As usual I haven't done a post on the blog here until at least the end of January. As I said in my end of year review, January generally tends to be an exercise in reticking the same things as last year. Indeed I have a spreadsheet for the Meadow year list set up with all the species that I might expect to see in the winter months and, thanks to the team effort that is Port Meadow birding these days, we've managed to tick off most things on that list already.

Down to some details: as well as the usual winter ducks we've had a few Shelduck on the floods with up to 9 reported. A few Pintail have also been found in amongst the winter throng. As far as the geese are concerned, in amongst the now regular Barnacle Goose flock we've had at least one Red-breasted Goose with us all month though I'm not sure where it's partner went to. Egyptian Goose has also made it onto the list after their successful breeding last year.

Waders have been understandably thin on the ground though we've managed a Dunlin, a regular Redshank and a few Black-tailed Godwits. Sadly, gone are the days when we could expect a winter Ruff as a matter of course.

Winter is of course a classic time for gulling and we've had some reasonable large gull roosts this month to sift through. As well as a good number of Yellow-legged Gulls we've had at least three Caspians courtesy of our resident gull guru Thomas Miller. We've had no luck with Med Gulls so far though.

A fine 1st winter Caspian courtesy of Thomas Miller

In terms of other species that are harder to get, we've had Nuthatch and Little Grebe up at Wolvercote Laes as well as Tawny Owl heard by the canal. In fact the only things that I would reasonably expect on the year list which we've yet to have are Great Crested Grebe and Pheasant.

One of the more sad aspects of this month has been the large number of bird flu casualties. It's been a record breaking year for cases in the country and this has been reflected in the finding of moribund and dead geese and gulls (mostly Black-headed) on a daily basis.

A dead Barnacle Goose, courtesy of Zhenhuan Zhang

Looking ahead to February, there's not much to say really. It's generally a tough month for birding when all the usual species have already been ticked off and there are no spring migrants yet to look forward to. Still there is always gulling: we're long overdue a white winger but even finding a few more Caspians or a Med Gull will do.

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