Tuesday 1 January 2013

Happy New Year here but what about Britain?

A Happy New Year to you all.

Whilst we have been enjoying wall to wall sunshine, clear blue skies, hardly any wind and temperatures up in the mid-thirties for the past two weeks and more (all right, so we had a couple of hours rain on Christmas day morning - but the temperature still got up to over 25C), the same cannot be said for back in Britain where the rain continues to pour relentlessly down in preparation for the hose-pipe ban somewhere around June, if past experience is anything to go by!  We can, if nor careful, become very complacent regarding the birds seen here that we simply take them for granted without remembering that these birds, too, were relatively common back in the 1960s.  Now all we hear about is disappearing Turtle Doves, Corn Buntings, Nightingales and even House Sparrows.

I thought I had a rather poor last birding day of 2012 yesterday but on receiving an email from my friend Chris Bell back in the Nottingham area it makes me realise, as described above, just how fortunate we are.    I do not have regular sightings of Blue Tits and Robins (the latter during the summer months), there are not constant sightings of Wood Pigeons and Magpies as I drive down the road and I am not getting the chance to look at all those gorgeous Waxwings that are presently visiting the car parks of all the major superstores.

Here then, is the email I have just received to let my Spanish readers know what it is like to be in the Midlands at the moment.  By the way, the RSPB Dearne Valley reserve at Old Moor is due north of Sheffield and in the centre of a triangle including Barnsley, Doncaster and Rotherham; hardly the Norfolk coast but, again, it just goes to show the choice of venues now available in Britain.

Bohemian Waxwing Ampelis Europeo Bombycilla garrulus (Courtesy Diggles.webs.com)


I’m Jealous of your last birding trip of the year.

Here overcast sky, intermittent rain, and wind forecast to gust to over 50 miles an hour, and it being some sort of Monday, where could one go but RSPB Old Moor.

Weather was probably worse when I got there, as the rain was quite heavy.  I could immediately hear Waxwings and quickly located them in a not too distant tree; however the immediate weather convinced me that counting them was for someone else.  Before getting to the visitors centre I had spotted a female Bullfinch in the bushes, Goldfinch,and a Wren dashing across the path.

Having signed in, and having run out of reasons not to venture out into the rain, I quickly  realised that I should have put on my waterproof over trousers, as many of the puddles extended fully across the path, and the grass edges were thick mud.  Visited all 5 hides on the friendly side of the reserve and the best  sightings were 8 Golden Plover , 3 female Goldeneye,3 redhead Goosander, a Lesser Black-backed,  a Herring, and a few Common Gull.  As usual there  were Black-headed Gull, Mute Swan, Teal, Mallard, Gadwall, Widgeon (including  a copulating pair), Tufted Duck, Pochard, Coot, Moorhen, Canada Goose, Lapwing, Common Starling, Shoveler, Grey Heron, Wood Pigeon, Stock Dove, Pheasant, Little Grebe, Carrion Crow, Linnet but  not  a lot more.  I did come across some really novice birders who I was pleased to help.

Visited the feeder station area where in addition to the many Tree Sparrow, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Reed Bunting, Bullfinch, I also found 4 Brambling.  There were also Blue, Great, and Long Tailed Tit and a Greater Spotted Woodpecker.

After a coffee in the visitor centre, and as the wind had significantly dropped, I decided that perhaps a Bittern Watch was in order.  However it was getting late and the cloud seemed even thicker, so I decide that bad light had stopped play.

On my way back to the centre, I came across in a tree, 61 Waxwing that kept popping down to feed on rose hips beside the path.  An appropriate bird species on which to end 2012.

So with what bird will I start 2013?

Go on, be honest, when was the last time in this area that you recorded Bullfinch and Stock Dove never mind Waxwings?  And then we can add Goldeneye and Goosander; I think not!  Many, many thanks Chris for the report which has given me a lot to think about as I ponder where to visit when I go back to the UK for  a few days in early February; Old Moor or Frampton Marshes?

Check out the accompanying website at http://www.birdingaxarquia.weebly.com for the latest sightings, photographs and additional information

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