Saturday, 4 August 2012

Port Meadow Oxford 04 August 2012

The historic and ancient area called Port Meadow situated within the boundaries of Oxford and readily accessible from a number of points provides an ideal opportunity when conditions are right for a veritable bonanza of waders and ducks. Today was just such a day with the meadow's floods providing ideal conditions to attract waders. Fortunately the forecast rain stayed away and a light, warm wind and sunny conditions greeted me on my arrival this morning. Common Sandpipers seemed to be everywhere along the edge of the floods and the count slowly rose to an astonishing twelve with one of the birds appearing to have a broken wing. Early on three Greenshank, as always very flighty and highly strung flew around the flood and eventually departed high to the North but there was still much to see. A Wood Sandpiper not that common in Oxfordshire appeared and disappeared amongst the tussocks and moulted gull feathers at the water's edge and three Green Sandpipers joined it later that morning. Five summer plumage adult Dunlin fed further up the flood mingling with the gulls, a  juvenile Common Redshank lingered nearby and a flock of Lapwing sheltered in the long grass. Could there be anything else? Well yes - a Ringed Plover skulked amongst the cattle churned mud and a juvenile Little Ringed Plover also tried to make itself invisible on the far shore. The meadow was alive with Pied Wagtails and feeding with them was a White Wagtail, so clean looking compared to its UK cousins. A juvenile Yellow Wagtail, calling loudly, flew up from the reeds and joined the cattle. Swallows, House and Sand Martins skimmed the water. All this in one morning almost within sight and sound of the City centre. Idyllic yes, almost unique yes, but now threatened because the floods are meant to be bad news for Creeping Marsh-wort, a rare plant that allegedly only grows here. The whole area must be drained. Surely there can be some form of compromise? If not then Oxford will lose this prime birding spot and we will just be left with horses, cattle, joggers, Creeping Marsh-wort and no birds. Is that really right?


  1. The meadow is mostly pretty dry in a normal year at this time of year and draining is not a certainty just look at the level of the river there is a possibility of the river draining into the meadow if a trench is dug, in fact this is a very complex problem with the Oxford Ornithological Society conservation officer consulting with interested parties to find a solution that suits all. We should keep in mind that this is an extremely wet Summer unlikely to be repeated.
    Barry Hudson.

  2. Wiltshirebirder
    I have added a link to this post on my blog, hope that is ok with you.