January Round-up

I just thought I'd do a round-up of what's been going on in January in order to bring readers up to speed on the present situation on the Meadow. Largely it's been the usual birds that one might expect for the time of year but there have been one or two points of particular interest.

As always at this time of year the quality of birding tracks the ebb and flow of the floods themselves. We had some very wet weather this month which did lead to the river bursting its banks at one stage and which lead to some superb conditions on the floods and birds absolutely everywhere you looked. The BARNACLE GEESE have been regular visitors to the floods at this time of year with their distinctive calls as they fly in (always from the north) drawing attention to their arrival. We also had an EGYPTIAN GOOSE this month, a bit less than annual visitor to the floods. On the wader front as well as the usual REDSHANK and DUNLIN we've also had a flock of up to six RUFF in amongst the Lapwing. Whilst in winters gone by this would be completely normal, sadly over the last few years Ruff has stopped being so regular and they are now less than annual. We've also being getting some sporadic Golden Plover flocks of a few hundred: not like the old days but they all seem to be at Otmoor where there are thousands at present. During the peak flood period we did have a flock of several hundred Lapwing, which is quite a good count for the Meadow. Other notable sightings include a PERGERINE flying low over Walton Street (yes, I'm counting that) and a RAVEN in Burgess Field.

But it's been the gulling which has really been where all the action is. Thanks to Thomas Miller's enthusiasm there have now been 8 different CASPIAN GULLS that he's identified over the course of the month. For regular visitors to the roost he's even been given them names. During a rare free afternoon I joined him for some grilling of the roost where in freezing conditions we managed between us to find two new birds as well as one returner, so three Caspians in the roost - quite amazing! Thomas is going to do a review of all the different gulls that he's found so far so expect more gull-heavy posts over the coming weeks.

A new 3rd winter Caspian Gull, photo courtesy of Thomas Miller
Finally I should mention the Trap Grounds blog which is being updated regularly and which is always worth a read. I remember sometime back writing in my Gnome's Birding Diary blog that should I ever find myself twitching a Slime Mould that someone should shoot me on the spot. Well today I did just that, paying homage to the rare Badhamia utricularis that Nicola Devine had found on a log. It starts out yellow (see here) before turning a deep purple as you can see from my photo below.

Badhamia utricularis - a Slime Mould


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