Pete's bird photography pages
Something about the birding locations that I've visited
Meadow, Burgess Field NR and the Trap Grounds
These three sites are closest to where I live
and adjacent to each other. Port Meadow
is a substantial area of common land to the north of the city
centre and entirely within the Oxford ring road. The river Thames runs
along the western perimeter, which just happens to be the location of
Medley Sailing Club where I indulge in a spot of dinghy racing. Until
recenly, it was of little birding interest for much of the year, but
came alive when the river flooded during the winter,
typically attracting large flocks of
ducks and golden plover together with a smattering of small
However, the last few summers have seen areas of flood persisting
during the summer months and this year it has never dried out,
attracting ever increasing numbers of waders and the occasional rarity.
There is a superb
blog which reports on daily sightings and provides every bit
of information that one might need.
Field Nature Reserve lies alonside Port Meadow and is
accessed from the meadow itself. It is the site of the reclaimed city's
landfill site which now comprises open meadow interspersed with
hedgerow and areas of modest-rise woodland. Regular birdlife includes
the common finches, thrushes, wrens, migrating warblers, crows, jays,
green woodpeckers and kestrels together with a wide variety of visiting
species such as barn owls and sparrowhawks.
The Trap Grounds
are all that's left of a previously extensive area of wilderness
between the Oxford Canal and the railway line, which has been steadily
invaded by housing development. Comprising mature woodland with an area
reed bed, this is a secluded haven for wildlife starkly contrasting
with the surrounding unbanisation.
RSPB Nature Reserve
extensive area of meadow and wetland and lies some 4 miles
north of the Oxford ring road. Much of the area has been acquired by
the RSPB which has been very active in developing it as a nature
and is presently undertaking major earthworks to establish an area of
wader scrapes together with new observation hides. The winter sees a
massive invasion of ducks, whilst the summer is noted for nesting
warblers. A large dragonfly population attracts hobbys, and other
raptors are usually in evidence including red kites, buzzards and
kestrels. A marsh harrier has spent much of this summer in residence.
immediate surroundings, situated some 4 miles to the west of Oxford,
provides several distinct bird habitats. The reservoir itself supports
large flocks of gulls, ducks and other water birds, whilst the margins
(including the long causeway which bisects the reservoir) are regularly
visited by wagtails, pipits and small waders. Immediately to the west
and just outside the formal boundaries of the reservoir are two wetland
areas (Shrike Meadow and Pinkhill Reserve) with observation hides.
This side of the site is bounded by the river Thames and the
Thames Path. Finally, there is a public footpath around, but outside
the reservoir boundary, which passes through hedgerow and mature
woodland to the
south and areas of meadow land to the south west and northwest.
is proper Red Kite and Buzzard country. A car park about a mile
out of Watlington itself gives access to the Chilterns escarpment with
fantastic views across the Oxford clay vale. Its hard to imagine a
better place for taking the airs on a sunny day, with the certainty of
being entertained by the magnificant sight of kites soaring in the
updraft. Mind you, if it's kites in number that are the atraction, the
couch potato method is to sip a pint of Adnams in the garden of the
Carriers arms in the town itself where the wildlife will come to you
rather than vice versa.
around the Solent
Being a sailor with a boat kept in close to the New Forest, I spend
time quite a bit of time in and around the Solent, visiting
birding sites both from the sea and land.
Creek, Isle of Wight.
This is absolutely my favorite place in the Solent to visit by boat,
most specially at the quiet times of year away from the main sailing
season. It is situated on north west shore of the Isle of Wight,
between Cowes and Yarmouth. The extensive creek and its margins are
maintained by the National Trust and although much is accessible from
the land, the best way to see the birds is from a small dinghy at low
water. It is a haven for waders feeding on the mud flats as the tide
A lovely setting close to the tiny drying harbour at Hill Head on the
south-east shore of Southampton Water. The reserve is in two parts,
separated by the river Meon, with woodland to the east and the main
wader hides to the west. My only visit to date was rewarded by a pair
of water rails scurrying between two small patches of reeds right in
front of one of the hides.
and Pennington Marshes.
An extensive area stretching from Lymington in the east to Keyhaven in
the west. At the Keyhaven end there are off-lying mud flats
one walks east, the main marsh area comprises lakes and open
grassland behind the coastal defenses. On a recent visit I saw a
multitude of waders, finches, stonechats, a sparrow hawk, peregrine and
kingfisher. A group of serious birders were claiming a red-backed
shrike some way off. A great walk on a nice day, with access from
Keyhaven, Pennington and Lymington, and a fine pub (the Chequers) at
the half-way point for good measure.
Back to bird photography album page