Monday, 31 December 2012

A Review of my 2012 birding year

The year started with three species of Redpoll (Lesser, Mealy, Coues's) all feeding in the same tree at the same time just outside the visitor centre at Titchwell. Then at Cley the Western Sandpiper had stayed put into the new year. It proved a difficult bird to find as it was feeding along the back edges when we were there. But with some time and Patience we eventually got better views.
A trip to Hampshire on my birthday bagged me two lifers. Firstly the Dark-eyed Junco at Hawkhill Enclosure, This little bird has to be a contender for best looking bird that I saw in 2012. While here I also added Raven and Common Crossbill to the year list. Then the Spanish Sparrow at Calshot. On the edge of a housing estate Both birds showing superbly well down to a few feet at times.

A Velvet Scoter  picked out off shore at Titchwell started the month off. Followed by a Red-necked Grebe at Alton Water. Another highlight were the 50+ Snow Buntings that were feeding within a couple of feet at Salthouse car park.
Dipped the Paddyfield Warbler, temperature was -12 when we headed out of Essex and felt even colder when we arrived at Pagham. Five hours later and no sign of the target bird. Left thinking it may well have perished overnight. Managed to add a Shore Lark at Hayling Island. Along with Slav and Black-necked Grebes and Red-breasted Merganser.
I finally managed to get good views of the Bittern at Lee Valley before it departed.

This month saw a return trip to Pagham Harbour and another try for the Paddyfield Warbler, After a 4-5 hour wait it finally showed. Giving some good views before disappearing back into thick cover. On the same day we paid an early visit to Hordle and saw the Rose-coloured Starling. Before heading for home we added a Yellow-Browed Warbler at Worthing. The bird was feeding in a very small line of trees right next to The Swan pub on a busy road. It also used the car park trees of the Parexel  building opposite.
The last day of the month saw us drive to Rhiwderin in Gwent for the Common Yellowthroat. Arriving early the bird showed well after 30-45 minutes of searching. A stunning bird and well worth the long trip. Two stop offs on the way home produced two more lifers, firstly a pair of Long-billed Dowitchers at Meare Heath in Somerset followed by the Lesser Scaup at Cosmeston Lakes.

This was the month that the bogey bird was finally laid to rest. Having dipped eight Hoopoe's in the previous two years. Reached the car park for the Rainham bird, but they wouldn't let us into the reserve as it was closing. Found out about the Chingford bird too late and was too dark to try for it that night, not seen again in the morning. The Canvey bird missed by literally minutes. We reached the car park and were shown photo's of the bird that had just been taken. I finally managed to get great views of the bird at Horsey. It didn't disappoint and was well worth the wait.

May saw another trip to South Wales, with a long weekend spent at Skomer Island and Dinas RSPB reserve. A trip here is always special. Even with no Short-eared Owls seen on the island and a really rough return crossing on the Dale Princess. An added bonus this year was four Glossy Ibis at Martin Sands.
 Dinas is one of my favourite places of any we visit. Dippers, Wood Warblers, Redstarts, Pied Flycatchers and Tree Pipits, not to mention Red Kites and Raven. Just a very special place.
This year it was over shadowed by the three day trip we made to Scotland. My first ever visit to Scotland, it will not be my last. White-tailed Eagle, Golden Eagle, Crested Tit, Black and Red Grouse, Basking Shark and Otters. Stunning birds in stunning scenery. Even missing Capercaille by seconds didn't dampen the trip. It just makes us more determined to get back up there, and as soon as possible.

June started with a visit much closer to home, when we went to Rainham hoping to see or at least hear the Marsh Warbler. As it turned out we managed both. Brief but good views of the bird were followed by a nice bit of song. Purple Heron was seen for the third year running at Dungeness.
A trip to Herts and the River Colne for a  Little Bittern was another highlight. West Stow produced my first "Roding" Woodcocks and I also managed to hear a "Churring" Nightjar. Fantastic!

A quiet month was brightened up by news of a Red-backed Shrike at Lake Farm Country Park. A dull overcast morning, but we managed to avoid the rain and get good views of the bird for the best part of two hours. On route to Dungeness we take a detour to Ashford in Kent and we are watching an unusual sight. An Eagle Owl roosting on top of the Charter House building. Escape or not it's still a cracking bird.

Staying closer to home for much of the month, A visit to Wallasea Island got me several calling Quails. Wanstead produced my second Wryneck. Having got my first at Wanstead almost two years previously.
A visit to Sheringham in Norfolk saw me connect with my second Alpine Swift. Thinking it might take a bit to find the site where it was being seen, we just got out of the car, walked round the corner and there it was flying around with Common Swifts.
The month finished off with another lifer. A Long-tailed Skua down at Languard.

Two Mega's were added this month. The first saw another visit to Rainham with news of a Baillons Crake being found. A big thank you goes to Howard and his team for opening early so that many birders could have the chance to enjoy the bird including us. The other bird was further away. A trip to Lodmoor in Dorset for the Short-billed Dowitcher. Brief views were had of the Baillons, but the Dowitcher showed much better, It was showing well from the moment we arrived. It was still showing well when we left.

This was the only month I didn't add a lifer to my list this year. In fact it only produced one year tick. A single Waxwing at Languard in the pouring rain.
Missed a couple of  good birds, Olive-backed Pipit, Red-flanked Bluetail due to work. Wasn't happy!

Another slow month. But a very showy Desert Wheatear at Abberton brightened the month up. A bonus Jack Snipe was added to the year list from a visit to Cudmore Grove. A walk out to the point at the same location found the single Snow Bunting. It took a bit of a search but was very confiding when we did find it.

A trip to Eyebrook Reservoir in Leicestershire at the start of the month where we eventually managed to add a Ring-necked Duck to the life list after trawling through hundreds of Tuftie's.
On the 14th in what was foul conditions, we battled through the driving rain and horrendous traffic to visit The Queen Mother Reservoir in Berkshire. A big thank you to LGRE for manning the gate and sorting out the permits, without him we would not have been able to enter the reservoir. After Scrambling up the grass banks, we found the bird showing down to a few feet. Even the constant heavy rain didn't take anything away from seeing this bird. 
Another big highlight of the year was a trip to Aldeburgh in Suffolk for the Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll. A cracking bird that showed down to a couple of feet at times.

A great years birding, visiting some fantastic places and seeing some very special birds.

Having started listing three years ago and travelling further afield in the last two I managed to add 30 lifers to my list this year. It's still relatively small, but that means there's still plenty of new birds out there to see.

Scotland has to be and was the stand out trip, as I have already said, great birds, great scenery. But the best bird is far to difficult to say. There were just so many to choose from that it is impossible to pick. So I'm not going to.

A special thank you has to go to Brian, without whom I wouldn't have seen half of the birds that I did see this year. Not only because he drives us nearly everywhere we go, but because he manages to get us to the sites and on the target birds even with limited or no directions. 
Thanks also to dad for his company and his driving trips when Brian is not available, and also for providing many comedy moments throughout the year.

Happy New Year to one and all.

Here's to 2013. 

No comments:

Post a Comment