An extract from my birding diary, about a particularly exciting visit to my local patch in Oxford - Port Meadow - on 23rd May:
With an hour or so to kill, and since I was up at St Hughe's anyway, I decided to visit Port Meadow this evening. On arrival, it seemed that there wasn't that much of note: the Little Egret was still present with a Grey Heron, and a Common Tern flew along the river. However, as I was watching a few Gadwall, which were beginning to go into eclipse moult, the drake Garganey appeared! On the grass nearby were the two leucistic Egyptian Geese - the first time I had seen them. Not long after this, I spotted some movement on the far side, which turned out to be a Ringed Plover - not a bad bird for the meadow. I didn't think it had been there the whole time as I had scanned that bank already, so decided to check it again. A flash of yellow caught my attention: a Yellow Wagtail. It was quite mobile, and as I watched it move along I became aware of movement on the edge of the grass. Two small brown waders revealed themselves, and I instantly felt they could be something good. They had the general appearance of Common Sandpipers, but were behaving more skulkingly, without bobbing as Common Sandpipers often do. There was no hint of a white spur, and I was fairly sure they were smaller, though it was difficult to judge from that distance. I packed up my kit in a rush and biked over in order to get better views, which did nothing to help the effects of sunstroke I was beginning to feel! However, when I reached a reasonable distance to view from, they were nowhere to be seen. Frantically, I biked back, and thankfully there they were, in the same general area. Taking careful note of their position, I repeated the exercise and this time managed to locate them. I now I realised there were 3 birds. The light was against me, but I could just make out a complete breast band and some scaling on the mantle and scapulars. I was now pretty certain I'd found three Temminck's Stints, and felt confident enough to alert Adam Hartley, who watches Port Meadow regularly. Thankfully he was able to come immediately, and arrived within a few minutes. During this time I had noted a lot of white on the rump/tail when one of the birds preened. I directed Adam to the birds, not wanting to leave my place to get better views in case they disappeared, as has happened many times before! By this time I was feeling pretty awful, so when he told me he'd got them I left the rest to him, texting in to Birdguides, and flopping down on the grass. I didn't even feel up to walking round to get better views myself, content with the photos I knew Adam would be taking. Was it worth the visit? Of course!
Visit Adam Hartley's website, Port Meadow Birding, for photos of the birds. And, needless to say, keep checking your local patch whenever you have a spare hour. You never know what might turn up!
I Have Moved
6 years ago