It's been exactly a month since my last update which sadly says it all really. It's been an unusually dry October which means that there's no sign of the floods at all. Still, there have been a few bits and pieces that are worthy of note and there's a general trend of increasing winter birds about.
I've been hearing SISKINS about the place of late, a sure sign of the changing season. There was also the first Golden Plover of the autumn which I flushed from the rank vegetation at the southern end of the Meadow and a short while later I put up the first SNIPE of autumn as well. Seven Lapwing were also about today though whether they'll stay given the lack of water remains to be seen. Apart from that there are increasing Meadow Pipits about and regular Skylarks flying over though I've not really seen the Linnet flock for a while now. Whilst other locations have plenty of Redwings about, I've personally yet to see or even hear any about the Meadow though it shouldn't be long though before they're back. Incidentally, it's worth keeping an eye out for Hawfinches in amongst flying Redwing flocks as there's been a major irruption of continental birds this year with loads of sightings within the county - most unusual! The NUTHATCH is still about near Medley Farm - I heard it piping away the other day.
|The under-appreciated Meadow Pipit|
On the wildfowl front, the lack of water has meant that there's precious little to report. The regular Home Counties BARNACLE GEESE, which in past years have visited the Meadow each winter, have been frequenting Farmoor instead though on one occasion I did see what was almost certainly them flying over the north end before landing in one of the fields north of the A34. I spotted the LITTLE GREBE back in its usual corner of the Castle Mill Stream yesterday, so it's nice to have it around. I also saw a COOT down by the boat moorings - this is a surprisingly rare bird on the Meadow, where it's usually Moorhen that I see.
Very little to report on the gull front though there was a single COMMON GULL in amongst the Black-headed Gulls down by the river this morning.
|The Common Gull|
The highlight of the month, however was yesterday when I spotted a STONECHAT being harrassed by a Dunnock down at the end of the new Aristotle Lane footbridge. This species hasn't become very rare on the Meadow, ever since the very harsh winters a few years ago decimated the population and it's a real Patch rarity these days. So at last another year list tick to celebrate.
|A Grey Heron skulking along the banks of the Castle Mill Stream|