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Friday, 1 January 2021

New Years Day

A New Year post without a review of the previous year! What kind of bird blog is this?

Don't worry I'm not ripping up the birding blog rule book just yet, I am writing a review post it is just incomplete.  And just to tease you all, so that hopefully you do bother to come back to check it out, it's not just a review of 2020....

Anyway to today, New Years Day (yes we've finally got rid of 2020!) and a freezing cold one it was too! -5c when I left home this morning, and still only zero degrees at 10:30am!  The ice remained all day on most of our water bodies, but the hard frost made for some stunning sights. A real pleasure to spend so much time out on the patch today...





Although I didn't keep a tally of species, the variety considering the date was really impressive. Had I had all day and kept count I think 100 would have been possible with some effort and the much needed slice of luck. 

I'm still not sure whether a freeze on the day of a bird count is a good or bad thing, yes it can produce some cold weather oddities, but it often also changes the behaviour of the birds you've 'had your eye on' in the lead up to the big day. A good example of that is the Avocet that has been around for over a week now, spending most its time on Black Hole Marsh. Black Hole Marsh was a block of ice today, alas no sign of the Avocet. In fact the only birds on Black Hole were small numbers of Lapwing roosting on the frost covered islands...


My bird of the day was the Jack Snipe from the Discovery hut.  Up to two have been showing here off and on for almost a month now, but this is the first time I have connected.  And what views, probably some of my best ever Jack Snipe views in fact...



And then I saw why I have probably missed them on the previous couple of occasions I have tried, because Jack soon settled down and blended superbly into his surroundings...



Only scroll down when you've found him...


Glady before he did settle down, I managed a quick video.  Good to see something still dancing even though the New Year celebrations had ended...

 


A couple of Snipe were showing well too, with this one in particular begging to be snapped...




The lingering Marsh Harrier, seven Greylag Geese, Greenshank and Dunlin were all present over the course of the day, although the Cattle Egrets didn't hang around at all!  I watched two fly north out of roost just before sunset, and didn't see them again.

Seafield Gardens produced several Blackcap and two Black Redstart, but the sea was not as productive as I was hoping, mostly due to the morning sea mist hampering viewing. Gannets, both common species of auk, four Great Crested Grebes and about ten Red-throated Divers were as good as it got this morning.  A last look out there before dark however showed a drake Gadwall with the loafing Wigeon flock, can you spy it?



Other species that can be tricky on a given day, like Peregrine, Water Rail, Kingfisher and Cetti's Warbler were all rather conspicuous today.  Cetti's in particular, with two singing males and another two calling birds.  There were plenty of gulls around too, really good numbers of big ones, although they didn't include anything better than four Lesser Black-backed Gulls.  The small gulls harboured nothing better than two adult Meds...



And to finish this post off, although remaining unphotographed, the bird that was just pipped by the Jack Snipe as bird of the day.  A gorgeous male Firecrest, picking insects off the lower branches of a frost stricken Holm Oak at Seaton Hole, shortly after sunrise.  Not only was it stunning to look at, as all Firecrests are, but the determination within that bird to survive was just so palpable.  A real moment to treasure, and a stark reminder that although weather conditions like this may look so beautiful to our eye, can be deadly for the wildlife that lives among it.

Really enjoyed being out and about on patch today, and I hope you have enjoyed reading about it.


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