Lesser Scaup at Farmoor
Went to see this lesser scaup at Farmoor today, a real rarity for the county that was found on the 2nd March! The species is widespread across North America, but occasionally they wander across the Atlantic and pop up in Western Europe.
Winter ringing 2022/23
Some highlights from ringing over the last few months. I've been lucky to join a couple of other ringing groups outside of Wytham, leading to a bit more site diversity. This means I've processed some new species, particularly those found in agricultural land such as yellowhammer and corn bunting!
Greater Scaup at Farmoor
OxPods: the podcast from students and their professors at the University of Oxford
I have started holding and producing episodes as the Biology subject leader for OxPods, a new student society here in Oxford. This is a really fun initiative where we are looking to make the most of the world-leading professors found at Oxford by setting up a platform to interview the academics on the niche, weird and wonderful areas of their subjects. These episodes will be easily digestible for anyone with an interest in the world around them! They can be listened to on Spotify, Apple, Google or directly through the website. My episodes can also be found through the video & audio section of my blog.
Nice views of this rarity in Oxford today! Yellow-browed warblers breed in and around Siberia and have historically over-wintered in south-east Asia. However, it's thought that recently more-and-more birds are choosing to winter in western Europe due to the increasingly mild conditions. As such, there is now a fairly steady stream of them arriving in Autumn and winter during their passage, but still hard to spot!
2022 birds and a look ahead to 2023
This year I had some great birding highlights, seeing a total of 170 species in the UK (depending on classification of some hybrids and subspecies). It would be hard to ignore the common nighthawk in Wantage as the highlight due to its undeniable rarity. However, I probably enjoyed some of my other lifers throughout the year even more, such as the waxwings found just outside of Edinburgh; the European bee-eater seen during a very drizzly trip to Portland Bird Observatory; and the Siberian chiffchaff seen within Oxford at Port Meadow.
For 2023, I've decided to take part in the Patchwork Challenge, where I'll focus on a local area less than 3km^2 and see how many species I can record across the year. I've chosen a patch within Oxford that includes the river Cherwell, with areas of floodplain, as well as agricultural land and small pockets of woodland.
BES Edinburgh 2022
I had a great time at the British Ecological Society's annual meeting this year in Edinburgh, where I was presenting on some of my PhD research while also learning about some great ecological and evolutionary research conducted by others! I was also lucky to go up a couple of days early for some birding, where I saw 73 species including 8 lifers (pink-footed goose, common eider, velvet scoter, common scoter, long-tailed duck, red-breasted merganser, Slavonian grebe & waxwing). The reserve at Musselburgh was an excellent coastal site, with various sea-ducks bobbing around the choppy waves, while hoards of waders could be watched piping around the mouth of the river Esk. My highlight has to be the moderate flock of waxwings which were feeding quite happily on a residential street in Portobello.
Short-eared Owl at Otmoor
Not the sharpest photo, but it was third-time lucky after visiting Otmoor twice before this week to try and spot a short-eared owl!
Common Nighthawk in Oxfordshire?!
A crazy day for an Oxfordshire-based birder... The common nighthawk is a super rare sighting for the UK, with less than 25 observations of the species in the country ever, and importantly always on coastal sites or off-islands not the mainland. This guy should be on his migration between the US and South America, so it's safe to say it's a little lost. Being a primarily nocturnal species, this individual was happily napping on a garden fence for ~6 hours before heading off to who-knows-where at dusk, but not without attracting 600 birders from all over the country first! Special thanks to the home-owners for allowing access and suggesting a charitable donation from the twitchers, raising over £4000 across the day split between a local wildlife hospital and Spinal Injury Unit.
A blog of my ideas, photography and research of the natural world.