I don't normally write about my local Port Meadow patch in this blog as usually it's all covered separately on my Port Meadow Birding blog. However, occasionally something good enough will turn up that will warrant inclusion here and fortunately this happened last week.
I've been visiting the Trap Grounds quite a lot over the last few weeks. In an effort to spend less time crouched in front of my computer screen, mid to late morning I like to head out the door and wander around this small area which has now been designated a village green and so is protected from the greedy clutches of marauding property developers. Apart from locals, not many people know about or visit this spot. It consists of a small pond, half covered with reeds, a side stream and a patch of overgrown woodland with a small clearing. Recently enthusiastic locals have been developing the whole area as a nature reserve, adding a boardwalk so that one can walk around the area when its flooded, clearing out some of the more overgrown areas and planting lots of wild flowers. It's a very pleasant place to have a mid morning wander around even if normally there's not a great deal to see on the bird front. In the winter there are Water Rails skulking in the reed bed and there's been a male Cetti's Warbler singing away in their depths for the last few weeks. During the summer there are butterflies and dragonflies to search for and always lots of flowers to look at.
On Friday morning I was having my usual wander around and was just heading back to the pond area when an unusual call penetrated my preoccupied mind. I looked up to see what was clearly a woodpecker flying away with it's undulating flight. "Interesting, I didn't realise that Greater Spotted Woodpeckers called like that", I mused. I clearly wasn't on the ball that morning!
A short while later when I was back on the boardwalk I could see a Greater Spotted Woodpecker flying around and clearly hassling something. I lifted my bins to see a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker sitting there, trying to ignore its larger cousin. Partially obscured by branches I struggled to find a clean line of sight and took a few snaps with the new superzoom.
I then called over to one of the local photographers who I was sure would be be keen to see it. She came over but the bird flew off towards the canal area before she could see it. I tried to re-find it for her and we saw what was probably it fly off north along the line of the stream - sadly that was that, it was all over in a few minutes.
It's all rather embarrassing that I was so slow on the uptake when I initially heard it calling, after all it is a call that I know reasonably well. In my defence all I can say was that it was very much out of context and fortunately it stuck around long enough for me to see it and identify it properly. Certainly a Patch lifer for me and only the second one I've ever seen in Oxfordshire, it's gems like this that keep patch workers such as myself going week in and week out.