Monday, 26 August 2013

Whinchat morning

I nearly didn't check out the fields to the north of the village this morning. But then I remembered that autumn migration was in full flow, with multiple local reports of Redstarts and Whinchats from nearby RSPB Otmoor. I regard the Cuddesdon area as the antithesis of Otmoor. Recording the few birds that occur on the intensively farmed arable land at Cuddesdon proves, in a perverse kind of way, how important it is to preserve and maintain good habitats, such as those at Otmoor. There, migrant birds are draw in by the irresistible sight of meadows, reedbeds, flood water and hedges. Migrants in Cuddesdon are really rare - perhaps one or two species of note per migration season. Fortunately for me, there was one this morning: a cracking Whinchat on the fences behind Parkside. Only the third record in the last 5 years, but the first that has been on view for more than 3 seconds. Which was nice:

There have been good numbers of Yellow Wagtails about recently, including 2 over my garden in the week and 2 different birds bouncing around this morning. The 2 juvenile Hobbys are still present in the nesting area, as vocal and obvious as ever:

In flight, the short outer primary gives them a rather different wing tip profile compared to the adults:

The wheat is mostly gone, although not without incident. I think this Combine Harvester caught fire, judging by the firemen clambering about on it:

There was a time, before agricultural intensification, that the remaining stubble was left in the ground all winter. The stubble provided valuable cover and food (check out the seed left between the wheat stalks in the image below from this morning) for finches, buntings and skylarks. Today, this stubble will be ploughed in by the end of next month, as the autumn, not spring, planting of seed is the modern way. Just one more reason why farmland birds populations have fallen by nearly 50% since 1980

89 species for the year. 

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