29th July

All quiet on the western front at present. As some rather less settled weather accompanies us into the start of August there's unfortunately not much out of the ordinary to report.

Starting with birds, the highlight since my last posting, indeed just about the only bird news that I've had reported to me, has been four SISKINS that flew over the Meadow a week or so ago when Dave Doherty visited. Readers may recall that it was a poor winter for this species, something to do with a bumper crop of their favourite food tree which was keeping them somewhere else. Anyway, the flip side of this has been that Siskins are now starting to appear in the county unseasonally early and fortunately this has meant that the Meadow has finally got another year tick.

The recent rain has done nothing to change the state of the Meadow though the flood area is looking very lush and green. Indeed all the geese were busy grazing away there today and hoards of Wood Pigeon, Jackdaw and Starling were also picking their way over the area. The RED KITE has been seen regularly in the area, though I've just seen the one bird of late so perhaps the other is attending a nest - fingers crossed. Today, in amongst the Hirundines was at least one SAND MARTIN - it's good to see this species again, they are generally seen at the start of the season when they first arrive.

Port Meadow Red Kite

Of late I've been spending a lot of time down in the Trap Grounds where the open area there is proving to be a real butterfly hotspot now that the Wild Marjoram is flowering. This spot is currently host to lots of Gatekeepers, Ringlets and Meadow Browns, as well as the commoner species and today I found my first Small Copper of the year there. There was also a Souther Hawker patrolling the area though it didn't linger.

Trap Grounds male Common Blue

The mothing has been rather hit and miss at this end of the Meadow (Steve Goddard may be faring better up in Wolvercote). I've been catching a few that are new for the garden though a lot of them are micro's which I won't bore readers with here. Instead I'll post some more crowd-pleasing moth shots.

Small Elephant Hawk Moth - always a favourite with my children

Buff Tip - you've got to admire the camouflage of this moth!

In other sites in the county they are starting to get returning waders now. Sadly, unless we get a very wet August it will be some time before we see any on the Patch. Time to start doing a rain dance!

6th July

I finally had some time free to go out and tour the Patch today. At the Trap Grounds there was an Emperor Dragonfly and two Four-spotted Chasers on the pond though I couldn't see any Damselflies. The Reed Warblers are still singing away in there periodically - I hope that they're having a good breeding season. The small side pond was nearly dried up though there were several Azure Damselflies busy mating and laying eggs in the water that remained. I was amazed at just how dry it was in the central "meadow" area and it looked like I'd missed a whole lot of flowers which were going over already, having not even come up at my last visit. I must say that all the wild flower planting that has been done there looks really great and I hope that what has been planted goes on to become properly established.

On the Meadow itself the former flood area is looking lush and green now and was covered in birds with loads of Wood Pigeons, Jackdaws and Starling to be seen. The latter look like they've had a good breeding year with plenty of juveniles in amongst them. Talking of which there were a few dozen loafing Black-headed Gulls also on the Meadow with seven or eight juveniles there too.

In Burgess Field the summer butterflies are all out in force now with at least 30 Ringlets seen as well as good numbers of Meadow Browns, Marbled Whites and modest counts of Gatekeepers, Small Skippers and Essex Skippers. Another Emperor Dragonfly has set up territory near the copse and was busy hunting down some of the butterflies. It's all looking incredibly dry there too, rather bleak compared to the lush verdure we've had up until now.

Essex Skipper - taken last year

Finally I must mention my garden mothing which has finally kicked off properly thanks to the warmer weather. I've even managed to catch a couple of Hawkmoths, which aren't at all common in my garden. They're so huge they're always great to see.

Privet Hawkmoth