December Update

I thought that I'd better do the usual monthly round-up for December before I do the review of the year. It was a reasonable month with some good birds though nothing outstanding and we didn't manage to add any more year ticks to the tally. The floods were reasonably large all month so there were plenty of duck around including up to 30 Pintail and 3 Shelduck. On the wader front we managed up to 16 Dunlin along with a Black-tailed Godwit at the start of month. There were also up to 150 Snipe and about 400 Golden Plover.

December is the month when winter gulling gets going properly and we were rewarded with several Caspian Gulls over the month. There was a another 1w Caspian which joined the usual bird on a couple of evenings, a 3w bird one evening and an adult another evening. There were also a few Yellow-legged Gulls of various ages.

The adult Caspian Gull courtesy of Thomas Miller

The ringed Siberian Chiffchaff was seen a few times near to Burgess Field gate along with quite a few normal Chiffchaff. On one occasion a second un-ringed Siberian Chiffchaff was found (and heard to call) in Burgess Field. Also on the passerine front, there were up to 3 Stonechat in the thistle patch in the south east corner of the Meadow.

The highlight of the month was the brief appearance of a Marsh Harrier hunting over the floods, sending everything up. Whilst this isn't a year tick thanks to the bird seen over Wytham Hill, having one hunting over the actual floods themselves is a great record!

Matthew Lloyd took this cracking photo of the Marsh Harrier as it hunted over the floods

To round things off a couple of Cranes were seen flying over the Meadow one day, presumably commuting to Otmoor.

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