I’ve decided to set myself some missions for this year. As previous posts have probably clearly stated, I don’t consider myself a twitcher and would never travel from one end of Britain to the next to find a rarity. However, I don’t see the harm in setting myself some challenges for the coming year…
I’ve never seen a Bittern. During a family holiday to Norfolk as a child I did hear one booming away in the distance, so I can have it as an unsatisfactory tick on the lifelist. A quick trip to Potteric Carr will hopefully sort this one out.
I’ve never seen an Avocet in the wild either. The closest I’ve been is seeing some captive ones at Cotswolds Wildlife Park. They nearly became wild ones when I somehow knocked over one of the panels on their enclosure, and the delicate, curvy-billed birds started to make a bee-line for the new exit. Luckily I managed to prop up the panel and all was well. I suppose that would have been a lot more impressive story if it had involved lions or something. Anyway, a trip to Blacktoft Sands would solve this.
Again, I have an unsatisfactory tick of this one, as when I was a child my godfather pointed to something crow-shaped in the sky and said “that’s a Raven”. I think it’s about time I found one for myself, and I intend to scrabble about the moors a bit more to do so.
I’ve seen a few Kingfishers over the years, but not since I was at university when one darted across Huddersfield Canal, and I graduated in 2002. Early mornings at the Deepcar end of The Don always seemed a good time to spot one when I was younger, so that’s where my search will take place.
5. Red Kite
My brother lives in Oxfordshire and regularly and casually spots Red Kites wheeling overhead when he’s out and about. Git. To be honest this isn’t a difficult one to solve, Yorkshire too has it’s reintroductions, and the RSPB run a Red Kite ‘Aren’t Birds Brilliant’ event at Harewood House, so that will be the best place to start.
I’ve heard it said many times that Crossbills inhabit the conifer plantations in parts of Sheffield, despite this area being bang in the middle of the white patch on the bird’s RSPB distribution map. Is this a mission impossible? Ah, we’ll see.
I have little clue where to find the Sparrowhawk’s larger cousin round here, but I’d love to see one and any suggestions would be well received.
8. Little Auk
The time’s more or less passed now, but after watching Puffins, Guillemots and Razorbills in 2006, it’s be great to finish off the ‘set’ (although I’d need Black Guillemot as well of course). A trip to the East Coast in the late autumn/early winter would be a good idea for this. Hopefully I’ll be able to drive by then, because persuading someone to take me will be hard seeing as Little Auks get washed up in Britain in the wost weather…
9. Short-eared Owl
Apart from a glimpse that was too short to be sure, I’ve never seen a Short-eared Owl. Finding their hunting grounds is the key, and possibly one to combine with the Little Auk at Bempton Cliffs. However, if anyone has any more suggestions closer to home let me know.
Again, a bird I’ve never seen in the wild. One may show up at Old Moor before the end of this winter (which seems to have only just begun…), but if not a trip to the Wash at the end of the year may be in order.
So that’s my ten missions for the year. I will, of course, be keeping this blog up to date with how those are going, hopefully starting with Operation Bittern in the next week or two…
Most recent yearlisters…
30. Chaffinch (Botanical Gardens (BG)) – 31. Goldcrest (BG) – 32. Jay (BG) – 33. Mistle Thrush (BG) – 34. Grey Heron (Chester Zoo) – 35. Jackdaw (Chester Zoo)