Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Going to do the lottery

Well I must be in great favour today. Just a short trip down to Standlake Common Nature Reserve to check on a few things, empty the litter bin that sort of thing and all sorts of treasures were there to be found.
On the bird front the common terns are back with little ringed plovers and around a dozen lapwing being so busy that surely they must have a go at nesting this year. The greylag families are out and about and then I couldn't believe my ears and eyes as a calling curlew flew over me and landed on the south shoreline. I expect it was only stopping off for a wash and brush up; it was certainly enjoying the water. I haven't seen one at Standlake before although I know others have. Of course all the warblers were singing away as well.
I stopped off in the meadow to see if any of the hairy violets that we found last week were still around and found not only a few bedraggled violets left but also the first of the green winged orchids.
Green winged orchid

Hairy violets last week

You can just see the green winged orchid in the middle and a rather faded violet in front.
The cowslips are going to be stunning this year as were the snake's head fritillaries at Ducklington on Sunday.


Tuesday, 7 April 2015

Ring-necked ducks, garganey, spiders etc

Great views of the four ring-necked ducks at Standlake Pit 60 over the weekend. Once the mist cleared this morning I was amazed to see that they are still there as I had expected them to have moved off before I got a chance to see them. Thanks to everyone for the photos and video on the Oxon Bird Log that show them so well and thanks to Jim for this photo that shows the male and female very clearly.

Photo courtesy of Jim Hutchins
Birders have been coming from all over the place and even Radio Oxford followed up the story.  Phil Mercer came out to the north shore hide to talk to Ian Lewington, Oxon County bird recorder and myself with the added bonus of Joe Harris the warden from Otmoor. Unfortunately for Phil the mist didn't clear until 10 minutes after he had left to make his live report; just about the same time as the kingfisher flew past. Yes Phil we do have kingfishers here!

A pair of lapwing are making the bold attempt at nesting on the island by the Langley's Lane hide but with all the news on Springwatch of the predation by badgers and foxes I can't thnk they will have much hope of successfully fledging any young but who knows? We can only watch and wait, unless anyone wants to join in with a 24 hour guard.

And that's not all on the bird front. Garganey at Rushy Common/Tar Lakes as well!

There are promising signs that the cowslips are ready to to give a great display again this year on the Langley's Lane SSSI. I will be eagerly looking over the next couple of weeks to see if the green hay spreading in 2013 has been successful in expanding their flowering area to the neighbouring fields. It can take two or three years for the seed to germinate in a new area so maybe we will see some results this year.
And then lots of interesting looking spiders' webs around the edge of the field. Any suggestions on the identification will be much appreciated.
Put Sunday 19th April in your diaries for the Ducklington fritillary Sunday from             11.30 a.m. onwards for a fabulous display of the snake's head fritillary. There will be refreshments and entertainments and various displays and I will be there with a display about the Lower Windrush Valley Project so come and say hello. All proceeds from the day go to the church restoration fund.