5th January: Waxwings, Jack Snipe & Barnacle Geese

Today was a good day's birding around the Patch. Mid morning I decided on a run around the area in order to flesh out the skeleton new year list. The Trap Grounds were quiet but Burgess Field held plenty of bird activity with lots of finches along the southern hedge as well as the first Goldcrest and Jay of the year. The flock of 30 or so WAXWINGS were still about, towards the north east corner where the two hedges converge with the main central path. They were looking very relaxed and indulging in a spot of fly catching. I even managed to flush a JACK SNIPE from one of the pools which was excellent news as this species is always hard to get on the Meadow Year List.

A rather crummy point and shoot photo of one of the 
Waxwings between fly catching sorties.

I got back to find that Jarrod Hadfield had reported the BAR-TAILED GODWIT, a GOOSANDER, a YELLOW-LEGGED GULL and a flock of 30 BARNACLE GEESE. The latter was interesting enough for me to go out again to see them for myself. To save time I drove in the car to the Wolvercote car park in the north west corner of the Meadow where I could just spy them in the distance. It was just as well that I did this because about an hour later Badger reported that they'd gone.

Strictly record shot video from about half a mile away

Now, as I've discussed before it's hard to know the provenance of geese like this but a flock of 30 is certainly more Kosher than a singleton. There is a flock of 10 or so birds which knock around the general area, often at Farmoor but 30 is a really good number and opens up all sorts of possibilities. The chances are that they're one of the feral flocks from the Home Counties rather than a genuine flock of wild geese but Category C beckons its fingers enticingly for a flock of this size, certainly enough for the Patch Year List.

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