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Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Grimsbury Reservoir: Black-tailed Godwit drops in

Birding in and around Banbury has started to get more interesting with the onset of autumn migration, especially the arrival of good numbers of gulls and a "trickling" of waders through our area en route to more southerly coastlines.  Yesterday evening I was very pleasantly surprised to find an adult Black-tailed Godwit wading along the concrete shoreline of Grimsbury Reservoir.  This looked to be an bird of the Icelandic race - shorter bill and legs than the race that breeds across continental Europe.  This bird could be close to it's wintering home - many Icelandic birds spend the winter along the south coast of England.

Black-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwit
In the past week or so both an adult and a juvenile Mediterranean Gulls have visited the reservoir - I was lucky enough to connect with the adult in the early evening as it joined in a large pre-roost gathering of gulls on the roof of the water treatment works.
Mediterranean Gull (centre facing right)

Mediterranean Gull (centre facing right)

Rarely do I see a new bird species for the "garden list" these days, so it was very exciting to draw open the curtains this morning to find a female Common Redstart flitting about around the bottom of our plum tree.  I managed to get a record shot before it moved up the garden path, flicking it tail all the way, then disappearing into our neighbour's garden.
early morning Redstart

Swallows have been gathering on the wires in Upper Wardington for the past few days - 47 this morning the highest count so far.  A sure sign that summer is about to give way to autumn.

Finally, some nice shots of birds seen early morning on Monday as I was walking around the reservoir .
Wren (juvenile)

Garden Warbler

Monday, 1 August 2016

Otmoor: last day of July

So much for July being a quiet month for birding, at least not at Otmoor just at the moment.  Sunday morning was a perfect opportunity to see Otmoor at its best - lots of birds, butterflies and flowers.  A very sociable place to be too, with lots of people sharing of knowledge and experiences.  Many highlights, not least the wonderful juvenile Cuckoo with it attentive Reed Warbler parents and equally attentive stream of photographers!
juvenile Cuckoo and Reed Warbler parent

Grass Snake on the pump house wall
Bitterns were much in evidence making flights across the reedbed and the pair of cranes were striding around on Big Otmoor.  A Marsh Harrier drifted across, then a Hobby dashed more energetically across the sky.  A Turtle Dove was still purring from the tall hedge along the bridleway.

Along the Roman Road (adjacent to the car park), butterflies were the main course, with elusive Brown Hairstreaks on the wing (I missed them) but lots of Peacocks and Commas amongst others.

Next year it will be twenty years since the first land was purchased to start off the RSPB reserve, what a transformation since.....

This morning it seems that summer has started to recede already: no swifts calling in the skies above Banbury.

Sunday, 24 July 2016

Tadmarton Heath: two pairs of ears

two young Roe Deer sat in the grass at Tadmarton Heath
I've grabbed a few opportunities to get out in the field in the past few days, checking out a few off-the -beaten track sites.  I have "bumped into" a lot of Roe Deer on my travels, most memorable were these two youngsters sat in the long grass at Tadmarton Heath BOS nature reserve. Eventually my presence spooked them and the hidden doe Roe Deer led them off down the hillside.
Four spotted Chaser, ponds near Helmdon, Northamptonshire
Sharp-leaved Fluellen, arable fields near Otmoor (a tiny flower)
Sharp-leaved Fluellen, arable fields near Otmoor (a tiny flower)
Sneezewort, Asham Meads, Otmoor
Marbled White butterfly nectaring on Devils-bit Scabious, Asham Meads

Sunday, 17 July 2016

Beautiful and Banded demoiselle damselflies

Male Beautiful Demoiselle, Mid Cherwell Valley
Banded Demoiselle - male displaying his wings and "tail light" Upper Cherwell Valley
Pair of Beautiful Demoiselles, female on the right, Mid Cherwell Valley
Male Banded Demoiselle, near Wendlebury
The first warm summer weather of the year has inspired me to post a few photos of our two gorgeous Calopteryx damselflies, currently on the wing along our rivers.  These images were taken over the past six weeks in various locations in the local area.

The River Cherwell supports healthy populations of both species, and in some places they occur together. The Banded Demoiselle C. splendens is much the commoner and often occurs in quite large numbers.  The Beautiful Demoiselle C. virgo, in my experience, tends to prefer the Middle and Upper Cherwell and is most common in the upper reaches.

Although July is traditionally a quiet month for birding, there are lots of young birds around andt is a good time to catch up with the juveniles.  As they are learning the ropes they can be quite confiding - like this Green Woodpecker at Bicester Wetland Reserve this morning - one of two feeding on the mown verge beside the entrance road.
Green Woodpecker - juvenile