Tuesday, 31 January 2017

Tring - 24.1.17

On the 19th I had an operation on my nose as I'd somehow managed to snap the cartilage in my septum which was causing me trouble breathing and sleeping at night, Being housebound is only so much fun so with boredom creeping in I headed up for my first look around the patch. Wilstone was almost fully frozen over so it made scanning through the waterbirds easier. A female Goldeneye was the pick of the ducks and on my walk around Skylark and Yellowhammer kept the year list ticking over as did a Treecreeper up on the dry canal.

Tringford failed to add anything bar 2 Goldcrest for the patchwork challenge.

Mistle Thrush and House Sparrow were the highlights from Startops but Marsworth proved more fruitful with around 50 Corn Bunting coming into roost and a brief fly past of a Bittern meant I didn't have to stay till dark to see one!

More Waxwings - 16.1.17

After Twitter alerts I headed home a different way via Garston where after a bit of driving around I connected with the 7 Waxwings but unfortunately only in flight.

Cornish Weekender - 8.1.17

After a good nights sleep it was up and out early and back to Perranuthnoe. A pair of Stonechat was a nice start to the day and eventually I came across the Hudsonian Whimbrel and called the others over to finally see the bird at their 3rd attempt! Such a pity that as I write this news of the new list we will be following from January 2018 is the IOC list which doesn't count Hudsonian Whimbrel as a separate species and so we all lose it from our own personal lists!

Long Rock was our next stop to try for the Pacific Diver but apart from 2 adult winter Mediterranean Gulls on the sea and a singing Cetti's Warbler from the pool there was no joy with the diver.

At Marazion RSPB we had over 20 Snipe and a Chiffchaff that popped up in front of us.

The title post is Cornish Weekender but after cutting our loses we headed home via a couple of sites in Devon! First stop was Matford Marshes RSPB. This was a new site for all of us and after a bit of gathering details on Twitter of where to go we parked up and walked down to the viewpoint where we almost immediately got onto the 1st winter drake American Wigeon. A lifer for the other 3 but my 3rd. Another Chiffchaff greeted us on the way back to the car.

News of a Long-Tailed Duck at Topsham took us there but despite a good scan from behind the auction house we failed to see it. A flock of 40 odd Avocet were some consolation as were the first Black-Tailed Godwit and Red-Breasted Merganser of the year. With a bit of time left I showed the lads around Bowling Green Marsh. It must've been a while since I last visited as there was a lovely new hide in place of the old brick one! A good scan of the estuary from the viewpoint added our final new year tick of the day with a couple of Knot. 200+ Pintail was an impressive sight.

A great weekend and I ended on 123 species for the year.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Cornish Weekender - 7.1.17

After the success of the trip to Rutland I joined the other 3 on a weekend down to Cornwall with many lifers possible for them. First stop was a drizzly Dozmary Pool where after a muddy walk we had good if dull views of the drake Lesser Scaup. Only my 2nd and my first since 2002!

Next stop was Perranuthnoe where last year I'd seen the Hudsonian Whimbrel on the way down to Scilly. We had been told by a birder that it was still here but had just flown round the corner so typically despite looking for nearly an hour we didn't see it! 2 Purple Sandpiper were some consolation as we re a Great Northern and 3 Black-Throated Diver.

From here we headed to the strangely named Mousehole where straight away we connected with the Eastern Black Redstart. This was not as brightly coloured as the Cleveland bird but it was a bit soggy after the rain. A few Fulmar on the cliffs were number 100 for the year.

Penzance was the next place and despite scanning Mount's Bay for a couple of hours we failed to pick out the returning Pacific Diver. Another 12 GN Diver were seen along with another 19 Purple Sandpiper. A drake Eider and Velvet Scoter were good year ticks and further along the coast I picked out a nice male Black Redstart at Longrock.

Green-Winged Teal

While we were eating a lovely pasty at the Hayle Estuary we picked up Shelduck and Kingfisher and when we moved around to the causeway we had Spoonbill and a nice Green-Winged Teal that had a ring on its leg so we are waiting to hear where it was ringed.

We finished the day marvelling in the Starling roost at Marazion RSPB. What a noise!

Back To WOrk - 3.1.17

It was back to work after the Christmas break and while up at Oxhey Grange I added Nuthatch and RN Parakeet to the year list.

Rutland Water - 2.1.17

Surf Scoter

After many attempts of a day out with fellow Hemel birders George and Matt Moreton we finally organised a trip and along with young Kai Gordon we spent the day at Rutland Water trying to boost the year list. The first stop was the dam end where in with a flock of Tufted Duck was a nice and showy juvenile Surf Scoter. This was my 3rd in the UK but it was a lifer for the other 3 so a good start to the day. We then stopped off around the water quickly adding more and more birds to the list with the highlights being 7 Goosander, 2 Green Sandpiper, 7 Smew, 9 RC Pochard, GW Egret, Peregrine, all 5 Grebe species, Common Scoter,
2 Scaup and my first ever January Whimbrel.

A quick visit to Deeping Lakes NR on the way home added a partially obscured Long-Eared Owl to the list. The day ended for me on 84 species.

A New Year - 1.1.17

The first days birding of the year was a bit of garden watching. A Coal Tit and a Rook were among the 25 species seen.