Monday, 30 December 2013

Patchwork Challenge

It's been a bit sparse on here of late. Three reasons - limited birding, lots of work and patchwork challenge admin. The first is limited by the second and the actual production of posts is limited by the number I have been doing for PWC. Despite this I have managed to get down to Barmston a couple of times in December. The best stuff included a patch year tick in the form of a Black-throated Diver, 3 Pale-bellied Brent Geese and after the big blow some unseasonal waders including Knot and Ringed Plover. I finally caught up with the returning white winger which has proved conclusively to be a Kumlien's Gull. That would make me right then... Smug fail coming soon no doubt. There were also loads of buntings in a cover crop including a few Corn Buntings. It was too windy for a thorough search on the 27th so an early new year raid seems the best bet of a cheeky Little Bunting or better yet Pine... 


My year at Barmston has got me my first Kumlien's Gull and a lifer Richard's Pipit which was also a find for me (the gull was merely a relocation). For Patchwork Challenge I managed a total of 121 species and 155 points which considering the paucity of coverage I was able to do in spring and autumn isn't too bad IMO. For the coming year it's going to have to be about targeted visits to beat the totals. I also managed 930 records and 28 complete lists for birdtrack which cheers me no end as I wanted to improve my birdtrack contribution. Other good bits included the Pale-bellied Brent's which have returned, a smart adult Med Gull, winter Little Gulls after the big storm, lots or Littoralis Rock Pipits and Jack Snipe in the spring, juvenile Euro Y-front, Spotted Flycatcher, Water Rail on the beach, Common Scoter on the drain. Lots of awesomeness and loads of potential. 







Monday, 2 December 2013

Avalon Marshes

I have been working in the South West and we were flying back to Newcastle on Sunday afternoon so the only way to get rid of our fuzzy heads was to do a little birding. Being closeish to Bristol airport, the Avalon Marshes seemed ideal to get stuck into and so we did. One of our triumvirate hadnt really been birding in the south before and wasnt a twitcher in any way shape or form so we were hoping that Cetti's Warbler, Great White Egret and Glossy Ibis would possibly be on the menu. Sadly the Ibis was nowhere to be seen but we fared a little better with the other two.


We wandered up the footpath between Ham Wall RSPB and Walton Heath and every few yards a Cetti's Warbler piped up. Needless to say we didn't see them but for me the song is all you need really. Every ditch and reed cut held Gadwall and Shoveler but little else. Stumbling across a decent expanse of water sat bang in the middle was a handsome Great White Egret foraging. Certainly some of the best views I have had of this species as it gave some really cool behaviour bouncing its back end whilst feeling with its feet.



A Kingfisher tootled up and down repeatedly and there was a better selection of floaters but little else to get the heart going so we turned round and headed onto Shapwick and Meare Heaths. Aside from a Marsh Harrier and Pike chasing fry in the shallows there wasn't a huge amount to get excited about but I very much enjoyed the constitutional.


How brains and birds become mutually exclusive