Sunday 25th September: Yellow-browed Warbler!

At last a real Rare to report! This morning Steve Goddard (our man in Wolvercote) was cycling past the common ground near the Wolvercote village hall when he heard the unmistakable call of a YELLOW-BROWED WARBLER. Screeching to a stop he had good views of it as it worked its way amongst the trees that surround College Pond (see here). Unfortunately at the time he was in a hurry and so couldn't linger and despite extensive searching later on in the day by both Steve and other people, it wasn't seen or heard again. Still a great record to get on the Patch year list, coming hot on the heels of the first one in October 2013 at the other end of the Meadow. These Siberian sprites have been getting increasingly common in the country over the last few years though they're still rarely seen inland so this is a fantastic find.

Onto more mundane matters, there's not been much to report over the last couple of weeks. It's amazing how we've slipped into winter birding mode now: the Meadow is being steadily populated by Linnets, Lapwings and Meadow Pipit with numbers increasing on a daily basis. In addition, Cherry Robinson reported a couple of Golden Plover and a Greenland WHEATEAR over the last couple of weeks. I've not seen any Yellow Wagtails recently though the livestock are now hanging out at the north end of the Meadow so I've not been able to search in amongst them. A Grey Wagtail has been hanging out down at the southern end of the Meadow the last week or so and indeed regularly flies over my house calling loudly. Adrian Gray reports a few Teal back in the Gullet now.

On the insect front there are still lots of Migrant Hawkers around, both along the Castle Mill Stream and also up at College Pond today. What we really need now is some decent rain to get the floods back in business.

Here's a reminder of the Yellow-browed Warbler from three years ago (c) Roger Wyatt

Friday 16th September

There is a distinctive autumnal feel to the Meadow though only in terms of the wild life. The weather certainly this week has been most unseasonally hot and humid though it now seems that we're back to more usual fare.

There has actually been some bird news to report. At this time of the year and without any floods the main points of interest are going to be migrant passerines working their way southwards. It's always worth therefore scouring the many hedgerows in the area though it can often be hard work for little reward. On the 11th Luca and Tom Pizzari reported a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER and a REDSTART in the fields past the Perch, a great double-find in an area that I don't normally check out though I know that migrants often follow the river south so it makes sense. As a bonus they also reported a couple of HOBBIES as well. On the 8th of the month Dave Gandy had a TREE PIPIT in flight heading south and calling over the main flood area. It's great to get this species on the year list as this is the one harder-to-get passage migrant passerine that we still need. To round things off Mary MacDougall found a SPOTTED FLYCATCHER in Burgess Field last weekend. 

Apart from these goodies, the main birds at present are the large numbers of YELLOW WAGTAILS (up to 25 or more) in amongst the cattle. There have also been large numbers of House Martins gathering in big pre-migration flocks and hawking for flies over the dried up flood area.

On the insect front, things are naturally winding down now there there are good numbers of Migrant Hawkers (I counted 6) along the Castle Mill Stream along with a Brown Hawker and the odd Ruddy and Common Darter.

Migrant Hawker
I've not been doing much mothing of late though I did manage my first Sallow of the autumn. These species are coloured to mimic autumn leaves and are traditionally a harbinger of the changing season in the mothing world.

Centre-barred Sallow