Dave Dawson’s natural history notes for 4th December:-

The wintering birds are back in force. Even higher Black-headed Gull numbers in late November than last month, feeding avidly on the short grass of the public park. The total of 300 birds was second only to a count of 410 birds in November 1993. It looks as if the long-term decline in numbers could be at an end. Remarkably, I saw no birds of the year, suggesting that breeding was not very successful in northern Europe last summer. Twelve Common Gulls was also a high number. Perhaps the food out on the short grass is particularly abundant this year? The Coots on the lake continue their long-term increase, with a record 160 birds. The wintering Cormorants are back. Mallards tend to depart in the winter, but their long-term decline seems to be continuing, with a count of only 10 birds being one of the lowest November figures. Record numbers of Mute Swans continue, with fully 38 wintering birds. There’s just the one Song Thrush singing in Horse Close Wood, best heard at dawn or dusk. Jackdaws have joined the Feral Pigeons feeding on food provided by visitors on the path along the dam. At this time of year there’s less going on with plants. There’s still the remnants of Autumn colour, mainly from Oaks in the woodlands and Field Maple in the hedges. In Horse Close Wood the Hazel leaves are dropping whilst the young catkins are developing.