Natural History Diary : January 2017
Saturday 28th January
I had a late afternoon walk around Thrupp Lake today. The lake was partially frozen, which concentrated the birds into the non-frozen areas. There were many Teal, probably at least two hundred. There were also good numbers of Gadwall and Tufted Duck, but only a few Wigeon and one each of Pochard and Shoveler. I saw one Grey Heron and one Little Egret. I heard a Kingfisher and then saw it shoot along the north bank of the lake. There were a few Herring Gulls about, both adult and sub-adult birds. The latter two were new species this year. There were few passerines about; a couple of Robins was about it.
Sunday 22nd January
Another bright but very cold morning. I headed to Farmoor, where the reservoirs were not frozen. There was a Little Grebe in the lagoon by the sailing club, and I only found two more as I walked around. Tufted Duck was pretty well the only species of duck present; the count was into three figures. There were also at least fifty Cormorants perched on the rafts. A few of them were in breeding plumage. I found a dead Grey Heron at the water's edge, and I saw two live ones. On the way down to Pinkhill I heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker drumming, but I couldn't locate it. There were some Redwings and Fieldfares on the grassy slope of the reservoir. Pinkhill was completely frozen, but seed which has been scattered by the hide had attracted a number of Reed Buntings, a female Pheasant and a Water Rail. The first time this appeared it was chased off by a Blackbird (this bird had a great deal of trouble trying to walk on ice!), but it came back a bit later for a more leisurely visit. A Barn Owl was visible perched in a tree at some distance. A Kestrel landed on the perching pole that has been erected since my last visit. This is presumably intended for the nest platform that has also been put up. Ospreys later this year maybe?
Later at home a Buzzard came fairly close to the garden at quite a low altitude.
Redwing | Farmoor Water Rail | Farmoor Little Grebe | Farmoor
Saturday 21st January
I visited Standlake Common again this morning. It was pretty cold, and the lakes were mostly frozen over. I spotted a solitary male Goldeneye and five male Goosander on Pit 38. While I was watching these a Great Spotted Woodpecker appeared and was quite vocal. The only bird of note on Pit 27 was the Great White Egret. I saw a Peregrine flying between the electricity pylons. There were lots of Greylag Geese (and others of more dubious parentage) out in the fields. Robins were quite numerous - I saw at least ten. Some appeared to have paired up. There was another Goosander on Pit 60, but no sign of any Red-crested Pochards on Pit 28. On the way back down the lane I saw some Long-tailed Tits and Bullfinches, and also two Song Thrushes.
Robin | Standlake Common Long-tailed Tit | Standlake Common Song Thrush | Standlake Common
Friday 20th January
There was a Magpie in the garden this morning, which is a fairly unusual occurence. There were several Redwings feeding on the grass under the Scots Pines in Hinksey Park on the way into work.
Saturday 14th January
I had a trip to the Aves Ditch near Caulcott, Oxon., to see the three Cattle Egrets which had been in the pig field for several weeks. They were quite mobile and one (with a huge amount of mud on its feet) came into camera range from time to time. Also amongst the pigs were lots of Starlings and Black-headed Gulls, and a few Rooks, Pied Wagtails and Lesser Black-backed Gulls. In the hedgerow I saw two flocks of Long-tailed Tits, some Linnets and a couple of Fieldfares.
Later I saw a Kestrel at the allotment and a couple of Long-tailed Tits in the garden.
Cattle Egret | Caulcott    
Friday 13th January
I saw a Kestrel on the way in to work this morning.
New Fieldfareimage added.
Thursday 12th January
I saw a Pied Wagtail in St Giles' churchyard this morning.
Saturday 7th January
I had a cracking view of a Goldcrest in the garden this afternoon. It was searching shrubs for insects, but it also took a couple of bits of food from the table. Unfortunately I didn't have a camera handy!
Thursday 5th January
A walk in the University Parks at lunchtime today added four species to the year list: Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush and Goldfinch. Also of note were around two dozen Blackbirds, and at least a dozen Grey Squirrels.
Wednesday 4th January
I saw a Red Kite at the Redbridge car park this morning, and a Moorhen in Hinksey Park.
Monday 2nd January
Much better weather today, so I headed for Standlake Common. I failed to find the two Bean Geese, and the Smew was also elusive. However I saw a good range of birds, and although there wasn't much along Shifford Lane I eventually found a pair of Bullfinches. Scanning Pit 27 for the Smew produced a Little Egret, a Grey Heron, a Pochard and the usual waterbirds. There was a Great White Egret on Pit 38. A Buzzard flew over. Out in the field to the west of the pit a number of Canada Geese and Wigeon were feeding on the grass. I saw a Stonechat in that area as well. There was a large flock of feral Greylag Geese in the other direction, but the Bean Geese were not among them. On Pit 27 I saw three male Goosander and around forty Red-crested Pochard. I went to the Langley Lane hide on Pit 60, turning up a couple of Fieldfares and Long-tailed Tits on the way. The usual waterbirds were on the lake, and the feeders had attracted a few Reed Buntings and a Chaffinch. On the way out of the village I saw a Red Kite.
Back at home I saw a Wren and a couple of Long-tailed Tits in the garden, and a Lesser Black-backed Gull flew over.
Gadwall | Standlake Common    
Sunday 1st January
A wet and miserable start to 2017, which rather suppressed garden bird activity. I only saw seven species (compared with 13 yesterday). In addition there were flypasts from Rooks and Black-headed Gulls.