Finally managed to get out in the field today for some proper birding. The north east winds and frontal conditions this weekend have generated falls and flights of waders across a lot of inland sites with good numbers of Barwits and also surprisingly Blackwits. In a typical spring Blackwits would have moved through earlier but presumably the cold conditions have held them back.
Visited Farmoor in the morning (2 Bonxies there yesterday!), met up with the gang for lunch and went to some kind of psychic weird fortune telling thing in Thame and then back in the game in the evening with a visit to Otmoor.
Farmoor was totally buzzing with hirundines, must have been 2000-3000, mainly Swallows and then Sand Martins and House Martins with about 40+ Swift too. A few Yellow Wagtails about, 2+ 'White Wag-types', 3 Dunlin, 2 Ringed Plover, 10+ Common Sandpiper , 1 Oystercatcher, 12+ Common Tern and 1 Arctic Tern. Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat, Willow Warbler and Chiffchaff were calling from the river side.
Otmoor was rather bleak with few birds in song. Luckily the Grasshopper Warbler was reeling in the car park field and had my first Cuckoo singing for the year too. Out on Big Otmoor there were 17 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Bar-tailed Godwits, 2 Dunlin, 2 Little Ringed Plover and there was also Curlew singing from Greenaways and at least 6 Oystercatchers around.
The three Dunlin at Farmoor- such a variable species
Bird 1- the largest of the trio and also the most retarded with winter feathers still in the mantle. It's possibly a first-summer bird, the primaries look more brown than the birds below and the median coverts are very worn.
Bird 2- a full summer plumaged bird. Perhaps an adult female with the restricted black in the belly (not got access to my literature here so will check when get home)
Bird 3-The brightest of the trio and a full belly patch. It's even got some streaks on the flanks which if I remember correctly is a typical feature of the yank race (presumably a variable feature across the extremely variable races- presumably these birds are of the schinzii race, moving up from West Africa- maybe even some of the birds we saw in Western Sahara a few weeks ago).
Ringed Plover- Tundra or Taiga?
Hirundines at Farmoor today
'White Wagtail- type' - a bit dark on the upperparts, perhaps an intergrade?
The best view I got of the Otmoor Barwits
One of at least 6 displaying across Big Otmoor and Ashgrave