Monday, 27 April 2015

British Birds and birding in Britain

So I was doing a little research into how many birds have been recorded in Britain and who has seen the most of these and then I thought I'd expand that research into year listing in Britain and see where that takes me.

Firstly a visit to the BOU (British Ornithologist's Union) website gave me the top line figures stating that we have 596 species on the official British list.

Of these 596 species

578 sit in Category A
(Species in Category A have been recorded in an apparently natural state at least once since 1 January 1950.)

8 sit in Category B
(Species in Category B have been recorded in an apparently natural state at least once between 1 January 1800 and 31 December 1949, but have not been recorded subsequently.)

Ruddy Shelduck last recorded in 1946
White-faced storm Petrel last recorded in 1897
Egyptian Vulture last recorded in 1868
Spotted Eagle last recorded in 1915
Eskimo Curlew last recorded in 1880
Great Auk last recorded in 1840
Pallas's Gull last recorded in 1859
Red-necked Nightjar last recorded in 1856


10 sit in Category C
(Species in Category C, although introduced, now derive from the resulting self-sustaining populations)

Ring-necked Parakeet First recorded in 1969 now over 8600 pairs in the UK
Little Owl First recorded in 1758 now over 5700 pairs in the UK
Golden Pheasant Introduced in the 1870's less than 100 pairs remain in the wild
Lady Amherst's Pheasant Introduced in Bedfordshire in 1890 less than five birds remain
Common Pheasant Introduced in medieval times with an estimated population over two million.
Capercaillie Re - introduced in 1837 less than 1300 birds remain in Britian
Red-legged Partridge Introduced in 1779 and now over 86,000 territories in the UK
Ruddy Duck First recorded in 1949 but due to constant culling less than 50 birds now survive.
Mandarin Duck First recorded in 1866 and now numbers over 7000 wintering birds
Egyptian Goose First recorded in 1898 and now numbers over 3000 wintering birds

so that's the list but who holds the record for having seen the most of them?

Well it would appear that Steve Webb holds this title having connected with no fewer than 552 species on the BOU list.

As for year listing well that title seems to lie with Adrian Webb
with 367 BOU & 373 BOU/IRBC  (Adrian If I have these wrong please correct me.)

It's taken me four years to put 350 (ish) on my life list and my biggest year list is 289 so I can fully appreciate the dedication and commitment it takes to achieve the numbers above and congratulate the people involved.

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Lakenheath and Titchwell

We set off so early this morning the car park lighting was still on when we arrived at Lakenheath.

It's never too early!
Our walk along the public footpath listening to the dawn chorus was more than interesting and made up for the grey skies and damp conditions. We'd had a Barn Owl before entering the reserve and the first call as we get out of the car is our first Cuckoo of 2015. As we walk up the path the reed bed is alive with the calls of Sedge and Reed Warbler with a few Whitethroat around for good measure too. Cetti's is our next encounter before Grasshopper Warbler is heard reeling. Common Tern flew along the river and Bittern Boomed as we walked out to Joist Fen. Bearded Tit Pinged and Marsh Harrier hunted the fen. Two Cranes dropped into the reed bed from over the river bank and we generally had a decent visit.

Barn Owl seen  as we left Lakenheath
Urban Owl
We left and drove further north with Choseley Drying Barns our next destination with another two Barn Owls entertaining us on route.  We parked up in Chalkpit Lane and walked along towards the drying barns where a small group of birders had gathered. Within a couple of minutes we'd located the birds at distance in the fields below us. In the farm fields around the barn we found large flocks of Yellowhammer with Linnet and Corn Bunting in evidence too. Stock Docks were well represented along with RL Partridge and lot's of Hares. Marsh Harrier flew over as did a Red Kite being mobbed by Rooks. A single Wheatear was found by the old fella before the pager bleeped with news that a couple of Ring Ouzel had been found at Thornham so we left and made the mile or so journey to connect with the Ouzels before making it to our final destination at Titchwell.

Dotterel....right in the distance!
Hare and Red-legged Partridge
Red-legged Partridge
Marsh Harrier
Ring Ouzel at Thornham

After a coffee break we headed out along the footpath and connected with Little-ringed Plover, Spotted Redshank and a few others to give us a couple more year ticks.

Chinese Water Deer at Titchwell

Year list now 208

In the week I managed to visit Lea Valley and add Hobby to the year list and whilst listening to the Nightingales I got lucky with a pair of Bullfinch.

First Hobby of 2015

Sunday, 19 April 2015


With news yesterday of one of the "influx" of Hoopoe being seen on waste ground in Hythe we made that this mornings destination of choice and arrived early in Hythe to search for the bird. I quickly found a year tick in the form of my first Common Whitethroat of 2015 and grabbed a single shot before it flew deep into cover.

Common Whitethroat
With the Hoopoe not showing we headed down to Dunge and marched around the trapping area in search of migrants where we found only Whitethroat and Chiffchaff for our trouble in a bitterly cold north wind. We checked the bushes around the moat and between the obs and lighthouse with little reward save a couple of Ravens and several Wheatear.

Sedge Warbler
On the reserve we found five Whimbrel feeding in fields along the entrance track. With news breaking of five Bea-eaters down the road at Dover we left with intent but were stopped in our tracks when news came through that the birds had flown high to the west. Our last stop was Elmley where we found Yellow Wagtail along with the usual suspects. (Hares, Buzzard, Skylark, Redshank, Lapwing and Marsh Harrier to name a few)

Yellow Wagtail
Year list now at 199

Sunday, 12 April 2015

Another day at Dunge

I  visited Dungeness today with my good lady and before we'd got out of the car she'd found a cracking Black Redstart which gave me a nice opportunity to grab one or two shots as it sat on the sea wall next to the car park. We made the short walk to the hide and enjoyed a bit of a sea watch as Suzanne sheltered from the wind and Tia (the dog) enjoyed a run on the shingle. At sea we found a few Porpoise and Great Crested Grebes and watched as Brent Geese flew east and a both Sandwich and Common Tern flew towards the patch.

Black Redstart
Black Redstart

Black Redstart
Black Redstart
Black Redstart
A walk around the moat and lighthouse garden delivered Chiffchaff and Willow Warbler and another two Black Redstart. Back at the reserve and we had a couple of Swallows and Sedge Warbler before a  Raven came close along the Gully in Denemarsh Road. We then drove across to Reculver where we enjoyed good views of four Ring Ouzels in the old caravan park.

Ring Ouzel
A brief drive along the track at Elmley resulted in the usual birds along with a single Snipe.

Little Egret
Little Egret
Little Egret
A nice day out with my girls and six year ticks to boot.

Year list now at 196

Saturday, 11 April 2015

The week that was

Having returned from Scotland on Monday I made the relatively short trip to Lidlington in Bedfordshire where the recent press given to the "last Lady Amherst's Pheasant" had finally caught my imagination and although the prospect of seeing/ticking this introduced species as it finally meets it's final frontier didn't fill me with delight I found myself caught up in the hype and after a more interesting visit to the Lodge in Sandy where I located firstly three Lesser Redpoll and then a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker before hearing a day calling Tawny Owl I made the short trip across to Lidlington where I parked outside the pub and walked down the hill turning right to walk up to the churchyard (opposite the church) The message online said turn right at the rear of the church yard then 200 yards what it didn't say was it was a bit of a climb to the viewing area. I arrived with several birders present and joined the silent stand staring at the feeder that the land owners have erected in an effort to get people to view from a specific spot and cause less disturbance to the site. (For the record the security guards on site say that there are at least two birds)
We watched intently and eventually had the briefest of glimpses as the bird walked across the top of the ridge revealing just a head and tail feather. (Some got on it some to their frustration didn't)  I couldn't help think that the whole thing had been a little bit disappointing, the atmosphere wasn't great and the bird didn't show that well either. If all twitches went this way you wouldn't bother with them at all.

Osprey at Eversholt Lake
So with the tick in the bag so to speak I returned down the M1 and through myself into work with early mornings and late nights my penalty for taking a long weekend until today when I strangely decided I'd run the Jims back to Lidlington so they too could "enjoy" the bird.
Three hours of nothing followed with just light relief from first a fly over House Martin then a calling Willow Warbler and then a Redstart in the fields by the churchyard on our way out. My companions then wanted to visit Eversholt as Lesser Spotted Woodpecker had been reported there so we headed that way only to find an Osprey sitting in a tree there. We enjoyed watching the Osprey (Had a metal ring on the left left and blue ring on the right if that means anything to somebody?) and had a nice display from both Buzzard and Red Kite as we walked back to the car. No sign of Lesser Spot though and a possible Ouzel went missing on me so remained just possible.

Year list now 190 Life list now 356

Thursday, 9 April 2015

A little bit of Scotland

The Cairngorms
The Findhorn Valley
Laggan Dam
Loch Garten
If you've not been what are you waiting for.......get up there!



Tuesday, 7 April 2015