November is not normally known for great birding excitement. However there have been a few things of note to keep ones interest up. Firstly, by way of background, the floods reformed at the start of the month and have been growing steadily in size so that now they are a pretty good expanse. Indeed the Meadow is looking superb at the moment and has once more attracted a host of different bird species.
On the duck front, alongside the usual Wigeon, Teal and a few Shoveler, we've had up to 4 Pintail and a few Goosander on the floods. The latter species has also been reported along the river quite a bit this month as were Two Tufted Duck one day. The Barnacle Geese are now a regular feature on the Meadow at this time with up to 130 present throughout the month. The highlight of the month as far as water fowl is concerned has been a dark-bellied Brent Goose, presumably the Dorchester bird, which was found on the floods this morning and which hung around all day. We've also had up to 8 White-fronted Geese coming in at dusk to roost. One of the birds looks like a hybrid but as yet we've not been able to ascertain whether the remaining 7 birds are part of the Blenheim flock or are proper wild birds. There were 6 White-fronts on Otmoor recently though that was a family part of two adults and four first winters so these are different birds. Genuine wild White-fronts are very rare on the Meadow so it would be great if they can be properly seen at some point
|The Brent on the floods, courtesy of Ben Sheldon|
|...and in flight courtesy of Matthew Lloyd|
There have been slim pickings as far as waders are concerned. A couple of Dunlin were reported mid month and over the last few days we've had up to 3 Black-tailed Godwits. Lapwing numbers have increased noticeably and we're starting to get bigger numbers of Golden Plover as well. The highlight was an unseasonable Curlew that was picked out of the foggy gloom one evening.
The gull roost has got to a reasonable size now. So far just a few Yellow-legged Gulls have been found but now that we are into December it all really kicks off on the gull front.
In terms of passerines, there have been a few snippets to report. By far the best sighting was a Hawfinch which flew over south, seen by Phil Barnett. This is only the second record of this species on the Meadow after a few were seen a couple of years ago flying over Burgess Field amongst some Redwing. Both the male and female Stonechat have been seen this month. As they are generally rather elusive and covering a large area they are often hard to spot even when they are there so it's not known if they are still about or not. A singing male Cetti's Warbler has been heard a couple of times around the Wolvercote Lake complex this month as well.
In other news there have been a few Noctule bat sightings from our resident bat expert, Matthew Lloyd.
In terms of the year list, thanks to the Brent Goose we are now on 136 + 1 extra (Red-breasted Goose). Depending on how you measure it, this compares well with last year's record breaking tally of 136 + 4 extra (White Stork, Crane, Red-breasted Goose, Snow Goose): equalling it on strict BOU terms and only 3 behind on "extra" ticks. Looking ahead to the last month of the year, it's going to be water fowl and gulls mostly though something left field could turn up. Last year we had the Dotterel in December so there's still plenty to play for.