Sunday, 13 September 2015

Banburyshire: autumn on the march

Last weekend  it seemed the swallows were ready to leave, but in fact many are still here, especially one family with the adults still busy feeding fledged young.

A mid week evening visit to Bicester Wetland Reserve was partly motivated by a faint hope of finding a spotted crake, or at least a water rail.  In the event, no rails or crakes were about, but a small influx of snipe was perhaps the highlight, all thirteen busy feeding in the gloopy mud.  One of the cows got a little bit enthusiastic and romped through the wetland with a big splash and ended up with a good coating of mud on its belly.
amphibious ungulate
Towards dusk things quietened down a bit, then a Sparrowhawk landed on the railings right in front of the hide!  I cranked up the ISO setting to capture the moment.
Today I spent an enjoyable couple of hours wandering slowly around Tadmarton Heath looking for migrants.  Meadow pipits, siskins and swallows were migrating overhead in small numbers.  In the scrub and hedgerows there were good numbers of blackcaps, chiffchaffs and whitethoats and three lesser whitethroats. A redstart posed well atop some brambles for a few moments then disappeared into the tall hedgerow adjoining the golf course.  The autumnal hues are starting to glow from the hedgerows - scarlet rose hips ripening and the rich purple of elderberries.
One bit of local conservation news is the adoption by Butterfly Conservation of a one mile section of the Oxford Canal near Fenny Compton to the north of Wormleighton Reservoir.  This is also a great area for birds that like scrub and woodland, including both willow and marsh tits.  It will be interesting to see how their management improves the area.  The Canal and River Trust are encouraging more groups to take on this type of initiative, something to consider for other stretches of canal.

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