Natural History Diary : December 2017
Saturday 30th December
Another trip to a very windy Farmoor this morning, to see a female Scaup, which was off the west bank of F2 in company with a large flock of Tufted Ducks. The Aythya hybrid was there as well. The three Goldeneye were still present, and I counted about fifteen Goldfinches in the Pinkhill hedgerow. The Scaup was the 151st species I'd seen in the UK in 2017.
Great Crested Grebe | Farmoor Scaup ♀ | Farmoor  
Tuesday 27th December
I went to Farmoor this morning. Walking across the causeway revealed the usual residents: Tufted Ducks, Coot, Little Grebes, Great Crested Grebes and Cormorants. In addition there were three Goldeneye (one male and two females) which were diving quite close to the shore. On the west bank of F1 there was a Song Thrush, a dozen or so Redwings and a couple of Fieldfares feeding on the grass. The feeders at Pinkhill were well patronised by Blue and Great Tits, Chaffinches and Reed Buntings. Eventually a Water Rail crept out of the reeds, ate a few spilt seeds, and disappeared again. A Moorhen then did the same. On the way back to the car park I saw a Cormorant with a white thigh patch, which is only present early in the breeding season.
Later at my parents' house in Eynsham a Pied Wagtail, two Collared Doves and three Jackdaws turned up on the bird table.
Song Thrush | Farmoor Fieldfare | Farmoor Redwing | Farmoor
Goldfinch | Farmoor Reed Bunting | Farmoor Water Rail | Farmoor
Saturday 23rd December
Today I saw a Buzzard and a Wren at the allotment, and no fewer than eleven Magpies on the adjacent field. In the afternoon I went down to Lower Radley (my first visit there for nearly two years!) and walked along the footpath to Sandford Lock. There were several Fieldfares in and around the horse paddock. Along the footpath there were several Linnets, Reed Buntings, Chaffinches, Blue Tits and one Yellowhammer. I almost trod on a young Rabbit, which was inexplicably out of the warren on its own.
Friday 22nd December
This morning I spotted a Green Woodpecker in north Abingdon. I also saw a Pied Wagtail and four Redwings near the shopping centre.
Monday 18th December
I visited Thrupp Lake this morning. There wasn't a lot down Thrupp Lane: one Mistle Thrush and two Song Thrushes was about it. Thrupp Lake was mostly frozen. Gadwall were numerous; I counted at least forty. Other ducks seen were Teal, Mallard and Tufted Duck. Lots of Black-headed Gulls were asleep on the ice. There were two Common Gulls and two Herring Gulls as well. In the woodland along the lake's northern shore I saw at least eight Long-tailed Tits and a Goldcrest. From the western side of the lake I saw a Little Egret and a pair of Egyptian Geese. Coming back up the Sustrans route I saw a Grey Heron, another Goldcrest and a Green Woodpecker.
Gadwall ♂ | Thrupp Lake Little Egret | Thrupp Lake Robin | Thrupp Lake
Sunday 17th December
A Grey Heron landed on the ridge of a nearby house this morning. It gingerly climbed halfway down the roof, looked around for several minutes, and then flew off to the east.
Grey Heron | Abingdon    
Saturday 16th December
I had a trip out to Standlake Common this morning. The snow last weekend had knocked down quite a lot of vegetation along Shifford Lane; somebody had been busy clearing it. At the Standlake end of the lane I saw two Coal Tits. There wasn't a lot to see as I walked down the lane: a few Long-tailed Tits and a Song Thrush were noteworthy. The lakes were mostly frozen. Most of the activity was on Pit 38, where there were lots of geese, Mute Swans, Wigeon and a Great White Egret. Pit 28 only had a pair of Red-crested Pochard and a couple of Tufted Ducks. Pit 60 had Mallard and Teal in addition to swans and geese. On the way back I saw two more Song Thrushes, two Goldcrests, two Treecreepers, a female Bullfinch and a Jay. There were hardly any Redwings about, and no Fieldfares at all. I saw a few mammals: a Muntjac, two Grey Squirrels and several Rabbits.
Red-crested Pochard ♂ | Standlake Red-crested Pochard ♀ | Standlake Goldcrest | Standlake
Thursday 14th December
On a brief visit to the allotment this afternoon I saw a Buzzard, a Kestrel, at least three Robins, three Meadow Pipits and a Wren.
Monday 11th December
There were six Long-tailed Tits in the garden this morning.
Sunday 10th December
Heavy snow this morning. I saw half-a-dozen Goldfinches poking about in the ash tree at the front of the house. The birds coming to the feeders were the same as usual, although I did spot a Goldcrest again. I managed to get a photo of a female House Sparrow with a lot of white in her wings.
House Sparrow | Abingdon    
Monday 4th December
I went down to Otmoor this afternoon. A very obliging Kestrel was perched on the wires at the edge of the car park field; he didn't mind being photographed. There were the usual tits and finches on the feeders, but there was virtually nothing to see along the bridleway. A solitary Fieldfare was in a hawthorn bush. At the hide there was a large flock of small birds feeding on seed: mostly Chaffinches and Linnets, with fewer Reed Buntings, Goldfinches and tits, and just two male Yellowhammers. There were at least three hundred Canada Geese on Ashgrave, but I could only find four Greylags. At the first screen there wasn't much exposed mud, but there were four Snipe and about a dozen Lapwing on what was available. The usual waterfowl were present. I walked round to the watch point half-way to the second screen, and saw two Marsh Harriers along the hedge line to the north. At about 15:40 the first groups of Starlings began to arrive, and this continued for about half an hour. There was no big murmuration; the arrivals just went down into the reeds. I didn't see any raptors having a go at them. The two volunteer wardens estimated that at least 75000 birds had arrived.
Kestrel | Otmoor Linnet | Otmoor Yellowhammer | Otmoor
Sunday 3rd December
I saw a Goldcrest in the garden this morning.
Saturday 2nd December
Not a lot about today - a Coal Tit in the garden was the only bird of interest.