November through December was a further period during which Thames Water land remained closed to us, so once again we were limited to observations and ringing operations with a maximum of six people across the RSPB and HMWT reserves. An average but mild November was followed by a very wet December with sunshine at a premium, and generally about average temperatures, but nothing cold enough to drive many wintering birds off the continent and down to Hertfordshire.
The only wetland bird of the period that was at all out of the ordinary was a female Goosander that stayed for two days in early December. Other notable observations were a skein of 12 Greylags, up to three Egyptian Geese, and a Shelduck on seven dates. Little Egret appearances reached six, as did Water Rail. Five Green Sandpipers were seen on one day in November and are suspected to have been on site throughout the period, favouring the Works where we are currently unable to count them.
One or two Sparrowhawks were regular throughout, one or two Red Kites less so, and single Buzzards were seen just three times. A Tawny Owl and two Barn Owls were also recorded and there were one or two Peregrines on several dates.
Undisputed losers in the non-passerine popularity contest were Ring-necked Parakeets, passing over on five dates with a maximum count of nine.
Significant numbers of wintering Chiffchaffs have remained on site, with a peak of eight. At least three Blackcaps have been seen and one or two Goldcrests were also present from mid November onwards.
A reasonable winter for thrushes, particularly Redwings, saw in excess of 40 feeding regularly on the hawthorn berries, and one count of 75. Blackbird numbers have also been good, with counts of up to 40. There have however only been no more than five Fieldfares throughout, and similarly just a handful of Song Thrushes.
Although there have been relatively few finches and buntings, 32 Greenfinches were seen heading south to roost and the Yellowhammer roost has returned in Second Meadow with a top count of 33. Other sightings include 13 Lesser Redpoll passing through, three Siskins and three Bullfinches.
Remaining notable observations were a male and a female Stonechat, up to 11 Meadow Pipits, and a single sighting of a Water Pipit in November.