First I have to own up that I've had my suspicions about one of my year ticks, namely the Farmoor water pipit. At the time I was convinced, but since then I've learnt more about what a water pipit should look like and looking back at the photo it's clear that what I saw was just a meadow pipit, albeit one of the plainer grey looking types. This should mean that there's one tick to knock of the year total (both county and national lists). However, whilst I've been contemplating the year's birding I've also decided that I will include my "heard only" long-eared owl. I've been working on a "seen if at all possible" basis this year any everything else has been actually sighted but I've not managed to catch up with an actual LEO sighting this year so barring some fortuitous end of year sighting I'm going to have to settle for a heard only. This means that both county and national totals are unchanged but that now I still need water pipit but no longer LEO.
I've also finally managed to catch up with a woodcock this year. My fellow year lister (and indeed now county year list record holder) took me to where he managed to find one in Bagley Wood in the spring and fortunately we managed to flush one within a couple of minutes of arriving. I was most pleased about this as I've been struggling all year to connect with this species and didn't really want to spend the last few weeks of the year slogging around the boggy Long Meadow at Otmoor again in the vain hope of finding one. If I can just find a county merlin now then I will have unblocked both my county year list bogey birds.
Apart from that, my local patch Port Meadow is now back on top form with a variety of winter waders turning up recently: black-tailed godwit, redshank, ruff and dunlin have all been seen this week. I'm still hoping to get something good before the year ends though time is definitely not on my side any more.
The black-tailed godwits on the Meadow floods
A wading redshank
A pair of dunlin on Port Meadow
One more tick for both county and national year lists. Interestingly, Birding World have decided to split American Black Tern from the European one already and the consensus is that they will definitely split. Indeed my fellow year lister has already added the tick to his list though I will hold off until the end of the year. Apparently Azorean Gull is a bit more uncertain so that might end up being an armchair tick a year or two down the line. Amazingly I am pretty much at the previous county year list record of 192 myself (certainly once I include the ABT) so another tick or two should see me clear of it. I'm amazed as I never would have thought at the start of the year that I would get anywhere near it. I think that it just shows what a good year the county has had rather than saying anything special about my birding prowess!
Oxon Year List 2009
191: Woodcock 06/12/09 Bagley Wood
National Year List 2009
232: Woodcock 06/12/09 Bagley Wood