Showing posts from April, 2020

50 down 5 to go!

It finally happened. I hit 50 species from the garden during lockdown, and it feels great! The bird that took me over the line was rather unceremoniously a Great Black Backed Gull . They're not exactly my favourite bird but I celebrated it like it was! Helpfully, it came north over the house with 2 Lesser Black Backed Gulls. So there was no question mark over its size. I can't quite believe I've hit 50 so quickly. Before lockdown my all-time garden list stood at just 54. I guess it shows I just wasn't looking hard enough, because now that I've put in the effort for a few weeks, I'm approaching it fast. The next and biggest target is to beat this total - 55 would be incredible. They're getting harder now no doubt, but Swift will eventually be a given, and Red Kite and Hobby certainly renewed my faith in surprises. Garden listing is very much a personal endeavour. It's based on personal targets, and while you can encourage and discuss with others,

A Hobby reignites the hobby!

Just after I had written my previous post yesterday complaining about how additions to my garden list were now in the hands of surprises, a surprise came! A  Hobby flew east, high over the house. Not only is this my earliest ever Hobby, but it's also a full garden tick. And it certainly wasn't one I was expecting. In fact, in less than an hour I had a total of 3 new garden lockdown ticks. Swallow  was perhaps an overdue one but nonetheless the first Swallow of the year is always a thrill. Finally, I joined the Red Kite club, with one circling distantly to the south in the direction of Ibstock. I have never seen one even within 15 miles of home before so getting this from the house was almost as much of a surprise as the Hobby! In any case, these additions bring my total to a tantalising 49. The 50th will certainly be a cause for celebration...

Exercise Walks

In the last few days, my garden lockdown list has slowed down considerably. After being stuck on 45 for almost a week, I had my first House Martin of the year from the house on Thursday. These birds nest on the estate each year but sadly this one didn't stick around. This takes my garden list to #46 since lockdown. I think I might have done "too well" early on during lockdown and now there are no ticks left for me to get! New additions are definitely drying up, though Swallow, Swift and maybe Whitethroat should be on their way. I always have the chance of a Kestrel or Rook drifting over too. But after that, it's pretty much down to surprises! I've been going on walks for exercise most days - mostly around my town and usually without binoculars - but yesterday I finally managed to make it to the nearby lake south of my town (quite a long walk away) and got a few new additions. I don't normally get to see Green Woodpeckers very well - but this one po

Looking Back: Albert Village Lake

This time in lockdown has given me a chance to look through old records, old trips and visits to sites when I was back at school. Albert Village Lake being one of them. Gull watching is something I've always found tricky, and throughout my time at school, Albert Village was my local gull-watching site. This area feels quite under-watched (there haven't been any reports on BirdGuides in a year or so) and it's a site that I intend to go back to and watch more often once the lockdown is lifted. I spent several winters watching the lake and saw a huge range of scarce gulls, including very regular Caspian Gulls. I don't know what the current status of the site is, having not been in several months, but as far as I can tell there has been little to no mention of it online as the great gull-watching site that it is. Gulls can be tricky. They can be unpredictable to find in numbers away from their roosts and can often be difficult to see well as they congregate in restric

Birding Ideas during Lockdown

If you're like me, you'll be continually trying to come up with ways to satisfy your birding hobby without leaving the house. I've tried to put together a list of all the ideas I can think of: Garden Birding: of course the most simple thing you can do is bird watch in your garden or from your window. 'Lockdown Listing' has become really popular among birders. I'm on 45 from my suburban estate garden. Set a target for your garden and see how many you can see! Don't forget to upload your sightings to BirdTrack to help the BTO's citizen science initiative. Patch Birding: just like with garden birding, lockdown doesn't have to mean the end to birding itself. Find an area you can walk to and visit here on your daily exercise walks. You don't even need to take binoculars - practise your naked eye/sound identification. If it's a new area you haven't birded before, who knows what you could turn up - you'll probably know it better than

Finding a Patch

Being unable to leave the immediate area of my house recently, has made me grateful for my old trips to my patch Willington Gravel Pits that I used to take for granted. It's a 15 minute drive away but one of my nearest areas of wetland habitat. I have spent a long time trying to decide where to call my “patch”. Where I live there isn’t an obvious choice. I could bird the area immediately behind my house, and I do this often. But the woodland and farmland habitat and lack of water can become quite frustrating after regular birding because a lot of effort will still only yield the same selection of resident birds and nothing new. This is something I'm finding at the moment now that I am restricted to this area during lockdown. If this lockdown has shown birders anything though it surely has to be the potential that our gardens, patches and local areas have for turning up unusual birds. So what better time to get out a map and find a patch that you can focus on. Whether it

The Warblers have Arrived

This week's lockdown listing has consisted mainly of garden birding. I have been out on a couple of short walks in the fields behind my house though. These brought a couple of new lockdown ticks in the form of Red-legged Partridge, Jay, Green Woodpecker and my first Willow Warbler of the year, singing from the plantation along the Ivanhoe Way. This is such an evocative sign of spring. As soon as I got back from my walk, I opened my bedroom window and saw a phyllosc. warbler in the garden. It had a long primary projection and pink legs, then sure enough it sang. Willow Warbler . A fantastic record for the garden and not one we get often. #41. I had to wait until Thursday for my next addition. A Mistle Thrush flew over with nest material and a very distant Pheasant finally barked loud enough from the fields to be heard from the house. Yesterday started with another two Mistle Thrushes. Why is it that as soon as you first see a bird they're suddenly everywhere?! But the

Lockdown Listing - Lots of Additions!

It's been a great few days for my garden Lockdown List - I've spent a lot of time watching the skies because most additions now will probably come in the form of a flyover, until some warblers arrive. Wednesday gave a garden first in the form of 2 Grey Herons flying South. Thursday was a great day for additions. I saw 2 Mallard flying over early morning and then a singing Song Thrush was a long overdue tick. I spent Thursday night sat out on my deck listening in case of a flock of Common Scoter. Thousands of these birds have been flying over the country in recent days - their movements concentrated in the North of the country but several birders near me have got lucky. This is presumably an annual occurrence but with more people watching their gardens the scale has now been properly documented! Unfortunately, I didn't get lucky and have a flock fly over the garden but it was fun to try a form of birding that's completely new to me, and a calling Coot was a new

Birding Trip Report: Vancouver & Whistler July 2016

Trip Review: Vancouver & Whistler July 2016 Overview: This report summarises the birds seen on a family holiday when I was younger to western British Columbia. We visited Whistler for 3 full days and then moved down to the suburbs of Vancouver for 7 days, and we did many day trips from here. Birds were not the focus, but we managed to do a bit of birding on a couple of days.  The sites are listed below. The main content of this report is an annotated species list to give an idea of when and where each species was seen. This report does not intend to give a comprehensive overview of a birding trip to the region – birds were almost certainly missed, and sites could have been visited at more bird-friendly times – but rather a guide for a casual birder on the birds you could expect to see on a family holiday to the region.  We only birded with binoculars, though our scope would have probably helped at the wetland sites, particularly Iona. We purchased a hummingbird feeder from R