I wasn't chasing any yearlists this year, so easily breaking the Patch Yearlist Record wasn't something I expected. Of course, I have been doing more on Patch, and it's been a very good year for bird variety [if not always numbers]. New Patch Record? 155! The Patch List itself is now a mighty 203. Off the top of my head, that's about 60 birds in three years!?! The moral; There's more out there than you think, just put the time in.
Today I ended the year as I started it; defiantly NOT chasing any of my yearlists. Sort of. I went up on't Moor [after the rain stopped.. Ahem] and went looking for the flock of Brambling reported near Sousson's. Having never seen more than a couple at once, a 'big flock' was appealing.
I eventually found them, just as they were being flushed by a
I waited, no sign. Bollocks. I moved on a bit to the next stand of Beech, where I found to my joy that the megaflock had only split, with maybe a third flying off up the hill out of reach and the rest staying by the lane. At least 19 Brambling among more than three times that number of other birds! With the others that flew off, it looks like there could be as many as 30 present! :)
The birds showed really well, though I got more than a few funny looks from passing drivers, as I was sat on the edge of the roadside ditch, drinking coffee and grinning like, er, me. Vehicles moved the birds up only for seconds, and then only out of the lane itself, but when the Hunt showed up, the birds moved out to the nearby hedges and let me get a scoped Brambling count that doubled what I thought was there!
Fairly quiet elsewhere in the area, though. This not unsurprising given the carnage in Sousson's itself, where some liberal felling has been added to by the weather. With trees taken from the exposed edges, the wind has been playing dominoes, and long lines of mature trees are thoroughly blocking several tracks. Many of said tracks are also now morasses of 4' ruts from the forestry machines, too. Enter at your own risk....
Time had marched on, so I took a scenic route home, hoping for a SEO, but no joy. I stopped at Venford where in the gloom 17 Goosander [4 looked pale enough to be adult males] roosted. Either side of the reservoir, I scored birds I'll really be rueing tomorrow; first a Jack Snipe flushed from the roadside in the O valley - it zigzagged along in front of me for maybe 20 yards, showing off its dark pointy arse! - then a Woodcock flew through my headlight beams as it headed for Holne Moor.