Saturday 14th January – the Bird Race   Leave a comment

The idea of a bird race is for a team of birders to try to see or hear as many species of bird as possible in one day. A January bird race followed by a social gathering used to be a popular event amongst Dorset birders but recently interest has waned and this year only three teams took place. The highest number of species I have recorded in January is 127, the record score being 130. However today was not to be a high scoring day. Recent mild weather has not encouraged some species to migrate to Dorset for the winter, whilst the cold and windy conditions on the 14th didn’t encourage some species to show.

I joined Nick Urch and Trevor Warwick for an ‘all Dorset’ team, Michael Gould and Tom Carley also did ‘all Dorset’ but Roger Howell, James Phillips, Terry Elborne and Ewan Brodie decided to confine their ‘big day’ to the Poole Harbour area. Interestingly both our team and Roger’s team got the same score – 112.

We set out at 0445 for a ‘owling’ session in north Dorset, it was bitterly cold, -6 at times but it was still and the moon was bright. It should have been good for seeing owls, but all we managed was a few call notes from a Tawny Owl. Trevor informed us that one was calling outside his house before he set off. We could have had a couple more hours in bed and then gone to Trevor’s house!

A cold and frosty dawn at Longham

We arrived at Longham lakes at dawn and soon collected some goodies, the Blue-winged Teal and a Smew, then it was on to Hatch Pond (no Bitterns), Creekmoor for Firecrest and Holes Bay was many ducks and waders. We then proceeded around the harbour in an anticlockwise direction, picking up Spoonbill on Brownsea distantly from Evening Hill, Purple Sandpiper whilst waiting for the ferry and the usual parakeets at Studland. A quick visits to Middlebere followed, then it was off to Thornecombe woods near Dorchester, the Monkey’s Jump area for very distant Golden Plovers and a few farmland birds. We then headed to Radipole but we added nothing to our lists nor at Newton’s Cove where the ‘reliable’ Black Redstart wasn’t or at Castle Cove where little was seen on the water in Portland Harbour. It was clear by now that we weren’t going to do well, but we were determined to

Portland, on the other hand didn’t disappoint. It now was late afternoon, the wind had increased, it was cloudy and at this exposed location it felt bitterly cold, but we added seven species (mainly seabirds) to our list in about 30 minutes.

Pulpit Rock, Portland on a cold and grey afternoon.

We ended the day at Lodmoor in the gathering gloom where Water Rails and Cetti’s Warblers called and a Marsh Harrier flew in just before dark. We made a further abortive attempt for owls before returning to our house for in good time for the 1830 deadline. Margaret had cooked some delightful South African food for all the participants and we had an enjoyable evening discussing our day

Posted January 15, 2012 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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