Before heading back to work, I had the day on Monday 03/01 to get around some sites and kick off my 2022 local birding. It turned out to be a very decent day , with several potential banana skins added to the list already.
I began at Grimsbury Res for sunrise, teaming up with Gareth B. A steady start with a couple of flyover adult Great Black-backed Gulls (a scarce bird in these parts), a Redpoll amongst several Siskin. Potentially tricky patch birds such as Kestrel, Jay and Pheasant were also seen.
Beyond the res, the Upper Cherwell Valley provided more interest with 2 Jack Snipe, 4+ Snipe, 1 Woodcock, a pair of Stonechat and a flyover Peregrine too.
Late morning, I moved onto the Mid-Cherwell valley, south of Aynho Wharf.
On the way, I paused for a short while at the floods at Kings Sutton, noticing c200 large gulls loafing here. A single adult Yellow-Legged Gull was the best I could pick out, plus at least 2 big beasty adult argentatus Herrings.
The recent floods between Aynho & Somerton had produced great numbers of wildfowl and gulls in recent days and again, the long walk along the canal there didn't disappoint.
Large numbers of duck were soon visible, consisting of at least 9 Pintail, several hundred Wigeon, c30 Shoveler, c100 Teal, several Gadwall and big numbers of Greylag and Canada Geese. It was a real sea of birds!
Further on, where the floods had receded a little, several hundred Lapwing were in situ also making for quite a sight. With a bit of effort, 13 Golden Plovers and 2 Dunlin were picked out among the throng, while a pair of sleeping Shelduck were an unexpected bonus.
The day was slipping away fast, but I still had a good couple of hours left. Firstly I stopped off at a bit of set-a-side / game cover near Aynho, that had recently caught my eye. Whenever I drove past, there always appeared to be quite a few passerines about and as luck would have it, a short stop-off revealed the hoped-for presence of at least 11 Brambling, among Chaffinches, Linnets and Yellowhammers.
With the weather looking a bit suspect, I decided to give Hinton Airfield a miss and instead head across to Boddington Res for the gull roost, in the hope of perhaps picking out a Med Gull or something rarer. The roost was underwhelming, however a redhead Goosander was about for a bit and 2 Green Sands came through south calling loudly - an unexpected bonus bird, making that 7 wader species for the day!
Finally on the drive back, I was lucky to see the familiar dumpy silhouette of a Little Owl in the fading light, at a regular site close to home. That completed a very satisfactory start to 2022!