Archive for January 2013

2012 – a summary of my ‘big year’.   Leave a comment

At the start of 2012 I set myself the challenge of seeing over 300 bird species in the UK during the year. I opted to count only species on category A and C of the official BOU list.

The year started well will several rarities left over from 2011, such as Hume’s Leaf Warbler and Spotted Sandpiper. The first goodie was a Blue-winged Teal at Longham Lakes seen on January 1st. Highlights in the first winter period were a Spanish Sparrow in Hampshire and a Paddyfield Warbler in Sussex, both of which were new to my British List. A long weekend in Norfolk brought Cranes, a Lesser White-fronted Goose and a Western Sandpiper but the car breaking down curtailed the year listing. A trip to South Wales for a Yellowthroat was most succesful with Lesser Scaup and Cackling Goose also seen.

Yellowthroat-from-Internet

Common Yellowthroat – a North American warbler that wintered in South Wales (photo from the internet)

March saw the arrival of the first spring migrants such as Garganey and Wheatear but in general was relatively quiet; much of the time was spent searching, largely unsuccessfully, for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. After the winter drought came the deluge; poor weather in spring meant many migrants were late arriving and although I did eventually see them all, rare birds essential to any big year list were largely absent.

IMG_0098-Garganey-pair

A pair of Garganey at Christchurch.

In June we had a very successful trip to Scotland, visiting Shetland, Argyl, the Hebrides and Speyside. This did wonders for the list although towards the end we heard the sad news that my mother had passed away, as a result things were largely on hold until early July when I went to New Guinea for my only foreign trip of the year (chosen  as a July trip would have the minimum impact on the year list). I managed to see a few rare waders in Hampshire during the last few days of the month.

IMG_1530-LT-Skua

The highlight of our spring visit to Shetland was this wonderful adult Long-tailed Skua

IMG_2363-Snowy-Owl

This Snowy Owl was seen on North Uist in the Outer Hebrides

August was a strange month, the tiring trip to New Guinea and the impact of the bereavement took its toll and I found it hard to motivate myself. Without a lot of traveling the only likely year tick was going to be the increasing rare Aquatic Warbler, but the only time that any were ringed at Lytchett Bay was the day when we left to go to the Bird Fair in Rutland.  As a result August became the only month of the year where I didn’t add to the year list.

A Dorset Short-billed Dowitcher in early September was a British tick, but the highlight of the month was my second visit to Shetland. The trip was highly succesful with 18 new birds for the year list and two, Pechora Pipit and Lanceolated Warbler new for Britain. I returned on 8th of October and four days later went off to Cornwall and then over to Scilly. My visit to the ‘Fortunate Islands’ was good socially but not so good for birds with just three new additions, however I did manage to reach my goal of seeing 300 for 2012.

IMG_3296-Hornemann's-Redpol

The Hornemann’s race of Arctic Redpoll wasn’t just a year tick or a British tick it was new for my world list!

IMG_3116-Lancie

The normally skulking Lanceolated Warbler gave wonderful views in drainage culvert on Shetland

IMG_3455-Solitary-Sand

Number 300 – a Solitary Sandpiper on Bryher, Scilly

Late October saw some remarkably rare birds turn up in Dorset, but due the vagaries of taxonomy and suppression none made any impact on the list. A few more additions took us into December where the last year ticks were Waxwing in Oxford and a White-rumped Sandpiper at Longham Lakes, the same site as I saw my first rarity of 2012 on January 1st. And the final total, 309 plus another 12 that didn’t make the grade.

IMG_3528-Hooded-Merg

I finally saw a ‘tickable’ Hooded Merganser at Pagham in November

Species recorded in 2012. Includes two ‘heard onlys’.

Sorry about the problems in formatting the line spacing.

Taiga Bean Goose (Anser fabalis)
Pink-footed Goose (Anser brachyrhynchus)
Greylag Goose (Anser anser)
Greater White-fronted Goose (Anser albifrons)
Lesser White-fronted Goose (Anser erythropus)
Canada Goose (Branta canadensis)
Dark-bellied Brent Goose (Branta bernicla bernicla)
Barnacle Goose (Branta leucopsis)
Red-breasted Goose (Branta ruficollis)
Mute Swan (Cygnus olor)
Bewick’s Swan (Cygnus columbianus bewickii)
Whooper Swan (Cygnus cygnus)
Egyptian Goose (Alopochen aegyptiaca)
Common Shelduck (Tadorna tadorna)
Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata)
Gadwall (Anas strepera)
Eurasian Wigeon (Anas penelope)
American Wigeon (Anas americana)
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos)
Blue-winged Teal (Anas discors)
Northern Shoveler (Anas clypeata)
Northern Pintail (Anas acuta)
Garganey (Anas querquedula)
Eurasian Teal (Anas crecca)
Green-winged Teal (Anas carolinensis)
Red-crested Pochard (Netta rufina)
Common Pochard (Aythya ferina)
Ferruginous Duck (Aythya nyroca)
Ring-necked Duck (Aythya collaris)
Tufted Duck (Aythya fuligula)
Greater Scaup (Aythya marila)
Lesser Scaup (Aythya affinis)
Common Eider (Somateria mollissima)
Surf Scoter (Melanitta perspicillata)
Velvet Scoter (Melanitta fusca)
Common Scoter (Melanitta nigra)
Black Scoter (Melanitta americana)
Long-tailed Duck (Clangula hyemalis)
Common Goldeneye (Bucephala clangula)
Smew (Mergellus albellus)
Hooded Merganser (Lophodytes cucullatus) included as I saw the Pagham bird which I consider to be of wild origin.
Goosander (Mergus merganser)
Red-breasted Merganser (Mergus serrator)
Ruddy Duck (Oxyura jamaicensis)
Black Grouse (Lyrurus tetrix)

Rock Ptarmigan (Lagopus mutus)

Red Grouse (Lagopus lagopus scotia)

Red-legged Partridge (Alectoris rufa)
Grey Partridge (Perdix perdix)
Common Quail (Coturnix coturnix) heard only
Common Pheasant (Phasianus colchicus)
Golden Pheasant (Chrysolophus pictus)
Red-throated Diver (Gavia stellata)
Black-throated Diver (Gavia arctica)
Great Northern Diver (Gavia immer)
Northern Fulmar (Fulmarus glacialis)
Sooty Shearwater (Puffinus griseus)
Manx Shearwater (Puffinus puffinus)
Balearic Shearwater (Puffinus mauretanicus)
Little Grebe (Tachybaptus ruficollis)
Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)
Great Crested Grebe (Podiceps cristatus)
Slavonian Grebe (Podiceps auritus)
Black-necked Grebe (Podiceps nigricollis)
White Stork (Ciconia ciconia)
Glossy Ibis (Plegadis falcinellus)
Eurasian Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)
Eurasian Bittern (Botaurus stellaris)
Black-crowned Night Heron (Nycticorax nycticorax)
Western Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)
Grey Heron (Ardea cinerea)
Purple Heron (Ardea purpurea)
Western Great Egret (Ardea alba)
Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)
Northern Gannet (Morus bassanus)
European Shag (Phalacrocorax aristotelis)
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo)
Western Osprey (Pandion haliaetus)
European Honey Buzzard (Pernis apivorus)
Red Kite (Milvus milvus)
White-tailed Eagle (Haliaeetus albicilla)
Western Marsh Harrier (Circus aeruginosus)
Hen Harrier (Circus cyaneus)
Eurasian Sparrowhawk (Accipiter nisus)
Northern Goshawk (Accipiter gentilis)
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo)
Rough-legged Buzzard (Buteo lagopus)
Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos)
Common Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus)
Merlin (Falco columbarius)
Eurasian Hobby (Falco subbuteo)
Peregrine Falcon (Falco peregrinus)
Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)
Corn Crake (Crex crex)
Common Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus)
Eurasian Coot (Fulica atra)
Common Crane (Grus grus)
Eurasian Stone-Curlew (Burhinus oedicnemus)
Eurasian Oystercatcher (Haematopus ostralegus)
Black-winged Stilt (Himantopus himantopus)
Pied Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta)
Northern Lapwing (Vanellus vanellus)
European Golden Plover (Pluvialis apricaria)
American Golden Plover (Pluvialis dominica)
Grey Plover (Pluvialis squatarola)
Common Ringed Plover (Charadrius hiaticula)
Little Ringed Plover (Charadrius dubius)
Kentish Plover (Charadrius alexandrinus)
Eurasian Dotterel (Charadrius morinellus)
Eurasian Woodcock (Scolopax rusticola)
Jack Snipe (Lymnocryptes minimus)
Common Snipe (Gallinago gallinago)
Short-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus griseus)
Long-billed Dowitcher (Limnodromus scolopaceus)
Black-tailed Godwit (Limosa limosa)
Bar-tailed Godwit (Limosa lapponica)
Whimbrel (Numenius phaeopus)
Eurasian Curlew (Numenius arquata)
Spotted Redshank (Tringa erythropus)
Common Redshank (Tringa totanus)
Common Greenshank (Tringa nebularia)
Lesser Yellowlegs (Tringa flavipes)
Green Sandpiper (Tringa ochropus)
Solitary Sandpiper (Tringa solitaria)
Wood Sandpiper (Tringa glareola)
Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)
Spotted Sandpiper (Actitis macularius)
Ruddy Turnstone (Arenaria interpres)
Red Knot (Calidris canutus)
Sanderling (Calidris alba)
Western Sandpiper (Calidris mauri)
Little Stint (Calidris minuta)
Temminck’s Stint (Calidris temminckii)
White-rumped Sandpiper (Calidris fuscicollis)
Pectoral Sandpiper (Calidris melanotos)
Curlew Sandpiper (Calidris ferruginea)
Purple Sandpiper (Calidris maritima)
Dunlin (Calidris alpina)
Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Tryngites subruficollis)
Ruff (Philomachus pugnax)
Red-necked Phalarope (Phalaropus lobatus)
Red Phalarope (Phalaropus fulicarius)
Black-legged Kittiwake (Rissa tridactyla)
Bonaparte’s Gull (Chroicocephalus philadelphia)
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus)
Little Gull (Hydrocoloeus minutus)
Mediterranean Gull (Ichthyaetus melanocephalus)
Common Gull (Larus canus)
Ring-billed Gull (Larus delawarensis)
Great Black-backed Gull (Larus marinus)
Glaucous Gull (Larus hyperboreus)
Iceland Gull (Larus glaucoides)
European Herring Gull (Larus argentatus)
Caspian Gull (Larus cachinnans)
Yellow-legged Gull (Larus michahellis)
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus)
Sandwich Tern (Thalasseus sandvicensis)
Little Tern (Sternula albifrons)
Roseate Tern (Sterna dougallii)
Common Tern (Sterna hirundo)
Arctic Tern (Sterna paradisaea)
Black Tern (Chlidonias niger)
Great Skua (Stercorarius skua)
Pomarine Skua (Stercorarius pomarinus)
Arctic Skua (Stercorarius parasiticus)
Long-tailed Skua (Stercorarius longicaudus)
Common Guillemot (Uria aalge)
Razorbill (Alca torda)
Black Guillemot (Cepphus grylle)
Atlantic Puffin (Fratercula arctica)
Rock Dove/Feral Pigeon (Columba livia)
Stock Dove (Columba oenas)
Common Wood Pigeon (Columba palumbus)
European Turtle Dove (Streptopelia turtur)
Eurasian Collared Dove (Streptopelia decaocto)
Rose-ringed Parakeet (Psittacula krameri)
Common Cuckoo (Cuculus canorus)
Western Barn Owl (Tyto alba)
Snowy Owl (Bubo scandiacus)
Tawny Owl (Strix aluco)
Little Owl (Athene noctua)
Long-eared Owl (Asio otus)
Short-eared Owl (Asio flammeus)
European Nightjar (Caprimulgus europaeus)
Common Swift (Apus apus)
Common Kingfisher (Alcedo atthis)
European Bee-Eater (Merops apiaster)
Eurasian Hoopoe (Upupa epops)
Eurasian Wryneck (Jynx torquilla)
Lesser Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos minor) heard only
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major)
European Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis)
Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio)
Isabelline Shrike (Lanius isabellinus)
Great Grey Shrike (Lanius excubitor)
Woodchat Shrike (Lanius senator)
Eurasian Jay (Garrulus glandarius)
Eurasian Magpie (Pica pica)
Red-billed Chough (Pyrrhocorax pyrrhocorax)
Western Jackdaw (Coloeus monedula)
Rook (Corvus frugilegus)
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone)
Hooded Crow (Corvus cornix)
Northern Raven (Corvus corax)
Bohemian Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus)
Marsh Tit (Poecile palustris)
Willow Tit (Poecile montanus)
Coal Tit (Periparus ater)
European Crested Tit (Lophophanes cristatus)
Great Tit (Parus major)
Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus)
Bearded Reedling (Panurus biarmicus)
Greater Short-toed Lark (Calandrella brachydactyla)
Woodlark (Lullula arborea)
Eurasian Skylark (Alauda arvensis)
Horned Lark (Eremophila alpestris)
Sand Martin (Riparia riparia)
Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)
Common House Martin (Delichon urbicum)
Cetti’s Warbler (Cettia cetti)
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus)
Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)
Common Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita)
Iberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus ibericus)
Wood Warbler (Phylloscopus sibilatrix)
Dusky Warbler (Phylloscopus fuscatus)
Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus)
Hume’s Leaf Warbler (Phylloscopus humei)
Great Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus arundinaceus)
Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)
Paddyfield Warbler (Acrocephalus agricola)
Blyth’s Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus dumetorum)
Eurasian Reed Warbler (Acrocephalus scirpaceus)
Marsh Warbler (Acrocephalus palustris)
Booted Warbler (Iduna caligata)
Common Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)
Lanceolated Warbler (Locustella lanceolata)
Eurasian Blackcap (Sylvia atricapilla)
Garden Warbler (Sylvia borin)
Barred Warbler (Sylvia nisoria)
Lesser Whitethroat (Sylvia curruca)
Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)

Dartford Warbler (Sylvia undata)

Subalpine Warbler (Sylvia cantillans)
Common Firecrest (Regulus ignicapilla)
Goldcrest (Regulus regulus)
Eurasian Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)
Eurasian Nuthatch (Sitta europaea)
Eurasian Treecreeper (Certhia familiaris)
Rosy Starling (Pastor roseus)
Common Starling (Sturnus vulgaris)
Ring Ouzel (Turdus torquatus)
Common Blackbird (Turdus merula)
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris)
Redwing (Turdus iliacus)
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)
Mistle Thrush (Turdus viscivorus)
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)
Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)
Black Redstart (Phoenicurus ochruros)
Common Redstart (Phoenicurus phoenicurus)
Whinchat (Saxicola rubetra)
European Stonechat (Saxicola rubicola)
Siberian Stonechat (Saxicola maurus)
Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)
Spotted Flycatcher (Muscicapa striata)
European Pied Flycatcher (Ficedula hypoleuca)
Red-breasted Flycatcher (Ficedula parva)
White-throated Dipper (Cinclus cinclus)
House Sparrow (Passer domesticus)
Spanish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)
Eurasian Tree Sparrow (Passer montanus)
Dunnock (Prunella modularis)
Blue-headed Wagtail (Motacilla flava)
Grey Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea)
White Wagtail (Motacilla alba)
Richard’s Pipit (Anthus richardi)
Tawny Pipit (Anthus campestris)
Meadow Pipit (Anthus pratensis)
Tree Pipit (Anthus trivialis)
Olive-backed Pipit (Anthus hodgsoni)
Pechora Pipit (Anthus gustavi)
Buff-bellied Pipit (Anthus rubescens)
Water Pipit (Anthus spinoletta)
Eurasian Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus)
Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)
Brambling (Fringilla montifringilla)
European Greenfinch (Chloris chloris)
Eurasian Siskin (Carduelis spinus)
European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis)
Mealy Redpoll (Carduelis flammea flammea)
Lesser Redpoll (Carduelis cabaret)
Hornemann’s Arctic Redpoll (Carduelis hornemanni hornemanni)
Twite (Carduelis flavirostris)
Common Linnet (Carduelis cannabina)
Common Rosefinch (Carpodacus erythrinus)
Parrot Crossbill (Loxia pytyopsittacus)
Scottish Crossbill (Loxia scotica)
Common Crossbill (Loxia curvirostra)
Eurasian Bullfinch (Pyrrhula pyrrhula)
Hawfinch (Coccothraustes coccothraustes)
Common Yellowthroat (Geothlypis trichas)
Corn Bunting (Emberiza calandra)
Yellowhammer (Emberiza citrinella)
Cirl Bunting (Emberiza cirlus)
Little Bunting (Emberiza pusilla)
Common Reed Bunting (Emberiza schoeniclus)
Dark-eyed Junco (Junco hyemalis)
Lapland Longspur (Calcarius lapponicus

Snow Bunting (Plectrophenax nivalis)

The following birds were seen in 2012 but were not included in the above list because they are not accepted onto the British List, (either because of the escape potential or because they are not treated as a full species by the BOU).

Tundra Bean Goose (Anser (fablis) serrirostris) Treated as a full species by IOC, Clements, UK400 Club but not the BOU

Greenland White-fronted Goose (Anser (albifrons) flavirostris) Treated as a full species by UK400 Club

Ross’s Goose (Chen rossii) Not yet accepted onto the British List by the BOU

Cackling Goose (Branta hutchinsii) Although it occurs annualy in the UK, this species has not been accepted onto the British List

Pale-bellied Brent Goose (Branta (bernicla) hrota) Treated as a full species by Dutch Checklist Committee and UK400 Club

Black Brant (Branta (bernicla) nigricans) Treated as a full species by Dutch Checklist Committee and UK400 Club

Great Bustard (Otis tarda) Although the reintroducced birds on Sailsbury Plain have commenced breeding, the population cannot be considered established

Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus (collybita) tristis) Treated as full species by UK400 Club

Stejneger’s Stonechat (Saxicola (maurus) stejnegeri) Treated as a full species by IOC and Dutch Checklist Committee

Pied Wagtail (Motacilla (alba) yarrellii) Treated as a full species by UK400 Club and Dutch Checklist Committee

British Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla (flava) flavissima) Treated as a full species by the Dutch Checklist Committtee

Greenland Redpoll (Carduelis (flammea) rostrata) Treated as a full species by UK400 Club.

025-Sibe-Stonechat

Stejneger’s Stonechat – almost certainly a full species but yet to accepted on the British List so not counted for the 2012 list.

Posted January 10, 2013 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

1st – 6th January – a New Year boat trip, some ringing and a wonderful Bird Race.   Leave a comment

There have been three major events during the first week on 2013. At 11am on New Years Day about 70 Dorset birders assembled to take a trip around Poole Harbour. Mark and Mo Constantine very kindly hire one of the Brownsea ferries to give us all a New Year treat and this year (unlike last year’s downpour) we had a flat calm sea and beautiful sunshine. Birds didn’t disappoint either, masses of waders and ducks on Brownsea lagoon, 16 Spoonbills at Arne, Red-necked Grebe, Black-throated and Great Northern Divers were among the highlights.

P1011367-Poole-Quay

All those people haven’t turned up to see us of. Our departure from the Quay coincides with the annual New Year raft race

P1011370-Brownsea-lagoon

Brownsea laagoon was full of birds but identifying the trickier species from a moving boat can be problematic.

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Built in Henry VIIIs time to defend the entrance to Poole Harbour, Brownsea Castle looked great in the winter sunshine.

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The sandy cliff at Shipstall Point, part of the RSPBs Arne reserve.

 

On the 3rd I did the first ringing of 2013 at Holton Lee. A large flock of Long-tailed Tits made up much of the catch but most of the Blue, Great and Coal Tits were retraps,. By far the most unusual bird (from a ringing perspective) was a Jackdaw, only the second I have seen in the hand. Regrettably we were so busy that I forgot to photograph it! Although we are mainly ringing common woodland birds at this site, I feel we are beginning to get some data on productivity, survival and site fidelity.

Jackdaw1

We forgot to photograph the Jackdaw but here is one that was trapped as part of the Grampian Ringing Groups colour ringing program.

P1031380-GSW-fem

This female Great Spotted Woodpecker was more docile than most and didn’t attempt to drill holes in Kevin’s hand.

P1031379-Siskin-wing

The yellow rather than white tips on the median coverts (just below my thumb) of this Siskin shows that it is an adult. We have to remeber to change the age codes for birds in the New year. 2’s become 4’s, 3’s become 5’s and 4’s become 6’s. Confused,well it takes a lot of trainee ringers quite a while to get the hang of it.

A lot of the rest of the week was taken up with end of year ringing figures that have to be submitted ASAP, preparing for a talk to an RSPB group next week and doing a recce for the Bird Race on the 5th.

 

P1021375-Bittern

A poor digiscoped shot of the Hatch Pond Bittern. This winter the bird is hanging out on the far side which reduces photo opportunities. Shame it wasn’t there on the Bird Race!

 

The Bird Race on the 5th was an amazing event. After a couple of years with little interest there was real enthusiasm this year. Four teams of four and one of two took part; on my team were Nick Urch, Trevor Warwick and Paul Morton. We started at 0500 from my house, a night-time visit to Baiter failed to produce any waders so we headed west in search of owls. A Little Owl called at West Mordon, Tawny Owls called in Wareham Forest and we saw a Barn Owl in front of the hide at Middlebere.

Rather than do the long drive to Portland Bill for seabirds we had opted instead for Durlston but low cloud and drizzle meant we saw little except a few Shags and Guillemots, but a Woodcock and a Firecrest proved valuable additions to our list. Studland, Brands Bay and the area around the ferry all gave up their goodies, from distant Knot in Brands Bay, Dartford Warblers in the gorse or the Purple Sandpiper that fed near the ferry at North Haven.

Sanderlings at Shore Road, a Black-throated Diver near Evening Hill were noted as we hurried through Poole Park and on to Holes Bay where we hit our first major dips, there was no sign of Common Sandpiper or Spotted Redshank nor of the Bittern at Hatch Pond. A Chiffchaff showed behind PC World where we took advantage of the ‘Hopper short cut’ to save a few minutes.

Chiff-on-post

Chiffchaffs are common breeders and migrants but are rare and local in winter. The sewage works outflow behind PC World provides a warm and sheltered habitat for wintering birds.

It was then on to Arne where thanks to Paul having worked there as a warden we could drive down to Shipstall Point where 16 Spoonbills and a Long-tailed Duck showed well and a pair of Marsh Tits were seen in nearby Slepe Copse. Birders in the hide at Middlebere were surprised when we rushed in, ticked the resident Yelllow-legged Gull and shot off, in spite of the wealth of waders (already on the list) in front of us. I think we were there longer at 0630 looking for Barn Owl than our late morning visit. The drizzle that had persisted all morning was now easing off and the rest of the day stayed dry.

IMG_0243-Marsh-Tit

Marsh Tits have declined dramatically in recent years so it was great to see a pair near Arne.

After a quick visit to Nordon sewage works, where we added Grey Wagtail and Siskin, we headed to the floods in the East/West Holme area, just west of Wareham. This area has held Egyptian Goose, Whooper Swan, Pink-footed Goose and Mandarin Duck recently, all local rarities, but we only connected with the first two (although Kingfisher and Shoveler were compensation). A quick stop at Tincleton cress beds was followed by a stop where Bewick’s Swans are occasionally seen, we quickly located a distant swan with a yellow bill and just as quickly ticked it. It was only at the end of the day that we heard that Kevin Lane (who was not on a race) had conclusively identified it as a Whooper, a far rarer bird in Dorset but one that we had already counted.

The Monkey’s Jump/Bats Lane area west of Dorchester yielded Linnet, Stock Dove and Golden Plover but there was no sign of Corn Bunting or either partridge. We then headed to Weymouth where we located Common Scoter and Eider in Portland Harbour, saw the Snow Bunting at Ferrybridge and then finally caught up with our missing seabirds at Portland Bill. We ended the day at Lodmoor where in the gathering gloom where Marsh Harrier, Water Rail and Cetti’s Warbler brought our list to a very respectable 120.

P1051382-seawatching-at-the

Not much time for photography on a Bird Race, but it was almost over when I took this shot. Paul, Nick and Trevor seawatching at Portland Bill.

We were now pretty tired as we had spent the last 13 hours constantly on the go without even pausing for a coffee. We drove back to Upton and by 6.30 all the bird racers had assembled at our house. Mo and Kevin also came and Margaret had invited Christine Arnold and Amber to help so we had 23 packed into our small house. Margaret had made four turines of delicious soups and apple crumble for us all. As always the post race banter flowed freely as teams compared experiences as well as scores, our 120 was good enough to put us in second place but Shaun, Mark, Hamish and Nick Hopper had scored an amazing 127, so even if we had have been right about the Bewick’s Swan we wouldn’t have won.

IMG_0972-Cetti's

Although we only heard the bird, Cetti’s Warbler was our 120th bird of the day.

Bird racing is not a sport enjoyed by all birders, in fact many hate it with vengeance, but as a once a year friendly competiton followed by a social event it is greatly enjoyed by all the participants.

The 6th was the date for another WeBS count but it was rather foggy. I did the best I could at Holes Bay but when I got back I heard that the fog was so bad in parts of the harbour that the monthly survey had been postponed. Thank goodness it wasn’t like that yesterday!

Posted January 6, 2013 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized