Saturday, 5 January 2019

Chasing 100 species in 7 days of January

As with most birders come the 1st of January Jackie and I are out to start the new year list, we like to try and score a hundred species in the first seven days of January and this year is no different.  

Though with Jackie still using crutches it made planning a little harder than usual.  We picked Liz Woodford up and headed to Swineham Point.  Though we hunted through all the geese we couldn't find the White-fronted Goose though a couple of Egyptian Geese were more unusual otherwise we checked off all the usual common species seen here. The highlight here was a flock of Redwings by the Rugby field and a Starling singing and looking stunning in the sun.
Starling reflecting the sun at Bestwall © Nick Hull
We continued on visiting Holme Lane, South Haven, Knoll, Middle Beaches, Norden Sewage Works, Arne and back to Bestwall where we managed to find the White-fronted Goose second time around before finishing at Hartland Moor.  Other highlights of the day were Cattle Egrets, Great Northern Divers, Black-necked Grebes, Sanderlings and a adult female Hen Harrier to finish with sixty-two species.

Next day we were out with a Two Owls group at Upton Country Park and our few hours here were amazing for waterfowl which were lacking on the 1st Jan and we added another twenty species best was probably the Kingfisher we saw by the new path bridge.

Yesterday on 4th January Jackie and I had a free day so after delivering our grandson Ben's birthday present we headed towards Weymouth.  Our first stop was Lodmoor for the Lesser Yellowlegs as Jackie had missed it in 2018.  When we arrived at the west scrape we were told it had flown into the middle of the reserve but then a few minutes later it arrived back and pitched in almost in front of us giving fantastic views.
Lesser Yellowlegs - Lodmoor RSPB © Nick Hull
After having our fill of this gorgeous American wader we headed to Beachdown Way ticking off Ruff on the way and within minutes on arriving by the bench we were viewing a little gem of a Yellow-browed Warbler, two ticked off our list for the day.
Yellow-browed Warbler - Lodmoor RSPB © Nick Hull
Radipole was next and parked by the tennis courts had lunch and then checked through the Tufted Duck and Pochard, then a little walk down the road we found our next target the 1st/winter drake Ring-necked Duck which spent more time under the water than it did above.

Ring-necked Duck - Radipole Lake RSPB
This bird has started to look good as since we had seen it in 2018, it has moulted considerably and I guess by the time I see it again it will be looking like a full adult bird.

Our next target was seen from Sandsfoot Castle but it took some finding but I managed to pick up the white breast right out near the harbour middle arm, then it moved and really gave us good scope views Black-throated Diver in the bag, a species we both missed in 2018.

On the way back towards home we stopped and checked out Bowleaze Cove for the Red-necked Grebes but unfortunately our luck ran out but for consolation we had two Eider, two Great Northern Diver and a Common Guillemot not a bad finish for the day and a quick count up we ended the 4th January on ninty-six species. 

Today 5th January Jackie and I decided to go to west again, as we headed towards Abbotsbury near to Winterborne Steepleton we came across a covey of seventeen Red-legged Partridge our first tick for the day.  At Abbotsbury beach we viewed from the top of the Chesil Bank and quickly checked off our first Razorbill of the year but no Red-troated Diver, our target bird.  Fifteen were seen yesterday between Abbotsbury and West Bexington so we figured a couple at least should be still around.  We headed for West Bexington but missed the turning so thought we'd try Hive Beach then backtrack to Bexington for lunch.  From Hive Beach looking out on the almost flat sea there didn't appear to be anything, then we found two Great Crested Grebe another then four and scoping further out several Great Black-backed and Herring Gulls.  I then picked up a Fulmar heading west, continuing to scope the sea I then found one then two and then a third Red-throated Diver.  We had a late lunch at West Bexington but the sea here was almost empty accept for a small group of Razorbill.

Our next location was Abbotsbury Swannery where we added Green Woodpecker but dipped on Whooper Swan and Long-tailed Duck and couldn't find the Scaup either so we wondered if our luck was now running low.   Our next target was Black Redstart so it was to Chesil Cove, Portland and by the time we had arrived there was quite a chill in the air and the sky was very grey. We walked out past Quiddles Cafe to the end of the promenade and scanned the rocks here Jackie caught up with Rock Pipit but no sign of the Black Redstart.  We headed back towards the cafe and as we drew near Jackie said "whats that on the fence up there" I took a look and there it was a female/immature Black Redstart number "One Hundred".

As the light was going we decided to head to Maiden Castle on our way home, on arriving the field looked devoid of birds so we moved half way down the road by the footpath.  I could hear calls of Golden Plover then saw a small flock and called Jackie and after scanning we estimated approximately a thousand birds were scattered all over the field and it was a delight to hear their calls. We also added Meadow Pipit before we left ending our challenge on One Hundred and Four species.