Sorry, I’ve been a bit quiet of late, and hopefully I’ll have some interesting, wildlifey stuff to write about soon!
As a piece of blatent filler to keep the blog ticking over, and we’re just over half way through the year, here’s a bit of a recap of how the first half of the 2009 birding list’s going. My target for the year is 200, will it be reached…?
January started solidly but unspectacularly with the usual suspects hoovered up around the Loxley Valley. A trip to Fairburn Ings on the 10th Jan brought me the year’s first lifer, in the form of roosting long-eared owls, and a trip that also turned up the year’s first kingfishers, redpolls and willow tits. A trip to Norfolk on the 18th Jan was even better, with some fairly embarassing lifers finally got in the form of red-breasted merganser, grey plover, brent goose and Egyptian goose. Other birds of the day included ruff, avocet, pintail, barn owl, marsh harrier and bearded tit.
Little owl and buzzard were got at Old Moor later in the month, a lunchtime twitch to Crosspool brought up the first of many waxwings of the year, and a final lifer of the month was marsh tit at Clumber Park, bringing January’s total to a not-too-shabby 100.
February was a bit quieter, with grey wagtail and tawny owl finally found in the Loxley Valley, and the bittern and water rail both playing nicely at Potteric Carr. A trip to London saw the year’s first peregrine and green woodpecker, and a lifer in the form of ring-necked parakeet. A red kite over the motorway on the way back was another nice addition to the yearlist.
March started spectacularly with some cracking hawfinches at Wentworth Castle (a lifer). Bempton yielded their usual stars in the form of gannet, guillemot, razorbill and fulmar, while Brid turned up some huddling purple sandpipers in the harbour. A chiffchaff close to home on the 20th was the first of the Spring migrants. A pair of mandarin at Lady’s Spring Wood and lesser spotted woodpecker at Beeley Wood and red grouse at Cowell Flat finished the month in style within the Sheffield boundary.
April’s first year tick was a corker, in the form of the very obliging great grey shrike at Strines. The spring migrants trickled through with willow warbler, blackcap and little ringed plover at Potteric on the 5th April, and best of all a drake garganey (a lifer). The rest of the month saw the migrants shuffle in, with swallow, house martin, sand martin, whitethroat, pied flycatcher, redstart, wheatear, common sandpiper and tree pipit found before the month was out, and leading to a healthy running total of 133 for the year.
May started well with the first swifts (bizarrely on the same day as my last waxwings!), and my first ever sightings of the previously heard-only cuckoo at Wharncliffe. A trip to Stone Creek and Spurn on 6th May was another good day for mopping up much-needed lifers, with hen harrier, whimbrel, yellow wagtail and corn bunting all found, and common tern, sedge warbler and hobby added to the yearlist.
Probably the highlight of the year so far were the dotterels on Stanage Edge, which were worth braving a thundery evening for on the 15th, which also yielded ring ouzel and woodcock.
Garden warbler was finally picked up at Tinsley on the 23rd, and a trip to Anglesey on the 24th turned up chough (a lifer), raven, puffin, shag, kittiwake, rock pipit, sandwich tern and arctic tern. The month ended with a singing wood warbler at Wharncliffe, and a final lifer in the form of two black terns skimming the water at Old Moor. The total was now a fairly impressive 157.
June started with a fairly disappointing trip to Thorne, that only turned up reed warbler and heard-only turtle dove as new stuff (although the cuckoos and hobbies on show more than made up for it). A weekend in Northumberland saw eider, little tern and spotted flycatcher added to the list.
A trip to Potteric Carr saw the first little egrets of the year, and I finally got my first decent views of black-necked grebe. A return visit to Anglesey included a detour to Fedr Fawr to see the black guillemots, and some lesser whitethroats were also found.
The first few days of the second half of the year were busy, with nightjar sighted on Wharncliffe Heath on the 1st July, and spotted redshank, greenshank and green sandpiper found at Blacktoft Sands, and red-necked grebe being a nice lifer at Hatfield Moors, all on the following day. The total is now 171 (170 if you don’t count heard-onlies!).
So can I make the 200? 30 species to find in 6 months, including a few relatively easy ones like whinchat, crossbill, merlin, red-throated diver, common scoter, brambling, whooper swan, little gull, short-eared owl… what do you reckon?