Sunday 23rd February

I've been away this week so haven't actually visited the Meadow at all myself. Fortunately the baton has been taken up by other birders with the headline sighting being a KITTIWAKE that was found by Dave Doherty on Wednesday morning. This is a species that I've yet to see on the Meadow though Dave turned up a couple last year and Alex Martin saw one as well. They tend to be found in the morning on the Meadow rather than being in the evening roost which is why I usually miss them. In fact what was probably the same bird was seen at Farmoor in the roost on Wednesday evening.

Not to be out-done Peter Law visited the same day and turned up a female RED-CRESTED POCHARD. This is another fairly scarce species though we get them occasionally on the floods where they have been known to stay for some time.

Liam Langley reported a couple of Buzzards over by the Perch on Saturday morning - it's about time we got this species on the year list! Finally, I saw my first Patch Sparrowhawk of the year flying over Aristotle Lane by the playground on Sunday afternoon.

By way of homage to Dave's Kittiwake, here's one that I saw whilst down in Cornwall this week.

Sunday 16th February

Another stormy week has past and the floods are still pretty full though they do seem to be slightly receding over the last few days. There's not been much different to report: the two SHELDUCK have still been about as have about 10 GOOSANDER and I'm pleased to report that all 5 REDSHANK were back on their favourite roost tree this week as well. The WATER RAIL was still squealing away in the Trap Grounds and mid week I managed to find four Siskins, a Goldcrest and a Treecreeper along the canal nearby.

Because of the floods photographic opportunities have been few and far between so I took advantage of the sunshine today to snap some of the Pied Wagtails that were feeding in amongst the horses.

Sunday 9th February

Well, another week has gone by and the floods still show no sign of receding. In fact they're now way past the end of Burgess Field any may well be lapping at the edges of Wolvercote. To be honest I've only been out twice this week - it's just such hard work when the floods are like that and the rewards have been pretty scant of late. I was supposed to be leading a guided walk around the Meadow on Saturday for the Abingdon Naturalists though in the end it was cancelled due to the the state of the floods and the forecast latest in a long line of storms.

As fas as what's around at present the two SHELDUCK are still about, though the REDSHANK seem finally to have been pushed off their regular roosting tree which is now underwater. GOOSANDER are also a regular feature on the floods and there are plenty of duck around, mostly Wigeon though strangely the Pintail seem to have moved on. The gull roost continues to disappoint both with the poor numbers and the distant views.  A KINGFISHER was loitering along the bank on Friday, peering intently into the shallow water right by the bank. I expect that it's really struggling in current conditions to find any fishable water. Two STOCK DOVES were in their regular tree just north of the Perch on Wednesday and a PEREGRINE gave nice fly-by views as it put up the gull roost though didn't seem to make much of an effort with any of the birds. Finally, Liam Langley reported the WATER RAIL still squealing away in the Trap Grounds on Saturday as well as a SNIPE in Burgess Field.

Struggling Kingfisher

I've not had any luck with hearing any Little Owls so far this year despite keeping an ear out for them up past the Perch. In terms of what we still need for the year list there's still Pheasant and Buzzard to get though the former has probably been pushed off further afield by the floods and the latter often doesn't get seen until things start to warm up a little

Sunday 2nd February

We're now into the start of February and to be honest it's been a rather unremarkable first month. Not that one normally expects much on the Meadow at this time of year but the prolonged floods are making the birding rather difficult and the gull roost remains disappointingly small. 

In terms of specifics, it's been more of the same this week with the 5 REDSHANK still roosting in their regular tree, around 10 or so GOOSANDER coming into roost each evening and a smattering of gulls with the occasional YELLOW-LEGGED GULL the only species of note. There are still loads of duck with double digit counts of PINTAIL as well as a few Gadwall, The highlight of the week was a lone SHELDUCK on the floods on Wednesday.

By way of a bit of a change today, this morning in the sunshine I went for a walk along the canal north to Wolvercote and back. En route I managed to add to my personal Patch year list the following species: Bullfinch in the Trap Grounds, Goldcrest and Reed Bunting along the canal, Tufted Duck in the Gullet and a couple of squealing WATER RAILS, one in the Trap Grounds and one in the flooded field opposite St Edwards playing fields. In fact the Goldcrest and Water Rail were official Patch year ticks as no one has yet reported them. We're now on 78 for the year which is a reasonable total given that we've had no waders to speak of so far apart from Redshank. Steve Goddard added Coal Tit from his garden this week and Keith Dancey reported a SPARROWHAWK on Oxonbirds as part of his RSPB Garden Bird Watch results. We still need Buzzard, Kingfisher and Pheasant which no doubt we'll pick up at some point.

Some of the Tufted Duck on the Gullet this morning