The weekend was reasonably uneventful without new birds or big headliners, probably mainly due to the cold northerly wind. There was one Common Sandpiper still around and a Willow Tit was heard calling in the wood but not seen.
Colin and I were out on Saturday. It was actually rather pleasant if you found shelter out of the wind and allowed a brilliant opportunity to take a bit more time watching the breeding behaviour of the resident birds and migrants already in. There was an apparently new Mallard brood with nine chicks at the reservoir. The Song Thrush eggs were hatched and four chicks were seen when the adults were away from the nest and the Long-tailed Tits are still sat brooding. Colin found another Long-tailed Tit nest too and confirmed Chiffchaffs are nest building. The Treecreepers were busy repairing their nest, or possibly building a new one. Buzzards are returning to one spot very regularly and we are almost certain they are breeding. Goldcrests and Great Tits were displaying but with no obvious nesting yet. Crows flew over to the nests along the river a couple of times carrying something, I say something as I couldn't quite tell if it was clumps of cut grass or Mallard chicks!
On Sunday John and I were out early for a breeding bird survey. The Upper Cherwell Valley is being surveyed by the B.O.S. on behalf of the council to help inform a baseline of the proposed country park. We hope to confirm species and numbers already breeding in the area and hopefully that will help focus some of the habitat works that are undertaken here. We had very good numbers of Sedge Warblers and a few each of both Whitethroats. These have obviously been arriving over the last week or so. There was also a good number of Linnets and Reed Buntings. I assume some of these will be late wintering birds but hopefully some of them are breeding birds too.
We also saw a Weasel at edge of the wood and had a Wheatear by the Borrow Pit, two or three Yellow Wagtails commuting between there and the fields on the other side of the railway and a late Snipe. The numbers of Mallard chicks are rapidly increasing too with another eight on the canal and twelve on the reservoir.