03 January, 2010

Something about birding

The story so far....

2009; having been challenged to do a Devon Yearlist [well, "Do a Devon Yearlist. Go on, you know you want to!" sounds like a challenge to me, anyway!] I did what vaguely resembled my humble best [allowing for work, twitching Lifers, and not being able to be arsed to go all the way to some suburb of frickin' Plymouth] and ended up with 219 by the Generally Accepted Reckoning [[or 218 by the stricter Lifer Quality Views Only criteria I was using]]. Which is not too shabby. However, it did involve lots of Yeartick twitching, repeat visits in search of recalcitrant Jack Snipe, lack of sleep, and general stress.

Yeah, it was a lot of fun. :D

So, new calender year, new birding ethos - Twitch only Lifers, enjoy what you're doing, and remember, its just fun, [have I said this enough?].
1/1/10 Up and at 'em - down to the Wild Wild West [that'd be cornwall then] in rather overdue [due to yearlist prioritising] search for the wintering Richard's Pipit. Crows-an-Wra [gotta love the name], it says, from layby on A30 by 'mud on road' sign. Ok. After minor detour due to someone seeing some ice, standing on the brakes, hitting someone coming the other way and blocking the road [I think dealing with different road conditions should be a mandatory part of learning to drive, but I'm not getting started on that one! {Yet...}] a gorgeously sunny west cornwall is reached. Two laybys, no mud sign. Ok. West layby first - fields to the north yield something that looks like a small scrawny pale-bellied Song Thrush. Get the big scope out - yes, its a scrawny pale-bellied Song Thrush. East side layby gives views of a large undulating field of maize stubble, and the sound of a call from a certain bird flying away. Yeah, this is the right place! Clear access point over the hedge, but I'm backward, and won't wander onto fields [even round the edge of stubble] without something like an ok from field-owner. [I'm allergic to shotgun pellets up the arse, what can I say?]. Half an hour of twisted patience later, the Richard's duly flies into sight.... and vanishes behind the huge muck heap in the corner. It stuck its head up once [I was expecting it to stick its tongue out too]. Enough to tick, but not enough to really satisfy. Sod it, its only a pipit! Lunch with a nice view at Carn Brea, then a very nice drake Goosander at Drift [plus Assumed Plastic Fantastic no. 1 of the year - subadult blue morph Snow Goose] and an epic Little Grebe vs Stickleback fight as a bonus [the grebe won it on points].

2/1/10 Fernworthy Reservoir - utterly beautiful in ice and frost, though glaciated roads proved 'interesting' on the way. Nice to see the massive 4WDs that clog the roads actually being used for their proper purpose - many I think for the first time! Don't get me wrong, I have no problem at all with people who actually live up on the Moor using them, its the urban ones [who can't drive them properly when they do get to the lanes] that I have issue with. [Another issue for another time]. To the birds! Well, after several trips last year in search of a yeartick, and only getting 'heard-only's, this time I was treated to Crossbills! Other than them, a massive LTT/Goldcrest band, and sparkling ice on the lake were the highlights. Really, the Moor on a cold sunny day is such a treat - the frost was so extensive, it looked in places like the fake spray-on snow they use on film sets, and it served to bring out the colours it lay on. Magical.

3/1/10 Local patch birds - a stroll in the afternoon brought nothing revelatory, and of most note were some good numbers for my quarter of a tennis court back garden; 12 House Sparrow, 10 Greenfinch, 25+ Starling, 4+ Blackbird, 2 Great Tit, 2+ Blue Tit, 2 Dunnock, 3+ Chaffinch, 5+ Woodpig, 9 Herring Gull [mostly flying about the area looking disreputable], 3 Magpie, 3+ Carrion Crow, 2 Jackdaw, and singles of Wren, Coal Tit, Song Thrush, and the first f. Blackcap actually in the back garden. There have been at least 3 Blackcap [2 and 1] in the immediate area, though they've been leery of the garden so far, except singly and briefly. I'm waiting for this to change - for the last two winters a female has made the garden her home, guarding the provided fat block against all and sundry [mean against poor Blue Tits, impressively brave against the massed Sparrow mob], kicking off also the two males who'd previously come to a hard-fought accord over it.

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