Thursday 27 March 2014

Under the weather

Not been so hot these last five weeks - had the flu which has manifested into a hideous viral chest infection which I still haven't shifted. Managed to man up enough to visit Barmston this morning and it was well worth it. Also under the weather were a few seabirds desperately skirting a squall out in Bridlington Bay. Pretty standard were single Red-throated Diver and Guillemot. More exotic were a couple of Arctic Skuas and a Manx Shearwater the latter a full patch tick as they rarely get this deep into the bay. A juvenile Kittiwake, a distant Fulmar and two loafing Common Scoter were also patch year ticks.

On the land it was much quieter. No Littoralis pipits unlike last year and not a snipe never mind a jack. Totally different to 2013 when there were loads. I walked the ditch but the White-spotted Bluethroat didn't appear. Another patch year tick clucked in the reed bed as a female Pheasant put in a brief appearance. This takes me on to 57 species and 65 points for the year so far at Barmston. This week I also took delivery of a rather smart t-shirt...

Sunday 9 March 2014


Im still hanging on here albeit by the skin of my fingertips as two weeks into a stinking virus I am still feeling pretty shoddy. Despite this I have seen some cracking stuff since I last checked in. I was in Somerset in late March and a trip to Shapwick Heath NNR coming in from the 'other' end brought with it a flock of 30+ Chiffchaff including 3 Siberian Chiffchaffs. In fact the first bird I laid eyes on looked great and then gave the very flat peep call which drew another classic buffy job with an all black bill in. Soon joined by reams of colybita we pushed on only to find a further bird in a big group round the corner. This didnt call sadly. We also managed three booming Bitterns and three Great White Egrets which are pretty standard down there.

The next day we were killing time waiting for our plane back to the North-east and had a meander up to Slimbridge. On a Sunday...good grief it was mental! Despite this there were massive numbers of decent birds with Bewick's Swans, European White-fronted Geese, Ruff and Barnacle Geese for the yearlist as well as a Little Stint I missed. One of the plastic cranes was stood in the middle looking like an escaped pet but a fly by Peregrine was pretty awesome. Some of the wildfowl were inches from the hides seemingly not bothered by the thousands on the other side of the shutters.

A quick trip to Barmston on the last Monday of February marked the start of me feeling cack but despite this I managed to add a few species to my PWC list with Mallard, Teal  and Grey Partridge all falling to my point scoring cannon. Best though was a Kingfisher flying up the drain...maybe they will breed this year.

Last week I was in Somerset again and again some free time saw us twitching. First up was some pretty epic dipping with Great Grey Shrike, Ring-necked Duck, Glaucous Gull and Kumlien's Gull all missed with the recompense of a couple of first winter Iceland Gulls, my 4th and 5th of the year. The following day and we headed to the Forest of Dean where driving along we had scores of Mandarin. Loads of Boar sign failed to produce any sightings but doodling along Serridge Ridge proved productive for me if not my colleagues as I managed to see two Two-barred Crossbills  flit down to the valley below. Sadly the others got arse end views. Plenty of Brambling including the beast pictured above and a couple of Common Crossbill. My finchy fumblings werent finished as a Hawfinch bounded towards its roost at dusk. John B managed to see that thankfully...

Me and John dipped the Richard's Pipit that had been knocking about but I managed a brief video of a Short-eared Owl at the new Steart reserve. All pretty awesome. Which brings me to today where I have moaned and groaned about how crap I feel. Im so cool.

How birds and brains become mutually exclusive

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