Tuesday 31 January 2012

Bully's Back

The Bullfinches have returned to the garden for the 4th year on the trot. Last year they arrived a day earlier on the 30th and the year before it was a week later on 6th Feb. Even better was the interest a male showed in the feeders. Peak numbers in the past have been 8 simultaneously so here is hoping for double figures this year.

Sunday 29 January 2012

Cattle Egrets are Crap

White crows. Thats all they are. Saw the Tophill Cattle Egret today. Looked at it for maybe 15 seconds. If was huddled up in a ditch in the same pose as when I saw it in Blakeney in the Autumn. For excitement it looked left and right. If you ever catch me twitching one of these in the future, shoot me. They arent too bad when they are hunting but they are rubbish otherwise!

I found 7 Lesser Redpolls between O reservoir and South scrub in willows. They then flew high toward the car park. Heading back to the car park there were about 50 Siskins in the trees opposite the garage and these held a handful of Redpoll but despite looking I couldnt pin a mealy (despite false alarms). I went for the Willow Tits on the D woods feeders and these werent in evidence but 3 Goldcrests feeding in the brambles and a couple of Treecreepers were also in evidence.

There was not a lot going on in the gull roost and apparently I was being missed by Izzy so I bailed at 3.30. Just waiting to hear how I missed a white-winger. On Friday I got a bit of a surprise as a Pheasant was stalking the garden. It is the first in garden record although I have seen a few from the garden sat up on the fence by the railway.

Thursday 26 January 2012

No Egrets

A quick smash and grab for the Tophill Low Cattle Egret failed but I enjoyed a ramble around the compound and up to Easingwold Farm with my daughter. We did manage a few other birds including hundreds of Redwings passing by the entrance, singing Mistle Thrush and a some Grey Partridges on the approach road.

 Abject failure was fully embraced and bumping into Mat from Sheffield unexpectedly was a nice surprise. Better (sorry Mat!) was the discovery of a mixed flock of finches adjacent to north lagoon containing a few Siskin and Lesser Redpoll. The former was a year tick whilst the latter was a site tick. A paler bird may have been a Mealy Redpoll but I am waiting for news from my field agent Flowers. Fingers crossed.

Saturday 21 January 2012

Stuck in the Middle

A work jaunt to the east midlands was a touch underwhelming this week but it did lead to a few year ticks and a handful of decent birds. Working on a major reserve we suffered due to the pools we were working next to being frozen. This prevented birds feeding on them and we were left with a loafing flock of gulls for the most part. By the end of the week the pool had opened up and we had good numbers of birds on.

Our travel day was completed early and we had a wander round the nature reserve which we were to work on. A redhead Smew on an island looked an awful lot like a juvenile male and a male Goosander was a year tick (and one I didnt manage in 2011 - how rubbish am I?). We saw swathes of Tufted Duck & Pochard amongst the manky Mallards and a Bahama Pintail. A couple of Egyptian Geese were rather lame lifers for my colleague. I also year ticked Lesser Black-backed Gull with an adult loafing with some Common and Black-headed Gulls. Steady away...

Our first day of work was greeted by singing Mistle Thrush and unseen Green Woodpecker yaffling away. On the work site calling Cetti's Warbler was only seen briefly when going for a pee but a Marsh Tit was calling above us in the frosty morning which was registering -4 C. Quite cold enough. The day passed off with crash landing Goosander and Cormorant but little else aside from a Bittern coughing in the adjacent reedbed unseen, probably forced in by the brief freeze.

Day 2 held a little more for us with LBBG and Herring Gull briefly joining the loafing small gulls. Herons were seen regularly around the pool and small numbers of Mallard and Teal were seen.

By the third day most of the pool was unfrozen and we recorded Shoveller, Goosander, Cormorant, Canada Goose, Egyptian Goose & Moorhen. Not much better but a definite improvement. Not the most exciting survey but a nice place.

Travelling back we called by Clumber Park and Harewood House. At Clumber I year ticked Buzzard, Treecreeper & Nuthatch but failed with big finch and micro-pecker. A very brief sojurn to Harewood revealed at least 4 different Red Kites. Very tasty and takes me onto 123 for the year already - only another 85 to beat 2011 which should be straight forward. In fact only 90 to be my best yearlist for 4 years after 222 in 2009 (I managed 253 in 2008 and seems probably unattainable until my daughter is a teenager. Only a decade then).

Tuesday 17 January 2012

Twitching Norfolk

Western Sandpiper
At 4.30am Mike rocked up at mine and ten minutes later I picked up Jess Stokes in Driffield. Onward to Hull and to meet John.  As we passed Tophill Low a Fox came scurrying out from the undergrowth giving lovely views. Fully loaded we headed in the direction of Norfolk. For about 6 miles and stopped at McDonalds. It was still before 5.30 and we needed crap food fuel. A steady passage south had us at Buckenham Marshes for 8.20 where we bumped into a bunch of wessies! Fancy that. Keith, Pete, Rob and Ken arrived about 10 minutes before us.

Our quarry was located relatively quickly amongst a flock of Taiga Bean Geese (which was a lifer in its own right although I have seen a few Tundra's before). The Lesser White-fronted Goose was pretty distant but prolonged views helped nail it. Some Cat C Barnacle Geese were also evident on the marsh which were a year tick. Further year ticks were plentiful with Barn Owl & Cetti's Warbler amongst them. We quickly moved off to our next destination - Cley.

We made the mistake of heading to the visitor centre rather than the East Bank car park and thus were a few minutes behind the wessie crew. Due to this we got crippling views of Bearded Tit and Stonechat as we made our way up there. The beardie was a particular star as tantalising views 10 metres in to the reeds suddenly stopped and a mini mandarin pitched up on the nearest reed top. We landed at Arnold's marsh as the Yankie peep was missing and this gave us the opportunity to grill the place. I turned up a smart adult male Yellow-legged Gull right in the centre of the marsh and there were a number of Spotted Redshank. Then suddenly Rob asks me to check out this bird in his scope - a small Dunlin-esque peep with a strong super, long bill and crucially one leg. Oh no hang on, I mean rusty rear scapulars. Yay! It did hop about for the next 20 minutes and was at one stage joined by a Dunlin & Ringed Plover illustrating its small size.

Soon after our schedule was catching up with us and a rumour of Snow Bunting flocks at Salthouse led us to a diversion there. These were seen before we had even arrived flying over the car park. Some lovely males were present including a stonking bird with a pinky rump. Seksie! Whilst there we cast an eye over the sea for year ticks turned up a Black-throated Diver and then we all grabbed our scopes and Red-throated Divers and 3 Slavonian Grebes were soon turned up. Sweet!

The only photos I took all day!
We hit the cafe at Cley for coffee and cake as it was now 7 hours since my McCrap breakfast. The wessies bombed on to Holkham and we followed once satiated. Pink-footed Geese everywhere and a Tundra Bean Goose emerged from the flock only to disappear back in as I tried to get the others on it. Turning round we had a Peregrine sat in a field and one of the Rough-legged Buzzards sat in a bush. We were cooking on gas. Walking through the pines we spied our mates on the saltmarsh. We ambled in their direction where they appeared to have espied the Shore Larks. Infact as we arrived they had pinned down the 4 birds pretty close and we got top, top views. It was now 2pm and we had to leg it to catch up with our final target.

Arriving at Titchwell we were soon on the redpoll flock and a number of classic Mealy Redpolls amongst a number of the commoner cousins. A particularly pale individual was picked up by Pete and we talked through the features, chamois wash to the face. Tick. White rump. Tick. Single undertail streak. Tick. We had the bugger! Nice views were had but the sun was low and as the bird moved about we struggled to keep on it and silhouette was replaced by it moving into a distant alder and then disappearing completely. Good times. Another lifer. We moved down to the freshmarsh where a Chinese Water Deer was foraging on the shooting marsh to the west. It showed down to about 10 metres without being bothered by punters moving along the path. A mammal lifer and one with quality tusks that looked like a Llama crossed with a terrier. We moved onto the sea and turned in a few more waders and 7 Red-breasted Mergansers. It was time to go and a failed Golden Pheasant twitch blighted the trip home. More junk food and then home. Knackered but elated.

Friday 13 January 2012

Scarborough Wax

Went to Scarborough today to take Izzy to the seaside. Sadly spent most of the time in Sainsbury's after she had an accident but we did have a nice time walking around marine drive and the harbour once she was suitably rebooted. On the way in I had some brief and distant views of 10 Waxwings at B & Q. I gave up after they disappeared into a housing estate.

Whilst mooching round the harbour a single Shag was knocking about and the usual Herring Gulls. Cruising around marine drive was a male Peregrine Falcon which briefly alighted above us. Sadly this was at the same time as Izzy was desecrating her clothes. Post sorting her out we went to Holbeck car park and managed brief views of an adult and 1w Mediterranean Gull. It was a bit rubbish compared to usual as they disappeared as fast as they arrived.

We left as it became evident that Izzy was getting bored but had to stop when the Waxwings were showing well at B & Q. Here I bumped into Andy Hood as the Waxwings came down next to the cars to feed. Shame it was dull but better than nothing!

 Off to Norfolk on Sunday for the Ross's Goose, Western Sandpiper, Arctic Redpoll, Lesser White-fronted Goose combo. Fingers crossed!

Tuesday 10 January 2012

Nickelodeon & Birding

Its not often that the endless repeats of Peppa Pig & Ben & Holly's Little Kingdom stimulate me. I have seen every episode. Thrice but recently it has been running adverts about the Big Garden Birdwatch and has reminded me (the parent) and informed Izzy (the child) simultaneously. What a corking idea. I take my hat off to the RSPB. 3 weeks of reminders and you should drum up plenty of support from parents of small kids for the citizen science hour. Almost immediately I drove to the garden centre that is 20% cheaper than buying from Bempton and a better selection. Got home and upscaled from my peanut feeder, no mess platform and fatballs to a full 9 feeder array with peanut tray, fat block, nyjer and sunflower hearts. It was pretty busy out there before but now it is buzzing, with Goldfinches adding to the melee. Still plenty of Tree Sparrows, House Sparrows & Chaffnch plus Wren, Dunnock, Song Thrush and 3 Robins. My Coal Tit seems to have moved on this winter but the common cousins are still present. Also got a Mere first, in a party of 4 Canada Geese. Considering we have regular Gadwall and Tufted Ducks with records of Pochard & Goldeneye, the fact it has taken 4 years nearly to chalk up is a surprise.

Got a new Giottos Tripod today. Not flash but urgently needed. Going to Norfolk a ticking on Sunday. Quite excited. Try a bit of Peppa Pig.

Monday 9 January 2012

Tales from the Riverbank

For some the title will bring back memories of childhood television, for others it will be the modernist phase in their teens (latter for me generally) but right now it refers to my local watercourse, a trout chalk stream. I hadn't really explored it much in the 3 1/2 years I have lived here, preferring less virtuous birding at local honeypots such as Flamborough, Tophill Low and Spurn to a lesser extent. A new years fitness...cant really say drive as that would over state the matter...erm...more a modest perambulation has led to me exploring down here allied with tales from my dog-walking neighbours of Kingfishers. I have tried local patching before and cant guarentee that I am cut out for it - Im just not dedicated enough without cash enticements. Anyhow - the lure of regular light exercise, stories from the next patch along of Cattle Egrets by Bob Askwith and a Shag flying inland with Cormorants got me exploring (to be fair it was mostly looking for year ticks, the above is all bollocks).

Yesterday a family walk was short but fun with 3 Mistle Thrushes shouting at each other like nobody's business. Made me feel spring wasn't far off. I was expecting to year tick Yellowhammer but what I didnt expect were 60+ birds feeding in the set-aside. The walk took a long time for short legs as found on my toddler but we managed to find a Kingfisher which moved up the river just ahead of us, allowing us to catch up only to dash away again in a streak of azure. My wife and child were suitably impressed. As was I. It was a year tick.

Today I was without companions and as such lugged the big bun down with me. The light was brilliant. Except the birds were all in the trees on the wrong side, and then when the sun when behind the cloud my camera wanted me to shoot at 1/40th of a second with only a monopod for company. Rubbish. What was less rubbish were the two Reed Buntings in with the Yellowhammer flock which was possibly a little closer to 80 birds today although keeping track of them was difficult. Another couple of expected year ticks occurred with a decent smattering of Stock Doves & Redwing passing overhead and through the tree respectively. It did quieten down however and I was reduced to checking the stream for fish. Two species were recorded - Three-spined Stickleback and a decent sized Brown Trout.

I noticed decent numbers of small gulls nobbing about and they seemed to be catching emerging flies (?january, hello!) which were troublesome as the temperature broached double figures. No matter how often I looked at them they were all Common or Black-headed Gulls. Not to worry. A Kestrel flew from the far side, hunting over the field but something was odd about it. It didn't hover but was hunting in a more harrier like fashion. Bizarre. It was an odd shape. Then the penny dropped - it was a Peregrine Falcon. I still cant work out why it was flying like a harrier, quartering the field, very odd. I watched it for half and hour or so as it alighted a couple of hundred yards from where I stood and having occasional flights around the fields being harried by crows. Suddenly its wings closed and it dropped like a stone on an unseen Feral Pigeon which are numerous on the neighbouring farms. A few other scattered but this unlucky soul didnt even get off the ground. A further 15 minutes of feeding were watched at distance before the growing band of crows forced the falcon from its victim, disappearring to the north over Nafferton. Very nice indeed.

Pretending to be a Hen Harrier

A different Jet Fighter

Friday 6 January 2012

Culling Grey Squirrels

That is what several of my readers have suggested I tackle in my next blog post but I think for the moment I will stear clear. At least until the bunny huggers bog off anyway ;) Today I was doing WeBS counts around the Humber and it was fantastic weather as the wind had subsided and the sun was shining. A bit chilly early morning but it soon picked up.

Birdwise it was steady with a handful of waders and plenty of small gulls knocking about. I managed to year tick Mistle Thrush, Song Thrush, Fieldfare, Dunlin, Turnstone and Ringed Plover. Highlights of the day came in the form of hunting Peregrine and Sparrowhawk passing within a couple of metres of me. Nice year ticks both of them. Sadly no pics due to time constraints. Next time - Signal Crayfish torture.

Wednesday 4 January 2012

Ruddy Ducks - How informed are you?

Recently I have seen a lot of shit spouted about Ruddy Ducks on various listserves, facebook pages and forums. I have seen threats to beat up those that endorse or aid the cull. It all seems ridiculous when you look at the science and legal obligations of the UK. Here is my attempt to untangle the web of bollocks talked about it. I am not involved in the Ruddy Duck cull in any way but I do fully endorse it as an unsavoury but necessary action.

male Ruddy Duck

Firstly a bit of history. About 70 Ruddy Ducks escaped from collections in the 50s and this dropped down to an estimated 20 birds by 1962. WeBS data suggests that there were 6,000 birds by 2000. Birds were first recorded in mainland Europe in 1965 and a wintering population of over 200 birds were recorded in France. That these birds eminated from the UK is indisputable as the French breeding population peaked at 20 pairs. Numbers peaked at 7 pairs in the Netherlands. By 1984 the first birds were recorded in Spain and between 1984 & 1999 a minimum of 139 birds were recorded in Spain at 43 localities. These must have been British in origin due to the numbers and genetic studies showed this to be the case (British Ruddies are a pretty undiverse lot genetically). So pre-cull we have Ruddy Ducks occuring at a rate of about 10/year in Spain and 6000 birds in the UK with maybe 100 other birds in the nations to the south of the UK. At this point there had been NO recorded vagrancy of Ruddy Duck in the eastern Atlantic. There has been a single subsequent record, of a female on the Azores in 2009.

male White-headed Duck

A brief look at White-headed Ducks shows that numbers dipped to 22 pairs in the seventies but thanks to the protection of a number of sites they currently number 2,600 pairs approximately. This represents 25% of the world population and all of the European population. Birds are restricted to sites in the south and east of the country and breed in emergent vegetation fringing small eutrophic lakes. 84% of birds breed in protected areas.

Now a bit of biology. Ruddy Ducks outcompete male White-headed Ducks when they share territory. Ruddy Ducks are preferred by female White-headed Ducks to the males of their own species. In addition Ruddy Ducks are more aggressive when courting making them more likely to win an territorial battles for females. Thirdly, unlike White-headed Ducks but in common with many duck species, Ruddy Ducks will have forced intercourse (rape) with females including female White-headed Ducks. Basically when in direct competition Ruddy Ducks win hands down against White-headed Ducks when it comes to breeding success. And here is the shocker - hybrids are viable to at least the third generation. Those Ruddy genes are in the population and not getting out. So the big question is then - would it happen in the wild? Well 59 hybrids were recorded to 1999 at 23 different sites. Thats a lot. Ruddy genes are not thought to have introgressed yet as culling of Ruddy's and hybrids occurs in Spain but it only takes one or two broods to remove pure White-headed Ducks from a discrete area by introgression. I have heard people say - why cant we just cull birds in Spain. They do but Ruddy Ducks kept arriving and as mentioned above due to the viability of hybrids the gene pool would quickly get diluted by Ruddy genes if any were missed - better to treat the cause at source. Eradicate alien Ruddy Ducks.

Now for some politics. The UK is part of the EU and as such is a signatory of the EU birds directive (you know, the one we use to berate Malta about) and as such we are bound by the Bonn and Bern conventions. We are also a signatory to the African-Eurasian Waterbirds Agreement (AEWA) which includes White-headed Ducks. This means we are legally obliged (and rightly so) to conserve birds named in these agreements (which White-headed Duck is). I have heard people moan about shooting of the Ruddy's but a feasibility study showed that oiling eggs and other measures were not effective due to the population size. The Ruddy Ducks had to be removed. That is killed if you dont dress it up.

So in summary. We let Ruddy Ducks become established. They did. They went to Spain. They outcompeted the recovering White-headed Ducks and threatened to dilute the gene pool as hybrids were viable. We eradicated (more or less) Ruddy Ducks through shooting. White-headed Ducks are significantly less threatened. Where is the problem? There are plans to clean up the few remaining in Britain and the near continent. Is LGRE upset about the loss of a year tick? Maybe when White-headed Ducks have spread to the camargue and western France and are regular vagrants he will be less vehement? I support the cull. Do you? If not why not?

some links:

Defra report

Genetics Study

Study for Possible Vagration

Feasibility Study

Tuesday 3 January 2012

Gull Fun

'Inspired' by Not Quite Scilly I decided to have a look at a few gulls. Sadly being saddled with my daughter meant that it was from Kirkholme Point, Hornsea Mere. No Caspian Gulls or Yellow-legged Gulls for me but this 'orrible 1st winter Herring Gull was amongst a large flock of Black-headed Gulls with a sprinkling of Common Gulls.

I spied amongst the flock a couple of ringed birds - one a colour ringed Y20, an adult plus an additional adult with just a BTO metal ring which I could only get the final number for definite. 4. Doh! The colour ring has been submitted to EURING so hopefully I will get an interesting return which is suggestive of further google maps.

Also knocking about were a large number of Jackdaws which I scanned through looking for northern birds where a couple of very feint pale collars failed to raise any real interest. What was seen was this horror! Yuk!

There were a few ducks and I managed to year tick Coot & Canada Goose. 

Monday 2 January 2012

Year Listing Fun

Yesterday my intention was to go for a big day but the drizzle and my lack of planning put paid to that. A few years ago I managed 102 I think and that was the last time I twitched a Desert Wheatear on New Years Day so I thought that would be a sensible plan (making no heed for other tricky species). No photos sadly as the drizzle was a bit omnipresent.

A look out of the curtains this morning produced a surprise in a group of Long-tailed Tits on the feeders along with Tree Sparrows and other standard fayre. I started at Barmston which failed to supply divers and/or seaduck but there was a solitary Great Crested Grebe and more suprisingly a couple of flyover Grey Wagtails. Score. I gave up quickly and pushed off to Bempton to twitch the Desert Wheatear. Despite Keith Clarkson's assurances it was just round the corner it wasnt to be seen. From the cliffs I had a probable Little Auk flying with a Guillemot but failed to clinch it. Shame. 2 Red-throated Divers were amongst a flock of gulls and Gannets & Fulmars were all over the place. Just as I was clearing off the wheatear was seen on the cliff face feeding amongst the Gannet nests. Thats now 2 Desert Wheatears seen in 4 years. In the style of Opta on Twitter. Padder.

I was then informed that my day pass had been shorted and I negotiated a couple of hours at Tophill rather than the tour de force that I had planned. Even that said I wouldnt be seeing the gulls or SEOs. I headed for a packed Watton nature reserve with many of the local great and good present trying to pick out the varied gems on show. I also bumped into Pink Cuckoos for a year tick. Down at the hide the Garganey, LEO, Bitterns and Greenland White-fronted Goose stayed out of view but I still managed the drake Green-winged Teal which was kicking about with an interesting, well marked female. Open wing shot someone please! There were also over 100 European White-fronted Geese present and a redhead Smew. Working through there were singles of Ruff, Black-tailed Godwit, Egyptian Goose and Pintail. All nice year-tickage. A pretty good assemblage considering that Watton consists of 3 small borrow pits and a few seasonal pools.

Walking back a bounding Great Spotted Woodpecker plus an overflying Little Egret presumably headed to roost at Watton were bonuses. And thats it. A pretty good day and nice to see the various birders I bumped into. 

Sunday 1 January 2012

2011 - A postscript

2011 has been a somewhat mixed year in chez Spencer with personal disappointments dominating the summer balanced against the improved health of my father in his battle against terminal cancer to a point where he is currently in remission which is reason to celebrate and hence him coming round with my mother tonight for some fizzy pop and a knees up (or a whisky and sit down).

The good from a personal point of view has been the continued development and growth of my beautiful daughter Isabelle who has gone from a cute as a button baby into a proper toddler full of ideas and opinions.

Dad, who was still recovering from radiotherapy over the winter period last year has returned to his former self and is able to help me on work assignments when he can drag himself away from his allotment. We dont know how long he has but we are gonna bloody enjoy it.

Dad is the one on the left!
Rather more disappointing was the double whammy of my wife losing twins and me being laid off in the summer. The pregnancy never really got going and although Ange was a way through when she lost them, they had stopped developing at 6-7 weeks. We managed to rationalise quite well but it still hurt a lot and continues to do so. My increased free time due to being unemployed was a bonus but the lack of money was not. On the upside, I am now working under my own auspices and actually doing ok. We will have to see how profitable spring 2012 will be but I am busy until April at present so I live in hope.

From a birding viewpoint this has been a really good year - I have done plenty, largely thanks to work but also a couple of foreign jaunts. I havent found the elusive first BB rare but I have managed some good stuff both at home and away. One of the best things that happened was my ropey DSLR set-up which whilst hardly award winning, has helped me document my birding in exactly the way I hoped. I managed a number of brit ticks including Ring-billed Gull, Firecrest, Purple Heron, Bluethroat, Sabine's Gull, Marsh Sandpiper, Olive-backed Pipit & Isabelline Wheatear plus a further few additions to my Yorkshire list including a very nice self found Storm Petrel at Spurn which flew over the surf. I also saw my second Desert Wheatear and third Red-flanked Bluetail. A respectable haul of Yellow-browed Warblers totalled at least 7 including 2 self-founds. The Olive-backed Pipit was pretty special as I was the only person on site to get a view and I managed a photo as well. Not high class but it was doing a mouse impression. I used a bit of nouse and peeled off from the group figuring it would be hiding from them and thus visible from 90 degrees. It was and I was delighted.

Work gave me the opportunity to travel to many places across the country and highlights included Storm Petrels aplenty, Grasshopper Warbler and Snow Bunting on boats, 27 Spoonbills on Brownsea Island, a winter Pomarine Skua in the North Sea, a self found Smew on a pond in Lincolnshire, stumbling on a Dartford Warbler in Norfolk and some distant White-beaked Dolphins at sea.

On the home birding front, the Bridlington Skua and Shearwater cruise was outstanding with a Sabine's Gull overflying a very dark Balearic Shearwater and plenty of Black Terns around (plus the good company I kept that day). Disappointment abounded when a selfish Flamborough birder entered the field with the Stone Curlew in it flushing it to kingdom come just as I was reaching the twitch with my daughter on my shoulders. I was very unhappy that day. In the back garden, the welcome addition of Yellowhammer and Reed Bunting to the late winter avifauna was surely due to the harsh winter but gratefully received nonetheless. The final memory of the year from the UK was the cracking White-throated Robin in Hartlepool which my daughter inadvertantly flushed the bird as we returned from the playground unaware of its presence.

My two sojourns abroad were excellent with a spring trip to eastern Spain (set to be repeated in 2012) followed by a summer holiday to Boa Vista on Cape Verde.

Best bits of Spain were a very nice male Spectacled Warbler, Great & Little Bustard, Calandra Lark, Black-bellied Sandgrouse and a nice fall of Pied Flycatchers which included a smart Wood Warbler. In Cape Verde, the Brown Boobies and Magnificent Frigatebird were great and Cream-coloured Coursers and Hoopoe Larks were pretty rocking as was everything really.

So 2012... targets are again LT Skua, Spotted Crake, Icterine Warbler and Stone Curlew but at least in 2011 I knocked off Bluethroat, Firecrest and Purple Heron.

How birds and brains become mutually exclusive

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