Saturday, 12 February 2011

Back Blogging

Apologies to my (very, very, very few) readers (in fact I think I'm the only person who ever reads this)  but with schoolwork, GCSE's and general laziness I have largely given up on this blog in recent times. The last time I posted, I was covering birds I had seen on the third of December! Since then, I haven't got out birding all that much but I'll attempt to round up what I have seen recently.

The first few weeks of December where pretty dull. I dipped on a WHITE-TAILED EAGLE by five minutes on the 12th (!), having seen two WAXWINGS in a tree just outside my school two days previously. On the 6th I had gone to Arlington Reservoir with my dad, seeing 40+ Pochard but not a lot else. In Seaford, atleast three Grey Wagtails were wintering, but Redwing numbers were low and Fieldfares were practically non-existent.

At the beginning of December, my british yearlist was ay 194, with the most recent additions being in Scotland at the end of October. I was hoping to reach 200 species by the end of the year, but by December 22nd this was looking very unrealistic, I was still on 194. However, I thought the snow might warrant a walk along the Cuckmere. An Unusual find was six Egyptian Geese on the riverbank! Two adults and Four Juveniles by my assumptions. Maybe the cold weather brought them down from the Arun, or Norfolk, or maybe even from the growing Dutch population. Or maybe they just jumped the net from Drusillas, less than two miles away....  Anyone's guess, and they could easily have been 'wild' (as wild as an Egyptian Goose can be at any rate), but I didn't count them as anything more than an intriguing novelty this time.
However, I did also see a Merlin at Charleston Reedbed, being mobbed by several crows, and outmanouvering them all. And down at Cuckmere Haven were 40+ Barnacle Geese, almost certainly wild given the weather at the time. These two yearticks took me to 196, while I also saw a Water Rail near Charleston Reedbed, 9 Gadwall north of Exceat, and at Cuckmere Haven a Shoveler, a Pintail, 4000+ Wigeon and 200+ Teal. The Wigeon were a very notable count.
The following day (23 Dec)at Cuckmere Haven I saw no yearticks, but I did see 4000+ Wigeon and 200+ Teal again, alng with 3 Pintail (2m 1f), 9 Gadwall, 4 Goldeneye (2m 2f), 40 Pochard, 30 Tufted Duck,
 57 Barnacle Geese, 3 Dark-bellied Brent Geese, 4 Snipe, a few Rock Pipits, 10 Ringed Plover, 5 Dunlin, 2 Golden Plover and the highlight, 35 WAXWING in the hawthorns along the side of the A259, present for about five minutes before moving on towards Friston Forest.

these Egyptian Geese protested against Mubarak several months early, by refusing
 to go back to their Pen in Drusillas  -22/12
I spent Christmas in Worcestershire with family. At my aunt's house I passed some of the hours staring out the window, from which I saw all the common garden stuff. Long-tailed Tits were regular, as was a male Blackcap that often took complete control of one of the peanut feeders. I also saw a Coal Tit (common for most but very rare in my local area). Redpolls and Siskins were regular fly-overs, and we found a small flock of both in the Alders further along their road. My aunt's five-acre orchard also held a lot of thrushes, mainly Fieldfares, with smaller numbers of Redwing, quite a lot of Song Thrushes and atleast three Mistle Thrushes.
On Boxing day, after a night where it reached -25 C, the River Severn five miles away froze over. This was the onyl the third time in the last hundred years that had happened, following the winters of 1947/48 and 1962/63. It was spectacular, althugh not quite ice-skatingly thick as I tried to convince everyone it was! A Mandarin on an unfrozen part of the river was yeartick 197, a Kingfisher flew around, wondering what the hell it was going to eat, and Tufted Ducks and Mallards were waddling about on the Ice. On Dec 27th we drove back to Seaford, seeing a few Red Kites as we went.
Blackcap that terrorized a peanut feeder

well if you don't know what this is why read a birding blog? ;)

taken, fittingly, on December 25th

blue baby-feeing device

Black-coloured baseball hat

the River Severn, after the coldest of weather spell since 1962- 26/12

shaky shot of a Mandarin- 26/12

On the 29th, Dad and I went down to Cuckmere Haven again, seeing 74 White-fronted Geese (yeartick 198)
 and 51 Barnacle Geese, along with a drake Goldeneye and 15 Dunlin. In Seaford, we saw 13 Waxwings in a crabapple tree in Vale Close, about five minutes walk from our house. The following day, with a day to spare, I got to 200, with the addition of Knot and Purple Sandpiper at Newhaven Tide Mills. Here, I also saw 50+ Dunlin, 25+ Redshank and a single Dark-bellied Brent Goose, while at Piddinghoe Pond I saw a redhead Goosander, a Grey Plover and a Common Sandpiper.

The last day of December, I spent out with my Dad and some friends. Dave, Katie and James Beadle (who we stayed with much of the time on our Canada vacation), Brian Cox and Rick Munday. We started out at Arlington Reservoir, where we saw 2 Goldeneye (1m 1f), 70+ Pochard, 100+ Wigeon and another redhead Goosander. Following that, we visited a site near Alfriston, hoping to see Jack Snipe. There were none here, but we did flush up abut 20 Common Snipe, sparking one memorable chase between a Snipe and a pursuing Peregrine. We also all got one hell of a fright flushing up a Pheasant from the middle of the watermeadow! We then saw my Drusillas-origined Egyptian Geese near Litlington, and at Cuckmere Haven, a Common Seal was hauled up on the bank, a few Dunlin were along the river, and the meanders still held around 20 Pochard.

Goosander at Piddinhoe- 29/12

Brent Goose at Tide Mills- 29/12

Very blurry Knot at Tide Mills- 29/12

Common Seal-phocas lethargicus 31/12

blurry photo of Pochards, Little Grebes and Wigeon - 31/12

slightly less blurry photo of some Pochard -31/12

Atleast my next post will be concerning 2011!  Ever-optimistic, signing out and unsure when I'll be back...

my 2010 yearlist ended on 201 birds, with six added in the last nine days of the year, as follows;

195. Merlin- 22/12
196. Barnacle Goose- 22/12
197. Mandarin -26/12
198. White-fronted Goose-29/12
199. Knot-30/12
200. Purple Sandpiper-30/12


  1. Well I'm one of your very very very few readers, so your not the only one to read your blog Liam.:-) It was a good read too, so hope your not too long in popping back with some stuff from 2011!
    I've only looked at your Canada reports very briefly, but will get around to looking a bit more, as I visited Brit Columbia a few years ago. One of the nicest places I've ever been. Cheers. Brian.

  2. And i am another one of your very very very few readers Liam lol good post and well done on reaching 200 + for your 2010 year list

  3. Good to see you are back blogging, Liam. I was beginning to think you had stopped birding altogether. Re the Egypotian Geese, we've had them breeding in Surrey for a few years now and we always tick 'em.

  4. if my Egyptian Geese weren't two miles away from Drusillas, which I'm sure has a few captive, I'd be very happy to tick them too. Just a hazard of the location I guess :)


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