Nice afternoon at Farmoor reservoir seeing plenty of species, including the rare Oxon great northern diver visitor that has been here for a few weeks now. It's also great to see some courtship dances among the great-crested grebes, which I think is always one of the very best behaviours to watch!
I was very happy to see this beautiful male wheatear during an evening trip to Port Meadow today! These birds are reasonably rare visitors to Oxfordshire, having come from central Africa where they over-winter, and passing through to breed either on the west coasts of the UK or further afield.
It's been a great day for feeling like spring has sprung in Oxford. I trudged around a few of the wildlife hotspots inside the city, with no particular hopes to see anything specific. This started in Port Meadow, where the river runs along the west and the canal to the east. At this time of year, the meadow is still flooded, attracting many gulls, waterfowl and some waders to roost overnight. This includes sometimes very large flocks of golden plover, one of which I saw isolated today perfectly camouflaged against the yellow grass! The air was thick with skylark song, which I expect will start laying their first eggs in a month-or-so's time. I then crossed north Oxford through to Marston meadows, where the first chiffchaff song of the year made me sure that spring has sprung!
As part of my PhD, I have been conducting research on how individuals within populations end up pairing with partners that are of a similar age to themselves. Here is a poster that summarises this research, which was due to be presented at the British Ecological Society's conference in Liverpool, which sadly I was unable to attend due to COVID. Find a link to a higher quality version of the poster here: http://tiny.cc/ghhmuz.
An absolute pleasure to see this pectoral sandpiper just 10 minutes from my front door in Oxford today. Seeing this species is a first for me, which is hardly surprising seeing as only a handful of them are in the UK each year. Broadly speaking, they breed around the Arctic circle, including northern Canada and Siberia, from which areas they tend to migrate to winter in South America. This means its a great rarity to see one blown off course in the UK!
As part of a summer outreach project with The Oxford for East England Outreach Consortium, I produced this short film of what life is like during the field season at Wytham Woods. The video sums up a lot of what I have been writing on my blog over the past few months (and has plenty of bird footage!).
It was another great year on Scilly, with a particular highlight of mine being able to see the large colony of grey and common seals in the Eastern Isles!
I really enjoyed producing this mini-episode on Conservation Optimism's "Good Natured Podcast". I talk about my experience of the introduction of red squirrels in the Isles of Scilly. Click the button below to listen to it on Spotify!
Although the pied wagtail in my garden is one of the most confident birds when it comes to getting close and taking photos, it is also one of the fastest moving. Its been really hard to get a shot of it up close and in focus as it darts around catching insects, barely ever staying still. I was pleased to finally get one I was happy with though!
A blog of my ideas, photography and research of the natural world.