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Saturday, 5 December 2020
18 Goosander: 10 drakes; 8 ducks.
2 Egyptian Goose
Standlake Pit 60
Great White Egret
2 Little Egret: No sign of the Cattle Egret late afternoon.
2 Pintail: pair.
21 Magpie: Single flock. Never seen so many here.
72 Red-crested Pochard: On Pit 28. SP388021.
8 Common Crossbill: Four males candidates up to five female birds and juveniles feeding in conifer trees near Knights Copse on circular walk off Leafield to Chadlington Road. 13:00.
2 Raven: ad pair. 13:00.
Great Spotted Woodpecker: ad fem. 13:00.
6 Goldcrest 13:00.
12 Redwing 13:00.
2 Marsh Harrier: 2 in air together. Both CC. 09:59.
(per Mick Cunningham)
Friday, 4 December 2020
Thursday, 3 December 2020
Now Oxfordshire has gone into tier 2, the Otmoor Wetland Watch Hide is now open once again. Social distancing, hand sanitising and cleaning measures are in place and you must be wearing a mask at all times when using the hide.
Due to the limited viewing space and in line with government guidance, we do still ask that people do not attend the site for the starling murmuration. There is lots to see on the reserve away from the murmuration time and we encourage you to enjoy the site while not increasing the number of people around the murmuration so as to ensure the safety of everyone who uses the site.
Thanks for your co-operation,
The Otmoor Team
Redwing: Single redwing in "full" spring song on a treetop by the railway line, a little separated from a feeding flock noisily calling and sub-singing. Clearest rendition I've heard on wintering grounds. SP496109. 14:22.
Wednesday, 2 December 2020
Tuesday, 1 December 2020
Great Northern Diver: F2 West about 30 yards out. 11:15.
4 Little Grebe: F2 West. 11:15.
Goldeneye: F1 West 5 females. 11:45.
Wigeon: F1 Male and female amongst flock of Tufted Duck. 11:45.
Scaup: F1 Adult female. 11:45.
Caspian Gull: F1 West Adult off western bank. 11:45.
2 Stonechat: 1m,1f. By footpath between Worton and Yarnton sitting on fence and scrubby shrubs. SU466114. 10:00.
2 Stonechat: 1m,1f. In reeds and shrubs by the river. The site is about 1.5 km as the stonechat flies from site in Worton so I think these are 2 different individuals. 11:00.
3 Stonechat: ad male and fem. Three birds seen on the marsh near Cornwell this morning - adult pair perched in sunshine on thistles near the small lake; and a male at far end the marsh perched on low hawthorn scrub preening - superb views - Stonechat now a consistent presence here.
|Great Northern Diver at Farmoor Reservoir, courtesy of Steve Burch|
November in Oxfordshire produced something of a conveyor belt of good and generally accessible county sightings across various groups. Renewed national emergency measures to counter Covid-19 did not restrict access to the countryside, so long as people avoided congregating in numbers, hence county birders were able to record all that follows responsibly.
Video courtesy of Badger
|Great Northern Diver (1w), courtesy of Roger Wyatt|
click on any image to enlarge
Our bird of the month was the first winter Great Northern Diver that arrived at Farmoor Reservoir on 3rd, the first record there since early 2016. Despite an accident with an errant fishing line a week later this intrepid item remained in good health at it's adopted home throughout the review period, a long stayer indeed. The young bird was much photographed and brought pleasure to the open site's many visitors for a portion of whom it was a first time sighting.
Video courtesy of Gnome
|Glossy Ibis over Otmoor, courtesy of Jeremy Dexter|
Glossy Ibis and Cattle Egret were rather more fleeting Oxon records of note in November's early days. The former was logged again over Otmoor on 3rd before landing in Port Meadow at dusk, but was not relocated in either location the following morning. Another Cattle Egret sighting and sixth for Oxon this year came from Balscote Quarry near Banbury on the morning of 1st, but that bird soon moved on. Great White Egrets remained at mostly regular sites, with more appearances from new places in the Thame Valley from 22nd.
|Cattle Egret at Balscote Quarry, courtesy of Kyle Smith|
|Great White Egret near Cuddesdon, courtesy of Andy Coates|
Amongst wildfowl the tally of Scaup soon matched that from 12 months ago as last month's female at Farmoor was joined by an immature drake and a first winter female at Dix Pit which thereafter switched to the reservoir too. This trio was possibly even more popular with our own and visiting snappers than the Diver, with many pictures contributed to this log. Another returnee to Farmoor was the drake Aythya hybrid of the last three winters, which was also recorded at intervals through the review period.
|Imm drake ↑ and two female ↓ Scaup at Farmoor Reservoir|
|Farmoor Aythya hybrid, all the above courtesy of Ewan Urquhart|
Elsewhere winter Wigeon, Teal and Shoveler flocks built impressively at wetland and flooded sites. Other regular seasonal items worthy of mention included Pintail, Red crested Pochard, Goldeneye, Goosander and Shelduck. This winter's second Whooper Swan was found just outside Thame near the Bucks border on 10th but did not linger, then seven more dropped in briefly at Otmoor on the month's last day. Lone Brent Geese visited Farmoor Reservoir on the mornings of 11th and 23rd, and 19 White-fronted Geese flew over on 30th.
|Whooper Swan near Thame, courtesy of Luke Marriner|
|Brent Goose at Farmoor, courtesy of Ewan Urquhart|
There was plenty to keep county gullers occupied this month. Top billing in the group went to a first winter Iceland Gull seen around the Appleford and Didcot area a number of times. A further talking point in that locality was a possible Ring-billed x LBB hybrid on 24th, giving our experts due scope for analysis.
Video courtesy of Badger
|Caspian Gull (1w) at the Borrow Pit, Banbury courtesy of John Friendship-Taylor|
Caspian Gull sightings issued regularly from the Appleford and Cassington GPs, Didcot landfill, Port Meadow and Farmoor Reservoir; as well as sites around Banbury from 22nd and Chinnor Cement Works (24th). Mediterranean Gulls too were picked out on occasion in the roosts at Port Meadow, Appleford, Farmoor and Grimsbury Reservoirs; and two Little Gull at Farmoor on 8th.
|Lone Grey amid Golden Plover on Otmoor, courtesy of Thomas Miller|
|Woodcock, courtesy of Roger Wyatt|
The month's stand-out wader sighting was a Grey Plover on Otmoor over the weekend of 14 - 16th. Golden Plover and Lapwing numbers built alongside winter wildfowl in prevailing wet conditions, with impressive concentrations at the RSPB reserve and other locations. In this group Black-tailed Godwit also made a strong showing and Green Sandpiper continued to be noted around the county. As in October Common Snipe amassed high counts, with 150+ at each of Bicester Wetland Reserve on 17th and Waterstock two days previously. This is also the time of year when Woodcock can tend to be flushed more readily, or in some cases not!
|Crossbill at Buckland ↑ courtesy of Mark Merritt|
and in the Chilterns ↓ courtesy of Roger Wyatt
It was a good month for winter passerines and especially Common Crossbill that were recorded in eight separate places around the county. The most visited of those was near the village of Buckland in south-east Oxon. Other seasonal finches - Redpoll, Siskin and Brambling - also produced multiple records.
|Otmoor Redpoll, courtesy of Terry Sherlock|
|Halloween Brambling, courtesy of Nick Truby|
|Siberian Chiffchaff on Otmoor, courtesy of Jeremy Dexter|
Finally and more unusually in this group a Siberian Chiffchaff was identified from the first screen at Otmoor on 10th, an extra scarce site and county record in what was by any measure an outstanding month for birds in Oxfordshire. Now just one further review period remains for the quite remarkable year of 2020.
Monday, 30 November 2020
Port Meadow: Godstow
7 Goosander: 4m,3 red heads. First seen below weir at Godstow lock then travelled down river as I walked along the river bank. First males I have seen this autumn. 14:45.
2 Shelduck: On floods. 15:30.
|Common Goldeneye |
Sunday, 29 November 2020
Great northern Diver (juv) on F2 off of eastern bank 12:00
Scaup 3 F1 off N/W bank Aythya hybrid on F2
Red-crested Pochard 4
Snow Goose 90
Barnacle Goose 29
(per Dave Lowe, Ewan Urquhart)
|Red-crested Pochard at Farmoor Reservoir taken yesterday by Bryan Manston.|