Sorry I’ve not updated for a while, as always the new year’s brought renewed birding vigour with it and so normal service should be resumed.
The big issue I was debating with myself for 2011 was whether or not to keep a year list. This has been something I’ve done without question for the last few years, but as 2010 ended I was starting to wonder if I needed a break from it. They can be fun to do, but I was starting to feel like I was subconsciously only getting excited about birds that I “needed”, and falling into a trap of chasing after “ticks” instead of increasing my knowledge. A good bird is a good bird, and whether or not you saw one in the last calendar month shouldn’t matter. And I must admit, that Twitchers documentary did make me re-evaluate things a little.
I moved house at the end of October, and spent Nov and Dec almost exclusively spending my birding time exploring the new local patch, which proved a much more rewarding experience than running around after year ticks. So this year I’ve decided to go half way and focus my efforts on one list in particularly – a patch year list.
I’ll still be birding elsewhere, of course, and I’ll still go and find birds I’ve never seen before, but this will be my main focus. And where exactly do I mean by my patch? I’ve decided to define it as two 2km² tetrads, SK39H and SK39C. This takes in Grenoside (including my garden), virtually all of Greno Wood, Wheata Wood and Prior Royd, much of Wharncliffe Wood, the south end of Wharncliffe Chase, and various other nooks and crannies.
As well as providing my own listing fix, I should be able to gather some useful records, which is something you don’t do as much tearing round the country looking at birds other people have already found.
I visited parts of the patch on the 1st, 2nd and 3rd. New Years Day was just a short walk round Greno Wood in the afternoon, due to NYE indulgence, but I still managed highlights that included three brambling among the chaffinches in the village, and other species including fieldfare, redwing, nuthatch, lesser redpoll and goldcrest.
On the 2nd a trip around Wheata Wood only turned up a few extras, including treecreeper, but a longer walk round Wharncliffe Wood yesterday was more productive, with tawny owl, buzzard, green woodpecker and lesser black-backed gull recorded.
One of the bad things about my patch is the lack of water bodies, limiting the chances of certain species, but there is a small stretch of the river nudging into the SW corner of 39C (glamorously, it’s near Wharncliffe Sewage Works…), so I had a look there yesterday and sure enough got grey heron, goosander and cormorant, and will hopefully pick up a few other bits and bobs there over the year that will be hard to find elsewhere.
So it’s the 4th January and my patch yearlist is on 36. Not too spectacular, but I’m looking forward to exploring the various habitats of these two tetrads over the next 12 months, and seeing what surprises I can find.
And don’t worry, as I say I will still be venturing further afield, so I’ll try not to get too boring!