods I heard the unmistakable call of a YELLOW WAGTAIL, the first of the return passage. There was a reasonable gull roost tonight with the birds spread out along the main South Channel. Also in this area were two OYSTERCATCHERS and 12 of the total of 14 DUNLIN that were present. The main wader action though was happening in the North Channel. In this area there was just one remaining WOOD SANDPIPER and now just two juv. REDSHANK but COMMON SANDPIPER numbers had gone up to 7 with one bird appearing to have a damaged wing or at least some bent primary feathers that I first noticed yesterday. Adding to the wader count there were one GREEN SANDPIPER, one RINGED PLOVER, three LITTLE RINGED PLOVER and a skulking SNIPE. To finish things off I managed to pick out a couple of juvenile MEDITERRANEAN GULLS in the roost. Certainly a good evening on the Meadow!

Because I'm visiting the Meadow so late in the day at present, the light is 
usually too poor for any photographs so once more I'm relying on Roger 
Wyatt's excellent skills with this Wood Sandpiper shot. (c) Roger Wyatt.

Tuesday 31st July - Wood Sands & Med Gull

Another evening visit to the Meadow. The two WOOD SANDPIPERS, 3 REDSHANK and dozen or so DUNLIN are all about and today's count of COMMON SANDPIPERS was about five though they keep moving around so it's rather hard to be certain. To add some variety there were a couple of LITTLE RINGED PLOVERS (one adult and one juvenile) and to top it off there was a juvenile MEDITERRANEAN GULL in amongst the black-headed gulls tonight though there were no large gulls at all in the roost. I hesitate to say this given the good variety of waders that are currently present but it's starting to get a bit "samey" and I'm rather hoping for a bit of variety, preferably in the form of a Nearctic vagrant wader!

The juv. Med. gull on the floods this evening

In addition to the birds above Rick Josey reported a SNIPE at 11 a.m.

Here's a bonus grab of the Med Gull