Thursday, 27 July 2017

Bicester Wetland Reserve: Mediterrannean Gull + Oxford Swift Tower: voting underway!

Last Sunday evening I made a trip down the M40 to spend a couple of hours watching Green Sandpipers and seeing what else was about at the Bicester Wetland Reserve.  It was nice to have the place to myself and I spent quite a bit of time watching and sketching a couple of the sandpipers from the first raised hide.  I decided to save my flask of tea for the new hide the overlooks Cattle Bridge Pool.  I settled into the new hide, poured a cuppa and started looking at the birds on the pool - then suddenly realised one of the small group of Black-headed Gulls was distinctly different - a juvenile Mediterranean Gull.  It was busy feeding with the other gulls, constantly on the move, occasionally stopping to preen and take a short flight.  They are still pretty scarce birds in our area, although their UK breeding population is increasing quite rapidly and breeding has now been recorded in Northamptonshire.  Turned out this was the first record for the reserve and a nice addition to the steadily growing list.
Juvenile Mediterranean Gull
with adult Black-headed Gull
Juvenile Mediterranean Gull
Oxford Swift City - please have a look at the three original designs shortlisted and place your vote:

This male linnet looked tiny perched on one of the benches at Grimsbury Reservoir last Saturday!
Finally, this is a nature blog and should cover much more than birds.  I couldn't help stop and admire the fine display of  "Chicken of the woods" beside the path through Grimsbury Woodland reserve at the weekend, an amazing bright orange and yellow.
Chicken of the woods - Laetiporus sulphureus

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Cattle Egrets breeding on two RSPB reserves this year

Remember those Cattle Egrets that were discovered near Caulcott during the BOS short day count back in January?  They were part of a significant influx that culminated in the second and third records of successful breeding in England.  The first to be "made public", back in May, were a pair at RSPB Burton Mere Wetland.  
Two of the Banburyshire Cattle Egrets, January 2017

Now, it has also been reported that five pairs have also bred at Ham Wall RSPB reserve in Somerset, raising at least nine young.  With a small colony rapidly established - at a site with several other heron species - maybe they can become a more permanent fixture as a UK breeding bird.  If they do, it may be just a matter of time before they spread northwards and start breeding somewhere in our area.

Cattle Egrets have a very wide distribution around the world and can provide a great spectacle, for example when they gather in large flocks before roosting in a favoured clump of trees:
Cattle Egrets  - Daintree River, Queensland, August 2016