Saturday, 24 December 2016

November & December Round-up

I start with my usual excuses... it's been months since I last posted; a combination of being very busy with a new job and having found little interesting to report on. However, before I review the year in full I thought I really should make time to log all of the late Autumn months' findings.

The large ox-bow lake has not proven to be very fruitful at all; certainly for waterfowl - it did turn up some awesome ticks for passerines this year. The only waterfowl I've recorded there have been mallard, tufted duck, moorhen and teal. The latter have steadily built up in November over the summer and the photo above shows a small part of a flock 100 strong that I kicked up in late October.

Swans are largely absent from the patch and I've only recorded them flying through this year. This mute swan in early November is only my second sighting of the year.

More reliable are the traditional farmland birds. I don't know what it is about the area, but birds that are declining nationally are doing very well here. I feel truly blessed that I can count yellowhammer and tree sparrow as regular garden birds

The hawthorn was absolutely heaving with berries early this autumn, more so than anytime I can remember, and this proved a huge draw for many birds. Flocks of redwing and fieldfare blackened the skies on occasion; so much so that the trees have been decimated and the thrushes have mostly moved on. Attempts to photograph these birds feeding proved largely fruitless; this was the best I could manage of a redwing.

Other birds drawn to the berries included blackbird, bullfinch, woodpigeon, buntings but no waxwing. The commotion attracted other birds too: sparrowhawk have been very common this autumn, and feeding groups of tits and warblers have centred on the haw where the thrushes feed.

I don't recall seeing warblers in the winter months before. This year, chiffchaff have held on and will probably over-winter. This bird was seen sunbathing in early December before it narrowly avoided the attentions of a brilliant male sparrowhawk. The following weekend, four were seen at the same spot near the waterworks.

Other sightings of note include oystercatcher, little egret and an increase in snipe numbers (they seem to emerge from every grassy puddle). Fingers crossed I can add jack snipe to the year list this week!