Now things are getting serious. Firstly, in the last 24 hours I have been contacted by two people informing me of bird sightings in the Cuddesdon area. Heartfelt thanks go out to Steve Lockey, who recognised my need for Lapwings by letting me know there were some in fields to the south-east of the village. Then last night Andrew Callender shattered my peace with news of a Green Sandpiper by the river north of Cuddesdon Mill on December 22nd. Six days is a long time for a Green Sandpiper to hang around, especially over the Christmas period when the number of people going out for a festive walk along the river increases significantly. You'd have to be mad to go out before dawn on a bitterly cold morning on the off-chance it had hung around...
8:00am this morning. It is -4°, the coldest morning of the year, with an exceptionally hard frost. I calculate I have about 20 minutes of light after sunrise, then I need to leave for work. I'm by the River Thame 20 minutes before sunrise, looking for a bird last reported a week ago. I start walking north, through the frozen fields:
I can easily imagine a Green Sandpiper here, calling as it flushes, flashing a white rump between dark wings and tail, as it zig-zags away. There were waders this morning, 2 Snipe rose from the river edges. There were duck too, 12 Mallard, 2 Wigeon and 3 Teal. But no Green Sandpiper. This Fox padded through the frozen grass, apparently oblivious to my presence, though it always kept at least one ear on me. It may have tried to keep both on me, but there appears to be some damage to it's left ear:
Then the sun rose and spread some colour over the landscape. Time to go to work.
92 species for the year. 2 days to go.