Tuesday, 14 June 2016

So what?

Having roused myself out of cryogenic suspension, I bring you news that you will have waited fore eagerly–no! not that common sense has prevailed and we have voted to remain in the EU, nor that shooting of all forms has been outlawed–rather I have passed the milestone of 400 species in the UK. Not impressed–neither am I.  What I have achieved is to manage to go and view someones well publicised find and see it.

Does it make me a good birder? Hardly (second division at most!)
Is it important? Not in the least

Has it made me a better birder? In someways it has, though I am still very able to conjure up a major cock-up or two!

So what?

It has, and still is great fun–if I can be bothered: two London ticks were available this weekend (Purple Heron and Spotted Sandpiper) and while I would been very happy to be looking at them, the thought of traveling  to see them was well beyond my enthusiasm. Yet just a few weeks ago I managed to muster enough energy to go and see the Great Spotted Cuckoo (Portland), Great Reed Warbler (Little Paxton), and the Iberian Chiffchaff (Barnes).  All very worth while and birds I had wanted to see/hear for a few years now. An added bonus of a Gull-billed Tern at Lodmoor was a fluke.










 Great bird, shit photos


Great bird, even shittier photos

Stilt Sandpiper, great bird ....

Flukes = self found birds.  The very best birders have impressive lists of the self-found.  I was going to list a retrospective of my top 100 self-found birds, but I haven't found that many, and I wouldn't necessarily say that any skill was required other than being in the right place at the right time. That would be more like patchworking, and it comes as no surprise that most of my self-founds are on patch, but that is more to do with context (London vs. other birding hot spots).

Patchwork is however a plus towards being a good birder–know your site and what to expect and with patience and long hours find the unexpected. Easy!  If only. For the most part it is unrelentingly dull, but being out in nature is its own reward. I just wish I was more competent at recognising what I am looking at.  Take for example this rather splendid wasp. There are thousands of species of wasp (apparently!) in the UK and I can name few if any of them. 



I would dearly love to be a better naturalist, but time may be against me.  Roll-on September when I shall be giving up work for a bit and smashing the patch.

Monday, 23 November 2015

Shetland 2015: A dream mostly forgotten!


I was going to write a series of reports like in previous year's, but I've forgotten most of the timeline (and the names of the myriad of new places we visited) as my spirit is crushed by the corporate machine. I also got bored.  So this year just a very short summary.

129 species seen: one lifer; eleven to add to the Shetland list (181) and a hat-full of year ticks–because I haven't gone anywhere else, or so it feels. My sixth visit to the fabled islands, which makes 181 a pretty decent score for just shy of fifty days. Next year I would love to go in the spring and watch Phalaropes spinning on the little lochs, Puffins on Sumburgh head, and Orcas.

Meanwhile next Autumn is already being planned...





1.        Gannet
2.        Great Black-backed Gull
3.        Herring Gull
4.        Common Gull
5.        Black-headed Gull
6.        Eider
7.        Goosander
8.        Merganser
9.        Teal
10.       Scaup


11.       Tufted duck
12.       Mallard
13.       Shag




14.       Cormorant
15.       Black Guillemot
16.       Redshank
17.       Turnstone
18.       Curlew
19.       Golden Plover
20.       Lapwing
21.       House Sparrow
22.       Wren
23.       Starling
24.       Hooded Crow
25.       Raven
26.       Rook
27.       Twite




28.       Robin
29.       Blackbird



30.       Song Thrush
31.       Meadow Pipit
32.       Pied Wagtail
33.       Rock Pipit
34.       Yellow-browed warbler








35.       Chiffchaff




36.       Willow Warbler







37.       Whooper Swan
38.       Goldcrest




39.       Red Throated Diver
40.       Skylark
41.       Merlin



42.       Kittiwake




43.       Greylag goose
44.       Arctic Warbler

Thanks to Dave Bradnum for the use of his pic


45.       Red-breasted Flycatcher








46.       Wigeon
47.       Redpoll
48.       Wood Pigeon
49.       Collared Dove
50.       Rock Dove
51.       Heron
52.       Bonxie
53.       Wheatear





54.       Fulmar



55.       Peregrine






56.       Spotted Flycatcher
57.       Snipe
58.       Jack Snipe
59.       Grey Wagtail
60.       Swallow



61.       Snow Bunting
62.       Sanderling
63.       Dunlin
64.       Redwing



65.       Ruff
66.       Fieldfare
67.       Kestrel
68.       Linnet
69.       Knot
70.       Grey plover
71.       Black Tailed Godwit
72.       Ringed Plover
73.       Goldeneye
74.       Pintail
75.       Tree Pipit



76.       Bluethroat





77.       Garden Warbler
78.       Sparrowhawk
79.       Bar-tailed Godwit
80.       Barred Warbler
81.       Chaffinch
82.       Siskin
83.       Blyth's Reed Warbler
84.       Moorhen
85.       Blackcap



86.       Lapland Bunting






87.       Pied Flycatcher




88.       Lesser Black-backed Gull
89.       Slavonian Grebe
90.       Little Gull
91.       Guillemot
92.       Barnacle Goose




93.       Great Northern Diver



94.       Long-tailed Duck
95.       Water Rail
96.       Brambling
97.       Dunnock
98.       Richards Pipit





99.       Stonechat
100.       Olive-backed Pipit






101.       Common Whitethroat
102.       Gadwall
103.       Mute swan
104.       Woodcock
105.       Pomarine Skua
106.       Velvet Scoter
107.       Iceland Gull
108.       Purple Sandpiper
109.       Manx Shearwater
110.       Sooty Shearwater
111.       Redstart
112.       Corncrake
113.       Arctic Skua



 




114.       Reed Bunting
115.       Lesser White-fronted Goose
116.       Black Redstart



117.       Lesser Whitethroat
118.       Ring Ouzel
119.       Great Grey Shrike
120.       Hen Harrier
121.       Arctic Tern
122.       Shoveler
123.       Short-eared Owl
124.       American Golden Plover
125.       Whinchat



126.       Little Bunting
127.       Goldfinch
128.       Siberian Stonechat





129.       Dusky warbler