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