Monday, 23 April 2012

Balscote Dotterel

I don't know what's happened to Oxon, but all of a sudden it's on a run of good county birds. First and most exciting was the Black-winged Stilt of course, then the Pied Flycatcher which was a blocker for many and now to have another good bird so quickly after that was unusual to say the least. I'm referring of course to a lovely Dotterel that turned up at Balscote near Banbury. Mid morning I got the text from poor old gripped-off Badger who is away somewhere exotic at the moment and yet still had to pass on the text to other county birders. Unfortunately, as it was a weekend I was tied up with family stuff with some house guests with us for the whole day. At least the guests kept us rather busy so I didn't have time to dwell on what I was missing too much. The bird was regularly being reported throughout the day and when our guests finally left at 7 p.m. I negotiated an evening pass from my VLW and sped off towards Banbury in the Gnome-mobile, arriving at the appropriate metal gate by a field some half an hour later. After the rain showers that afternoon it was a lovely evening with a nice sunset and all in all very peaceful. Luckily the golden plover flock was still there, looking very settled and a quick scan through them soon turned up the Dotterel. It was moulting into summer plumage so not in it's full summer colours though very nice to see nonetheless. I spent about half an hour watching it, whilst listening to a Yellowhammer singing away close by accompanied by the distant "cronk" of ravens.

 Here is my customary dodgy digiscoped video

Earlier in the day Ian Lewington had informed me that he originally found a Dotterel in 1985 in the county but no one else was able to see it. It wasn't until May 2004 that Roger Wyatt found one near White Horse Hill when many of the county birders managed to unblock it. In April 2008 one turned up just out of the county at Bury Down in Berkshire which I saw and on departure it would have flown into the county though I don't know if anyone saw this. So Dotterel is a pretty scarce bird for the county though because of the 2004 bird it will only be a blocker for the more junior county birders such as myself. Excitingly this now puts my Oxon county list just one behind Cornwall. Can it catch up? Amazingly after such a good run of county birds it's now starting to look possible.

I leave you with this lovely Yellowhammer which was singing away close to the Dotterel gate.

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