Friday 16th January: Barnacle Geese

It's been another good few days on the Meadow. The river level has been steadily rising so that we're now in Transition Mode (my favourite) whereby the river has risen enough just to leave a narrow strip of grass between the floods and the river itself. A bit more rain and we'll be back in full-on Lake Mode but for now viewing from the western tow path of the river often yields nice close views of the birds.

The floods in "Transition Mode" - taken from the end of the boat moorings looking north

In terms of species on the floods it's been the usual suspects: there are about a dozen PINTAIL hanging about and today I had my first Gadwall of the year with a few birds in amongst the Wigeon and Teal. The Shelduck seem to have departed (I think they prefer it when it's less flooded) but we're still getting quite a few GOOSANDER coming in to roost in the evenings.

In terms of year ticks I've been adding species gradually - I managed PEREGRINE this week when one buzzed over low on Wednesday putting up all the birds on the floods. Rook was also a year tick (though they've no doubt been around since the 1st of January but I've just not seen one so far). The highlight of the week though must be the flock of 58 BARNACLE GEESE that were about today. These are in all probability the feral flock that inhabit the Home Counties which we had pay us a visit a couple of years ago. As official BOU Category C birds they are very much tickable so on the year list they go. 

Tickable Barnacle Geese!

Talking of the year list, I've refined my list of what I expect to find before the spring migrants arrive and I've got a total target of 84 birds. Some of these will be quite hard like Jack Snipe, Caspian Gull and Water Rail so the total represents what I can expect in the best case. These Barnacle Geese, however, weren't on the "to be expected" list so constitute the first bonus vagrant of the year. Let's hope that there are plenty more to follow.

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