Monday, 30 December 2013

2013 Review

The totals for the year are 204 species seen with 6 of those being UK ticks. They are

Eastern Subalpine Warbler (should be a full tick soon!)
Dusky Thrush
Pacific Swift
Semipalmated Plover
Black Guillemot
Brunnich's Guillemot

In Hertfordshire I added 3 new species to my county list. They are

Gannet (over the garden!)
Spotted Crake
Glossy Ibis

The only dips of the year were the Bridled Tern on the Farne Islands and a Wryneck in Herts.

Here's hoping for a good 2014

Friday, 27 December 2013

MEGA TART (Double Guillemot Delight) - 26.12.13

2 Photos of the Brunnich's Guillemot and a record shot of the Black Guillemot

So after nearly 2 months I've finally updated this blog. A mixture of no noteworthy news and lack of inspiration led to some birding doldrums. One highlight was identifying the Welsh Orphean Warbler from photos on the internet but the thought of an 11 hour round trip put me off going! Frustratingly a lack of holiday leave and having my son on alternate weekends meant I couldn't get to see the Merseyside Baikal Teal or the Yorkshire Ivory Gull in time. But just as I'd resigned myself to only having seen 4 new species this year (my worst since starting twitching) I was sat in bed flicking through Twitter when I came across a photo of a Brunnich's Guillemot that had apparently just been taken in Dorset! Minutes later and the mega alert was going off on the pager and sure enough it was true! I quickly phoned my mum to see if Boxing Day dinner could be delayed but she said she would come along with me and the boy! The traffic was a complete nightmare along the M25 and M3 and I was beginning to worry that I would run out of daylight. Fortunately the traffic eased and we arrived at Portland Harbour by 2.30pm. A brisk walk got me to the other birders but there had been no sign for 20 minutes. I bumped into Tony Blake who told me what it had been doing before he walked towards where it had last been seen. While scanning the harbour I noted lots of Red-Breasted Merganser and a few Shag. Next on the list was a nice Black-Throated Diver but then I finally picked up a long awaited tarts tick in the form of a winter plumaged BLACK GUILLEMOT. It was one of the few species I failed to see on my only visit to Scotland and the nearest I got to seeing one was after twitching the Angelsey Sooty Tern but my car broke down on the way. I watched the bird for a while and managed the one photo above before I started heading around to where Tony was. I suddenly got a call from him saying the bird was showing again and heading our way so I set up my scope and up popped my first ever BRUNNICH'S GUILLEMOT just 20ft or so off shore! You could clearly see the off white moustachial stripe it was that close. It dived frequently and after what seemed an age it would pop up again quite a distance away.Even my son got engaged into watching it! So the end of the year has perked up a bit and with it my first 2 tick day since 30th April 2009 when I saw Collared Flycatcher (also on Portland) and Crested Lark (Dungeness).

Christmas Dinner - 21.12.13

During my holiday on Scilly in October I bumped into and spent a lot of time with Steve Blake, Ricky Flesher and Brendan Fagan AKA the local birders from nearby Tyttenhanger GP's. Very kindly they invited me along to their annual pre Christmas dinner. A great evening was had and along with those mentioned were Graham Knight and Terry Smith (nice to have  met you). And for Brendan who asked me to update this blog more often. Here you go!!

Cassiobury Park - 12.12.13

The Grey Wagtail was still in the council yard.

Oxhey - 9.12.13

Up at the Oxhey depot 3 Cormorant flew over and 5 Green Woodpecker flew up from various fields and into the same tree.

Cassiobury Park - 7.12.13

A single Red Kite flew over in the morning.

Cassiobury Park - 3.12.13

Birds noted today were a fly over Skylark and Red Kite and on the pitches was a Common Gull.

Chipperfield - 2.12.13

A Red Kite flew over the flat on the way home from work.

Mums Garden - 30.11.13

As I had to pop over to see my mum I went into the kitchen to make a cuppa and while waiting for the kettle to boil I noted in the garden 9 Blue Tit (a garden high count), 3 Great Tit, 6+ Long-Tailed Tit and a nice male Blackcap.

Marking Out - 28.11.13

A day spent marking out the borough's footy pitches saw a Grey Wagtail in the yard and down at KGV playing fields a single Fieldfare flew over as did 2 Mistle Thrush and 2 Common Gull were on the pitches. In the afternoon a RN Parakeet flew into Garston Park and a Sparrowhawk went over the yard.

Chipperfield + Kings Langley - 26.11.13

While making my sandwiches I could hear a Tawny Owl hooting from nearby and the Jackdaw flock on the way to work had doubled to around 200 birds.

Kings Langley + Cassiobury Park - 25.11.13

On the way to work at least 100 Jackdaw left a roost and flew alongside the car and in the park later a Common Gull was seen.

Cassiobury Park - 23.11.13

News reached me of a Coal Tit and 2 Treecreeper seen near the hide.

Cassiobury Park - 22.11.13

Another quiet day with the Little Egret seen again on the river and the Grey Wagtail in the yard.

Cassiobury Park - 18.11.13

A single Lesser Redpoll flew over the yard and in the afternoon another 7 flew over Oxhey Grange bowls club.

Cassiobury Park - 13.11.13

Just a fly through Sparrowhawk was of note today.

Cassiobury Park - 12.11.13

A Grey Wagtail was in the council yard first thing followed by a single Kingfisher, Little Egret and a fly over Skylark near the river. a Meadow Pipit flew over the cricket pitch and on the feeders viewed from the hide were 3 Coal Tit.

Cassiobury Park - 11.11.13

20 Redwing were by the cafe and down on the river a Little Egret and 2 Kingfisher were seen.

KGVPF - 7.11.13

Whilst marking out the football pitches a Little Owl called near the car park, a Skylark flew over and on the pitches were 5 Common Gull.