Friday, 31 December 2010

Review of the Year

As the year comes to an end here's a quick look back at the last twelve months on the patch which were, due to the enormous amount of time spent out in the field, undoubtedly the best ever.

9 new birds for the patch were seen, namely Tundra Bean Goose, Bittern, a pair of Bearded Tits, 2 separate Black-necked Grebes, Little Ringed Plover, King Eider, Corn Bunting, Barnacle Geese and 3 Hooded Crows.

The Bittern & Bean Goose day back in January will live long in the memory, and the buzz of finding most of the others, plus a host of scarce visitors is all that is needed to spur you on during those seemingless birdless periods.

Other notable birding highlights on the patch this year include the lingering Alpine Swift, Glaucous Gull, Richards Pipit, Wryneck, Red-backed Shrike, Yellow-browed Warbler, Hoopoe, Waxwings, Hen Harrier, Wood Warbler, Twite, Shorelark, Jack Snipe and Storm Petrel. In total 200 species were recorded during the year (190 of which were self found) which is an excellent total for an area with no managed reserves and which heavily relies upon those species which are just passing through to make up the yearly total.

Non-avain highlights of 2010 include on the Dragonfly front finding the Red-veined Darter at Felbrigg and refinding the Southern Emerald Damselfly at Winterton, and the amazing spectacle of the Purple Emperors at Fermyn was the undoubted Butterfly moment of the year.

I guess the only disappointment of the past 12 months was the fact that news of a Red-flanked Bluetail at Trimingham in October has only recently emerged which has naturally caused some ill feeling locally, but less said about that the better, and I'm sure there'll be another one on the patch sooner rather than later anyway.

So what lies ahead in 2011? Well with less free time available next year, although hopefully I'll still get out on the patch pretty much daily anyway, getting anywhere near 200 again will be an impossibe task (170 will be a more realistic target), but just enjoying my birding and hopefully finding a few good birds will be as ever the aim. Also after failing to get a British tick this year for the first time ever, a British lifer next year would be very welcome too.

Having well and truly got the Butterfly and Dragonfly bug, I'll hopefully do a bit of travelling in '11 to see some of those species that I've yet to see, with a trip up to Scotland and the south-west planned, and hopefully get loads of decent photos too.

Finally with a day list around the patch planned for tomorrow, here's hoping this persistent fog of the last few days will disperse overnight......

Anyway thanks to all of you who have read this blog during the year and hopefully found it a bit interesting and/or enjoyed looking at my photo's, and hopefully I'll keep it going throughout next year.

Sunday, 26 December 2010

Waxwings from the window

A fortuitous glance out of the window this morning resulted in seeing a flock of 6 Waxwings flying past heading west which was a good start to the day.
A check along the seafront at Overstrand produced 3 Sanderlings on the beach which is a good local record as they have become very scarce visitors here compared to recent years. A couple of Ringed Plovers, Turnstone and Oystercatcher were also feeding along the high tide line, and a number of Lapwings and a Golden Plover were noted coming in-off.
A walk up to the reservoir at Sidestrand produced the highlight of a couple of Egyptian Geese flying in and landing in the field next to it, which, away from Felbrigg Park, are also very scarce visitors to the patch.

Saturday, 25 December 2010

Christmas Day Kittiwake at West Runton

A Woodcock flew over the house on Monday evening, and Christmas Eve saw a couple of Redwings feeding in the garden.

A check of the beach on Christmas Day morning on the off chance that the Glaucous Gull, which had been at Cromer earlier before flying off west, had dropped in drew a blank but a fine 1st-winter Kittiwake which briefly landing on the exposed seaweed covered rocks was a nice surprise.

The usual Med Gull was on its favourite post, and waders were well represented with a Knot, Grey Plover, Ringed Plover, Redshank, Turnstone and Oystercatcher on the beach and Golden Plover and Lapwing in the fields. Offshore a few Red-throated Divers were noted passing by.

Monday, 20 December 2010

Freezing conditions make for a quiet couple of weeks

With the snow and freezing conditions, the last couple of weeks have been pretty quiet round the patch but still a few notable records with a Snow Bunting in-off the sea at West Runton, a White-fronted Goose out to sea off Overstrand amongst an incoming flock of c20 Pinkfeet, and a Little Egret in the meadows around Felbrigg Lake.

Sunday, 5 December 2010

Mealy Redpolls bring up the 200!

A walk around the north east corner of Felbrigg Park today in the hope of locating some Redpolls proved a success and even better when it became quickly obvious that they were Mealy Redpolls which I had been doing a lot of searching for over the last few weeks so I was delighted both at my find and the fact that they brought up the 200 for the patch this year, a really brilliant achievement and good reward for a huge amount of patch working this year.
At least 3 were present, and whilst watching two feeding overhead in some birches they were joined by a Lesser Redpoll which gave a good comparison between the two species.

Friday, 3 December 2010

Jack Snipe and Hooded Crow

With the freezing conditions persisting and a heavy snowfall overnight it was no surprise that birds were on the move today seeking out any suitable areas to feed.

A walk round the village was cut short with the news that my Dad had found a Black-tailed Godwit on the beach at West Runton, but unfortunately with the treacherous road conditions making the drive there extremely slow the incoming tide got to the bird before I could and pushed it off west, however a Hooded Crow feeding on the tideline amongst a melee of gulls was some compensation.

Whilst I was there a number of Snipe were noted coming in-off the sea so I decided to check the stream which ran alongside the beach road as it remained unfrozen and was immediately rewarded as I inadvertently flushed a Jack Snipe up out of the ditch which conveniently joined a Common Snipe as they flew round giving an excellent size comparison between the two before they went down into the adjacent fields, which was a really excellent record for the patch bringing me to just one short of my 200 target, and with all the freezing conditions currently occurring hopes were high of finding that one last bird..........

Wednesday, 1 December 2010

Big passage of Redshank and Shelduck

A seawatch today in a freezing onshore wind revealed that there were large amounts of waders moving past west presumably having been frozen out from the continent, and although the majority of flocks were too distant to id to species, the ones that were closer were all Redshank with flocks of 20+ birds passing at a time, and were undoubtedly the most I had ever seen moving through the patch. Also moving west were a notable passage of Shelduck along with a few Pintail too.