Showing posts from January, 2021

Family Birding: Part 1 - Orlando

Florida might be the ultimate family holiday. Every child dreams of visiting the theme parks, and even the most skeptical visitor cannot help but be impressed by their scale. Fantastic weather, great villas and hotels and easy travel make a holiday destination that would be enjoyed by virtually any family. I have been to Florida 3 times, and these have been some of the best holidays of my life. It is unusual though that such a great family destination can simultaneously offer such great birding. Without leaving the confines of the theme parks, you could easily rack up a long trip list. In 3 trips in March/April, with only a handful of visits to actual bird reserves,  I have seen a total of 137 species in Florida! The parks are vast, and have many green spaces which allow for casual birding while you go on rides. Great birds really can be seen in the most unlikely spots. I have seen a White-winged Dove on the Dr Seuss Trolley Ride in Universal IOA, I have seen a Limpkin at Disney Boar

Ring-Necked Duck

I finished last week on 66 species, far surpassing my expectations. At the end of the last post , I wondered what other surprises were in store for the patch this year, but I didn't expect the first one to come so soon. After a walk with my family on the 9th we drove over the Staunton Harold Reservoir road bridge on our way home. From the fleeting view I got from the moving car, I thought I saw the Ring-Necked Duck with the Tufties. The bird had been present from late December through to the 2nd of January, at which point it had moved to nearby Foremark and not been seen again. Obviously, from this fleeting view I didn't really trust my instinct and assumed it must have been a Tufted Duck seen at speed. I presumed the bird must be long gone, with no sightings at Staunton Harold for at least a week. I had been back a few times in the days in between and had no sign, and many others had done the same. The following day, I walked back to the area, which has been so productive for

Young Birders Green Patch Challenge

Looking back now, it was quite fortuitous that the young birders decided to compete in a patch challenge in 2021. When Joe first suggested the idea in December we were all very keen, having regularly discussed our own patch birding during 2020 it seemed like a fun idea to introduce a bit of competition. We might not have guessed though that local birding would soon become the only form allowed in the third lockdown that hit the country at the start of January. It was lucky that my 2021 birding plans were already prepared for this. The rules are that we must have a specified 5 square mile continuous area that we call our patch. Most people have a smaller area than this which gives them somewhere manageable to cover regularly, but the large limit allows us to discover or test out new areas without feeling restricted. The other key rule is that we must walk or cycle around this area. My birding began on New Years Day when I did a short, but very successful, walk around the fields behind m