Wednesday, 3 September 2014

Hanwell Fields - scrubby grassland on edge of town with lesser whitethroats

Hanwell Fields is a recent housing development on the north edge of Banbury.  On its northern flank is an area that has been allowed to "re-wild" into rough grassland with scattered scrub and some nicely overgrown hedgerows.  It is a popular dog walking site, but also attractive to birds and other wildlife.  And at the top of the hill you get great views across Banbury and the Cherwell Valley.

Yesterday I made my first proper visit, partly to see how some of the new housing proposed for Banbury will impact this area.  At the moment the scrubby hillside is not allocated for houses, so there is a glimmer of hope it could be protected as a local greenspace/nature site.  There will be new housing either side and ecologist consultants are already out looking for signs of reptiles and amphibians as part of their environmental assessment.

Highlight for me were a couple of lesser whitethroats, my first for a while.  There were also numbers of yellowhammers, plus a few reed buntings, whitethroats and bullfinches. A flock of about twenty meadow pipits flew over, on their migration south - my first of the autumn but we should expect quite a few more over coming weeks - there are an awful lot of them in our uplands! At the bottom of the slope it is quite marshy and a small reedbed has established, now home to a few reed warblers - including adults feeding newly fledged chicks.

This morning I returned to Grimsbury Reservoir and an otherwise quite walk birdwise was very much improved by a group of three wheatears, especially when two hopped onto the fenceline a posed for my camera.
two wheatears (one very blurry)
Tadmarton Heath, quinoa is the brightly coloured "crop"
In the evening I returned to Tadmarton Heath where marsh tits were much in evidence - two juveniles and at least one adult.  The wild bird crop is ripening nicely, the quinoa adding a splash of vibrant colour.  A flock of fifty swallows flew over heading south.  House martins are still flying around the golf club house.

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