29th December

Since my last post we've had a snowy cold snap and then a mild wet period of weather. During the cold period there wasn't much to report except for a displaced WATER RAIL along the ditch next to the Trap Ground allotments - a welcome view of what is normally such a secretive bird. I was also getting regular visits from a couple of over-wintering BLACKCAPS in my garden - always nice to see.

Female garden Blackcap
The legacy from the snow was to double the size of the floods and the decent rain since then has been enough to get the river to breach its banks. With the return of the water so too have the winter ducks come back to us. Indeed today there were more than one thousand birds, mostly Wigeon but also Teal, Mallard and Shoveller all dotted about the place. PINTAIL are back too with 16 birds counted today (mostly drakes). Yesterday we have a couple of dozen BARNACLE GEESE with us and now that we have the waters back I would expect to see the Home Counties flock pay us a visit some time soon. There was also the leucistic EGYPTIAN GOOSE a couple of days ago which was even a much-needed year tick.

Talking of geese, in my last post I mentioned the possible Pink-footed Geese sighting. Since then about a week ago I saw the feral White-fronts again on the floods (with a Bar-headed Goose in tow) and having listened to them calling as they flew in I now think that my mystery birds were probable these White-fronts rather than Pink-foots (which is much more likely anyway).

We've been getting a decent gull roost again though the best I've managed in amongst them so far has been a few YELLOW-LEGGED GULLS. With the extensive floods we might now attract a white-winger to the Patch - after all there's an Iceland Gull that's visiting Farmoor regularly.

So all in all it's great finally to have the Patch back in full working order ready for the start of the new year list.

There haven't been many photo opportunities of late but I did manage to spot this Kingfisher by the Trap Ground allotments the other day

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