Saturday, January 01, 2011

A New Year...

New Year’s Day 2011... that's two thousand and eleven peeps, I refuse to call it 'Twenty Eleven'. SO, it’s been 7 months since I started this blog and here I am, 81 posts later, about to usher in another birding year on the patch. The slate is wiped cleaned, the year list reset to zero and the excitement of what the year will bring building nicely. Smashing stuff! It kinda feels like I should start the new patch year with a retrospective... the best bits of 2010... but that’s just gonna have to wait I'm afraid. It’s New Year’s Day and I feel a yule log brewing. Now before those smutty types among you chip in with jokes about too much turkey and its effects on the old digestive system, I mean of course the traditional New Year’s Day birding log of species seen. I don’t normally do this. Well, I sometimes do, but it’s not one of my personal traditions. I used to go Martin Mere on NYD regular as clockwork when I kept a year list and twitched a bit, primarily to get the wildfowl off to a good start, but as regular readers will know, I stopped that long ago. I now contentedly (is that a word?) confine my birding entirely to my patch, the occasional Welsh jaunt avec soup with my birding chum Matt ( notwithstanding.

Happily today, with the inlaws and outlaws back at their respective haunts post Chrimbo, I had a few hours to ‘spare’ and the natural thing to do was, of course, to go Moore. Truth be told it wasn’t that I wanted to rack up a massive list on Day 1, not at all. Actually I was much more curious about how I’d handle the inevitable birding irony of seeing what would have been my 140th species a day too late to be added to the 2010 tally! That and the state of the ice. I'd not really thought what the first species of the year would be on the patch, which is odd really, coz I usually do stuff like that... but I wasn’t at all surprised to find Black-headed Gull at No.1, quickly followed by Carrion Crow and Magpie on the horse paddocks. A quick scan didn’t throw up the half-expected winter thrushage – so no Redwing, Mistle Thrush or Fieldfare to add to the tally just yet. The ice issue (had it thawed or not?) was answered pretty much as soon as I pulled up alongside the Angler’s Pool . No. It hadn’t. And, there were no birds either. In fact not only was nothing visible, but nothing much was audible either apart from another crow and the distant alarm call of a Blackbird... VERY quiet indeed. Hmmmmm. This was unanticipated. Change of plan required. I had assumed the pools would be free of ice and stuff would be out and about, despite the damp and murky start to the year. Not so. Yomp for an early Goosander and a comprehensive working of the ponds seemed therefore a bit of a waste of time. No. My best shot at finding anything today was probably the Feeding Station...

Wind the windows down on the car and set of over the swing bridge (NTS: canal thawed) adding Mallard, Coot, Moorhen, Tufty, Cormorant and Feral Pigeon as I slowly trundled along... past the car park (NTS: lots of cars and hence people about = disturbance. DOH!)... on to Lapwing Lane - first stop  the hide overlooking Lapwing Lake. Still quiet as the grave. Single Herring Gull sitting out on the ice and a Jackdaw over calling... I make that just a dozen species so far. Feeding Station next then... Better here; Great Tit, Blue Tit, Song Thrush, Robin, Chaffinch, Jay... Lesser Black-backed Gull and Wood Pigeon over... Goldfinch calling, Treecreeper too. Tapping overhead... Nuthatch. Coal Tit on one of the feeders Iwonder if it misses the other one – see White Out ( and... yep... that high pitched 'seessing' is indeed a tasty Goldcrest. No Great Spotted Woodpecker though... or Long-tailed Tit. Interesting.

OK... reckon I stick to woodland for the rest of the sesh (hence this post's pix). Tawny path next. Would be nice if she was back in the ivy-covered tree again having vacated it the other week. Common Buzzard calling, couple of Lesser Redpoll over chi-chi-chiiiing... Redwing... but no Tawny Owl again today. Small flock of Long-tailed Tits in the woods between the little wooden bridge and Birchwood Pool west hide. Nothing here though save evidence of the harshness of December’s cold snap – a Grey Heron stretched out dead on the ice. Damn. Decide to take the little path along the south side of the Capped Tip back to the Feeding Station. Might be the chance of something different here; lots of wet wooded ditches that look ideal for Woodcock... not today though. No Common Snipe either (they like the wet margings along the north side of the Cow Field). Nothing along the Boardwalk to the north path along Lapwing Lake (a pattern is emerging...) and from the hide... a single Herring Gull on the ice. Oh shit... it hasn't moved. It's the same one I saw from the hide on Lapwing Lane earlier. It's bloody feathers are stuck to the ice I just know it. OMG... it's gonna slowly starve to death stuck out on the ice and end up like that heron on Birchwood Pool and there's sod all I can do about it - fuck it :( Well THAT has cheered me up no end!

Just down from the north hide I get a Willow Tit. Wonder if Hillcrest Quarry will throw anything up... maybe Greenfinch or Bullfinch? Not had either yet. Come to think of it, I've not even had Dunnock. Or maybe that Green Woodpecker is still knocking about? Now that would be nice! Unfortunately, I add nothing new except a Wren to the New Year's tally and settle for the day on THIRTY TWO... a somewhat modest total... but it was good to be back on the patch with a whole year to look forward to again. Happy Days! Especially as the Herring Gull was standing up and looking about when I hit the Lapwing Lake south hide :)

Can't wait to hit the river. Finger's crossed - hopefully tomorrow!


  1. Oi Oi!

    A Happy New Year buddy,

    It is resolution time aint it? So I'm resolving to blog a lot more!

    Sounds like it's been quiet everywhere today, not much away from the shore on my patch....

    I got some more soup recipies so we'll have to go "off patch piste" soon!

  2. Enjoyed the blog since it started. Pity you didn't get to 140 but at least it gives you something to aim for this year!

    Good luck and happy New Year!

  3. Cheers Owen. Much appreciated :) Yep, something to aim for sure enough... but tricky!!!

  4. Just gimme the word Matty m'boy and we'll go Welsh-side. May even take it in turns with you for soup :) Been making a mean Butternut Squash n Chilli of late \m/