Thursday, 4 February 2021

February over the years

My last post looked at January over the years so it's only fitting that this one looks forward to February and what it may hold for me. 

We continue with a national lockdown during the third spike in cases from the pandemic and sadly today sees two of my Dads old pals funerals one taken early by the virus and one just by his age but both will I'm sure be missed by Dad equally. Both funerals are ironically at the same time and both have extremely limited numbers of guests with close family only attending but Dad has been given the option to call in and watch on line if he feels he needs or wants to. I told him he's paid his respects with his close friendship over the years so shouldn't feel bad about not attending but it's worth again taking a moment to think of all that have lost somebody close in this last year of the pandemic and the extra grief the restrictions place on everybody concerned. The Virus has taken over 100,000 lives and all have family and friends missing them. My thoughts are with everybody affected.

Birdwatching has been in the spotlight a bit again this week with Essex Police saying that it's a recreational activity and shouldn't be seen as "permitted exercise" Walthamstow Wetlands has also published a statement to say whilst the reserve remains open for walkers and cyclists it is closed to birdwatchers. Fishing and Shooting remain as acceptable past times in lockdown but birdwatching is not. I hear anecdotal stories of birders having issues with wardens and police but as yet haven't known anybody personally that's had issue whilst out. I write the above to record in the history of the blog just how strange these times are as I'm sure years into the future these restrictions will seem even more strange. You can sit on a river bank all day and can even drive to the venue without restriction, you can drive to a wetland and set up to shoot wildfowl but you can't drive to a venue and sit and watch the birds you can't even walk to a venue to watch birds within the law/rules/guidelines. 

With regards to my birding in February I have over the years had some nice encounters with the following being the best of the birds seen.

Yellow-rumped Warbler in County Durham which I remember well as the road was covered in snow on my approach. This was a bonus bird as I headed north for a work meeting.

Ross's Gull at Lodmoor was a fabulous find on a day I was already in Dorset

Ross's Gull

Laughing Gull at New Brighton was another bonus bird on a work trip "up north"

Laughing Gull

Lesser Scaup In Cardiff Bay

Pied-billed Grebe at Ham Wall in Somerset

Pallid Harrier at Roydon Common in Norfolk

Hooded Merganser (an accepted record at Corsham CP)

Blue-winged Teal at Man Sands in Devon

others include....

Three Penduline Tits, Two Hoopoes, Two Long-billed Dowitchers

Penduline Tit

Bluethroat, Green-winged Teal, Little Bunting, Richard's Pipit, Bonaparte's Gull, Glossy Ibis, Lesser Yellowlegs and Rose-coloured Starling.

Bluethroat

The most common birds I year tick in February are Goshawk and Woodlark followed closely by Firecrest, Spoonbill and Great Northern Diver.

Woodlark

Other February birds include Crossbill, Purple Sandpiper, Red-necked Grebe, Willow Tit, Fudge Duck and Great-grey Shrike but none as regular at the Gos and Woodlark which are almost annually seen in Feb as first for the year. This year may be different unless we see a relaxation from local essential  travel.

Red-necked Grebe

I guess I'm going to struggle to add many more this February within the couple of miles from home I'm currently travelling but I'll keep looking and keep hoping. I'm sure there's a few local still to be found but I really miss days out like those above. 

Thankfully the local Owls are still on site although the last two nights they have chosen not to leave the roost save a couple of drops to the floor for small prey. This is a dramatic change in behaviour as they have been very reliable afternoon hunters since arriving. I and a couple of other local guys have followed these Owls since they arrived back in October, we have encouraged others to watch from a good distance and will keep an eye on the birds behaviour for as long as they are in the area.The local male Kestrel remains active and was joined by a male Sparrowhawk yesterday for a while otherwise little else to report. 


Year list stuck on 106

Life list stuck on 418


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