Sunday, 1 January 2012

NHU Bird Cup - final day

Well I've finished. It's 2.40pm on a very wet New Years Day here in Wiltshire, so I'm hanging up my Bird Cup binoculars for the last time. My final score, 96. Sadly I didn't make the 100 which was my target, but I feel happy with failing by only 4. Not bad too as over 80% of the birding has been inland, a lot of miles have been walked on farmland and woods away from wildlife reserves, and my one day at the coast, at the RSPB's flagship reserve at Arne in Dorset was thwarted by rain and thick fog, so any seawatching at Portland was out of the question.

After a cracking 49 on Christmas Day, the remaining 47 have been a hard slog. But that's always the thing with bird cups or races, a total soon tallies up, then slows down dramatically.

So here's how the remaining 47 were found;

Boxing Day; Chew Valley Lake, Avon - Grey Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Pochard, Little Grebe, Goldeneye, Treecreeper, Goldfinch, Shelduck, Moorhen.

December 27th; Ditcheat, Somerset - Coal Tit

Steart Point, Somerset at dusk, Song Thrush, Golden Plover, Redshank, Curlew, Dunlin, Short Eared Owl.

December 28th;Sand Bay, North Somerset - Linnet, Great Black Blacked Gull, Stock Dove, Bullfinch, Reed Bunting, Greenfinch.

Coate Water, Swindon - Goosander

Wexcombe Down, Wiltshire - Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, Red Legged Partridge, Grey Partridge, Hen Harrier (Ringtail).

December 29th;Non birding day at the Hillier Gardens in Hampshire - Mistle Thrush (2 feeding on mistletoe which was just perfect) and a Nuthatch

In the evening sitting in a tree near village of Oxenholme, Wiltshire - Tawny Owl

December 30th;Wet and soggy day at RSPB Arne - Marsh Tit, Green Woodpecker, Oystercatcher, Pale Bellied Brent Goose, 2 Dark Bellied Brent Goose, Bar Tailed Godwit, Great Crested Grebe, Red Brested Merganser, Skylark, 600+Avocet. I and another birder also thought we heard a Dartford warbler, but we couldn't locate it, so I didn't count it.
Woodcock - flushed from a track at dusk at Wexcombe Down, Wiltshire.

New Year's Eve - Woods around St Katherine's Church, Bedwyn Common, Willow Tit and then a Barn Owl at 10pm in the lanes near Little Bedwyn in Wiltshire.

New Years Day - non birding walk along the river Kennett in Wiltshire near Ramsbury, provided the last 2 birds, a stunning Kingfisher and in amongst 50 or so Canada geese, a single barnacle goose (presumably feral but that counts).

Great misses - no snipe seen in 8 days despite being in wet meadows a lot of the time, so getting a woodcock was even more of a weird fluke.

Great hits - well, the barn owl last night was fantastic. This area is prime habitat for them, but it had been raining all day but by 9pm it had stopped. I just had a hunch to go out and if nothing else enjoy the drive around the empty lanes here before returning to the fizz at 12. And there on a fencepost in classic pose, a barn owl. Absolutely fantastic end to 2011.

It's been a funny 8 days because the weather has been so mild, wet and grey, colder and sunny conditions may have got me to 100, but hey, it's just a bit of fun.


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