Wednesday, 2 January 2013

Jan 1st Bird Race

This is my 16th year of doing my own personal bird race and for the previous 12 years I have always got over 100, the 'pressure' was on this year as only three days before the 1st I had spent two days in bed with a High Temperature, Flu and Chest Infection barely able to lift my head.

I had to take it easy for this race but we started as always by heading for Titchwell for dawn.

Adam was with me and we had two main highlights with were the start and the end of the day.

Before even getting to Titchwell RSPB we had seen 5 species Feral Pigeon (Rock Dove), Robin, Blackbird, Song Thrush and Barn Owl.

 We were in the car park at about 6.45am and the clear sky with a bright moon as day broke helped us see Wood Pigeon, Blue Tit, Mute Swan, Lapwing, Teal, Brent Goose, Golden Plover, Little Grebe, Shelduck, Grey Heron, Redshank, Turnstone and Shoveler as we walked to the beach.

 The Brackish Marsh on the walk up

On the sea a huge gull roost was present, this was something I had never seen at Titchwell? Maybe they had been spooked off Thornham by some fireworks?

Initially it was still to dark to I.D the gulls so we watched Oystercatcher and some of the largest flocks of Sanderling I have ever seen.

The light increased fast and we could soon see Common Gull, Black-headed Gull, Great Crested Grebe and Herring Gull on the sea, two Carrion Crow were on the beach.

Then as I scanned back through the gulls I came across a ‘neck-less’ grebe, I could soon see that is was a Red-necked Grebe as when it did stretch its neck out you could really see the ‘dirty look’ against the Great Crested Grebes.

Wigeon, Common Scoter, Goldeneye and Great Black-backed Gull were around before my next big find.

This bird is actually a 1st January first taking the total of birds seen on 1st January over the years to 170 for me.

I was scanning through the gulls that had yet to take off when I spotted an adult winter Larus Gull with a clean white head. I then looked closer and a dark eye, flattened head effect, a nice guy expression told me this was a Caspian Gull.

We then saw Eider, Fulmar, Red-throated Diver, Curlew and Goldfinch this gave us a total of 37 species before Sun Rise which was at 8.12am.

The Sun Rise over the reserve

We continued to watch the sea as so many birds were on the move, I spotted a Kittiwake which soon joined a second bird and then a third and forth were found by Adam.

Adam the got onto a close Razorbill flying past he then saw three Long-tailed Ducks land on the sea, whilst we tried to look for these a what seemed extra big Great Northern Diver flew through our scopes.

I then found three ducks but these were not Long-tailed Duck but two Common Scoter and a cracking Velvet Scoter. I then relocated the three original Long-tailed Ducks. Before leaving the sea we saw Knot and Lesser Black-backed Gull taking our total to 45.


The 'crowded' beach

What a great start I thought so we headed to Patsy’s Reedbed to try to see the RD Pochard and on the way we saw Grey Plover, Skylark, Moorhen, Meadow Pipit, Pink-footed Goose, Wren, Linnet, Ruff, Gadwall, Pintail, Mallard, Avocet, Spotted Redshank, Snipe, Greylag, Little Egret, Pochard, Reed Bunting, Magpie, Marsh Harrier, Cormorant, Bullfinch, Chaffinch and Dunnock.

As we got onto the concrete just past the fen hide to Stoat chased each other within yards of us which was fantastic to see.

On Patsy’s Reedbed we saw Coot, the Red-crested Pochard and Tufted Duck. We then headed for breakfast and saw Great Tit, Pheasent, Brambling, Greenfinch and Long-tailed Tit on the way. We finished our food and whilst drinking our hot chocolate we saw people looking in the ditch behind the feeders and sure enough a Water Rail was in there.

We then left but before reaching the car a mixed flock of Siskin and Lesser Redpoll fed above our heads giving us a total of 79 before leaving Titchwell.

We then went to different places to try and pick up on some ‘specials’ but we missed them all but did see Buzzard, Grey Partridge, Red-legged Partridge, Jackdaw, Collard Dove, Kestrel, Starling and Canada Goose on our way round.

We stopped at Salthouse but only saw Pied Wagtail to add to the list. It was now 1pm and we felt that we might be able to make it to Strumpshaw/Buckenham to add some easy ticks. We saw Jay, Rook and House Sparrow along the way but as we headed out of Wroxham the traffic to get to that point had been to much and we felt that there wasn’t time to go to Strumpshaw so we diverted to Ranworth instead.

A stop next to the village hall and we saw a large flock of 100 Redpoll/Siskin I then picked out a little grey Redpoll with a nice white streaky rump this was clearly a Mealy Redpoll. Around the trees we saw a Marsh Tit and Treecreeper.

We then left to go to Hickling via Repps we saw Mistle Thrush and Stock Dove before seeing the Bewick’s Swans at Repps.

We got to Hickling early, the evening was perfect and on the walk down we saw a Chiffchaff feeding in the hedgerow and a pair of Egyptian Geese in a field and these were our 100th bird of the day everything else would be a bonus.

At the roost I was straight onto a Merlin that perched in a distant bush (was later joined by a second Merlin) a ringtail Hen Harrier flew though (first of three) then a flock of 10 Cranes came to roost (first of at least 32). Two Barn Owls were hunting a Chinese Water Deer wandered across the fields. It really was a perfect evening. We then saw some Fieldfare, Yellowhammer, three Whooper Swan and a Sparrowhawk before the light really faded.

And of course our last, our 108th bird of the day was a Woodcock darting past.

Of note birds we missed, both Godwit, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Redwing, Ringed Plover, Snow Bunting, Kingfisher, White-fronted Goose, Woodpeckers, Corn Bunting plus others that are less common but still get-able.

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