Monday 12th March: Shag

It was rather overcast for much of today and indeed first thing on my morning run there was a thick fog around the Meadow. However by late afternoon the sun had managed to fight off the cloud and it was another beautiful spring day. There were plenty of waders around with now a total of 9 REDSHANK which were joined by a couple of RUFF and the 3 DULIN and 2 OYSTERCATCHERS were still also about. On the duck front today there were 3 SHELDUCK and 4 GOOSANDER came in to roost. PINTAIL numbers are now down to just four birds. The gull roost was fairly pitiful with probably no more than 100 black-headed gulls and a couple of dozen larger gulls to look through. However the highlight of the day was a fly-over SHAG which sped rapidly south over the floods and kept on going. We get plenty of fly-over cormorants on the patch but this bird really stood out with its small size and it's strikingly skinny neck. Shag are pretty much an annual bird in the county though they appear almost exclusively at Farmoor and to my knowledge there's not been one on the Meadow before. This does raise the issue of fly-over birds on the Meadow: I've mentioned before how there seems to be a definite migration flight path over the patch with birds presumably following the river and wanting to avoid flying over the city itself. I often wonder what other fly-overs get missed on the Meadow - I've seen diver species go over in the past and I'm sure that all sorts of other goodies pass by unnoticed.

One more thing to report, Steve Goddard saw a kestrel at the Wolvercote allotments over the weekend which is actually a patch year tick. He also reported a couple of LITTLE EGRETS up at that end. One other common bird that we still need for the patch is goldcrest which I usually see in my garden at some point over the winter but this year I've not had one. Therefore if anyone has seen one in or close to the general Meadow area then please let me know where and when so I can add it to the Patch Year List.

Shelduck, apparently know as "lady duck" in Wales or so I've been told

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