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December is one of the quietest months with only 164 species recorded during the month. It can be a good month for wildfowl with the chance of Red-breasted Merganser and Goosander if inland waters freeze or some fly by Bewick’s Swans. A good selection of seabirds have occurred in December gales including Black-throated and Great Northern Divers, Leach’s Petrel, Little Auk, Grey Phalarope and Pomarine Skua. Other rarities have included a stunning male Desert Wheatear (2013), Green-winged Teal (2013), Egyptian Goose (2013), Glaucous Gull, Waxwing (2010) and in the winters of 1940 & 1941, Cirl Bunting.

December 2016

31st December
A female Goldeneye drifted down river from Severn Beach at 08.40. Combined reports from Pilning Wetland/Northwick Warth included 32 Canada Geese, 2 Pintail, 2 Pochard, 8 Tufted Duck, 400+ Black-tailed Godwiits, 60+ Knot, 250+ Lapwing, 2 Jack Snipe, 20+ Snipe, single Water Rail, Little Egret, Chiffchaff and Water Pipit.

30th December
Another foggy morning. Combined reports from New Passage/Northwick Warth/Pilning Wetland through the gloom included 450+ Black-tailed Godwits, 140 Knot, 2000+ Dunlin, 200 Lapwing, a Bar-tailed Godwit, 2 Grey Plover, 2 Little Egrets, 140 Teal, 280 Wigeon, a Pochard, 32 Canada Geese, single Peregrine, Rock Pipit and female Blackcap. A male Blackcap was feeding in a Severn Beach garden.

                                                                                     Blackcap, Severn Beach 30.12.16  

29th December
Another icy day with fog during the morning. The usual waders and wildfowl were seen from New Passage as most of the pools on Pilning Wetland were covered with ice. Another relatively short distance journey to far East Gloucestershire provided the opportunity to see another rarity in the form of a male Blue Rock Thrush.

                                                                                 Blue Rock Thrush, Stow-on-the Wold 29.12.16

28th December
A repeat of the icy dawn and the same birds today on Pilning Wetland.

27th December
A cold and icy morning. A visit to the half frozen Pilning Wetland produced 420+ Black-tailed Godwits, 80 Knot, 80 Curlew, 350+ Lapwing, a Little Egret, 7 Tufted Duck, 4 Gadwall, 26 Shoveler, 350 Wigeon, 60 Teal and 4 Mute Swans. A Peregrine and 3 Stonechats were seen at Aust Warth.

                                                                       Black-tailed Godwits and Knot, Pilning Wetland 27.12.16

26th December
A second hand report was received of a Long-eared Owl on Northwick Warth this afternoon. Other sightings from here and Pilning Wetland included the large mixed flock of waders and duck and 2 Little Owls.

25th December
Another warm and windy day produced 14 Kittiwakes off Severn Beach.

24th December
Combined reports from Pilning Wetland/Northwick Warth included 450 Back-tailed Godwits, 120 Knot, 250 Dunlin, 230 Lapwing, 90 Curlew, 60 Redshank, 22 Grey Plover, 35 Oystercatchers, a Snipe, a Little Egret, 12 Gadwall, 16 Shoveler, a Pochard, 9 Tufted Duck, 250 Wigeon, 80 Teal, 27 Canada Geese, 2 Mute Swans, 3 Little Grebes, 35 Pied Wagtails and a Sparrowhawk.

23rd December
An increasingly wet and windy day as Storm Barbara crossed the country. A visit to Pilning Wetland produced 400+ Black-tailed Godwits, 40 Knot, 250 Lapwing, 400 Dunlin, 100+ Curlew, 100 Redshank, a Little Egret, 38 Canada Geese, 14 Shoveler, 4 Tufted Duck, 6 Gadwall, 140 Teal, 400 Wigeon and a Sparrowhawk. A single flock of 60 Kittiwakes lingered off Severn Beach from mid afternoon.

22nd December
A Short-eared Owl was seen again on Aust Warth late morning. A Little Owl was reported at Northwick Warth. At least 94 Turnstones and 30 Dunlin were seen at Severn Beach.

21st December
Thank goodness the shortest day has been and gone. Things can only get better. A visit to Pilning Wetland produced a massive flock of roosting waders including 400+ Black-tailed Godwits, 600+ Dunlin, 120 Curlew, 90 Redshank, 120 Knot and 400+ Lapwing until a pair of Peregrines repeatedly attacked the flock for several minutes. Other sightings from Pilning Wetland included a Little Egret, a Pochard, 11 Tufted Duck, 7 Gadwall, 19 Shoveler, 160 Teal, 200 Wigeon and a Raven. A male Stonechat was seen at Severn Beach and a Short-eared Owl was present again this afternoon at Aust Warth.

20th December
Reports from Pilning Wetland/Northwick Warth included a Marsh Harrier, 54 Canada Geese, 18 Shoveler, 8 Tufted Duck, 8 Gadwall, 140 Teal, 200 Wigeon, a Little Egret, 300 Dunlin, 300 Black-tailed Godwits, 340 Lapwing, 40 Knot and a Snipe. A Short-eared Owl, 2 Peregrines, a Kestrel and 5 Stonechats were reported at Aust Warth this afternoon. Another rarity trip today, this time just 20 miles South to Blagdon Lake to see the first ever Blyth’s Pipit for the area. A true Little Brown Job to the uninitiated but a very educational bird to identify among the local Meadow Pipits.

                                                                                      Blyth’s Pipit, Blagdon Lake 20.12.16

19th December
Combined reports from New Passage/Pilning Wetland/Northwick Warth involved 400+ Black-tailed Godwits, 60 Knot, 700 Dunlin, 340 Lapwing, 90 Curlew, 40 Oystercatchers, 60 Redshank, a Little Egret, 3 Goosander (flew South), 35 Canada Geese, 12 Gadwall, 10 Tufted Duck, 15 Shoveler, 160 Teal, 350 Wigeon and a Sparrowhawk. Another 40 Oystercatchers and 6 Grey Plover were seen at Severn Beach.

18th December
A foggy morning made viewing difficult. Sigtings from Pilning Weland/Northwick Warth included 400+ Black-tailed Godwits, 140 Knot, 240 Dunlin, 350 Lapwing, 120 Curlew, 80 Redshank, 50+ Snipe, 4 Jack Snipe, a Little Egret, 34 Canada Geese, a Pochard, 8 Tufted Duck, 10 Gadwall, 14 Shoveler, many Wigeon and Teal. A Cetti’s Warbler and 4 Gadwall were reported at the Orchard Pools in Severn Beach. A Short-eared Owl was reported at Aust Warth this morning.

17th December
The flocks of Black-tailed Godwits, Knot, Dunlin and Wigeon remained in the Northwick Warth area.

16th December
At least 470 Black-tailed Godwits, 300 Dunlin, 320 Lapwing, 40 Knot, a Little Egret, 600+ Wigeon, 120 Teal, 3 Shelduck, 30 Canada Geese, a Peregrine and 2 Little Owls were seen in the Northwick Warth/Pilning Wetland area today. A Raven was present at Severn Beach. Three Stonechats were reported at Aust Warth.

15th December
A brief low tide visit to New Passage produced just the large flock of Black-tailed Godwits and Knot, 330 Lapwing, 600+ Wigeon and 39 Canada Geese. A flock of 70 Turnstones were seen at Severn Beach.

14th December
Combined reports from the Northwick Warth/Pilning Wetland area involved 545 Black-tailed Godwits, 348 Lapwing, 230 Knot, 6 Snipe, 2 Little Egrets, 2 Little Grebes, 660+ Wigeon, 101 Teal, a female Pochard, 9 Shoveler, a Merlin and a Chiffchaff. A male Blackcap was seen feeding in a Severn Beach garden.

13th December
A wet day. A brief scan from New Passage early afternoon produced an impressive flock of 300 Knot and 450+ Black-tailed Godwits, 80 Redshank, 300+ Lapwing, 400 Dunlin, 29 Canada Geese, 500+ Wigeon and 10 Shoveler.

12th December
Much the same was seen in a brief visit to Pilning Wetland/New Passage including a Little Egret, 450+ Black-tailed Godwits, 280 Lapwing, 130 Curlew, 300 Dunlin, 80 Redshank, 29 Canada Geese, 500+ Wigeon, 5 Tufted Duck and 10 Shoveler.

11th December
A Little Egret, 400 Dunlin and the huge flock of  Black-tailed Godwits and Wigeon remained on Pilning Wetland. A Water Rail, 2 Gadwall and 2 Cetti’s Warblers were reported from the Orchard Pools at Severn Beach.

10th December
A wet day. The only report was of a Kingfisher and Kestrel at New Passage.

9th December
A brief late afternoon visit to Pilning Wetland produced impressive mobile flocks of waders and ducks. At least 500 Black-tailed Godwits, 70 Knot, 300 Lapwing, 140 Curlew, 70 Redshank, 500 Dunlin, 51 Canada Geese, 400 Wigeon, 140 Teal, 16 Shoveler were seen trying to settle while some mechanical ditch maintenance was carried out and Peregrine, Sparrowhawk and Kestrel adding to the panic. A male Stonechat was seen at Severn Beach.

8th December
An Egyptian Goose was present with 70 Canada Geese on Pilning Wetland this morning before it flew off East. Other reports from here and Northwick Warth included 500+ Black-tailed Godwits, 60 Knot, 70 Redshank, 150 Curlew, 400+ Lapwing, 200 Dunlin, 16 Shoveler, 12 Gadwall, 3 Tufted Duck, 200 Teal, 400 Wigeon, 2 Little Grebes, 30 Pied Wagtails and a Peregrine. Just 8 Shelduck, 20 Wigeon and 4 Grey Herons were seen at high tide at Severn Beach. Another 80 Wigeon, 25 Teal, 250 Dunlin and a Snipe were reported at Aust Warth.

7th December
No reports received yet for today. Meanwhile, only the 13th ever Dusky Thrush for Britain was a welcome distraction in a small village in the Derbyshire Peak District today.

                                                                              Dusky Thrush, Beeley, Derbyshire 7.12.16

6th December
The only report received was from Severn Beach involving 2 Knot, 220 Dunlin and 2 Stonechats.

5th December
A new record count of 556 Black-tailed Godwits were seen on Pilning Wetland this morning. Other reports from here and the Northwick Warth area included 40 Knot, 130 Dunlin, 40 Lapwing, 60 Curlew, 2 Snipe, 350 Wigeon, 85 Teal, 10 Gadwall, 4 Tufted Duck, 2 Shoveler, 28 Canada Geese, 2 Little Grebes, 2 Water Rails, single Peregrine, Kestrel, Sparrowhawk and Little Owl. Another Water Rail was seen at Aust Warth. At least 2000 Dunlin, 60 Redshank and a male Stonechat were seen at Severn Beach.

4th December
The only reports from Northwick Warth/New Passage involved 28 Canada Geese, 500+ Wigeon, 30 Teal, 7 Shoveler, 3 Tufted Duck, a Little Grebe, 300+ Dunlin, 20 Curlew and 9 Lapwing. A detour to Camrose, Pembrokeshire this morning proved worthwhile with some excellent views of the first Masked Wagtail for Britain. Click on the image below for a short video on Youtube.

                                                                                         Masked Wagtail, Pembrokeshire 4.12.16

3rd December
The only reports today were of 15 Ringed Plover, 110 Dunlin, 30 Turnstones and a Stonechat at Severn Beach and a Woodcock, 4 Jack Snipe, 7 Snipe, single Water Rail and Short-eared owl at Chittening Warth.

2nd December
A slight thaw of the frozen pools today. Reports from Northwick Warth/Pilning Wetland involved 300+ Black-tailed Godwits, 220 Knot, 2200 Dunlin, 100 Lapwing, 11 Grey Plover, 3 Snipe, 51 Canada Geese, 10 Shoveler, 8 Gadwall, 5 Tufted Duck, single Water Rail, Little Owl, Raven and Cetti’s Warbler.

                                                                                        Grey Plover, New Passage 1.12.16  

                                                                                          Wigeon, New Passage 1.12.16

Ist December
Another bitter cold and icy morning with fog rolling in late morning. Sightings from New Passage included 400+ Black-tailed Godwits, 20+ Grey Plover, 60 Knot, 90 Redshank, 3500 Dunlin, 30 Canada Geese, 800+ Wigeon, 120 Teal, 15 Shoveler, 5 Gadwall, single Tufted Duck and female Pintail.