Sunday, 14 November 2021

Year list top targets

Having looked at what Bubo listing thinks of my top life tick targets I thought I'd run a year list target report too.

Having run the report it highlights some relatively easy targets I should still connect with like Whooper Swan, Merlin, Hen Harrier etc but also several summer migrants that I have clearly missed now like Wood Warbler, Black Tern and Roseate Tern.

It also names a few residents that I have failed to see mainly due to lack of travel in this strange post lockdown year. These misses include Dipper, Manx Shearwater, Red Grouse, Black Guillemot, Hooded Crow and Willow Tit.

My car died on the return leg from the Taiga Flycatcher so I'm in the process of sourcing new wheels which is holding me back a bit but I hope to be able to get out and about and close the year by adding a few of these targets to take my year list above that lowest ever of 238.

Some of these missing birds require some travel which I hope to still enjoy if possible.

Abberton alone currently holds Bewick's Swan, Red Crested Pochard and Red-necked Grebe which I failed to find on my last visit but haven't ruled out another go.

Whooper Swan, Hen Harrier and Merlin are all birds I usually stumble upon during my winter days out with visits to Stiffkey, Wallasea and Capel Fleet all on the cards before Xmas.

So the above six are my main targets to get me above that pointless 238 lowest year target and anything else I stumble on between now and the year end will help.

Onwards and upwards.

Wednesday, 10 November 2021

Year list targets at Abberton

We had considered a trip to Abberton yesterday but circumstance meant we left it to this morning and arrived in wet grey overcast conditions with very poor visibility which is far from ideal when scoping the vast reservoirs.

We started at Layer Breton and scanned the hundreds of ducks there to reveal that most were Tufted with lot's of Shoveler and Pochard in the mix plus small numbers of Goldeneye. We found the Teal/Baikal hybrid and a few Teal too. Greylags and Egyptian Geese continue to increase in numbers and a Great Egret flew low across the reservoir before we moved off towards Layer de le Haye causeway. On the way we noticed eight Catte Egrets feeding in the cow field by Garr farm and at the causeway we scanned through the murk and mist to find more Tufted and Teal plus lots of Great-crested Grebes and a possible Red-necked Grebe but it remained too far out in the murk to ID for sure. Two Great Egrets, Goosander, Grey Wagtail, Lapwing, Redshank and several Blackwits made up the best of the rest before we left for Wigborough bay.

Cattle Egret

Baikal/Teal Hybrid at Abberton

At the hide we were at least covered from the drizzle but it remained difficult to scan through the mist. We failed to see any Bewick's Swan or Red-crested Pochard which I had hoped would give me year ticks today but the bay held lots of Pintail and Mute Swans. On the banks were a flock of Lapwing which also held a couple of Dunlin and on the far bank our third Great Egret of the day. We heard that yesterdays Long-tailed Duck was now showing close to the causeway so set off to look for it only to find it had now flown to the far side of the reservoir near the pumping station. This was now looking like a washout in terms of year ticks but we soldiered on walking round to island hide. Thankfully Paul W was in the hide and had picked up the Long-tailed Duck by the pump house with several Goldeneye and with his help we managed to finally connect with a year tick. I then spotted four Slav Grebes which were again quite distant and another three Great White Egrets before we set off hoping to get home to see England beat New Zealand but I guess when it's not your day.......It's really not your day.

Year list now 233 and only five away from that worst ever total I'm now chasing down.

Sunday, 7 November 2021

Taiga Flycatcher at Flamborough

I missed last years Taiga Flycatcher that spent four days in Durham due to Covid travel restrictions so was excited to see another turn up at Flamborough on 16th October but sadly the bird was missing the next day so the twitch was called off but then the bird was refound on 4th November at South Landings Flamborough and when it was still there on the Friday I called Jim and arranged to go first thing Saturday. We stopped at North Caves on the way up and year ticked Green-winged Teal and as we left North caves the news from Flamborough was negative so we changed plans and decided to finally visit the long staying White-tailed Plover at Blacktoft Sands. On arrival we parked up and walked down to Xerox hide where the Plover was busy feeding in full view with some Redshank and Dunlin. Whilst admiring our second White-tailed Plover (1st at Rainham in 2010) Jim got news that the Taiga Flycatcher had been refound at Flamborough so we returned to the car and made haste arriving at South Landings car park at about 11am. A walk of about 50 yards followed before we found a small group of birders admiring a Red-flanked Bluetail so with some directions from the crowd we too were soon admiring the little cracker.

Green-winged Teal at North Caves

White-tailed Plover at Balcktoft Sands

Further along the path another group where searching for the mega that we'd made the trip to see and itwasn't long before I'd got my eyes on it in the canopy. It performed quite well but remained busy and high in the canopy all the time we were there but was heard calling several times. A true mega with just three previous accepted records. The first in 2003 was also at Flamborough with another on Shetland that year too. The last accepted record was on Shetland in 2009 and of course the Durham bird last year should be accepted making this years bird Britains fifth.

Taiga Flycatcher at South Landings Flamborough

On the journey home we had car trouble requiring a Greenflag rescue that saw us get home at 2.30am almost 22 hours after leaving home. The car will need attention, maybe even replacement but the tick will live long in the memory for sure.

BOU (mainland only) list is now 425 (includes Black-eared Wheatear that's still pending)

Year list now 232 and just six short of that worst year ever that I'm trying to avoid if possible. 

Tuesday, 2 November 2021

Larking about in Norfolk for Jims 400

At the start of this year I made a commitment to help my brother Jim get through the 400 BOU tick barrier and although on paper he got there with the Long-toed Stint he has one bird on that list which is yet to be official accepted (the Black-eared Wheatear). so when a Greater Short-toed Lark was reported in Norfolk I watched it with intent until yesterday when my first opportunity to travel came along. A call to notify the Jims of my intent had them ready to go at 5.30am and we set off hoping the bird had stayed overnight.

The journey north was horrendous with a closure to the M11 diverting us across the A120 we were forced to travel up the much slower A12 to West Runton and what should have taken just over two hours took almost four hours but on route we had atleast had the birds continued presence confirmed. Arriving at the small car park and eventually sorting the confusing daily parking fee we walked the short distance to a small gathering of birders. I saw the Short-toed Lark straight away but it flew before I could get the Jims on it. The bird returned and this time we all managed to get good scope views and Jim had finally got his 400th UK mainland tick. A quick high five and we were back enjoying the bird as it ran around feeding with a few Skylarks and some Linnets.

The Greater Short-toed Lark was always a little too far for anything other than a record shot

Moving on we decided to head for Holkham and see if we could find the Shorelarks there for another year tick stopping on route for a short sea watch at Cley. We ticked Bonxie at Cley as three flew by in the 40minutes on site. Also noted Gannets, Razorbill, Guillemot, Knot, Brent Geese, Teal and Wigeon during our stay. At Holkham we again added to the estates profit pot with our parking fee and walked out to the roped off area of beach to search for the four Shorelarks reported to be there. It didn't take long to find them and although they remained quite distance the scope views were good and they're always a great bird to see and they nudged the pointless year list to 228 leaving me just ten short of my worst year totals.

Shorelark hiding at Holkham

Pinks at Holkham

Onwards and upwards and congratulations Jim on the first target reached let's get  to 450.