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Old Sunday 27th February 2005, 20:26   #101
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Another cracking day today with 52 spp. Actually more like afternoon as I spent the morning birding elsewhere. This afternoon there were stunning viewing conditions for looking out towards the estuary mouth - flat calm with no heat haze.
Yesterday's 3 red-throated divers were present again today, they even indulged in a bit of display. We also saw 3 slavonian grebes (unprecedented count), 2 of which came much further upstream than yesterday's bird. Several auks included 2 guillemots and 2 razorbills (76 for the year). Today there were 3 long-tailed ducks (1m2f) which gave very good views, well upstream and close in. A pair of pintail were right out towards the estuary mouth however.
Other titbits - a greenshank, 15 bar-tailed godwits, plenty of black-tailed godwits (some starting to show orange), 4 tree sparrows ...

Might write up my morning outing elsewhere.

Rob
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Old Wednesday 2nd March 2005, 09:14   #102
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Cold weather continues to deliver good birds.
The drake long-tailed duck was a long way upstream this morning, then a slav grebe came even further - as far as the mouth of the Motray. Best views I've had of the species from the house. Glad both birds were visible from indoors - north wind and snow showers here at the moment ...

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Old Saturday 5th March 2005, 20:38   #103
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A brutal north wind today, flattened our decorative arch (sounds a bit twee, but it's alright really!), though fortunately without damaging plants.

Thursday morning produced a great crested grebe (seen again today) and the drake long-tailed duck (also seen again today), whilst Friday's highlights were a single knot and a male yellowhammer.
Today we also saw a little grebe, a pair of pintail, a record count of 57 bar-tailed godwits, great spotted woodpecker and an interesting gathering on the saltmarsh of 4 pied wagtails, 5 rock pipits and a single meadow pipit (77).

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Old Thursday 10th March 2005, 10:01   #104
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A few titbits from this week:
Monday produced a gathering of eiders well upstream, with some nice display (unfortunately not audible from the house). A pair of long-tailed ducks appeared on Tuesday morning, continuing the recent run of records. Yellowhammers have appeared in the garden a few times, though still much scarcer than last winter. Black-tailed godwits are beginning to turn orange and numbers are starting to build.

This morning produced 3 rock pipits on the saltmarsh. A scan across the estuary for singing skylark (successful) gave a bonus in the form of a male reed bunting - only our 4th record (78) for the year). The best was yet to come, however. As I cycled up the drive a small olive green bird flitted ahead of me - a chiffchaff. A garden first (136 total, 79 for the year) it gave quite nice views and called a few times. I assume it had wintered locally as they don't seem to be being reported in any number darn sarf yet. Makes me feel very virtuous for cycling as I probably would have missed it if I'd been in the car.

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Old Saturday 12th March 2005, 08:57   #105
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Doing well there, still keping a regular eye on progress. I used to regularly follow two websites one about birding the nothe (weymouth) and another on severnside birds. Both Very high quality local patch sites. Now I get my vicarious pleasures via bird forum. Of to see if anythings happening in blackpool next.
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Old Saturday 12th March 2005, 20:12   #106
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Thanks John,
Monster tide this afternoon, unfortunately we were out for the peak! We were getting our WeBS count in early, there being an SWT outing to our garden tomorrow (seems only polite to be at home!)!
There was a red-throated diver well upstream when we got back and the drake long-tailed duck once more. A pair of yellowhammers in the garden this morning, but tree sparrows are down to 1 or 2 now. Equalled the record buzzard count with 6 this morning. I guess if all the local buzzards are up at once it should be possible to get double figures. What a change from only 10 years ago.

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Old Monday 14th March 2005, 09:32   #107
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A few goodies for the SWT people, though the best moments came before and after they were with us. 3 red-throated divers were seen, but the best was the full summer plumage bird which showed at close range after everyone had left - an absolute stunner. 4 long-tailed ducks (2 drakes, 2 ducks) were a bit more obliging and everyone enjoyed the views of what are our common species such as black-tailed godwit and wigeon. Those of us that went to the Fife Bird Club hide had excellent close views of 5 greenshanks.
The event of the day happened over lunch however. A female peregrine hit a duck wigeon and knocked it on to the mud, where it was able to walk but not fly. This caused the peregrine some confusion - she would fly in and hover over the wigeon without really knowing what to do, or try to get it to fly (which of course it couldn't). She appeared to lose interest and it looked as though the crows would get it. One crow pulled the wigeon's wing a few times but they too lost interest as the wigeon was able to resist. The peregrine had not gone far however and returned to land on the wigeon and kill it. She got a reasonable meal before a buzzard came and displaced her. The buzzard and it's mate then polished off much of the remains and the rising tide deprived the crows of anything. High drama!

Nothing like that this morning but 6 drake tufted ducks were new for the year, so that's 80.

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Old Thursday 17th March 2005, 10:39   #108
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This will be the last update for a while - off to Costa Rica tomorrow.

Tuesday produced another new bird for the year - the first lesser black-back of spring (81). The summer plumage red-throat was around in the morning and a pair of long-tailed ducks showed at dusk.
Yesterday's highlight was a male reed bunting.

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Old Thursday 7th April 2005, 09:56   #109
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Back to the frozen north and winter birds still much in evidence.
A winter plumage red-throated diver and a drake long-tailed duck yesterday, along with a hunting peregrine and 2 great crested grebes.
In our absence 2 toads have discovered the new pond.

Costa Rica was fantastic. The group set a new record for a tour of 548 spp of which I missed about 10. Some real megas included three-wattled bellbird, lovely cotinga, agami heron, black-crowned antpitta, great curassow, ocellated antbird, 40 spp of hummingbird and all the trogons including around 8 quetzals. More on that later.

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Old Monday 11th April 2005, 09:22   #110
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Winter still definitely holding sway here.
A couple of red-throated divers have been showing well in recent days, one in pristine summer plumage. Apparently the 3rd bird met its nemesis in the shape of a great black-back whilst we were away. A pair of long-tailed ducks is still around - this is definitely our best ever year for them.
Wigeon numbers have dropped to 56 and teal to around 20. Definitely hoping for a garganey this spring, particularly now the pig field has been ploughed up for barley.
The single greenshank over the weekend may have been a lingering wintering bird or an early migrant. The star wader at present is black-tailed godwit. Whilst we were away there was a Scottish record count of 650 and I counted a garden record of 511 on Saturday. Nearly all are in beautiful summer plumage.
A stock dove on Saturday was the first for a while, whilst there have been record numbers of pied wagtails on the saltmarsh (20 on Sat) including a probable alba yesterday evening. Finally 2 swallows went west yesterday lunchtime (82).

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Old Wednesday 13th April 2005, 11:42   #111
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Favourable viewing conditions last night enabled me a pick up a few distant gannets (83 for the year). Also last night I saw a winter plumage razorbill and another swallow. This morning produced the first yellowhammer and tree sparrow in the garden since we returned from Costa Rica. I also managed another record count of black-tailed godwits - 584!
Record numbers of pied wagtails are on the saltmarsh (25 on Monday evening), when there were also large numbers of meadow pipits. Still no wheatears though.

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Old Monday 18th April 2005, 10:24   #112
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Away visiting relatives at the w/e, but 2 bedraggled wheatears this morning were no. 84 for the year. At the end of last week red-throated diver was still around and the white wagtail was on the saltmarsh once again.

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Old Friday 22nd April 2005, 09:20   #113
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Spring arrived with a Vengence down here today... there is all sorts coming your way!
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Last Cheshire Surf Scoter (310) last Red Rocks Subalpine Warbler (260), last Garden Great White Egret (208), last Self-found Citrine Wagtail (294)
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Old Friday 22nd April 2005, 13:08   #114
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I look forward to it.
Some nice moulting grey plovers this morning and a few knot, but those are shades of winter! The record numbers of pied wagtails on the saltmarsh continue, with another nice white wag last night.
We host an SOC "Big Sit" on Sunday, praying for migrants by then or the tally will be fairly miserable!

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Old Saturday 23rd April 2005, 17:37   #115
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A bit of a recovery.
Yesterday afternoon Sue managed a whimbrel (85) and 4 wheatears. Today, although we were out for the morning, have racked up 50 spp (+1 heard) so can look forward to tomorrow with greater enthusiasm.
A fulmar before breakfast was the first of the year (86) and this afternoon it has been ducks are us with: mallard, wigeon, teal, a drake gadwall (87), a pair of shoveler, 3 tufted duck, goldeneye, 3 long-tailed duck, eider and red-breasted merganser. Not so good for waders but there we go. A few sandwich terns were just visible through the heat haze ( 88) as were several gannets.
Passerine wise have had wheatear, swallow, goldcrest and yellowhammer of note.

I may try and give updates during the day tomorrow.

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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 10:28   #116
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Finished yesterday on 53 +1h - adding tree sparrow, grey plover and knot. Would settle for that today.

First "Big Sit" update.

Off to a promising start - currently at 43 + 1h. Highlights include tree sparrow, yellowhammer, fulmar, sand martin (89), grey plover and knot.
Already have 4 spp not seen y'day.

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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 11:23   #117
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Now at 47 + 2h having added sparrowhawk, wigeon, goldeneye and a real bonus - OSPREY (90 for the year). There are several swallows and sand martins around too.

Bizarre sight of the morning - a heron eating a young (but quite well-grown) rabbit!

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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 16:15   #118
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We have reached the giddy heights of 59 + 3h, which is better than I expected.
Recent highlights plenty of sandwich terns, wheatear, drake gadwall, at least 3 long-tailed ducks, stock dove, greenshank, gannet and most unexpectedly a pair of goosander. Chances of a few more (barwit would be nice). I only wish it weren't so bl**dy freezing!

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Old Sunday 24th April 2005, 20:46   #119
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A final tally of 62+2h, which is significantly better than I was expecting.

The final additions were: a stunning ringed plover (the first of the year, 91), wren converted from heard to seen, and a razorbill. All in all a very successful day given how few migrants are around and without common gull, barwit, coal tit etc.

If anyone asks I will post a full list ...

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Old Friday 29th April 2005, 09:30   #120
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A willow warbler beside the drive this morning makes 92 for the year. Consulting the beginning of the thread shows that we are about 4 ahead of last year, which is rather a surprise.

Ducks have provided much of the interest this week. A duck gadwall joined the drake on Sunday evening and they have been around ever since. A pair of pintail appeared briefly on Monday and there have been up to 5 tufted duck around.
Rather unexpectedly Wednesday evening produced both razorbill and guillemot as well as a couple of unidentified distant auks.

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Old Sunday 1st May 2005, 09:56   #121
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Some strange things this morning, of which more shortly.
Friday evening produced some good stuff with a winter plumage red-throated diver, fulmar, a drake pintail, a pair of long-tailed ducks, a hunting peregrine, greenshank and a female wheatear.
Yesterday started with a house martin (93) among plenty of swallows and sand martins. A good selection of waders included 6 barwits among the blackwits (all in winter plumage - a summer plumage barwit here is a rare treat indeed), a couple of moulting grey plovers, a ringed plover, a greenshank and a whimbrel (my first this year). Several good ducks included a pair of pintail, 2 pairs of gadwall (equals our meagre record count!), 3 tufted ducks and 15 mergansers.
This morning began with a fine east coast haar and it is now raining steadily. The water's edge was just visible enabling me to pick out 4 knot among 88 dunlin (the biggest flock for a few weeks). I then got a bit of a shock as a pair of whooper swans waded ashore (94 for the year). I wasn't expecting to get them for the year until October! They are still out there asleep on the mud. Equally surprising was the sight of 6 long-tailed ducks (2 drakes), our highest ever count. These were well into summer plumage, unlike Friday's pair and I guess they are all "new" birds.

Wonder what number 100 will be? I guess something like little gull or canada goose.

Rob
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Old Tuesday 3rd May 2005, 09:26   #122
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Sunday afternoon and, to some extent yesterday, was a case of outer estuary birds coming upstream. A succession of waders included 36 knot, 20 grey plovers (including 2 pristine summer plumage males), 22 bar-tailed godwits and 20 ringed plovers (one of our highest ever counts). There were also 3 whimbrels present at dusk.
We were out for much of yesterday but the same species were present in smaller numbers. The only excitement of this morning was a summer plumage female long-tailed duck.

Rob
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Old Thursday 5th May 2005, 17:33   #123
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A few swifts yesterday morning makes 95 for the year, which is 5 up on a year ago. A pair of (presumed) Greenland wheatears were highlight of the day however. Otherwise it has been fairly quiet.

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Old Monday 9th May 2005, 10:38   #124
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A rather quiet weekend, not helpeed by strong north-westerlies. Here are the highlights however.
On Friday evening we had a record count of 42 ringed plovers. I know this is the peak of spring migration but they are very unpredictable this far up the estuary. Saturday morning produced a nice female grey wagtail in the field (96) along with a record equalling 4 great crested grebes.
Black-tailed godwit numbers have fallen to 126, but there was a nice whimbrel last night. Where are all the greenshanks?
A pair of wheatears have been present throughout.

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Old Tuesday 10th May 2005, 09:15   #125
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Jackpot!

Almost the first bird I saw once I got home yesterday evening was a stunning drake garganey. It spent most of the evening keeping company with a pair of wigeon. There was no sign of it in a brief search this morning. One of the most wanted birds for the garden list and definitely the highlight of the year so far (97 for the year, 137 total). A drake shoveler was also present briefly. Also yesterday evening at least 4 great crested grebes were around, one pair even indulging in some display.

Rob
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