Ardley ERF - 1st half 2024

I decided to use Ardley as my 3km patch to take part in the Patchwork Challenge for 2024. I visit it a lot anyway so it's no great hardship and a short drive from home. Most of it is private but public rights of way run through it so most of the area is viewable. It is a great little site with a mixture of habitat and always feels like it can turn up almost anything, and has a good record of doing so. The main hope is for some good waders during the passage months. The lagoon next to the facility building is small, but when the water level is right, can be very attractive for passage waders. 2022 was a great year with spotted redshank and curlew sandpiper during the autumn migration. Last year disappointed with barely any waders on passage. I've seen all three species of egret here, but even little egrets are a good bird for the site and not regular. It is also a good site for passerines such as Wheatears, Redstarts, and Whinchat at the right time of year.  January got off to a

Winter 23/24

The best bird of the winter period at Blenheim was undoubtedly the drake Scaup that spent one day on the lakes on 22nd January. I'm always hopeful of something good amongst the tufted ducks. Ring-necked duck seems a reasonable bet and there has been at least one at Blenheim in the past, so I'm always careful to check the gatherings of tufted ducks dotted around the lakes during the winter. So I couldn't quite believe it when I saw a Scaup a few feet from the lake edge with a small number of tufted ducks, gadwall, coots, etc. In a Blenheim context, a true mega. I watched it on and off for most of the morning. It remained on the Queen Pool for an hour or so before moving across to the Great Lake where it was more distant. It wasn't to be found the next morning. I cannot think there will be another one any time soon so I count myself very lucky to have got this on my patch list.  The dredging work last year on the Queen Pool and the removal of the thick vegetated edges see

2023 Patch Review

I have enjoyed a productive birding year on my Woodstock patch comprising Blenheim and the areas immediately surrounding the north of the town. I've taken part in the Patchwork Challenge along with a number of fellow Oxon birders and that has helped focus the majority of my efforts on seeking out everything possible within my 3km square patch. It has all been on foot as it's all on my doorstep. At a conservative guess probably 250 hours worth of birding and probably a similar milage over the year. I've certainly exceeded my expectations and added a number of patch ticks throughout the year. My total for the year was 118 species. There are not many omissions this year that I expected. Tawny owl is a blinding miss given they are in Blenheim. I expected to hear them without much effort but alas distant, out the corner of my ear probables don't count. I think I managed to see most species reported at Blenheim over the year. Dave Doherty had a small flock crossbills fly over