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Tuesday, 4 July 2017

June 2017 Highlights

Spotted Flycatcher June courtesy of JR

Headline Birds

June is traditionally a very quiet month in the country where many birders turn to summer distractions such as insects or flowers. This month was no exception with no "big one" travelling alone and late to disturb the county's peace. Instead we have to make do with a smattering of "good county birds" and just to enjoy the summer in other ways until things start to pick up again in the autumn.

As far as those good county birds are concerned, the headliners were a couple of Honey Buzzards - always a hard bird to catch up with in the county. These were reported from Millets Farm on 10th June and from Blenheim on 29th June. A Quail was heard singing on Otmoor mid month and a drake Common Scoter was at Farmoor on 30th June. And that's basically it!

The Highlights
By Tom Bedford

With spring passage just about over, June was a quiet month in the county. Birds were established in their breeding cycles and this combined with a heatwave in the third week of the month, when temperatures reached 33°, meant received reports were significantly below the numbers received in April and May.

Common Crane by Derek Lane
The RSPB reserve at Otmoor held the widest selection of breeding birds in the county. The numbers of Common Cranes on Otmoor has been a recent topic of debate amongst Oxonbirders. Two birds were regularly reported and were often seen simultaneously. A third, apparently unringed, Crane has also been photographed at the site (see above).

Turtle Dove by J Mercer
Turtle Dove by Tezzer

It has been a regular pleasure to see and hear Turtle Doves along the main bridleway at Otmoor and this rapidly declining species was regularly reported, and photographed, throughout the month.

Bittern by Paul Tomlinson

A small number of Bittern have summered on the reserve, with 2 being reported on a regular basis.

Some, presumably unmated, Common Cuckoos were still singing in the first half of the month. A hepatic Cuckoo was one of a total of 6 Cuckoo reported from Otmoor on 3rd June.

A Common Tern in "portlandica" plumage was reported from Grimsbury Reservoir on 5th June. These are first summer/second calendar year birds that usually remain on their wintering grounds in Africa for their first breeding season, but it appears a few return north with mature adults.

Marsh Harrier by Roger Wyatt

4 Marsh Harriers were seen on 9th June at Otmoor, the stronghold for this species in the county, whilst a singing Quail was heard on the reserve on 13th, 15th, 16th and 22nd, but not subsequently. At least 4 Yellow-legged Gull were at Grimsby Reservoir on 21st June, whilst Oystercatchers were proved to have bred at Standlake Pit 60 on 26th June:

Juvenile Oystercatcher by Jim Hutchins
The final day of the month saw a fine drake Common Scoter at Farmoor. Mid-summer records of Common Scoter in Oxfordshire were discussed in this article (scroll down link to view) and are thought to relate to post breeding birds moving to traditional moult sites. For some species failed or early breeders are already passing through the county and as June gives way to July, we await the onset of returning migrants. 

Common Scoter by Tezzer

 Common Scoter video by Badger

Tom Bedford

The Art of Birds

This month Paul has captured an encounter on Otmoor with our most colourful of corvids, the Jay.

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