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Jonny721's Yearlist 2019 (1 Viewer)


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Wednesday 10th April - Rutland Water

A week of Great Crested Newt surveys may mean a lot of late nights and early mornings, but it also means I get a bit more free time during the day to get out and about birding. This afternoon I headed across to Rutland Water for a wander around the nature reserve with two targets in mind, the recently returned Ospreys and the wintering drake American Wigeon.

Despite a chilly wind it was a lovely sunny day and a few butterflies were on the wing as I walked up to the hides overlooking Lagoon 4, including my first Orange-tips and Green-veined White of the year. On the lagoon it soon became clear that my continuing lack of scope would be a hindrance in searching for the Wigeon, as there were several small groups scattered around, some rather distant. Fortunately my other target was much more co-operative; a panic amongst the gulls signalled the arrival of an Osprey which gave spectacular views over the lagoon before settling on the nesting platform infront of Dunlin Hide. It wasn't the only bird of prey on show either, with a pair each of Red Kite and Peregrine also seen. Turning my attention back to the wildfowl I eventually managed to locate the drake American Wigeon on one of the islands on the lagoon, a distant view but not too bad through the camera! A final highlight came in the form of an adult Little Gull that dropped in to rest infront of Sandpiper Hide, one of several seen on the reserve today.

183. Osprey
184. American Wigeon

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Friday 12th April - Potteric Carr and Brockholes

A last minute survey request saw me swap a day in the office for a day along the east coast main line near Peterborough. The survey wasn't too bad bird wise with Kingfisher, Green Woodpecker and Kingfisher all seen, but by mid-afternoon the long drive back home from was starting to drag, particularly whilst I was sat in A1 traffic just outside Doncaster. Fortunately I realised that meant I was sitting only 10 minutes from Potteric Carr Nature Reserve, so I escaped the traffic for an hour and was soon watching the surprisingly showy Spotted Crake feeding along the edge of Loversall Pool. This is only the second time I have seen this species in the UK (+ 1 heard only) with the first being way back in 2010!

Much closer to home I pulled off the motorway again for a dusk visit to Brockholes where the drake Garganey was showing nicely on Meadow Lake. It would have looked much nicer in the scope however, I am looking forward to getting mine back from servicing soon!

185. Spotted Crake
186. Garganey

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Sunday 14th April - Preesall

A very chilled Sunday after a busy week so only a short trip out today to keep the yearlist ticking over. A female Black Redstart was found this morning on the coast near Cocker's Dyke (Site 2F on the liked Fylde Bird Club site guide), a favoured area for this species along the boulders on the seaward side of the sea wall. The wind was blowing strongly from the east but the Redstart was easily found feeding amongst the rocks in the company of a couple of Wheatears, although it was very flighty so difficult to photograph. Like the American Wigeon earlier in the week it was nice to knock another species off the dip-list, now standing at just 5 species for the year.

187. Black Redstart



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Tuesday 16th April - East Midlands

A day carrying out newt eDNA surveys in the east midlands and the increase in temperature saw butterflies on the wing in numbers for the first time this year; 7 species in total were seen including my first Holly Blue, Speckled Wood and Small White of the year. On the bird front a reeling Grasshopper Warbler on a site near Measham was my first of the year and also a new addition to my work list (#122), and later in the afternoon my first Reed Warbler of the year was singing at Long Eaton Gravel Pits.

188. Grasshopper Warbler
189. Reed Warbler


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Thursday 18th April - Kingsbury Water Park

A quiet vantage point survey near Kingsbury Water Park this morning was punctuated with a trickle of vis-mig heading north along the valley; 3 Swallow, 50+ Sand Martin, 3 Redpoll, 1 Siskin, c20 Meadow Pipit and best of all my first Yellow Wagtail of the year.

190. Yellow Wagtail


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Friday 19th April - Over Wyre

A glorious start to the bank holiday weekend and I was up early and heading to the coast for a morning's migrant searching. My plan was to work the stretch between Fluke Hall (Site 2H on the linked Fylde Bird Club site guide) and Cocker's Dyke (Site 2F on the liked Fylde Bird Club site guide) on the north Fylde coast and other locals clearly had the same idea as a Whinchat was found at the latter whilst I was on route. I stuck to my plan however and headed first for Fluke Hall to explore the area of woodland which as it transpired was teeming with birds! Warblers were singing everywhere including 3 each of Lesser Whitethroat and Common Whitethroat, both yearticks. A number of Lesser Redpoll and Siskin were noisily calling from the tree tops with several more passing overhead as did 2 Whimbrel. Moving along the coast I managed to find the male Whinchat at Cocker's Dyke which had now been joined by a second bird, although the lack of scope meant views were very distant. Back at the car a Tree Pipit buzzed over, a species I managed to miss completely in 2018 so a nice one to get so early in the summer.

191. Whimbrel
192. Lesser Whitethroat
193. Whitethroat
194. Whinchat
195. Tree Pipit


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Monday 22nd April - Fylde

Following three early starts looking for migrants along the coast I decided to have a much more chilled day with the fourth and final day of the long Easter weekend. With the weather still gloriously warm and sunny I headed for a walk along the River Wyre at St. Michael's (Site 6A on the liked Fylde Bird Club site guide) where a flyby Kingfisher was the highlight, always a nice bird to see locally. At nearby Myerscough Quarry (Site 6C on the liked Fylde Bird Club site guide) the water levels were very low following the recent lack of rain, but I still managed a couple of yearticks in the form of a pair of Common Sandpiper and a singing Sedge Warbler by the adjacent Lancaster Canal.

Later in the evening I took a drive down to the south Fylde to Lytham Moss (Site 5D on the liked Fylde Bird Club site guide) where I hoped to catch up with Grey Partridge. Even for a younger birder like myself it is sad to see the decline of this species, with the area around Lytham Moss now holding the only truly wild Fylde individuals. I managed to find one pair after a little bit of searching and was also happy to see a single Corn Bunting, another declining species locally.

196. Common Sandpiper
197. Sedge Warbler
198. Grey Partridge


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Tuesday 23rd April - Attenborough NR

Last year I missed the first Lancashire Savi's Warbler (a potential lifer for myself) for a decade because I was on survey in Nottingham during the week it turned up. Well this year it appeared fortune might be more in my favour as a week of newt surveys in the midlands coincided with a reeling bird at Attenborough Nature Reserve, only 20 minutes from some of my sites. Of course I still had to work, and with newt surveys taking place at dawn and dusk I knew this would impede my chances of hearing and potentially seeing the warbler at it's most active time of the day... but of course I still had to try!

Yesterday I had about an hour and a half on site late afternoon before I had to get to my survey, so I knew I needed some luck if I was going to be successful. As I walked from the car park towards Clifton Pool a Common Tern flew overhead calling, a great summer noise and my 199th species of the year, would I get my 200th soon? I joined the small crowd on the path to the Tower Hide overlooking the reedbed on Clifton Pit where the warbler has taken up residence. A pair of delightful adult Little Gulls were feeding over the water providing a nice distraction whilst we kept our ears strained to try and hear the Savi's over the cacophony of Reed, Sedge, Cetti's and Whitethroats singing all around the reserve.

At about 17:30 the Savi's Warbler suddenly struck up reeling with a few short bursts, seemingly coming right from the center of one of the areas of reedbed. Despite plenty of eyes searching it remained well hidden for the next hour as it continued to sing every 15 minutes or so; from talking to those on site it hadn't actually been seen at all that day despite regularly singing. I had to leave at 18:30 with the bird still firmly not on my life list, and although I count heard-only birds on my yearlist I don't yeartick birds I am yet to life-tick, so it remains off both lists, for now...

199. Common Tern



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Wednesday 24th April - Attenbroough NR

I was back at Attenborough by 05:20 the following morning to have a second crack at the Savi's. The wind was much lighter than the previous evening and the darkness was just starting to turn an to blue as I arrived back at Clifton Pool with just one other birder there before me. It didn't take long for the warbler to strike up reeling from it's favoured reedbed in sustained bursts lasting several minutes, although it was as elusive as ever with no chance of seeing it from the path. I therefore took myself up to the tower hide and staked out a spot on the balcony; this provided a much better overview of the reedbed and provided at least a chance of spotting the bird if it happened to perch up at any time. A couple of other birders arrived but they headed further down the path and out of view.

Again I was time limited due to work commitments, having until around 07:00 before I had to leave site, so I decided my best chance of a sighting would be to try and pinpoint it's location during each burst of song and then continuously scan that area in the hope of seeing it. Well it was just before 06:00 that I spotted a dark shape roughly 3/4 up the reeds at back edge of the reedbed from the area the Savi's Warbler was singing. Through the binoculars I could see it was a dark-backed warbler, larger than a Reed Warbler with a noticably long tail and pale throat as it sat upright on a reed-stem singing. I rattled off a few long-range photos that confirmed my suspicions, it was the Savi's, my #350th British species! The bird stayed in the same position for almost 3 minutes from 05:57-06:00 before dropping down into the reeds, what I would have given to have my scope with me as the views would have been great. A few other birders started to arrive as the light levels increased but the bird never showed again and started singing more intermittently, so I knew I was very lucky to have gotten a sighting and I left site happy.

So less than 4 months into the year and I have reached the 200 mark for the yearlist, meaning another 50 to go to reach my end of year target which is looking very attainable. I think the next 50 species on my life list to reach the 400 mark might take just a little longer to accumulate, but I hope I will be able to add a few more before 2019 is up!

200. Savi's Warbler - British Tick #350

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Sunday 28th April - Fylde

The day of the annual Fylde Birdrace for myself, Ash and Sophie, the third year in a row we have attempted a day list in the Fylde as a trio (myself and Ash also tried in 2013). The all-time Fylde record is a very impressive 133 species, with our personal previous totals being:
2013 - 117 species
2017 - 110 species
2018 - 104 species

With three competing work schedules it is always a case with our birdraces of picking a date in advance and hoping for favourable conditions, rather than choosing the date with the best conditions at the last minute. This year we chose the 28th April and watched with dismay as Storm Hannah loomed onto the weather forecasts for the weekend, but we were lucky, whilst the wind was still blowing strong from the NW at dawn on Sunday morning it was forecast to dissipate during the day and be replaced by some clear skies by the afternoon.

We were set up at Rossall Point pre-6am to coincide with the high tide. The wind wasn't blowing from the preferred direction but this being spring birds were moving regardless, all heading north/east into the bay. We notched up a good list of species before 8am, including five yearticks for myself, Great Skua (3), Arctic Skua (4, 3 dark and 1 light), Fulmar (3+), Sandwich Tern (c20) and Razorbill (c15), highlighting my lack of seawatching so far this year! The wind did mean vis-mig was a non-starter, potentially knocking several species off the list of possibles for the day.

From Rossall we headed clockwise round the Fylde, notching up useful species Over Wyre such as Yellowhammer, Little Owl, Pink-footed Goose, Whooper Swan, Yellow Wagtail and Avocet, then down the east side of the Fylde along the A6, adding Dipper, Little Ringed Plover, Green Sandpiper and Raven. We passed the 100 species barrier around 14:00 and managed a few additional ticks in the south and central Fylde, highlighted by Grey Partridge, Tawny Owl, Grasshopper Warbler and Bar-tailed Godwit, the latter being the 116th and last species of the day. It was a little disappointing to finish just 1 species short of our own personal record, however it was a much higher total than we had expected given the conditions so we were all happy!

201. Sandwich Tern
202. Fulmar
203. Razorbill
204. Arctic Skua
205. Great Skua


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April saw a steady stream of returning migrants hitting the yearlist, with a couple of good days in the Fylde in particular helping to add 25 species during the month, putting me on 205 by the end. This keeps me ahead of my previous best year at this stage which was 194 species in 2018, and it also means I have surpassed my lowest end-of-year total which was a measly 202 species in 2014! I was very happy to add my fourth lifer of the year and 350th British species in the form of the Savi's Warbler at Attenborough, as well as a couple of other scarcities with the Spotted Crake and American Wigeon.

So what are my targets for May? There are a number of scarce over-shooting migrants that I would really like to try and connect with this month if they become available to twitch, with Golden Oriole and Red-rumped Swallow topping the list. A trip to south cumbria is also in order to clean up on the oak-woodland specialities.


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Sunday 5th May - South Cumbria and South Fylde

With the temperature reaching as low as 2 degrees overnight you could be forgiven for thinking we were still in early February rather than early May, but by mid-morning the sun had begun to warm things up a little as myself and Sophie reached Hay Bridge Nature Reserve in south Cumbria. Amazingly today was my first visit to this privately-run reserve that I have heard so many good things about from local birders, so I was curious to see if it lived up to the hype... it did!

A gorgeous mix of ancient oak woodland on rolling hills and stands of silver birch in lowland bog, the area was teaming with a massive variety of birds and other wildlife. Before we had even reached the reserve we were treated to a trio of Ospreys circling together over the valley, with the resident female seen later hunkered down on the nest. On the reserve itself at least 2 Cuckoos were singing from the surrounding woodland, their calls echoing down into the valley where we managed to unearth 5 Pied Flycatchers (3 males), 3 Garden Warbler of which 2 showed very well, and a large group of at least 18 Crossbill. A male Tawny Owl was also heard calling from deep in the woodland and my first 2 Swifts of the year screamed overhead. No Redstart this time but that just gives me an excuse to come back! Non-avian highlights included 3 Slow Worm, a Common Lizard and a small herd of Red Deer. Later we moved up the valley a little to another section of woodland that held 2 singing Wood Warblers, one of which handily posed for a few photos.

A quick detour on the way home saw us calling in at the tern colony at Preston Docks where the first 29 Common Terns have returned (with at least 150 yet to arrive), a fantastic noise as they displayed and courted around the pontoons. A single Arctic Tern dropped in for a short time, hopefully a few of these delightful terns will breed in the colony again this year. Take a look here to find out more about the Tern colony at Preston Docks.

206. Cuckoo
207. Pied Flycatcher
208. Garden Warbler
209. Swift
210. Wood Warbler
211. Arctic Tern

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Tuesday 7th May - South Kirkby

A day in the office means no Black Terns for me today despite them dropping in all across the midlands, hopefully some will still be around tomorrow. However I did manage one yeartick as I dropped in on the South Kirkby Iberian Chiffchaff. The bird was fairly easy to locate as it was singing almost continuously at the bottom of Carr Lane, but getting decent views proved difficult as it flitted through the thick birch canopy. This is my second Iberian Chiffchaff after the first for Lancashire back in 2011. A Cuckoo was singing almost constantly from the woods near the chiffchaff, a great sound that I don't hear very often in Lancashire anymore.

212. Iberian Chiffchaff


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Wednesday 8th May - Midlands

A cold and wet day dawned in Tamworth, with my plan for the day consisting of bat analysis from the previous night's transect survey and then maybe a trip to nearby RSPB Middleton Lakes to see the waders that the rain was depositing across the midlands. A check of Birdguides however changed that somewhat as it revealed that the Red-rumped Swallow had surprisingly been refound at Grimsbury Reservoir in north Oxfordshire after going missing for several days! Regular readers will remember from post #51 that this species was one of my two main targets for the spring, so it wasn't long before I was heading down the M40 towards Banbury.

The continued rainfall proved to be advantageous as it meant the hirundines were unlikely to leave the reservoir and this proved to be the case as I arrived at the site to find a flock of 200 mixed hirundines feeding low over the water. It took a few minutes of scanning but I was confident the bird was still present and sure enough my fifth lifer of the year (#351) soon flashed through the scope, a gorgeous Red-rumped Swallow feeding at point blank range over the reservoir! This is a species I have seen oseveral times previously on the continent but it was a joy to get prolonged views of one in Britain. As the rain intensified the hirundines began to sit up on the perimeter fence along the reservoir's western shore and this allowed some incredibly close views of the RRS, as can be evidenced by the phone-scoped record shot below. I left very happy if a little soaked.

After a few hours work during the afternoon I reverted back to my original plan and took a trip down to Middleton Lakes for my second soaking of the day (and hopefully some birds too). The Temminck's Stint from the previous day was still showing well on the east scrape along with 18 summer-plumaged Dunlin and a brick red Knot. Unfortunately there were no Black Terns around and another heavy rain shower that passed through failed to drop anything new in so I began the walk back when news broke of 5 Black Terns just down the road at Kingsbury Water Park. By the time I arrived at Bodymoor Heath Water where the terns had been reported I was greeted by not 5 but 8 immaculate Black Terns fishing over the lake, surely one of the best looking birds around. Whilst I was watching them a noisy 9th individual dropped in from high up to join the flock, a nice end to a productive day.

213 - Red-rumped Swallow - British Lifer #351
214 - Temminck's Stint
215 - Black Tern

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Friday 10th May - South Fylde

A after work detour home this evening to listen out for a singing Quail that was found on Lytham Moss (Site 5D on the linked Fylde Bird Club site guide) earlier in the day. This is quite an early date for a Quail in the Fylde and it represents a prominent gap on my Fylde life list as I am yet to see one locally despite hearing several in previous summers. Well today's bird proved no different, a single snatch of song from it's chosen field but no chance of a sighting, maybe I will have better luck as the summer progresses. Still, a yeartick.

216. Quail


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Friday 17th May - Lunt Meadows

Another after-work twitch on a Friday evening; the alert came through of a Stilt Sandpiper at Lunt Meadows as I was driving home along the M62 late afternoon yesterday, so I carried on past my usual junction and an hour later I was pulling into the reserve car park. This was my first visit to this relatively new wetland reserve in Merseyside which already boasts an impressive list of rarities and scarcities. A small crowd had already gathered overlooking one of the shallow pools and I had soon joined them getting great views of the Stilt Sandpiper (British lifer #352) feeding alongside a few Black-tailed Godwits. Still a very rare bird in the UK (less than 40 records) this represents the second record for Lancashire with the first being way back in 1967 so a county tick for almost everyone present.

A Marsh Harrier was regularly spooking the waders meaning the sandpiper was quite flighty but this turned to our advantage as after one flush it landed particularly close to the path, giving excellent views in the evening sun. The pools were packed with birds - a pristine Wood Sandpiper was another yeartick alongside a drake Garganey, 2 each of Ruff and Mediterranean Gull, and multiple Little Ringed Plover and Avocet.

217. Stilt Sandpiper - British Lifer #352
218. Wood Sandpiper



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Monday 20th May - Wintersett Reservoir

The singing Great Reed Warbler at Wintersett Reservoir has been tempting me for almost two weeks now but work scheduling (and other birds) hadn't presented with me an opportunity to take a visit, until yesterday. I arrived on site late afternoon and made my way towards the NW corner of the reservoir where the bird was immediately audible, singing from within a small but dense reedbed adjacent to the path through the woods. The bird was favouring the western end of the reedbed near one of the 'viewpoints' but with the reeds right up to the path it made viewing more than a couple of metres through them virtually impossible, despite the bird being less than 20m away! Fortunately there was a well placed willow tree by the viewpoint and a quick bit of climbing saw me 10 foot up it and facing a much more panoramic view over the tops of the reeds, where after a bit of scanning the Great Reed Warbler flitted into view as it continued to sing half-way up the reed stems, result!

My only previous sighting of this species was one of my very first rarities way back in 2005, when as a family we stopped off at Conwy RSPB on the way home from a holiday in North Wales to find a crowd of people watching a singing individual on the main lake. Unsurprisingly I barely recall the sighting now (I was 10 at the time!) so it was great to see another this year.

219. Great Reed Warbler


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Saturday 25th May - East Yorkshire

Ash and Sophie decided to head over to East Yorkshire on Saturday to twitch amongst other things the Baikal Teal, and since I wouldn't be driving for once I gladly accepted the offer of a lift! We decided to start at Spurn and then work our way up the coast to Hornsea once news of the Teal still being present came out. Well we were just passing Hull when confirmation of the Teal came through on the news services, but we deicded to stick to our original plan and continued on to Spurn.

To cut a long story short Spurn was very quiet! The highlights of a couple of hours trawl around the wetlands and Sammy's point were slim but did include my first Little Terns of the year on Beacon Ponds, as well as the very late Fieldfare and 3 Yellow Wagtails on the Holderness Field. With nothing else of note being found by others in the area we drove the 45 minutes north to Hornsea Mere to the news that the Baikal Teal had just flown off, probably to the far west end of the lake which was out of view. Not knowing the site very well we spent a couple of hours trying out various vantage points but had little success bar nice views of a Hobby hunting insects along the southern shore. Fortunately our target was refound from the private hide at the end of the lake so we headed round and purchased our permits to allow us access to the hide. The raised viewing platform above the hide proved to be the ideal vantage point for viewing the mere where the gorgeous drake Baikal Teal was quickly located with it's drake Wigeon partner. The bird was showing at a much shorter range than where it had been earlier in the day so we all got great views, a lifer for Sophie and a second for me and Ash following the Marshside individual a few years back. A male Marsh Harrier proved a distraction from the duck as it brought in several food items to a nest opposite the hide, and a male Fox gave great views in the fields near the car park on the walk back.

With no news of the Night Heron at Fairburn Ings we instead diverted to Wintersett Reservoir for my second helpings of the Great Reed Warbler. A lifer for the others, the bird showed much better than when I had seen it the previous Monday, regularly perching up in the reeds belting out it's song. A great if wet end to the day. Sadly the Serin at Spurn was pinned down too late for us to go back there, a potential lifer for me.

220. Little Tern
221. Hobby
222. Baikal Teal

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Monday 27th May - Fylde and Marshside

An early morning seawatch off Rossall Point (site 1A on the linked Fylde Bird Club site guide) in strong winds produced the hoped for Manx Shearwater passing by with 93 in an hour (46 north and 47 south), along with a Fulmar and a good passage of auks amongst the commoner species.

In the afternoon I took a trip over to the south side of the Ribble with Sophie in search of the Glossy Ibis that has taken up residence at Marshside RSPB. After a quick (failed) search for the local Water Voles on the adjacent golf course we headed down to Nel's Hide where the Ibis was still present and showing well, mostly feeding amongst the long grass but also going for a few flyarounds being mobbed by the numerous nesting Avocets on the marsh.

On the way home we called in at the Preston Dock (Site 6H on the linked Fylde Bird Club site guide) to check up on the tern colony. I spent an hour mapping the colony which revealed at least 88 active Common Tern nest or scrapes on the pontoons, as well as 2 Arctic Tern nests. I am hoping to regularyly visit this site over the summer to observe the colony and see if I can accurately assess the productivity this breeding season

223. Manx Shearwater
224. Glossy Ibis


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May proved to be surprisingly productive with 19 yearticks accrued, of which two were lifers - Red-rumped Swallow and Stilt Sandpiper, and three were seconds - Iberian Chiffchaff (+ third), Great Reed Warbler and Baikal Teal. I also cleaned up on most of the late summer migrants with just a few left outstanding.

Looking ahead June should also prove to be very productive for the yearlist, not least due to two trips I have planned - Scotland on 12th-16th and Norfolk on 17th-19th! My previous highest British yearlist was 238 species in 2013, will I pass that total this month?
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