Wednesday, 17 November 2010

Getting started

Is there some kind of convention on what you should put in your first blog post? No? Okay, here goes. Let’s start with a big one…

Somehow I’ve managed to have an excellent week’s birding since Wednesday 10th November, and that despite being at work all week and only having limited free time at the weekend. Twitching, lunchtime birding, garden-listing, more twitching, and bird-surveying…

I got the news of a Pied-billed Grebe, near Rochdale, last Tuesday 9th Nov while at work, and in the middle of a free lunch (yes, I know) with a supplier. This would be the first mainland PBG for over a decade, and a new species for me. Turns out the supplier lives near Littleborough and could give me a lift there that very afternoon. That tidy plan came to nowt when I realised I had to be back in time for a parents’ evening at my daughter’s school… So, I was up early the following morning, and arrived at Hollingworth Lake CP with plenty of time to get a really good look at the PBG and be at work for 10:30. Excellent, excellent stuff, though my digi-scoped photos were pretty cruddy (I must remember to clean my scope lenses…).

Some birders have complained about the rather drab and forlorn look of the PBG, but it was perfectly at home on the lake. I thought it was a beauty – especially as it meant I’ve now seen each of the grebe species ever recorded in Britain… The forum threads were buzzing with this one, although, typically, some of the comments were from Daily-Mailers whingeing about the parking tickets they’d got while twitching the it. All because they ignored the visitor centre parking and went to park on double-yellows right next to the bird. And, yes, parking attendants were referred to as “little Hitlers”… Sigh.

Friday 12th Nov, and a lunchtime walk around the newly-refurbed Roberts Park in Saltaire. At least 25 Redwing being chased around the park by some irate Mistle Thrush. By Tuesday 16th, the Redwing numbers were well in excess of 50, with the Blackbird numbers possibly half that. The trees were full of football-rattle calls from the MTs, plus a noisy supporting cast of Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Greenfinch, Coal, Blue, and Great Tit, Robin, Wren, Rook, Jackdaw, BHG… Perhaps I should get off my backside more often at lunchtime, instead of sitting around reading blogs…

So, the weekend and more twitching, this time to Morpeth for a Squacco Heron early Saturday morning with a friend. Despite being bloody difficult to pick out against the riverside grass, even when right in front of you, I did manage some decent shots (btw, photography is not generally my game). Surprisingly small, and with a jaundiced look about it – like a small night-heron in stone-curlew fancy dress.

WeBS count at Rodley NR, Leeds on Sunday morning. The thick fog meant we saw bugger all for the first hour, but it gave me the opportunity to compose some atmospheric pictures.

Great views of Kingfishers (a most reliable place for them), and I added some birds to my Rodley patch list (now a whopping 77), with Little Owl, Song Thrush, Redwing, and Tree Sparrow (none of them WeBS birds). It’s a cracking reserve, particularly if you have small children (much better than, say, Fairburn Ings). Don’t you just hate those grumpy gets who seem to think kids should be kept off reserves?

Oh yeah, Redwings on the garden list on Sunday! Well, on the in-next-door’s-garden list, but seen from the house. An impressive total of 27 now. Impressive because I live in a terraced house in the middle of cat city...

So, it's lunchtime, and I'm off for another trudge around Shipley. Am I the only birder in West Yorkshire not to have seen a Waxwing yet this year..?

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