|Smew courtesy of Andy Last|
The turkey or nut roast has been eaten, the drink has been drunk and with the Christmas pudding settling in the stomach it's time to look back over the month. Sadly instead of going out with a bang, what has been a rather quiet year in the county has rather limped to a close. Still there have been one or two good birds to keep one's interest over this final month.
The bird of the month has to be a Hoopoe that was found near Hook Norton on the 12th on private farmland. However, despite valiant attempts by our esteemed county recorder to see if it was still there and if access might be arranged, unfortunately there was no response from the finder and this record must be added to the all-too-large pile of untwitchable records for this species.
|Hoopoe Hook Norton courtesy of Kevin King|
News of a female Long-tailed Duck at Dorchester gravel pits finally filtered through to the wider birding community on the 8th following its arrival in mid November. This enigmatic sea duck was last reported on the 14th.
|Long-tailed Duck Dorchester courtesy of Paul Wren|
|Otmoor Sprawk courtesy of Tezzer|
Apart from the regulars at Otmoor, Peregrines were seen at Standlake on the 3rd and at Harwell on the 17th. A possible Merlin was seen briefly on Port Meadow on the 2nd with the Otmoor bird seen on the 5th, 15th & 17th; another individual was recorded near Shillingford Bridge on the 5th. The long staying Otmoor Marsh Harrier was last seen on the 3rd with another bird arriving on the 30th. Short-eared Owls were noted near Wheatley on the 11th and at the Devil's Punchbowl on the 13th with at least six birds present on the 29th, at least three birds were along the Oxon/Berks border also on the 13th with a further two along the Ridgeway at Sparsholt on the 29th.
Above: Devil's Punchbowl courtesy of The Gun-slinger
Below: courtesy of Steve Burch
|Bewick's Swans Otmoor by Badger|
three Bewick's Swans arrived on Otmoor on the 28th the same day as two Whoopers were discovered amongst the Mute Swans near Lower Radley. Three White-fronted Geese dropped in to Otmoor on the 27th.
|Whooper Swans Lower Radley by Badger|
Four Pintail were recorded on Port Meadow with this number rising to fourteen by the 27th. On Otmoor numbers of this species reached upwards of twenty by month's end. Two Shelduck were on Port Meadow on the 19th; at the same site were two Goosander on the 2nd and 4th. At least two more Goosander were at Standlake with a drake at Grimsbury on the 6th and 9th and at least three individuals to the south of the county at the Henley Road gravel pits.
|Drake Smew Standlake by Badger|
At Standlake a stunning drake Smew was found on the 3rd which stayed for the remainder of the month. A redhead Smew was also seen among the Henley Road pits on the 21st. Completing the sawbill trio at the Henley Road pits was a female Red-breasted Merganser on the 23rd which may have been the returning bird from last month.
It's been rather quiet this month on the gull front. A first winter Caspian Gull was amongst the roost on F2 on the 6th with several noted at the Didcot landfill through December. Apart from that there have just been a few Yellow-legged Gulls reported at Port Meadow.
|Caspian Gull Didcot courtesy of Lew|
A Ruff was on Port Meadow on the 6th and three Black-tailed Godwits were at the same site on the 19th. Eight Dunlin were at Port Meadow on the 27th with ten seen at Otmoor the following day. Woodcock were seen flying from Moorleys on Otmoor at dusk on the 7th with two birds at the BBOWT Foxholes reserve on the 18th.
|One of Three Black-wits on Port Meadow (c) Badger|
Passerines & Miscellaneous
A tristis Chiffchaff was trapped and ringed near Henley mid month with two individuals seen at Abingdon sewage works at the end of the month. A possible tristis seen briefly at Spital Farm Lake near Banbury on the 9th and at Grimsbury Reservoir on the 29th. A Firecrest was seen at Cholsey on the 25th and the 28th. A Willow Tit was seen at Grimsbury Reservoir on the 6th, 14th and the 24th - this site now seems to be one of only a few places left in the county to see these birds.
|One of two tristis ChiffChaff at Abingdon Sewage Works (c) Lew|
A Bearded Tit was seen at Otmoor on the 13th with at least four birds present at the Noke end of the reserve on the 13th. The Cetti's warbler remained at the RSPB Otmoor reserve all month and another individual was recorded along the Thames at Sandford on the 19th.
Two Brambling were at the BBOWT reserve at Chimney on the 26th with at least fifteen at Burnt Plat near South Stoke on the 29th, these seem to be the only records for December in the county in what has so far been a rather poor year for them; likewise numbers of Siskin and Redpoll seem rather scant. There was an unconfirmed report of eight Waxwings near Stanton St John on the 2nd.
The Bittern on Otmoor was seen sporadically over December. The Starling roost there rose throughout December reaching an estimated seventy five thousand birds by months end.
|Otmoor Starlings courtesy of the Gun-slinger|
This years Birders Xmas curry was held in Abingdon at the Majliss on the 13th
Good food, great company and a few tall tales!
Thanks to everyone who came along and made it such a great evening.
Happy New Year !
So it merely remains for the Oxon Bird Log team to wish you all a very Happy Bird-filled 2015. We leave you with the traditional photo montage for the year that's just finished.