Monday, 4 January 2016

New Year 2016

It was a two day birding start to the new year. On Friday 1st, we toured Staffordshire in an attempt to see all the decent birds that remained from 2015. We started off at Westport at first light and managed a slightly below par 35 species. We headed off to Rudyard for the immature Shag which was showing again on the same blue boat.

Shag at Rudyard Lake - my first in North Staffs
Next was the long trip back down for the wintering Hoopoe at Wall Heath. The field is a bit muddier than last time but we didn't have to wait too long for it to show. The Whooper Swan at Whitemoor was next, along with Yellowhammer and Tree Sparrow. Another pit was checked out before we ended the day at Branston GP.  

The following day, a full Clayhead trip out to Norfolk took place, where we also met up with the Clayheads No1 stalker and his crew and the annual New Year Norfolk day out bird race took place between the two teams (Sorry guys but we may have forgot to tell you about this). The Clayheads obviously won with 79 species, with the Stalkers team seeing only 34 species all day. 

First stop was at Wolfreton where eventually, the drake Golden Pheasant put on an excellent performance for us.
Golden Pheasant by PJ
It was then across to Flitcham for the PALLID HARRIER. The bird had already been seen just before we arrived, and as we parked up, they saw it again drop below the ridge. We stood and waited, seeing a large flock of Brambling in the field in front of us.

Brambling by PJ
A few numpties joined us, including one odd chap who set his scope up and immediately found a brown bird of prey sat in the field in front of us. We told him it was a Buzzard as it had been sat there all the time we'd been there. But he insisted on spotting these brown birds of prey for us. Then a ringtail Hen Harrier flew in and landed in front of us. It was called out as a Hen as it dropped in. But the Pallid observers from earlier then decided as it sat amongst the stubble that it looked like a Pallid. And as it flew off, it was called a Hen again. We decided at this point to leave due to the fact that there had probably been no confirmed sightings of the Pallid yet today.  

We popped into Chosely to see a very showy frame filling Rough-legged Buzzard before heading down to Thornham Harbour
Rough-legged Buzzard at Chosely
We saw the flock of Twite straight away, but following an assessment on the path to the SHORE LARK, we decided that it wasn't smooth enough for us to walk on, so we left it.

Twite by PJ
The day then slightly de-railed. It started drizzling frequently, and we couldn't find the Pink-foot flock at Kelling that contained the TUNDRA BEAN GEESE. The day finished at Titchwell, where a Merlin, Avocet etc were all added to the list. A Black-tailed Godwit was my 100 species - the quickest 100 I've done from the start of the year (39hrs 30mins)

One of the most memorable things about the day was the number of Barn Owls we saw. I ended up with a tally of seven birds (one en route, one Flitcham, one Docking, three at Holkham and one Titchwell for the record). The one at Flitcham was especially showy as it sat on the fence at the side of the road.  

Barn Owl by PJ