31 December, 2010

Baa... Baaa..... Baaa.....

Making like a sheep, here's my Top Ten Birding Highlights of 2010!

But not before I make a final update for the year.


Yesterday the Patch got a mighty bash. I got a couple of sniffs of Waxwings, but nothing usable. :( Not that the day was an entire write-off, oh no, far from it. There was a sustained low-key movement of Skylarks all day - heading north in small groups [3 to 10] - though very vexingly none came close enough to Garden Tick... Chaffinch and Redwing numbers had dropped markedly; down to a dozen and one and though I found a few Redwing and a Mistle Thrush in my patrolling, there'd clearly been a clear-out. No Brambling either.
I had a look at the sea, as the wind was onshore [though a NE instead of the forecast SE which would have gotten me doing it properly]. Being on patrol, I didn't have the Big Scope as I sat down on the lower south bench to see if anything was about. So, the 6 divers which flew south remain just that and the auks tooling about were mostly auk sp. [though a couple showed well enough to be Razorbills]. A couple of Kittiwake went by, but star turn went to another small group of larks which flew up, hit the wind going over the Nose and stalled for a moment, still calling, before pressing on northward - 2 Skylark and a glorious Woodlark. Woodlark. On my frelling Patch. :D I still can't quite believe it, it more than made up for only being able to find one, yes one GC Grebe all day.

Today there wasn't even a hint of Waxwings on the Patch, though 39 GC Grebe were better. More Redwing [ok, 3 out back, but a few more around] and a big jump to 25+ Chaffinch with no less than 3 Brambling [2 adult males and a 1w male] strongly implied movement in overnight. In the afternoon it was a walk around Yarner with the folks. Atilla the Dog was in particularly feisty mood - I reckon the deer must have been about - and the woods were pretty quiet, bird-wise, but it was still good. Except for untangling the dog's cradles she made from her extendo-lead, of course [at least there weren't any huge gorse bushes or bramble thickets to get stuck in...]].
A fly-over Brambling was threatening to be the best of it, until we had the fortune to meet a group of Bullfinches. I like Bullfinches, they're purdy, and my Mum loves them [though rarely sees them, and never more than one at a time before] so getting 9 feeding in a treetop for a couple of minutes was a real treat. At least 12 were present, along with small numbers of the Yarner standards. Needless to say, no LSW or Mandarin today. We did meet a chap with a radio tracker, looking for the ponies [?] I hope he found them.

Ok, here it comes.

10. A whole and mighty 20 Glossy Ibis at Budleigh.
Having had numerous adventures with this bird [including being utterly rained on having twitched one from work and repeatedly dipping horrifically while chasing a yeartick], seeing a whole flock of the things was very satisfying.

9. The Year of Nine Herons.
Grey, 3 flavours of Bittern, 3 flavours of Egret, plus Squacco and Green. Not bad. [[Still no Purple, oh what a tart]]. The Little Bitterns were the utter stars, though.

8. Bearded Tits at Radipole.
After seeing the Bufflehead [great bird itself] JR and I went on to Radipole so that he could eat junk food and we could meet up with B & K and a) take the piss out of JR and b) look for Beardies. JR and myself scored beyond our wildest dreams, with crippling views down to minimum focussing distance of our scopes.

7. Red-footed Falcon at Exminster.
After dipping horribly the evening before, and then surviving horsefly attacks, this beauty of a bird gave a performance and a half.

6. White-tailed Lapwing.
One of those middle of the day calls; "White-tailed Plover at Slimbridge!!!" A massive hold-up on the M5 and blasting heat to contend with, walking not running past the plastic duckies, and a packed hide - real twitching this and what a fantastic bird!

5. Smew in Devon!
My favourite ducks are here at last. No need to say more. :D

4. American Robin at Turf.
At last I finally get a Yankee passerine.... [[Yes, still an utter tart]] And what a cracker he is.

3. Alpine Swift from Ideford Common / at Berry Head Joint Award.
After a whole lot of painful dipping [including the Seaton birds, as I couldn't be there when they were at roost] I finally see an Alpine by finding one myself. The Goddess of Birding then grins wickedly and I'm at Berry Head when another shows up. These events lead to the classic moment when [Famous Devon Birder] and I turn to each other and say; "Not even a Devon yeartick..."

2. Leach's Petrel at Pendeen.
At last, at long last, one of my most wanted birds comes by me, and it's alive and unequivocal. Utter joy.

1. Waxwings on my Patch.

So there you have it. Backward Birding Year One. Hope you enjoyed it. See you tomorrow.


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