Sunday 25 July 2021

Back in the game

I haven't been birding since my trip to Bempton at the end of June so today I made a solo run to Snettisham. I arrived at 7am with high tide due at 8am but on arrival all the birds had already roosted on the pits but somebody had reported the Western Sandpiper (which was my target) at 6.40am although it hadn't been seen since. I picked up a year tick with my first Sanderlings of the year as I scanned the few Dunlin still on the mud. As birds started to return to the mud around 9.30am I picked out a Little Stint and Garganey whilst searching for the Sandpiper and around 10am as around thirty of us scanned the mud the shout went up "got it!" I moved up to get directions and very quickly was watching my second ever Western Sandpiper following the 2011/12 Cley bird.

Western Sandpiper at Snettisham

Also at Snettisham lots of Little, Common and Sandwich Terns, a couple of Whimbrel, three Turtle Dove plus thousands of Knot. Hundreds of Oystercatchers and Godwits with the odd Turnstone. I picked up a couple of Med Gulls but couldn't find the reported Black or Roseatte Terns.

Following my early success I moved on to Frampton being just 25 miles out of my way and as I parked up I was put straight onto the Pacific Golden Plover but had better views later on as I got to the sea wall where I also had good views of Short-eared Owl, Marsh Harrier and Peregrine. My walk around the reserve gave up Spotted Redshank, Wood Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Little Stint, Curlew Sandpipers, Greenshank, Spoonbills and many other good birds but I failed to find the reported Whinchat which I still need for a year tick.

Pacific Golden Plover


Year list now 211

Saturday 3 July 2021

BOU list now sits at 626

 With three new additions the BOU list now sits at 626

The additions all from sightings last year are

Ruby-crowned Kinglet (On Barra from 12th to 27th November)

Yellow-bellied Flycatcher (a relative crowd pleaser on Tiree from 15th to 23rd September 2020)

White-chinned Petrel (seen by one person walking on a beach in Orkney on 25th May 2020)

Interestingly the much twitched Paddyfield Pipit has as yet not been accepted by BOU as a wild vagrant.

The list now breaks down as such

Category A    608    (RECORDED IN THE WILD SINCE 1950)

Category B        8    (RECORDED IN THE WILD PRIOR TO 1950)


Follow the below link to the article by BOU

Changes to the British List (30 June 2021) - British Ornithologists' Union (

The eight species in Category B are......

Ruddy Shelduck

Red-necked Nightjar

Eskimo Curlew

Great-black-headed Gull

Great Auk

White-faced Storm Petrel

Egyptian Vulture (Which finally looks set to be moved to Cat A after this years Scilly bird)

Spotted Eagle


The Ten species sitting in Category C are......

Egyptian Goose


Ruddy Duck


Red-legged Partridge


Golden Pheasant

Lady Amherst's Pheasant

Little Owl

Ring-necked Parakeet

As for me well I've seen 423 of the 626 (67%)  so I have 203 still to connect with should any turn up again in a twitchable range.

Thursday 1 July 2021

Half time review 2021

Well I've made it the end of June in this second year affected by the global pandemic. I've been vaccinated twice now and although cases continue to rise with the new Delta variant it does feel as though things are slowly returning to normality of sorts. I'm back in the car with the Jims after over a year of not travelling together. The first half of 2021 saw my year listing badly affected for a second year as I missed many of the winter species due to the national lockdown for the first three months of the year. I nearly gave up on year listing after last years struggles but I didn't and have made the best of a bad time with my efforts.

I sit on 206 for the end of June which is my lowest every June total with my best being 264 and my ten year average being 239 and my previous lowest being 219.

I've picked up five life ticks so far in 2021. Firstly I was lucky that the Mockingbird hung around until I could travel for it in April and I picked up the American Herring Gull on the same trip. A White-throated Sparrow was a welcome addition too before this months River Warbler and then there's yesterdays show stopping Albatross. It's fair to say I didn't see any of these ticks coming but they sure lifted my spirits after a very long winter lockdown saved only by the local Shorted-eared Owls and some good socially distanced company.


Black-browed Albatross

River Warbler

White-throated Sparrow

American Herring Gull

Looking forward to July I can say that it's a tough month for year listers.

My best year tick total for any July is just nine back in 2013 and my worst is just two. The most popular July addition to my year list is Curlew Sandpiper which I tick most years in July as birds head south again.

The best July Tick I've ever had was the White-tailed Plover at Rainham on 7th July 2010.

So I'm not expecting any fireworks for the rest of 2021 but will keep the year list ticking over without chasing it and just see where it ends. I hope to find another lifer or two before the years out and of course I'm trying to help Jim find the three ticks he needs to break the 400 barrier.

I'm still without Whooper and Bewick's Swan, Pink-footed Goose, Long-tailed Duck, Red-breasted Merganser, Red-necked Grebe, Slavonian Grebe, Sanderling, Purple Sandpiper, Great Skua, Hen Harrier, Merlin, Shorelark, Snow Bunting, Whinchat, Dipper, Twite and Red-crested Pochard to name but of few of the common birds I've failed to connect with thus far in 2021. For another winter I missed any chance of chasing the Cornwall Pacific Diver, Black Scoter, Snow Goose and Cackling Goose ticks.

Since lockdown was relaxed in the second quarter of 2021 I've dipped Tawny Pipit and Eastern Subalpine Warbler but my regrets are not going for the Red-necked Stint in Northumberland and Thrush Nightingale at Spurn. Thankfully I don't look too hard at birds missed on the Islands as I've never twitched one to date but should either the Sulphur-bellied Warbler on Lundy or the Egyptian Vulture on Scilly have settled I may have had to break my own travel restrictions for them.

Happy birding for the second half of the year guys and keep well.

And already on the 1st July what looks like a first for Britain with the Soft-plumaged Petrel along the north east coast yesterday....what a year!