Tuesday, 1 January 2013

Happy New Year!

Well, I'm afraid there's no huge review post for the year of 2012. To be honest - birding wise it was mostly a bit pants.  Adding Long-eared Owl, Spotted Crake and Crane to my patch list were obviously amazing highlights, but the autumn was without doubt one of the worst birding autumn's I've ever had - in terms of numbers and rarities.  Spring though was great at times for numbers, with two of my visits to Beer Head being some of the best ever spring birding I've had here - migrants EVERYWHERE!  Missing a Kentish Plover was a massive low light but we won't dwell on that.......

Christmas 2012 was brilliant - our first in our new house.  I got some lovely presents (never too old!), and this was a real surprise from Jess.  I took a photo of a Mute Swan last year, she got hold of a copy of the photo and turned it into this amazing canvas...

It looks fab on the landing wall!

And how is the house?  It's brilliant - already feels like home. Yesterday we FINALLY got around to sorting out the last room - the room I'm sat in now.  All I need is a sign for the door that says 'Steve's Office'...

That china cat isn't mine!!

Ok, now to birds again.  I said I was going to give a 2013 year list a go if the Bewick's Swans remained. They have remained so the 2013 year list is ON!  And what do I hope to achieve from year listing I hear you ask?

My target is to see/hear 200 species on the (lesser) patch in 2013.  

This has never been done before, and will prove very hard to do, but it is ever so slightly possible. We just need to have a VERY good year, and I need to see almost all of it!  I do hope all the fellow local birders will help me in my quest.

My January tactic is going to be 'go for the goodies, and let everything else come to me'.  That is why I am not going to do any list totting 'til the end of this month.  I do have several off patch surveys to do, so could well end up missing some winter scarcities/rarities - but I hope not.

I was out at 7am this morning, didn't see any Owls or Red-legged Partridges, added the Bewick's at dawn, then headed over to Beer where no Velvet Scoters were on view.  Pants.  Few Red-throated Divers and lots of auks about though.

After breakfast, Jess and I headed over to Colyton where a wood survey gave at least five Woodcock, a Green Woodpecker, a Siskin but very little else.  

A few hours later we fancied a New Years stroll along the sea front.  There were far too many people about for my liking - and a Black Redstart felt the same way.  It wasn't in any of its usual haunts, but instead down a small cul-de-sac one road inland from the beach.

The last birding action of today was an evening stroll at Black Hole Marsh. This is where my most surprising sighting came.  We were stood on the viewing platform, where I was getting glimpses of two very vocal and mobile Cetti's Warblers, when I could suddenly hear a Dipper calling!  A very out of place looking Dipper then flew right past us, circled around (quite high) over Black Hole Marsh, before heading back NW up the Stafford Brook. So bizarre!  I had checked the more usual Dipper haunts earlier in the day, and the water levels were way too high.  I guess this is why today I saw my first ever Dipper on the Axe reserves!

I hope to have an hour or so out in the morning whilst getting a couple of new tyres. Hopefully I can add some more species to the list...


  1. Good to see you committed to a year list. I missed regular updates last year and if you are on a year list, Gavin has a patch challenge and Karen's on a photo patch list (all blogs I regularly follow) it should be interesting. It was far too quiet last year and I missed my vicarious daily birding.

    John O'Sullivan

  2. Happy New year Steve,love the Art.

  3. John - I promise more regular updates! Next blog post will be tomorrow. It could well be an excellent year on the patch with us all going for it. I've seen Gavin out birding more times this year than I did in the last six months of 2012!!

    John, Happy New Year and glad you like the Swan.