Thursday, 30 January 2014

A new year birding

I finished off last year having had a fantastic autumn, with a few trips to see some Parrot Crossbills which handily decided to join others of their type in irrupting to our shores to feed on our wonderful pine cones this winter. I made two trips to Budby heath at Sherwood Forest, the first being largely unsucessful aside from actually seeing my first Common Crossbills, but no Parrots sadly. The second trip I made was more succesful, with the Parrots seen flying about distantly first before alighting atop a birch tree for all to see. Shortly before this I had also seen my first Great Grey Shrike on the heath, showing distantly, but while watching the Parrot Crossbills it spooked them all off and took their place. It cottoned on to the birders watching it and flew off but alighted not too far away, and we got some absolutely cracking views! So not bad all in all, 3 lifers in one week!

Great Tit, Sherwood Forest

Nuthatch, Sherwood Forest

The past few years I have been keeping a personal list of birds I see throughout the year, counting everything I see in the whole country. Not having a car and not specifically 'twitching', I have never amassed a brilliant year list so this year I have decided to stay closer to home and do a Notts year list. 4 weeks in and i have been really enjoying it, but having to get round on a bike has made things difficult. Getting birds close to home has been alright, but when i only have a day to get out somewhere further away, dipping on a bird is really annoying. There has actually been some decent birds about this month as well, but they have been spread out across the county. I need a car i reckon!

Nuthatch, Rufford.

I think the hardest thing for me is going to be when decent birds turn up in hard to reach locations, or those far away from public transport or in the grim north of the county, such as Lound, but I'm going to try my best to see as much as I can, and in doing so i think it'll bump up my Notts list as I go.

Grey Wag, Lowdham. In the field the Glossy Ibis should have been in.

I'm still missing some easy birds which are within easy distance of me, like Attenborough favourites such as Bittern, Water Rail and Cetti's Warbler, and there are some that i need to try make a special trip for, such as Hawfinch, great grey shrike and crossbill. Hopefully I'll mop some of these up soon, but I'm happy with the 80 or so birds I've got already, including some nice ones like Parrot Crossbill, Scaup and Smew, as well as a notts tick in the form of a Merlin. Just a few short trips out on my bike will put me within a few birds of 100, which is loads better than I thought I'd manage before the spring migrants arrive. It'll be interesting to see what arrives on our shores this year and hopefully in Notts, and hopefully doing this listing business will encourage me to get out and actually look for it!

Redshank, Rowing course, HP

Aside from that, I'm putting more effort into birding my adopted local patch, Holme Pierrepont. I still don't venture as far as the A52 pit but I'm keeping a list of birds I see there throughout the year too, and even taking part in the 'Patchwork' birding challenge online, which will hopefully get me birding regularly onsite. I've got a reasonable list of 64 species amassed so far, with some good birds such as Scaup, Barnacle Goose and Coal Tit, all of which are new onsite for me and which I got on my first visit there this year, as well as a notts tick in the form of a Merlin, and the usual wintering Smews. Again, there are some glaring gaps in the list such as Little Egret, Cettis, Snipe and Water Rail, all of which are usually reasonably easy to see there, and most annoyingly, Shoveler, which all decided to bugger off after xmas, probably due to the rising water levels...

Feral Barny, HP

What one might call a 'record shot' of drake Smew at HP
I'm hoping to build on the HP list by doing this challenge, there's some birds missing on it which really should be on there I think, but in the meantime I'm just really enjoying getting down there on a more regular basis.

Frosty HP