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Tuesday, May 30, 2023

Oxon Birding Weblog: April Evaluate


Spring has effectively and actually sprung! April added a further 24
species to the county yr record, which now stands at 183. Sizzling on the heels of
our early returning migrants the trickle was a flood with the a lot
anticipated and welcome return of many warbler species as effectively overland
migration of waders, gulls and terns. Nearly each spring a single pioneering
hen will rock up early and buck the pattern for typical arrival, while each
from time to time an outlier spring will throw up just a few early migrant of differing
species. This spring nevertheless has felt like fairly just a few species have been bucking the
arrival pattern, particularly after Oxon logged the primary Arctic Tern within the
UK. This acquired me questioning on what the everyday median arrival date for
most of our frequent migrant species have been and thus a flick by 20 odd years
of migrant arrival knowledge was wanted (see beneath).

Migrant arrival dates for


Median (since 2000)

Earliest (since 2000)

2023 first document

















































































































Ring Ouzel




















Wooden Warbler













Many species had fairly typical arrival dates plus or minus
just a few days from their median arrival dates. That being mentioned as much as ten species have been
recorded a lot sooner than typical with some being logged as much as two weeks
sooner than the median arrival, with Arctic Tern and Sandwich Tern clocking
their earliest arrival dates because the flip of the century. Is that this a pattern
more likely to proceed into the longer term? It will appear so.

Black-crowned Night time Heron

It’s simply gone 10pm on the night of the 30th and
I’ve lastly accomplished the month-to-month evaluate. After including in a number of county
rarities already on the final minute I’m blissful there is no such thing as a probability I’ll have
so as to add in the rest to an already giant evaluate interval. How unsuitable I used to be! At
23:11 a report got here in with an connected picture of a Black-crowned Night time Heron
in flight over Otmoor’s first display, a species which though was
most likely anticipated given the latest inflow is by all measures a significant county
rarity. It transpires {that a} thriller hen calling within the darkness was heard by
people who had gathered the night earlier than for the Noticed Crake, which after
a fast pay attention sounded spot on for Night time Heron. This offers some hope
that the hen is both roosting on the location or someplace close by and is returning
to Otmoor for nocturnal foraging. Given the rarity worth of this species
within the county I might count on a significant gathering this night between the 1st
and a pair ofnd screens at Otmoor within the hope of a return fly previous of
this implausible hen. Even when it does not get relocated it’s going to actually be a contender for rarity of the yr and is an absolute implausible discover by Jeremy in what has turned out to be a cracking April for Oxon rarities. 

Data of Black-crowned
Night time Heron for Oxon

Nature of document



A single hen
– shot


Might 1891

Single hen


September 1934

Single hen

Benson Weir

Might 1972

Single hen


29th July 1976

Single hen –
flushed from Shifford Lock

Shifford Lock

April 2000

Grownup –
Current on Otmoor however noticed to have color ring and broken beak. Assumed
to be an escapee


– 27th Might 2002

Black-crowned Night time Heron courtesy of Jeremy Dexter.

Purple Heron

That may educate me for getting forward of myself. After being
organised for a change and getting the highlights written forward of time, writing
some guff about overland migration after not too many different uncommon birds to
select from.  A Purple Heron then
goes and pops up at Pit 60 on the 25th. The twond
document in as a few years with the final coming within the autumn of 2021 at Blenheim
this hen, just like the final, rapidly disappeared and remained elusive for a lot of
the day. Solely often displaying and even then, not more than its head and at some
distance. It appeared destined to be a kind of birds that may stay elusive
and identical to that it disappeared later that afternoon and was to not be seen
once more for just a few days. It reappeared on the 29th though was sometimes
elusive and solely often displaying or briefly seen in flight, one can solely
hope it pitches up someplace with higher views and entry. Though the final
document got here solely in 2021 the following document goes all the best way again to 2016,
though the Otmoor hen did the precise factor and caught lengthy sufficient for
loads of people to see it, albeit not at all times a straightforward hen. This newest document
may be the primary (?) spring document for the species within the county with all
data since 2007 coming within the autumn.

Purple Heron courtesy of Steve Burch

Noticed Crake

And never even earlier than I had completed writing up the Purple
addition to the highlights a Noticed Crake was discovered singing
at Otmoor on the night of the 25th. The finder was apparently
at Otmoor to document the nightfall/night soundscape to make use of for his early
morning alarm and fairly unbelievably managed to seek out this secretive little
magnificence singing away. The subsequent night just a few of us gathered within the hope it was
nonetheless current. Fortunately on a nonetheless spring night time the ‘drip drip’ track of a Noticed
joined the night time time soundscape of booming Bittern, drumming Snipe
and reeling Grasshopper Warbler. The hen was nonetheless current till at
least the night of the 29th The final document, unsurprisingly, got here
from Otmoor throughout the covid restrictions of 2020 together with a county
mega of Savi’s Warbler. The final gettable document got here Kennington in
2014 with a hen singing for just a few nights on a small marsh alongside the River

Noticed Crake Singing, courtesy of Tom Bedford


The annual Bar-tailed Godwit motion
began with a pair of birds on Balscote Quarry on the 18th
with one remaining there till at the least the 20th. Pit 60 additionally
hosted a hen on the 18th with one other 2 birds on the 19th
rising to five later that afternoon. A mega flock of over 40 birds went over Peep-o-day
additionally on the 19th with the both the identical flock or one other flock
over Port Meadow within the night. A single hen then popped up at Bicester
on the 21st with one other single hen at Otmoor on
the 22nd. A really respectable flock of Black-tailed Godwit got here at
the start of the month with 38 on Port Meadow on the 1st
with between 1 and 6 remaining on the floods till the 21st though
presumably regarding completely different birds between the 13th and 21st
to these current originally of the month. A single document got here from Otmoor
on the 19th.

Bar-tailed Godwit Bicester Wetlands Reserve courtesy of Mike Pollard.

The primary Wooden Sandpiper arrived
round 2 days sooner than the median arrival time with the primary at Otmoor on
the 28th. A 2nd hen was situated on the Port Meadow later
that day however sadly bunked earlier than extra people may meet up with it. The
first Whimbrel of the spring got here in early and was picked up at Banbury
on the tenth adopted by a hen at Farmoor on the 11th.
Farmoor recorded a further three birds on the 21st, 26thand
once more on 28th. Otmoor additionally acquired in on the motion had the
highest rely of 5 on the 22nd with two hen remaining till at
least the 24th, while a single hen was recorded on the 16th.
Day’s Lock, a often fairly dependable space for spring passage of the species,
additionally recorded a number of birds with 3 arriving on the 17th and a single
hen remaining till the 20th. Pit 60 recorded a single a
hen on the 28th the place it, as reported, spent most of its time
sleeping. Essentially the most uncommon location got here from Lark Hill when a lone hen
was seen feeding within the fields up on the downs.

Farmoor Whimbrel courtesy of Steve Liptrot

The 1st of the month noticed
the arrival of one other Avocet after the very early document from the
county again in February. A lone hen was on the brand new Thames scrape at Day’s
, in what’s proving to be a cracking little bit of habitat for migrating
waders. Presumably the identical hen was then seen distantly at Otmoor later
that day. A single Gray Plover was document got here this month with a lone
hen on Port Meadow on the 8th. Greenshank have been additionally recorded
from Port Meadow however from later within the month with single hen current on
21st, 22nd and once more on the 27th. A single
hen was additionally current on Otmoor on the 20th, while Grimsbury
and Appleford GP’s each hosted single birds briefly on the 29th.
Ringed Plover have been logged at 4 websites with the primary of those coming
from a barely random website in Yelford on the 5th. Extra
sometimes 2 have been on Port Meadow on the 23rd while a excessive
rely of seven got here from Otmoor on the 28th. A lone hen
associating with a trio of Dunlin was on the Farmoor causeway on
the 29th.

Avocet on the Allen Pit courtesy of Geoff Wyatt

have been recorded from
3 websites with nearly all of these coming from the everyday website of the concrete
bowl of Farmoor. Two birds have been recorded on the twond by to
the 9th while one other pair have been there on the 21st. A trio
of birds have been alongside the causeway on the 29th. Different data got here
from Appleford GPs with a single hen flying across the pits on the 4th.
Port Meadow additionally hosted birds with 7 on the 23rd and a pair of have been
right here on the 28th. After their first arrivals again in March,
Little Ringed Plover
continued to be extensively reported from the county. At
least 7 websites unfold proper throughout the county reported at the least 1 hen. The
highest rely got here from a website in Witney the place at the least 7 have been current
on the threerd with 6 remaining till the 8th of the month. Away
from Otmoor data of Redshank got here from Port Meadow, Venn
Mull, Pit 60
and Sutton Courtenay. The most important rely got here from Port
when a big rely of 16 birds have been current on the 15th.

Little-ringed Plover Grimsbury Reservoir courtesy of Edwin Barson.

 Wintering Inexperienced Sandpiper continued
at just a few websites within the early a part of the month while birds seemingly beginning
to maneuver by the county from the 13
th onwards. Data got here from
at the least 9 websites unfold throughout the county. The very best rely of 5 got here from
on the 4th and associated to lingering and wintering birds.
The primary spring
Frequent Sandpiper was current at Sutton Courtenay on
the ten
th. Thereafter an extra 10 websites recorded at the least one hen with
the biggest rely got here from
Otmoor the place a flock of 10 birds have been
current on the 27
th with all the opposite websites recorded between 1 and
4 birds.

Dunlin Farmoor courtesy of Ben Sheldon.

Out of certain data of Curlew
i.e away from Otmoor got here from Sutton Courtenay on the 15th
and Day’s Lock on the 20th, while a late document of Golden
got here from Port Meadow on the 23rd


The apparent spotlight for the interval
was the persevering with Lesser Scaup however this time turning up at Dix Pit from
the twond till the 9th, seemingly dragged over to the deep
pit by its curiosity in a feminine Tufted Duck. May we see some future head
scratching hybrids sooner or later? Both manner a implausible discover by considered one of our Patchwork
problem members. The drake then returned to Farmoor on the 13th
the place it remained till the 23rd earlier than going AWOL and never been seen
once more throughout April.

Shelduck Peep-o-Day Lane courtesy of Conor Mackenzie.

An unseasonal Pink-footed
was current on Otmoor from the 16th till at the least
the 27th. A probably sick hen that couldn’t fairly handle the return
leg of its lengthy journey north or one thing barely extra doubtful, I assume no
one will ever know. A lone White-fronted Goose was additionally reported from Oddington
with the idea that this got here from Otmoor on the 26th,
seemingly provides to the credibility of the Pink-footed Goose document within the
identical space.

The Otmoor Pink-foot courtesy of John Edwards

Persevering with its run of type Dix Pit additionally produced a summer time
plumaged Black-necked Grebe on the 12th. In what regarded like
it perhaps solely a sooner or later hen the identical particular person was then picked up at Pit
the next day, disappearing for practically 3 days earlier than returning on the

Black-necked Grebe at Dix Pit courtesy of Simon Bradfield

Frequent Scoter started enterprise their overland migration
within the early a part of the month. The primary to reach throughout the counties borders
was a drake current on Grimsbury Reservoir on the tenth. Three
birds together with a lone drake have been current on Farmoor on the 17th
while, persevering with its purple patch this era, Dix Pit scored a drake
on the 18th. A lone Scaup document got here, surprisingly, from Radley
on the 19th when a feminine was current together with a bunch
of Tufted Duck.

Frequent Scoter above & beneath courtesy of Kyle Smith.


In what has been a cracking month
for Garganey data with the county recording as much as 9 birds in a single
day, the true quantity shifting by the county has been troublesome to maintain a
monitor of with so many data at completely different The primary spring document got here on the
4th when three birds turned up on the flood at Peep-o-day Lane. Birds
have been recorded at an extra 6 places all through the month with Otmoor, Port
Meadow, Pit 60, Grimsbury, Day’s Lock and Chimney Meadows
all logging birds.
The very best rely got here from Peep-o-day Lane with 5 birds there on the tenth
till the 11th. Port Meadow recurrently recorded a trio of
birds as did Pit 60. While pairs or singles have been recorded sporadically
on the different places. Ring-necked Duck continued at their typical
places with the standard pair at Pit 60 from the 1st till
the 17th albeit sporadically, while the just about resident feminine hen
was current at Appleford GP’s all through the month.


Garganey courtesy of Bryan Manston

Shelduck have been current at 6
websites with majority of data coming from Port Meadow. The very best rely
additionally got here from this website with 8 right here on two events (14th and 17th)
Between 4 and seven birds have been current for the remainder of the month, seemingly managing
to keep away from the massive disturbances of this effectively used website. Different websites that hosted
birds embrace Witney, Farmoor, Otmoor, Day’s Lock and Sutton
Courtenay. Goosander
bred for a 3rd consecutive yr at a
personal website close to Waterstock with a pair producing a brood of 5 younger,
captured fantastically on a effectively positioned path cam. Different data come from two extra
websites with birds current at Port Meadow early within the month and one other
hen at Pit 60 on the 15th.

Escaped North American Wooden Duck courtesy of Jeff Bishop.

On the plastic entrance, Mandarin
have been at a number of websites this month. Apart from the standard birds at Blenheim
(as much as 3 current all through the month), singles and pair have been reported from
a further 5 websites. A lone feminine Wooden Duck was considerably or a shock
on Farmoor of all locations on the 17th. While two Black Swan
have been current on Port Meadow on the 15th and 16th

Goosander efficiently breed in Oxfordshire for the third yr operating video courtesy of Nick Marriner.

Herons, Egrets and so forth

After our first Cattle Egret in direction of the top of March,
data from the county started to extend slowly all through the month. Apart
from Blenheim the place a peak of seven have been logged on the 26th, 5
extra places logged birds. Most got here from anticipated areas within the west of
the county with Enslow, Brighthampton and Pit 60 all internet hosting
birds from the 9th till the 22nd with a excessive rely of three
at Enslow on the 22nd. Otmoor additionally noticed a single hen
there on the 19th while Port Meadow had a quick arrival of a
lone hen on the 14th. Day’s Lock acquired solely its 2nd
document for the patch, the primary been the very first Oxon hen again in 2008! Nice
White Egret
continued within the traditional areas with as much as 3 completely different birds
current at Pit 60 by the month together with a hen in non-breeding
plumage. A excessive rely of three birds collectively got here from Blenheim on the threerd
with a single hen current up till at the least the 25th. Port
additionally scored a person on two separate events, each being
flyover data on the 23rd and 27th. Freeland additionally
had a single hen flyover on the 19th presumably commuting between Blenheim
and Pit 60.

Crane at Radley courtesy of Nicky Jones

April noticed combined fortunes for Crane data. After
the presence of as much as 5 birds on Otmoor in direction of the again finish of March,
data this month got here from an excellent unfold of web sites throughout the county. A single
hen circling over Appleford GP’s on the 1st of the month (a specific
sore level for myself as I missed it!) was then tracked over a number of websites
presumably on path to Otmoor with a number of reviews over Oxford later
that day. Three birds have been clocked a number of instances over Pit 60, Wytham and
Farmoor from the 15th onward, all three un-ringed and
presumably in quest of appropriate habitat within the west of the county. Somerton
within the north of the county hosted two birds briefly on the floods to the
east of the village on the 13th, while Radley Lakes additionally had
a quick document on the 19th. Bicester Wetlands additionally hosted a
hen on the 30th. The unhappy information, nevertheless,  got here from Otmoor on the 13th
when Maple Glory, a feminine from the unique crane reintroduction mission was
discovered useless close to to a nest containing two eggs, presumably having been the
sufferer of predation. Maple Glory was 11 years previous and had been visiting Otmoor
since 2015, this pioneering feminine can have a spot in Otmoor’s and
Oxfordshire’s historical past books as one half of the primary pair of efficiently
breeding Crane’s in Oxfordshire for over 500 years. A single
chick managed to freely fly off in 2022 after a number of years of close to misses, so
on the very least the UK inhabitants has yet another Crane due to Maple

Pit 60 Cranes courtesy of Steve Burch


Extra unhappy information got here from the Oxon Downs when a Nice
from the Salisbury Plain reintroduction mission was discovered
useless near the Ridgeway. The feminine, ringed Inexperienced 12, was hatched
from a rescued egg (assumed to be from Salisbury Plain) and launched in
2021. It seems she met her unlucky finish by colliding with powerlines, an actual
difficulty for birds of such a big dimension.


The passage of Little Gull is commonly an eagerly anticipated
occasion within the county and this yr the primary arrival of birds got here on the 19th
with 3 at West Oxon Crusing Membership. Dix Pit additionally hosted 3 on the identical day,
probably the identical birds while Farmoor had a flock of 8 as effectively on the
19th. The 20th noticed the biggest motion of birds when a flock
of 13 settled on Port Meadow with a further 3 flying straight
by. Dix Pit additionally topped as much as 4 birds on the 20th with
at the least one hen lingering on till the night of the 23rd. Sonning
Eye GP’s
hosted 4 birds on the 21st while Farmoor had 2
birds remaining additionally on the 21st with a single there till the 23rd.

Port Meadow Little Gull courtesy of Thomas Miller

After the very early document of Sandwich Tern on the
18th March from Port Meadow, the Oxford website scored
one other two birds on the 28th seemingly flying straight by and
not in sticking round. Kittiwake had an excellent run by the county in April
and in a change of tempo from 2022 the place it appeared a number of dropped useless out
of sky, many of the birds recorded appeared in good well being! Grimsbury noticed
the primary arrive on the 1st of the month, with this hen remaining
for a lot of the day. Port Meadow hosted 2 adults on the twond
while Grimsbury hosted a unique grownup hen from yesterday.
additionally hosted an grownup on the 14th which remained till
the 15th which can of being the clue as to what was to come back when
sadly the hen perished. Grimsbury continued its fantastic type for the
species when it hosted its 4th and 5th hen on 6th
and 24th respectively, a tremendous run for such a comparatively small
physique of water and far credit score should go to the small group of devoted stalwarts
of the location.


Farmoor Kittiwake courtesy of Dave Murphy

After the primary document of Arctic Tern on the 31st
(the primary within the UK too), the following document got here from Grimsbury on the twond.
Pit 60 scored 2 birds on the tenth and a single on 17th ,
while Allen Pit additionally had lone hen on the tenth a pleasant patch
tick for the native birder there. Port Meadow noticed birds arrive on the 18th
with a small flock of 5 and one other group of 6 move by the location on the 28th.
Farmoor, the normal website for Arctic Tern passage within the
county, had modest numbers between the 4th and 21st with
a most of 10 current on the 17th. Issues acquired a bit loopy when a
big flock of 170+ (!) was then current on the 23rd and apparently
for many of the afternoon into the early night. Sadly, this was one
of these data that didn’t filter out the remainder of the county for all to take pleasure in
such a spectacle.

Allen Pit Arctic Tern courtesy of Geoff Wyatt

Frequent Tern
continued to extend within the county with
an enormous arrival of birds from the tenth onwards, after preliminary birds reported
at Grimsbury Reservoir on the 1st and a pair ofnd. Thereafter,
at the least 10 websites recorded birds all through the interval with most data
regarding a number of birds. The most important rely got here from Farmoor with 20+
birds on the 29th. Mediterranean Gull have been solely reported from
one website – Port Meadow. Presumably the identical hen was recorded right here on
the 1st and a pair ofnd with a unique 1st summer time
hen there on the 25th. A fairly late document of Caspian Gull was
discovered on Peep-o-day Lane was probably the shock document of the month
given it was practically Might when it was discovered on the 29th. A really
good 1st summer time hen and a shock addition to Thomas and Ben’s Oxon
Massive Day by bike (extra on that later). 

and so forth

Port Meadow flip up a surprising Wooden Warbler on
the 24th when a singing male was situated at Burgess Discipline, a
cracking semi-urban discover for the town and a contender for one of many highlights
of the interval. Its arrival date was bang on the median arrival date for the
species within the county and it remained till the 25th. A 2nd
hen was then situated at Wytham Woods on the 28th and current
in way more appropriate habitat than the primary document, particularly since
traditionally the species has bred within the wooden albeit not because the 1980’s. Current
once more on the 29th and 30th and displaying remarkably effectively at
instances, it was considerably stunning {that a} 2nd particular person was situated
again in Oxford Metropolis later within the day on the 29th. This time singing
alongside the Oxford Canal, in a much more city space and was presumably the
Port Meadow hen relocating. A close to unprecedented 3rd hen
was then discovered singing close to Wittenham Wooden additionally on the 29th.

Wytham Wooden Warbler courtesy of Conor Mackenzie


Wooden Warbler singing courtesy of Simon Bradfield.

Two data of Pied Flycatcher got here on the 23rd,
each males, with one at Grimsbury Reservoir and Ducklington Lake with
the previous staying solely briefly and the latter remaining for a lot of the day
permitting a number of birders to attach. A surprising close to summer time plumage Water
got here from Allen Pit on the twond of the month however
sadly nearly instantly flying off over the Thames in what’s an actual
difficult hen to attach with within the county. Rock Pipit passage was sometimes
slower within the spring than within the autumn with solely two birds recorded this month
from Farmoor additionally on the twond.


Water Pipit on the Allen Pit courtesy of Geoff Wyatt


There was 4 data of Ring Ouzel this month with the
first hen (a feminine) arriving on the 14th at Aston Upthorpe on
the Oxon Downs. Grimsbury additionally recorded a feminine hen on the 23rd,
a pleasant comfort for the disappearing Pied Flycatcher earlier within the
day. Chinnor hosted a single hen later within the month on the 28th
while Aston Upthorpe hosted extra birds on the 29th with a
male and two females. The primary Whinchat arrived together with the primary Ring
and in the identical location with two birds at Aston Upthorpe on
the 14th. An extra 9 websites recording birds all through April with
a excessive rely coming from Otmoor on the 24th with a whopping 7
birds right here. Sometimes Redstart arrived a tad earlier with the primary
arrival on the 4th but additionally coming from Aston Upthorpe with a
single hen current. 15+ websites went on to document this elegant spring migrant
by April with most data regarding single birds, though Grimsbury
repeatedly reported a pair of birds within the latter a part of the month.

Whinchat courtesy of Alan Dawson

Yellow Wagtail continued to pile into the county
after the preliminary document within the latter a part of March. Over 17 websites
recorded hen all through the interval with many places recorded a number of birds,
the very best rely of which got here from Port Meadow on the 25th
when an enormous rely of 26 birds have been current with Letcome Regis coming
a detailed 2nd on the 16th with at the least 22 birds
have been recorded right here. White Wagtail was barely much less unfold by the
county with solely 4 websites recording birds this month, 2 recorded on Grimsbury
and Farmoor on the twond and 13th respectively
have been the one counts of a number of birds.

Yellow Wagtail courtesy of Alan Dawson


The primary Cuckoo was principally bang on time with a
signing male at Balscote Quarry on the 8th. It took one other week
earlier than the following hen was recorded with one at Otmoor on the 15th.
An extra 6 websites went on to document birds in April with 3 at Otmoor the
highest rely. With 20 websites recording people Wheatear was probably the most
widespread of the commoner spring migrants in April. Counts of a number of
birds weren’t unusual with the biggest rely of 15 birds coming from Otmoor
on the 24th however with a number of websites recording 5+ birds often,
principally from the Oxon Downs.  

Cuckoo Otmoor rspb courtesy of Dave South.

first Whitethroat arrived within the county on the threerd with a
single singing hen at Pit 60. This was swiftly adopted by a Lesser
on the 9th at West Hendred, nearly per week earlier
than typical median arrival date. Backyard Warbler arrived practically per week
later with a hen at Otmoor on the 15th. Reed Warbler made
their first incursion into the county from the 7th on Otmoor adopted
rapidly by the primary Grasshopper Warbler additionally on Otmoor on the 8th.
The primary Swift got here from Farmoor, Didcot and Blenheim with
all recording birds on the 20th. A excessive rely of 20+ birds got here from
Farmoor on the 21st of the month.

Otmoor Gropper courtesy of Bryan Manston

Wintering birds lingering included Brambling current
at 5 places from the twond till the 22nd, with probably
probably the most unlikely document coming from Lye Valley on the 17th.
The Port Meadow Siberian Chiffchaff continued on the website till the 6th
at the least, while Fieldfare continued to be reported sporadically with up
to 30 at Thame on the 25th of the month. The close to miss of the
month got here from the Ridgeway when a Hoopoe was reported from between
Sparsholt Firs and Uffington. Regardless of a radical search of the
space it couldn’t be relocated and must be left as one which acquired away.


Osprey have been current at 4 websites this month with at
least 3 birds seen shifting by the county. Bicester Wetlands recorded
one on the 4th , a cracking document for this comparatively new and small
website, while a seemingly completely different birds was at Chinnor on the identical day
seen to be perched on pylons there. Pit 60 briefly hosted a hen on the
6th while Port Meadow was additionally had a quick hen on the 21st
when one flew straight by the location. The primary Passion arrived within the
county on the tenth with a lone hen at Blenheim. Pixey Mead hosted
a single hen the next day with Otmoor recorded a single hen nearly
per week later. Right here a excessive rely of 4 birds was current by 28th of
the month, with an extra 3 websites recording single birds till the latter half
of the month. 

Passion courtesy of Jessica Crumpton


Quick-eared Owl have been reported from 4 websites this month with
new birds and lingering birds current throughout the month. Oxfordshire Golf
hosted a single hen quartering the tough floor there on the twond.
Devils Punchbowl continued to host at the least one hen till the 8th
while probably the identical hen was a bit additional east at Aston Upthorpe on
the 14th. Port Meadow noticed a shock document of a hen flushed
from Burgess area on the 22nd. Otmoor hosted probably the most
recurrently occurring hen with one current sporadically from the 4th till
at the least the 29th. Merlin additionally continued this month with 1 Fyfield
on the 1st, one other hen at Lark Hill on the 4th
and Aston Upthorpe internet hosting a hen on the 14th.

Patchwork problem

With the arrival of spring correct
the patchwork problem patches have been ticking away properly. Throughout the community
of Oxon patches there have been some nice native finds, some close to misses and even
a county mega making an look on one fortunate patch. All patches seem effectively
on their option to their goal factors for the yr, with just a few even already above
their preliminary goal it goes to indicate the hassle people are placing into their native

The perfect discover of the month has to
be the Lesser Scaup over at Dix Pit on a quick jaunt from Farmoor
and seemingly pulled there by its curiosity in a feminine Tufted Duck. Price
a whopping 12 factors because it acquired a bonus 8 factors for being a self-found
hen, its positively a contender for discover of the yr for the Oxon mini-league.
That being mentioned loads of good birds have been discovered throughout the community of patches. Blenheim
noticed Osprey and Cattle Egret this month while Grimsbury recorded
its 5th (!) Kittiwake of the yr together with a flurry of very
respectable migrants together with Frequent Scoter, Pied Flycatcher and a Ring
The most efficient patch appears to be a neck and neck race between Dix
and the River Thames patches with each producing some beautiful
native finds, together with the aforementioned Lesser Scaup but additionally Water
and Wooden Warbler. The purpose stays that native birding can
show to be an amazingly rewarding expertise so long as you’re keen to place
the hour in. Will Might show to be as productive? One can solely hope!





Goal factors

Proportion of goal


Aston eyot

Ben Sheldon












Cattle Egret

Dix pit






Med Gull;
Better Scaup, Lesser Scaup (SF), Black-necked Grebe, Frequent Scoter, Little

Grimsbury reservoir






Apr – one other
2 Kittiwake (patch has had 3 in Apr and 4 this yr), Frequent Scoter,

Lye valley

Tom Bedford






River Thames

Geoff Wyatt





Artic Tern –
Patch tick. Cattle Egret 2nd on the patch, the first document in 2008 was a 1st
for Oxon. Wooden Warbler

Sutton Courtenay






Bar-tailed Godwit patch and county tick. 
Garganey. 1st summer time Caspian Gull.

East challow

Mark Merritt







Oxfordshire Low Carbon Massive Day: 29 April 2023

In 2022, I (BCS) loved the problem of a “Massive Yr” record, restricted to throughout the ring highway of Oxford, and utilizing solely strolling or biking to get round. I used to be intrigued when Thomas Miller (TEM) – a eager bicycle owner in addition to ace Oxford birder – advised the problem of an all county “Massive Day” primarily based on the identical rules. With just a few different eager biking birders unavailable on the important thing weekend on the finish of April it was left to Thomas and I to type a workforce of two, and plan the day. We have been just a little uncertain what the optimum technique was: with a motorbike we have been constrained to begin and end in Oxford (which is after all surrounded by wonderful birding websites), however what would an excellent whole be, and the way greatest to get it?  A little bit little bit of analysis, and studying accounts of earlier Massive Days, advised that one of the simplest ways to see a excessive quantity species was to maximise the possibility of seeing the ‘wild-card’ migrant species of waders, gulls & terns that principally happen at water our bodies, so we designed a route of round 100 miles taking in lots of of those. Not less than it could principally be flat! What would an excellent whole be? The naked minimal needed to be the spherical 100 that Isaac West and Pete Alfrey had set for a day on foot round Otmoor (on an excellent wader passage day) in April 2021, or the 101 that Tom Wickens had seen in a outstanding 47 miles on foot just a few years again. We knew the county all-time document of 115 was certainly out of attain, however a complete of someplace round 105 felt like a fairly good goal to intention at.

We met at The Plain at 0440 and cycled to the Noke finish of Otmoor for daybreak – maybe a wasted go to as mist thickened rapidly into fog – and whereas we loved the daybreak sounds of Otmoor with Crane, Cuckoo, Bittern, Water Rail, Grasshopper Warbler and Lesser Whitethroat amongst many others, we recorded nothing very uncommon and certainly no species right here which we didn’t see elsewhere, or within the night once we returned to Otmoor. Fog was too thick to allow scanning Massive Otmoor the place we might hoped to choose up a migrant wader or two. We left at 0640 with 65 species, and cycled to Blenheim through Islip selecting up varied species alongside the best way, together with the day’s solely Jay and the day’s solely Yellow Wagtail flying over the highway simply earlier than Woodstock. Heading into Blenheim produced the hoped-for Cattle Egrets on the colony, a singing Mistle Thrush and two pairs of Shelduck. Then on to Port Meadow by 0810 in more and more heat and sunny climate, the place we rapidly noticed the day’s solely Swifts, Home Martins and Frequent Gull, the lingering feminine Wigeon and the primary Backyard Warbler. With 3 Dunlin the one migrant waders right here, we left the location on 81 species for the day – about the place we might hoped to be by that stage. A cease at Bean Wooden on the best way to Farmoor was initially somewhat quiet, however finally turned up Goldcrest, Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Marsh Tit, a satisfying set of woodland species, although Bullfinch was a miss right here. Farmoor was flat calm and sunny – nearly nice! – however had only a few birds. A lap round F1 produced solely Buzzard and Frequent Sandpiper new for the day (each of which we’d see elsewhere afterward), and looking back we spent a bit too lengthy right here, leaving at 1125 on 87 species. A deliberate incursion to Wytham to see the singing Wooden Warbler was then aborted attributable to an enormous herd of cows (plus bull!) utterly blocking the gate at Swinford. Spirits weren’t very excessive at this level, as we cycled on to Dix Pit: we’d carried out nearly OK when it comes to species, however there hadn’t been any of these highlights that assist make a day. A fast cease at Dix yielded the hoped-for Pink-crested Pochard (a pair – #88), after which on to Pit 60 at Standlake, selecting up Lengthy-tailed Tit (#89) calling from a hedgerow alongside the best way.

Numerous species have been doable at Pit 60, most notably Purple Heron which had been reported earlier within the day. Sadly neither of us had introduced a key to the hides, however fortunately we met a birder, strolling again from the hides who had one. After a dialogue, we agreed that we’d borrow his key, cycle to unlock the cover, after which BCS would return it to the ready recipient. A fairly furry cycle to the cover on a muddy monitor with ill-equipped highway bikes ensued, with BCS leaving TEM on the cover, racing again alongside the monitor, after which returning 10 minutes later to listen to that the Purple Heron (#90) had simply flown between two reed patches, a sighting made all of the extra galling by the actual fact it could have been a county tick for him, and the cover had been unlocked anyway! We waited 45 minutes or so right here, seeing 2 Nice White Egrets and the primary Passion (#91) and Kingfisher (#92) of the day. The latter is a notoriously exhausting species to see on nowadays so felt like an excellent omen, regardless of the stinging feeling of the missed heron that BCS couldn’t shake. In fact on a ‘Massive Day’ all species are equal, however it was just a little exhausting to tear ourselves away.

Peep-o-Day Lane Garganey courtesy of Conor Mackenzie.

From Pit 60 we headed to Abingdon, a longish stretch of 17km of quick biking, averaging over 30 km/h with TEM doing an amazing job of pushing the tempo, as BCS was wilting a bit. After a refuelling cease in Abingdon, we headed down Peep-o-Day lane. The hoped for Little Ringed Plover (#93) was supplemented by the primary sure Sand Martins (#94) of the day and a splendid bonus, basic TEM discover, of a first-summer Caspian Gull (#95) loafing on one of many pits. Some very helpful native gen from Conor Mackenzie led to a fast take a look at flooded fields west of the top of Peep-o-Day Lane, the place BCS discovered the 2 drake Garganey (#96) hiding in emergent vegetation and tentatively known as Inexperienced Sandpiper on a partial name, confirmed a second later when it known as once more a number of instances (#97). Spirits a lot restored, we headed rapidly on to Appleford, the place TEM discovered a Gray Wagtail (#98) a species we had began to fret about, after which BCS situated the long-staying feminine Ring-necked Duck (#99), each on the Riverside Pit. An “on second ideas” take a look at the opposite pits right here was rewarded with the a hundredth species for the day at 1535 when TEM discovered a first-summer Yellow-legged Gull (#100), which BCS couldn’t see in any respect, however then redeemed himself by discovering a spanking grownup flying round within the gull flock. An extra bonus was a distant however clear Greenshank which known as a number of instances whereas remaining out of sight in the back of the pits (#101).

With a collection of ‘additional’ species, and the century achieved, we left Appleford in good spirits, additional improved by a meals cease at Didcot Tesco (biking makes you hungry!), and headed to the South Oxfordshire downs in lovely climate. A Kestrel (#102) was picked up by BCS, however had gone by the point TEM had stopped and turned spherical. The steep climb as much as the downs was accompanied by the primary of many Corn Buntings (#103), and having left our bikes at round 1650, we rapidly noticed Pink-legged Partridge (#104) and heard, then noticed, Stone-curlew (#105) up on the big extent of downs on this space. Strolling additional on, in what was by now a good looking heat early night, we have been delighted to come back throughout a pair of Meadow Pipits (#106) rapidly adopted by Stonechat (#107) after which on the return a Wheatear (#108) bounding by the juniper bushes. This was all going higher than we might hoped: the one species we might thought we would probably see up right here however hadn’t have been Gray Partridge and Ring Ouzel, so we set off again to Oxford at 1815 in positively buoyant moods.

The longest stretch of the day (as soon as once more TEM doing epic work on the entrance) then adopted, with 26km again by Appleford and Abingdon until a drink cease in Kennington. Then on by Oxford with a really fast cease at 1930 to choose up Ring-necked Parakeet (#109) at Marston Meadows – one distinctive harsh squawk sufficient to substantiate this species. The final journey over to Otmoor, arriving at 2000, mixed the steep hill at Elsfield – a battle with greater than 80 miles and 15 hours’ birding within the legs already – adopted by catastrophe for BCS as he punctured each back and front wheels simply earlier than the doorway to the RSPB automobile park. There was solely just a little gentle left, and no time to waste fixing punctures, so the bike was left behind as we headed onto the primary bridleway at Otmoor on a beautiful calm spring night. Right here, a number of drumming Snipe grew to become species #110, reaching a threshold that we might determined would mark a very profitable day. TEM clawed again Kestrel quickly afterwards, although we have been gripped to study from assembled birders that we might missed Quick-eared Owl by a matter of minutes. Onwards with gentle failing, we managed to discover a single Barnacle Goose (#111) hiding behind its Canada Goose associate out on Massive Otmoor, and have been then delighted to listen to a single trill from a Little Grebe (#112) on the first display. From there it was a protracted, however pretty leisurely stroll again to the primary Bridleway the place at about 2055 the lingering Noticed Crake (#113) started singing as the sunshine actually went – a very becoming species to finish the workforce’s day, and an Oxon tick for TEM in addition. Hopes of Tawny Owl on the best way again to the carpark got here to nothing, and with no gentle and loads of amassed weariness, BCS couldn’t face wrestling with fixing flat tyres and accepted a carry residence. TEM cycled residence and picked up Tawny Owl in Elsfield – a outstanding 114th species for him personally on the day.

On the finish, in the dead of night at Otmoor, listening to the Noticed Crake

Reflecting on the day, we have been blessed with excellent biking climate: heat, sunny, and nearly no wind, other than a light-weight tailwind again from the downs within the night. In fact, such days do not take advantage of promising situations for dropping migrant birds on Oxfordshire, and we actually recorded only a few non-breeding migrants: maybe simply Greenshank, Frequent Sandpiper, Dunlin and Wheatear. As ever, there have been ‘simple’ species that we missed: Bullfinch, Raven and Sparrowhawk stand out, however maybe most surprisingly not a single owl species as a workforce. However we noticed an excellent vary of ‘difficult’ resident species, and a number of other bonus species at Sutton Courtenay and Appleford. Our route additionally arguably wasted a while within the first half of the day. All of this implies that, if the situations have been excellent, and with a bit extra preparation, a complete of 120 species may be doable utilizing solely human-powered transport. It is also fascinating to invest which mode – by automobile or by bike – may yield the very best whole. Biking constrains the vary – it is exhausting to justify a detour of 20km to see a single species – however it additionally affords the chance to choose up species by name whereas travelling. Our solely Jay and Yellow Wagtail have been picked up this manner, for instance. In fact, in the long run the numbers do not actually matter, and it also needs to be enjoyable, and this actually was. We had nice help and enthusiasm from different native birders, labored effectively as a workforce, and ended the day on an actual excessive level with a ‘whipping’ Noticed Crake because the cherry on a really satisfying cake.

Occasions in Might.

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