Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you

Let me know when that tide's coming in won't you

Thursday 31 December 2020

My 200 Birding Year List

 My year started very early, before dawn broke on the 1st January. It was my first attempt to tick off 200 species in a year, so wanted to get up and running nice and early. I didn't foresee the lockdowns that would take place during the year potentially curtailing my challenge. I did however manage to get to 200 and finished the year on 202.

Within a few hours on the 1st January I had two lifers ticked, in the form of a Ring-necked Duck and Purple Heron. Other highlights that day were Tree Sparrow, Whooper Swans, Golden Plover, Willow Tit and Snipe.

Purple Heron

I finished the month on 101, with Water Pipit being that last bird of the month. I did manage another two lifers though in January with a Long-billed Dowitcher and a long staying Siberian Stonechat. It would take another 8 months to get the next 100 birds.🙄

Long-billed Dowitcher on the right, with a Teal on the left.

Spring was a real highlight of the year. Despite being in lockdown, it made my daily walks so much more interesting and reminded me that I didn't have to go too far to see some really good birds. I found both a Lesser Whitethroat and Garden Warbler within walking distance of home, when I really wasn't expecting to, or had in 8 years here.

My trips to Norfolk to see my parents really did boost my numbers, with good numbers of waders, heathland birds and gulls.

Dartford Warbler is a bonus on any year list.

I was really pleased to track down a pair of Woodlark after many failed attempts.

My favourite winter wader, the Purple Sandpiper.

I remember hearing my first Willow Warbler of the year, and it was a really nice moment. There were times during lockdown that I really did think that I wouldn't get to see or hear some of the birds that I take for granted. For me it was a sign that all was well, and nature was just fine on it's own.

The first Willow Warbler of the year.

Tree Pipit

Being able to catch up with a Ring Ouzel most years, is a real highlight of my birding year.

I was really pleased to find a pair of Spotted Flycatchers when things opened up a bit. These birds kept me entertained for a good few weeks.

A trip to Padley Gorge, had me searching for a singing Wood Warbler. I managed to tick that off along with many Pied Flycatchers and Common Redstarts.

Wood Warbler made it 167 for the year.

I stopped off on my way back from Padley Gorge to collect a Whinchat. There turned out to be a pair.

Things got tougher through the summer, with not much new to tick off, but it didn't stop me going out and trying to find new birds, or just enjoy the usual ones. One bird that really became a pain in the neck for me was the Bearded Vulture (Lammergeier) that had been doing the rounds for some time in the Peak District, not a million miles from home. I made numerous early morning starts and trecked across some horrible terrain all to no avail. It then relocated, but it was still a pain to get to. I think it was on my fifth or sixth attempt that I actually got to see it in flight, and then at it's roost site. The image of it gliding across the thermals with a Kestrel mobbing it will be forever etched in my memory. This bird is MASSIVE!! Unfortunately I didn't get any images of it. It was more about making sure I saw it and enjoying it in the binoculars and telescope. The Lammergeier took me 191 for the year.

A couple of trips to Spurn was a massive boost for my numbers, as I managed to add another half a dozen to the list. A few lifers too in the form of some Shearwaters, a Jack Snipe and a Barred Warbler.
Again I didn't get any images of these, but here is a Siskin and a nice looking Stonechat.



I crossed the line of 200 in September with a Pectoral Sandpiper at Rudyard Lake in Staffordshire. It took me a good bit of hunting and some shoe leather as it didn't make itself easy to spot, but I wasn't giving up. It was so distant I needed my scope, but that is all you need to see it. Job done!
Number 201 followed soon after with a Hoopoe that performed superbly well for all that gathered to see it.

Here are some of my other bird highlights of 2020, when I made it to my target of 200 birds seen.

Barn Owl

Snow Bunting. Never easy to find on a beach that looks like a million Snow Buntings.

Common Sandpiper at RSPB Frampton Marsh

A Curlew in the Peak District

Green Woodpecker at Beeston Regis, Sheringham

Sanderling on the North Wales coast

An unusual bird to see in Cheshire, a Shag at Astbury Mere


Thursday 24 December 2020

Merry Christmas

 I'd like to take the time to wish all my followers and people that drop in to look at my blog and spend their time commenting on my posts a very Happy Christmas. I wish you all a safe and happy time, and please God we will have a better year ahead. There will always be nature to fall back on, as it carries on regardless of pandemics and will always brighten my days. I hope it does yours too.

Thank you once again, and Merry Christmas to you all!!

Friday 18 December 2020

Roseate Terns - Coquet Island

This is a post I wrote some time ago, but it got lost in the cloud. I thought I'd post it now to remind me of some good summer birding. Hope you enjoy it too.

On my way to the Farne Islands in the Summer I made a special visit to Amble in Northumberland. From there I could take a boat out to Coquet Island to see the UK's only breeding colony of Roseate Terns. These terns have a really nice pink tinged breast. I've only ever seen them here, so when I head to the north east in the summer, I can't leave them out.

We have 3 types of Tern in this picture along with the Puffins. The largest Tern, front left, is a Sandwich Tern, while the two smaller birds to the right of this with black bills are the Roseate Terns. The others that you can see with orange bills are Arctic Terns.

There were plenty of seals around our boat around the island.

Friday 11 December 2020

Little Birds on Show

I spent a few hours over last weekend walking around a lake in Chelford, Cheshire, which is about 20 minutes from home. It can be quite productive in terms of rare and unusual birds turning up in the winter months. Last winter it held Smew, Black-necked Grebe and White-fronted Geese. There is also a really good colony of Tree Sparrows in the area. 

There was nothing unusual around this time, but I thoroughly enjoyed wandering the new paths and woodland. It seemed the trees were dripping with Goldcrests and Long-tailed Tits. Both make quite a noise when they are together and there is no background noise to block it out.

Long-tailed Tit, hanging around, as they do.

A little Wren. I've not zoomed in so as to give a sense of scale with the Silver Birch tree.

One of my best (worst) pictures of a Goldcrest. Lovely and sharp, just facing the wrong way, and it didn't turn around for me either. Europe's smallest bird.

A Meadow Pipit was preening. Look at the length of those long claws.

Always good to see and watch the Tree Sparrows. Sadly very difficult to find these days.

Friday 4 December 2020

Redesmere Lake

 I had a day off this week and it also just so happened to be a sunny but cold day. It was a sad day as it was the funeral of a good friend of mine. To take my mind off things I headed over to Redesmere in the morning to see if I could make use of the good sunlight. There was plenty around, both on the water and in the trees. Plenty of gulls, Tufted Duck, and Great Crested Grebe, with the odd Kingfisher and Redwing.

Great Crested Grebe in its winter plumage

This Treecreeper was busy picking away underneath the bark

The Tufted Ducks were looking particularly fine in the sun

There are only ever one or two Lesser Black-backed Gulls in amongst the Black headed Gulls. A good size comparison here with the Lesser on the right.

A very good looking Lesser Black-backed Gull