Natural History Diary : December 2018
Monday 31st December
For the last hurrah of 2018 I went over to Farmoor mid-morning. It was pretty cloudy but relatively mild. The usual occupants were on the reservoirs. I noted that quite a few Cormorants were sporting a white thigh patch. I spotted a Common Gull on the north wave wall of F1. I only saw one Little Grebe today. At the Pinkhill hide a very obliging Water Rail spent some time under the feeders, picking up scraps. On the way round the north side of F1 I saw a Herring Gull, one adult and two juvenile Great Black-backed Gulls, and a Grey Wagtail.
Cormorant, Farmoor, 31-Dec
Water Rail, Farmoor, 31-Dec
Grey Wagtail, Farmoor, 31-Dec
Cormorant | Farmoor Water Rail | Farmoor Grey Wagtail | Farmoor
Thursday 27th December
There was a Coal Tit in the garden this morning. In the afternoon I had a short walk in the western part of Bagley Wood, which is now accessible (previously it was off limits). However the birds weren't very different: Long-tailed, Blue and Great Tits were busy in the oak trees, and a Treecreeper and a Nuthatch were doing the same.
Saturday 22nd December
I had a trip to Blewbury Down this afternoon. It was fairly mild and mostly sunny. I walked about half a mile onto the downs from the end of the Woodway. Initially there wasn't much to see except for a large flock of Rooks. Then I started to flush Redwings and Fieldfares from the hawthorn bushes. On the way back I saw a flock of around sixty Fieldfares, and another of around 20 Redwings. One of the latter was very obliging, staying put in a hawthorn bush and allowing a fairly close approach. Then I saw three rather chunky-looking birds perched in a tree, which on closer inspection turned out to be Corn Buntings (my 150th British species seen this year). They were joined by three more. I also saw a small flock of Linnets, some Blue and Great Tits, three Dunnocks and four Chaffinches.
Redwing, Blewbury Down, 22-Dec
Corn Bunting, Blewbury Down, 22-Dec
Linnet, Blewbury Down, 22-Dec
Fieldfare | Blewbury Down Corn Bunting | Blewbury Down Linnet | Blewbury Down
Thursday 20th December
I went over to Standlake Common this morning, my first visit there since August. It was fairly mild and mostly sunny. There wasn't a lot to see as I walked down Shifford Lane. The first birds of note were on the 3Ts pit (pit 27), where I saw a male Goldeneye and four distant Goosander. There were also the usual ducks, Coot and Great Crested Grebes. There wasn't much on pit 38, but a Red Kite flew over. There were lots of Greylag and Canada Geese out on the fields. I spotted a Grey Heron on the bank of pit 28, and there were around sixteen Red-crested Pochard and one Pochard on the water. As I walked down to the Langley Lane hide I disturbed lots of Fieldfares and Redwings in the hedgerow. There were two Grey Herons on the southern bank of Pit 60, and a Great White Egret at the west end. A flock of around sixty Lapwing put on a flying display as I was leaving the hide. Up the lane I saw a Treecreeper, a pair of Bullfinches and some Long-tailed Tits.
Reed Bunting, Standlake Common, 20-Dec
Fieldfare, Standlake Common, 20-Dec
Long-tailed Tit, Standlake Common, 20-Dec
Reed Bunting | Standlake Common Fieldfare | Standlake Common Long-tailed Tit | Standlake Common
Tuesday 18th December
Two Common Frogs were out and about in the garden this evening.
Sunday 16th December
After yesterday's cold and wet weather, conditions were better this morning so I ventured down to Thrupp Lake. There wasn't a lot along Thrupp Lane until I reached the horse paddock field opposite the farm buildings. Here there were two Buzzards on the ground, along with two Mistle Thrushes, a Song Thrush and six Redwings.
The usual residents were on Thrupp Lake, but there weren't many Tufted Ducks, Wigeon or Shoveler. There were at least twenty pairs of Gadwall, though. Other species were a Kingfisher, a Grey Heron, four Pochard, a Common Gull and a Little Grebe. I saw a large Pike in the shallows by the bridge in the NW corner of the lake.
On the way back up Thrupp Lane I counted at least thirty-five Jackdaws in the horse paddock field.
Gadwall, Thrupp Lake, 16-Dec
Pochard, Thrupp Lake, 16-Dec
Common Gull, Thrupp Lake, 16-Dec
Gadwall | Thrupp Lake Pochard | Thrupp Lake Common Gull | Thrupp Lake
Pike | Thrupp Lake
Saturday 15th December
This morning a Mistle Thrush flew into a tree near my house. I can't recall seeing a Mistle Thrush near the house before.
Thursday 13th December
There was a Long-tailed Tit and two Robins in the garden this morning. One Robin chased the other off.
In the afternoon I went back to Buckland Warren, and this time managed to locate Common Crossbills and Siskins feeding in the larch trees at about SU339960. They were quite mobile, and being high up in the trees, pretty hard to photograph. I did get some decent views through the scope, though. I also saw a Marsh Tit. Eventually the Crossbills and Siskins were forced off by a pair of Great Spotted Woodpeckers. On the way back to the car I spotted a Raven perched in a pine tree.
Common Crossbill, Buckland Warren, 13-Dec
Common Crossbill | Buckland Warren    
Tuesday 11th December
Today's sunshine enticed a Drone Fly to do a bit of sunbathing in the front garden. It became a useful test subject for my new macro lens.
Drone Fly, Abingdon, 11-Dec
Drone Fly | Abingdon    
Sunday 9th December
I visited Farmoor this afternoon. The usual residents were on the water. I counted at least 75 Cormorants and four Little Grebes. There were lots of Fieldfares and Redwings in the Hawthorn and Cotoneaster bushes along the river. The feeders at Pinkhill were quite busy with Blue abd Great Tits, three Reed Buntings and two Chaffinches (but there was no sign of any Water Rails). On the way back to the car I saw a Herring Gull perched on raft. The gull roost on F1 looked quite big. Most were Black-headed, but there were also some Lesser Black-backed and a Greater Black-backed there as well.
Little Grebes, Farmoor, 09-Dec
Blue Tit, Farmoor, 09-Dec
Herring Gull, Farmoor, 09-Dec
Little Grebes | Farmoor Blue Tit | Farmoor Herring Gull | Farmoor
Sunday 2nd December
Four Fieldfares were eating hawthorn berries at the allotment this morning.