28th January

As usual, the first blog post on the new year is not until towards the end of the month. Normally, January consists of little more than catching up with the usual species that are around at this time of year for the purposes of the year list. However, this time we've had a proper top draw rarity on the Meadow, almost certainly a shoe-in for the Port Meadow Bird of the Year no less. I am of course referring to the drake American Wigeon that was found by Thomas Miller on the evening of the 12th. 


A couple of record shots of the American Wigeon courtesy of Thomas Miller

This species has been a long anticipated find on the Meadow in amongst the large number of Eurasion Wigeon that we have each winter but it's to Thomas' credit that he found it at all given that we were in proper "lake mode" at the time and the birds were about half a mile away from where he was viewing. Sadly it was only found untwitchably late at dusk and was not seen again the next day (much to the chagrin of the other patch birders - myself included!).

Apart from this star bird, there has been a good supporting cast, mostly of water fowl, as you would expect at this time of year. The best of the rest was a pair of White-fronted Geese that was found whilst the Meadow was in "lake mode". WF Geese are always a headache on the Meadow due to the regular visits of the mongrel Blenheim birds but they normally travel together in a flock of 6 or more birds. This pair seemingly relocated to Standlake at Pit 60 where they appeared to be genuine and so are going to go on the year list.

Other worthy mentions on the waterfowl front are: a Little Grebe at Wolvercote Lake; a Great-crested Grebe that enjoyed fishing on the "lake" for quite a period of time; four Egyptian Geese; up to 10 Pintail; up to 5 Shelduck and up to 8 Goosander

As you would expect at this time of year, there has been some good gulling with a couple of Caspian Gulls (3w & 2w), several Yellow-legged Gulls and an adult Mediterranean Gull all already on the year list.

3w Caspian Gull courtesy of Thomas Miller

We've not had any waders so far apart from two resident Redshank on the river, one flock of 15 Dunlin and a singleton Dunlin. We might well still get a Black-tailed Godwit before spring arrives.

Other birds of note include the return of the pair of Stonechat that graced the thistle scrub between the Aristotle Lane and Walton Well Road entrances for some time in December. It's nice to have them back again. This does beg the question as to where they have been in the meantime - I wonder if they've been spending time in the Trap Ground allotments which is not generally accessible.

The female Stonechat

There have also been some Cetti's Warbler reports up at Wolvercote Lake. Talking of Warblers, we've had up to 3 delightful Chiffchaff, showing very nicely in the allotment hedgerow and coming down to the ice to pick off insects. They've been a pleasure to watch! I've had a male Blackcap in my garden over the winter which has jealously been guarding the feeders from all comers - he has been most agressive! It's a shame as it means that I am no longer seeing the large flocks of Goldfinch and Greenfinch that I normally get in my garden.
One of the three Chiffchaff
Looking ahead, February is generally a pretty quiet month before the spring passage begins. There will still be the Wigeon and Teal flock to look through in case our star bird happens to return and you never know what else might turn up.

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