Sunday, 7 February 2016

Upper Cherwell Valley: gulls on the floods

Heavy rain throughout Saturday had created some shallow flooding in the Upper Cherwell Valley by Sunday morning.  These floods rarely last long as the fields are mostly well drained and as soon as the river level drops, the floods receded quickly.  But for a day or two the landscape is transformed and becomes more attractive to birds.  So on Sunday morning I took a quick trip down to see what was about.
A good number of gulls were loafing around the main area of flooding, with six mute swans and about thirty five so Canada geese.  Scanning through the gulls, most were black--headed and common, a couple of herring and lesser black-backs and in the middle, towering over the others, an adult great black-backed gull.  Our largest gull is actually quite a rare sighting in the Banbury area and this was a first for me on the local patch.  The gulls were not really settled, and after about ten minutes the great black-backed flew off.
Upper Cherwell flood with gulls - adult great black-back gull near centre
Driving back to Upper Wardington it was pleasing to see the large flock of fieldfares still present in their favoured pasture fields and finding plenty of earthworms.  I was able to enjoy some lovely views through the telescope, really smart birds these.  About five hundred still in this group.

If you are interested in the flooding regime it is well worth checking out the Environment Agency's river level monitoring website, there's a monitoring point at Cropredy Bridge which is the one most relevant for the Upper Cherwell.

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