Saturday, 1 January 2011

New year, new year list

Hello out there,

I've decided to keep a year list this year. Nothing fancy, just a straightforward British year list - hopefully it will motivate me to get out on those days when I would normally look at the sky and think '.... nah'. The list got off to a blinder when we heard the distant quavery fluting of a Tawny Owl outside at about 1.20am, which I suppose cemented my resolve to give it a go. I will try to include in my blog posts at least a record shot of the more unusual species, which will mean an increase in blurry and heavily cropped images for you to enjoy. You have been warned...

I wasn't so keen when the alarm went off at 6.30am, but did manage to get up by 8am (adding a heard Magpie and Wren in the meantime) and walked down to Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve to see if I could rack up a creditable start to the list. It was a 1990s-style winter morning - mildish, grey and damp.

Lots of the resident passerines are singing already, which made it very easy to add Song and Mistle Thrush, Great Tit, Greenfinch and Robin on the walk down, along with a bit of a bonus in the form of a 30-strong Fieldfare flock overhead. Then it was on to the reserve itself. I went into Grebe Hide to get the camera ready, then took a few shots. Just for fun, here's my very first photo of 2011:

Not a great start. Hopefully things will improve, and I'll remember how to focus the lens... Besides the Blue and Great Tits there was a party of Long-tails around.

I went to Tyler hide first. There was lots about, including lots of gulls. This Lesser Blackback was the closest of them - there were also several Herring and Common Gulls (one of the latter is in this photo) and one adult Great Blackback, which I unaccountably didn't bother to photograph.

My first grebe of the year, and it's a Black-necked. This bird has been around for a few weeks - it's high time I paid it a visit. It was rather distant and very actively feeding (ie on view for about 5 seconds per minute).

Moving on from Tyler hide, I finally saw what I'd wondered was a mythical bird, the oft-reported semi-resident female Ruddy Duck. Here she is with my second grebe of the year, a Great Crested.

I carried on to Slingsby hide but there was nothing to see - the lake was completely iced up at this end. I did get a Great Spotted Woodie on the way.

On the way back towards Tyler hide, a Treecreeper. I'm not sure what it thinks it's doing in this photo. Not great pics but at least it didn't shimmy around the far side of the trunk when I showed up.

I looked in at Tyler hide again on the way back and this time there were a couple of female-type Goosanders on view. Another nice bird to get in the bag, though I'd have preferred a nice smart drake (but then who wouldn't?)

Here's part of the vast herd of Coots grazing the Serengeti (aka the small grassy foreshore bit that you can see from Tyler). Lots of Coots, lots of Moorhens, but where's my Water Rail?

I went up to Willow hide next. This proved disappointing. Not only was the lake completely iced over, but one of the two stools was missing, and the other had been relocated by some idiot to the icy surface of the lake. This not only spoiled the view, but spoiled the chances of short people like me from enjoying the view, as the benches in this hide are set too low. I didn't hang around, but carried on past Long Lake to the field at the end. Overhead large noisy Siskin flocks roved around the alder trees, but I couldn't turn any of the Siskins into Redpolls.

By the field, I surprised myself by taking a recognisable photo of a Redwing. These thrushes are often amazingly shy and suspicious, and this one quickly flew away when it realised I had spotted it, even though it was so high in the tree that this is a nearly 200% crop.

With the light so poor, black and white subjects were a bit more appealing than colourful ones.

Last photo of the day. A bit better than the first... a drake Teal on one of the pockets of unfrozen water on the big lake.

So after about 3.5 hours' birding the year list stands at 54. I got some great bonuses, but many SWR regulars eluded me - the likes of Stock Dove, Sparrowhawk, even Goldfinch for pity's sake. Still, there are 364 more days to go.

1 comment:

Phil said...

Happy new year Marianne.
Good luck with the list. Goosander on day one can't be bad!