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Friday, March 31, 2023

Oxon Birding Weblog: February evaluate 2023


Lighter mornings and later evenings sign the unstoppable
march in the direction of spring. Ideas now flip to the welcome return of our summer time
migrant species, in addition to a number of the extra scarcer birds that will move by way of
the county that may make native birding so rewarding. Swallow, sand and home
martin have already been logged at a couple of areas within the nation this final
week and it shouldn’t be too lengthy till the primary ones break into Oxon airspace.
Sometimes the primary pioneering sand martin is picked up someday after the tenth
earlier than the principle seal of migration is damaged, though one did flip up on the threerd
as lately as 2021. February although, remains to be all about wildfowl and the winter
chicken assemblage.

The county yr record now stands at 137 species with an extra
two sub-species or non BOU species additionally noticed in 2023, with solely 8 species
added all through February. The spotlight this month is kind of simple given its
rarity and is similar species that was featured within the final evaluate interval – a refound
and returning (extra on that later) American wigeon that fortunately hung
round lengthy sufficient for multiple observer to see it. 

Video seize courtesy of Badger


With the final twitchable chicken coming nicely over a decade in the past
it was somewhat merciless that the subsequent accessible chicken was noticed by a single
birder one night in January at Port Meadow. Having not been relocated
the next day, regardless of many boots on the bottom, it felt like one other lengthy
wait could also be to ensure that the subsequent broadly out there chicken to show up. Fortunately
after over a month for the reason that final sighting the American wigeon was
expertly picked out of the approx. 5k wigeon on Otmoor throughout their WEBS
depend on the 20th. Though the chicken was distant and remained so, it
fortunately remained all through the day, permitting most of the counties birders
to meet up with this Nearctic cousin of our personal wigeon. As of writing
the chicken continues to stay distant however trustworthy to a selected nook of Otmoor
nicely utilized by wildfowl from the bridleway working from Oddington.

After some hypothesis and a fast search of birdguides, it appears
doubtless that this is similar lengthy staying person who has spent a lot of the
winter on the Somerset Ranges at Shapwick heath NNR. Having not been
reported the day of the Port Meadow file, it was seemingly again down
in Somerset two days later the place it remained for a month earlier than returning
to the county simply up the street at Otmoor from its unique website in Oxford.
It appears fairly exceptional that this similar particular person determined to return to the
county after initially bunking off again right down to Somerset and goes some
technique to displaying how a lot birds can transfer about through the winter interval.  Given the size of its keep over on the
ranges one can solely hope that it stays inside the county for the same size
of time and probably comes a bit nearer for commentary. 

American Wigeon courtesy of Badger


A traditional signal of winter on its approach out and the onset of
spring is the return of our breeding waders, that all the time appear to come back considerably
as a shock after discovering one on an in any other case typical patch go to. Oystercatcher
returned to their territories throughout the county with the primary file coming
from Sutton Courtenay on the threerd with birds then recorded
from at the least 5 areas over the subsequent few days. Mates seemingly caught up a number of
days later with pairs recorded at many of the similar areas, having presumably
spent the winter on separate stretches of coast someplace within the UK. Curlew have been
additionally famous later within the month throughout a number of websites inside the county with Port
and Otmoor producing a number of information by way of the latter half
of the month.

A lone avocet on Otmoor on the 13th
was a notable early file for the county with most likely the identical chicken then noticed
on Port Meadow later that day roosting with surprisingly inconspicuously
with the gull flock current there. Port Meadow produced a lot of the
wader curiosity this month with a pair of Black-tailed godwit right here on the
9th of the month. Dunlin was recorded right here a number of instances
between the 19th – 24th with two birds right here on the 21st,
while Otmoor additionally had a single chicken on the 20th. Returning
or passage redshank have been additionally current on the meadow all through
the month with as much as two birds between the 4th and 24th.

Port Meadow Avocet courtesy of Matthew Lloyd


Jack snipe solely got here from one website this month with a
depend of three, presumably flushed throughout a WEBS depend at Waterstock on
the 13th. Inexperienced sandpiper information got here from 5 websites this
month with a excessive depend of 4 coming from Bicester wetlands on the twond
and 25th. Single birds got here from Sutton Courtenay, Ardley ERF,
Balscote Quarry
and North Cross Valley. Woodcock have been recorded
from much less websites this month than within the earlier evaluate interval with a excessive depend
of 4 at Piddington on the 8th. Single birds got here one other 3
websites all both flushed or seen shifting round at nightfall. 


Wildfowl made up nearly all of attention-grabbing information this
month, together with clearly our spotlight of the evaluate interval. Other than the American
 36 pink-footed goose over
Wooton on the 8th is a implausible file for the county.
Sadly these birds have been simply flyovers with none, probably justifiably, deciding
to cease over within the county. Lengthy staying birds remained all through February together with
all three ring-necked duck remaining in-situ at their favoured areas
Appleford and the Standlake space, while the feminine scaup continued
at Farmoor. The marginally newer drake scaup continued to be
current at Henley street GP’s between the 1st – 19th
of the month and two birds have been current right here on the 28th

Farmoor Scaup courtesy of Bryan Manston


A white-fronted goose was current at Pit 60 between
the 23rd and 26th of the month, though presumably the
credentials of the person are probably considerably doubtful given the feral
birds that additionally frequent the county, though 2 birds the place right here on the 28th
additionally. Shelduck have been recorded from two websites – Grimsbury reservoir and
Port Meadow. Between 6 and 12 birds frequented Port Meadow throughout
February while the one different file at Grimsbury was a single
chicken on the twond.

Goosander got here from 6 websites with nearly all information relating
to a number of birds. The very best depend got here from Pit 60 when a whopping 29
have been noticed on the 11th. Pit 60 additionally recorded this month’s highest depend of goldeneye with 11 right here on
the 4th with an additional 2 websites internet hosting single digit counts.
A pair of mandarin got here from Sonning Eye GP’s on the 24th
while a pleasant depend of 200
was a notable commentary from Otmoor. 

egrets and so on

Nice white egret continued to be the principle species of
curiosity this month with birds recorded in any respect the everyday areas with a most
depend of three birds at anybody time. With at the least 6 areas recording at the least
one chicken, the unfold throughout the county appears to be decrease than in earlier months
even when most counts stay related. Each Blenheim and Pit 60 recorded
3 birds at one time inside February, while different areas solely recorded
single birds for transient intervals.

Crane made their welcome return to the county when
two have been clocked over Cutteslowe Park on the threerd earlier than
dropping into their summer time residence at Otmoor. The pair plus an added 2nd
yr chicken have been then logged on the 6th, a welcome return of the Oxfordshire’s
first totally fledged crane chick for some 500 years having spent hopefully the
first of many winters on the degrees. A 2nd pair turned up on the 9th
with 5 birds ranging over the reserve till at the least the 20th. The
pair and the twond yr chicken have been later recorded at Chimney Meadows
on the 24th.

Courtesy of Caroline Rhymes Walker

Bittern sometimes solely get a point out when they’re
logged exterior of the house reserve of Otmoor. Two information made the lower
this month with a chicken recorded on the flying over Tar Lakes at nightfall on
the 4th and one other chicken recorded within the south of the county at Sonning
Eye GP’s


Caspian gull information picked up barely this month
with many of the curiosity coming from Port Meadow. Not less than 5
people have been recorded over the course of the month encompassing nearly the
full vary of ages – at the least two 1st winters, one 2nd
winter, one 3rd winter and an grownup. Appleford additionally recorded two
birds with an grownup on the threerd and threerd winter on the 7th.
Days Lock additionally bought in on the motion with chicken current on the 8th.

Above and under, 1w Caspian Gulls on Port Meadow courtesy of Thomas Miller


The one different gull curiosity got here within the type of Mediterranean
information. Blenheim continued to file two people on
a number of events – 2nd, 8th and 13th. Thrupp
hosted an grownup on the 17th while Port Meadow additionally
hosted a chicken the next day on the 18th


Blenheim Mediterranean Gull courtesy of Gareth Cashburn


Siberian chiffchaff have been famous from two areas
this month. The lengthy wintering particular person was nonetheless current at Abingdon STW on
and off between 11th and the 26th, calling sometimes however
in any other case a silent chicken. Port Meadow additionally hosted a chicken on the 4th,
seemingly displaying an entire lot higher than the Abingdon chicken with some gorgeous
photographs taken. As such, this proved to be a preferred chicken and due to the extra
consideration a 2nd chicken was unearthed on the 12th with each
current till at the least the 19th. The unique chicken was then famous once more
on the 26th.

Abingdon Siberian Chiffy courtesy of Andy Final


.. and one of many Port Meadow birds, courtesy of Ben Sheldon

Presumably the preferred birds of the month went to the hawfinch
over at Nice Tew, which skilled a mini native invasion over the
course of February. Initially 4 birds have been discovered on the 4th
in St Michaels Church, this quantity continued to extend over the course of the
subsequent few days till a max depend of 23 birds was reached on the 28th.
Flighty and never all the time simple to maintain monitor of the numbers of birds fluctuated all through
the month with anyplace between 1 and 23 birds seen on any given day and continued
till the tip of the month.

Tew Hawfinches above and under, courtesy of Luke Marriner…


…and Nick truby

And probably probably the most shocking chicken of the month goes to
the file of a willow tit inside Oxford. Given the standing of
this species within the county, with the final straggling breeders at Grimsbury now
gone since 2018 it appears doubtless this might find yourself being one of many final information
of this species inside the county.


Two information of hen harrier have been recorded this month with at
least one ringtail up on the downs and one other ringtail additionally coming from Otmoor.
Crowhole backside
hosted its chicken on and off from the 1st till at
least the 13th, while the Otmoor chicken was reported on two
events on the 12th and 16th of the month. Quick-eared
additionally got here from the downs with 2 birds at Devils Punchbowl on the
10th and once more till the 13th.

Merlin got here from 4 areas with birds at Devils
(13/02), Otmoor (13/02), Woodstock (22/02) and Days

Patchwork problem

It’s protected to say that the majority of us
PWC23 birders have exhausted a lot of the seasonal potential of our patches over
the course of the final two months, with each chicken new for the yr it may be
fairly addictive getting out on the patch day after day choosing up new species.
With February solely including 8 species to the entire county yr record, it
has been a lot slower going this month than the preliminary pleasure of January.
That being mentioned there’s nonetheless motion occurring and a few particular person patch
gold to be discovered.

The primary returning oystercatcher
brightened up my patch at Sutton Courtenay early within the month,
particularly in order this chicken was individually recognisable to me with its distinctive curlew
esque invoice and having bred within the space for a number of years. A number of patches managed
to choose up a number of the extra scarcer wintering species this month together with Caspian
and merlin with the River Thames patch internet hosting each! Though
many of the patches if not all incorporate some kind of waterbody, a vital
prerequisite to any high quality inland birding, we even have a very good unfold of
habitats and areas throughout the county.

Most patches are nicely over the
midway mark for his or her goal factors with some even fairly near reaching their
preliminary goal factors already at this early stage. With spring totally on route
ideas will now flip to the return of the frequent summer time migrants with the
chance of the odd rarity within the combine too. Though none of those patches have
a lot recognition or clout exterior of the county borders, a few of them have produced
some high quality Oxon and even nationwide rarities over time. Who can overlook the
Bonaparte’s gull at Blenheim again in 2019? The county first Pallas’s
final yr was inside my very own patch and traditionally has produced,
fairly unbelievably, marsh sandpiper approach again in 2007! While extra
lately the Day’s Lock space hosted the favored ferruginous duck final
yr as did Grimsbury Reservoir, which additionally appears to be the go to identify
for a county wooden warbler with a number of birds there lately. Both
approach with spring on the horizon the motivation to get out and located some native
gold is nicely and actually again!





Goal factors

Proportion of goal


Aston eyot

Ben Sheldon













Dix pit







Grimsbury reservoir







Lye valley

Tom Bedford






River Thames

Geoff Wyatt






Sutton Courtenay






chiffchaff/Ring necked duck/Pintail

East challow

Mark Merritt






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