Tuesday 15th September: Spotted Flycatcher

After a very quiet period since the Wryneck discovery (there's been no further sign unfortunately) I've another good bird to report. Not in the same league as a Wryneck but I found a lovely SPOTTED FLYCATCHER in Burgess Field in the second field up from the south gate (field 2W using the new map). This one was nicely out in the open and even posed for photos. What's more it stuck around for long enough for it to be twitched by other locals so all in all a very obliging bird.

The Spotted Flycatcher

Apart from that it's been rather quiet on the bird front with just the usual warblers knocking about. The Kingfisher is been seen periodically along the Castle Mill stream and I saw one on the Trap Ground ponds as well. Talking of the Trap Grounds there have been some juvenile Reed Warblers blundering around in the reeds recently so they've had a successful breeding season. On the raptor front there's been a Kestrel back in Burgess Field and Sparrowhawk, Kite and Buzzard sightings

Plenty of dragonflies around still with Migrant and Southern Hawkers both to be found at the Trap Grounds and also in Burgess Field. There are also plenty of Darters about, mostly Common though with some Ruddy.

Common Darter
By the way, I've added a record shot of the Wryneck to the end of the previous post.

Saturday 5th September

I made a couple of visits to Burgess Field today to look for yesterday's Wryneck though I haven't yet had precise details on the location so it was a bit of a shot in the dark. In the absence of anything concrete I concentrated my search in the south east corner though there was no sign of it. I did hear one or more SISKINS calling and managed to see a couple of LESSER WHITETHROATS along with the commoner warblers whilst I was rummaging through the hedgerows.

On the Meadow itself I found a HOBBY hunting Swallows. The Swallows were flying rather low so the Hobby flew higher and would make periodic dives on them, twisting and turning with incredible speed. When it failed to catch one it would shoot up to its higher vantage point again. From a distance this shooting up and down was almost like the mating dance of a Mayfly, so regular was the pattern. It was so fast and agile that it was only a matter of time before it caught one which it soon did, flying off to consume it at its leisure.

Chiffchaff courtesy of Robert Widdowson
I've now managed to speak to the Wryneck finder. He saw the bird well for 5 or 10 minutes and though he's not entirely sure of where it was exactly it sounds like it was in the east side of either the first or second field up from the southern end in the Hawthorn hedge. Using my new field labelling system this would be 1E or 2E - see my new map in the map section for details.

Note, this was in fact the general area that I was searching today so it's either skulking (a distinct possibility) or it's gone.

Record shot of the Wryneck from James Grant

Friday 4th September WRYNECK

At last a decent bird on the Meadow and in Burgess Field too which has hitherto been rather poor on providing proper scarce birds for the Patch. Late this afternoon Jim Grant managed to find a WRYNECK in a line of trees along one of the open fields in the south east corner of Burgess Field. In fact I've been looking out for this species in that general area for several weeks now - it does look very "Wrynecky" and with two already in the county it's clearly a good autumn for them. A great find and at last we've got a good bird to add to the "Past Port Meadow Rarities" section of this blog - I was starting to wonder if this would be the first year that we missed one since I started recording the Patch in 2007.

I'm awaiting more details from Jim about where exactly he saw it and I'll report back in due course.

Jim didn't manage a photo so here's one of the recent Otmoor bird, taken by Neil Duggan (c)

Wednesday 2nd September

Well here we are in September already. Thankfully there's been a fair bit of rain though so far there's been no sign of any returning flood water. It's strange how it suddenly appears as the ground water level rises - I can't wait for it to happen.

In order to try and find some waders I've been making periodic visits along the shore of the Thames up by the Poplar Trees where occasionally they can be found. I was rewarded recently for my efforts with a couple of COMMON SANDPIPERS, the most likely wader species in this location. There have also been one or two LITTLE EGRETS along the river of late as well as a smattering of Black-headed Gulls. YELLOW WAGTAILS are in amongst the livestock regularly and Roly Pitts managed a count of nine a day or two ago. One of the highlights since my last posting though was a flock of five SISKINS which flew over calling one morning. I posted in July about these finches and how we're getting increased sightings now but it was nice to see them for myself on the Patch this year.

The two Common Sandpipers

In Burgess Field many of the young warblers have now moved on and it's just the odd calling Chiffchaff that's to be found. I'm still holding out hope for a Redstart or even a Wryneck - after all we've had a couple already in the county this autumn.

There's been a pick-up in activity on the Odonata front. Migrant Hawkers are suddenly starting to appear in the Trap Ground area and I managed to spot three of them the other day on a morning visit. One was quartering the back of the pond and two were patrolling the main clearing area. There are also plenty of Common and Ruddy Darters around.

Migrant Hawker

On the moth front the weather has been a bit iffy of late so I've only run the trap once. Apart from lots of Large Yellow Underwings the main moth of note was a migrant Dark Sword Grass, always nice to see. I did find a Red Underwing roosting on the side of the house the other day as well.

Migrant Dark Sword Grass moth