Saturday, 5 December 2009


I pull back the curtains and am blinded by morning sun reflecting off... floodwater! The River Thame has burst its banks, potential disaster for those living in Chippinghurst, but great news for me, hoping for wildfowl rather than just the local Mallard. Finding not 1, but 2 male Blackcaps in the garden, does nothing to diminish my enthusiasm and I head out towards the river....

But will the floods deliver...?

The waters have pulled in some birds, but 2 adult and 2 immature Mute Swans and but 34 Canada Geese aren't what I was hoping for. Arty blurred shot of the geese here:

But then, tucked away at the back I find some wildfowl gold... Wigeon! Only the second record of this species in the area.

18 Wigeon in total, though typically flighty:

I work my way south along the river, a Grey Wagtail flies in (the second in a month) and Mallard flush at every bend. Two smaller duck stand out, but are too distant to identify... but are a taste of things to come:

 In a field on the other side of the flooded river I find a flock of duck, but they are distant and in the shadows. Gradually I pick out a few features: the males have cream patches on the rear flanks, a horizontal white stripe below the wing... Teal! My first for the area and loads of them, but before I can see more they take flight and move north to the Wigeon flood. I follow them back where they give distant views, a total of 50 Teal:

An explosion of terrified Woodpigeon and Black-headed Gulls leads me to scan the skies for a raptor, but I'm not expecting one of these, a hunting Peregrine:

Satisfied with a flood haul of 18 Wigeon, 50 Teal, 7 Grey Herons and a Grey Wagtail I work my way back along the set-aside hedgerow, which holds good numbers of Yellowhammers and Reed Buntings, Redwings and Fieldfares. I find Yellowhammers really difficult to photograph, they glow yellow in low winter light but are shy and difficult to approach. This is the best of todays efforts, a male in the process of leaving:

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