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Old Sunday 3rd January 2010, 13:33   #1
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Maenad's 2010 Year List: Birding with Baby!

I've been birding with modest success for a fair number of years now, taking trips at the weekend where possible and going on the occasional dedicated birding holiday. My list for 2009 was a relatively small but respectable 197 species (respectable especially when you consider that I've been pregnant for most of the year). Of course, the biggest impediment to happy birding is being office-bound, and I've been watching enviously as my husband's (CactusD on Birdforum ) more flexible job lets him sneak in local patch walks when it's quiet and exotic 'work' trips abroad, where he seems to pick up new species in his lunch break!

This year, though, it's all change for me. I started maternity leave just before Christmas, and we're expecting our first baby later this month. So, I'll be birding with baby, and I'm looking forward to seeing what difference it will make.

PROS
- Well, I won't have to catch the 0719 train every morning but I imagine I'll be up and about in plenty of time for the dawn chorus!
- Lots of trips to the local park and surrounding area with binoculars tucked under the pram. I've had some unexpected sightings round here this year: Common Snipe and Cuckoo flying over our very suburban house.
- As baby gets a bit older, potentially more flexibility for trips further afield we're contemplating a trip to New Zealand next autumn/winter.

CONS
- This might be my first child, but I know enought to know that babies don't make for great freedom of movement and spontaneity! I expect that the first few months I'll have nothing to report but House Sparrows and Starlings, as I'm tied to the feeding/napping routine.
- I'm not sure how adventurous we'll be able to be. We'll need to have access to places to feed and change baby, at least until I'm a bit more used to it. (NB if anyone is worried, I have no intention of wheeling the pram to twitch the latest Nearctic mega, or even disturbing the best hides at your favourite nature reserves!).

So, I don't have high hopes for a massive year list, but here goes for a very different year of birding.

1 January 2010: Birding with Bump

Garden birds and a couple of flyovers:

1. Blue Tit
2. Blackbird
3. House Sparrow
4. Black-headed Gull
5. Woodpigeon
6. Starling
7. Dunnock
8. Cormorant

Quick trip to Boddington reservoir (can only waddle a short distance ):

9. Carrion Crow
10. Magpie
11. Common Buzzard
12. Kestrel
13. Mute Swan
14. Mallard
15. Goosander (an unexpected 32)
16. Great Crested Grebe
17. Little Grebe
18. Common Gull
19. Robin
20. Fieldfare
21. Feral Pigeon
22. Lapwing
23. Rook
24. Pied Wagtail
25. Bullfinch

And back at home:

26. Collared Dove

2 January 2010

27. Chaffinch
28. Great Tit
29. Redwing (a new garden tick OK, so it was the garden next door, but I'm going to count it)

Local Park 1

30. Sparrowhawk
31. Goldcrest
32. Long-tailed Tit
33. Wren
34. Song Thrush
35. Coal Tit

3 January 2010

36. Blackcap (another next door garden tick - our neighbour has much better trees)
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Old Monday 4th January 2010, 15:59   #2
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4 January 2010

A few more today. In town:

37: Jackdaw

Grimsbury Reservoir and woods:

38. Grey Wagtail
39. Green Woodpecker
40. Goldfinch
41. Marsh Tit
42. Lesser Redpoll
43. Meadow Pipit
44. Moorhen
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Old Tuesday 5th January 2010, 13:07   #3
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5 January 2010

Picked up a few odds and ends while out and about.

45. Pheasant
46. Herring Gull
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Old Sunday 17th January 2010, 15:14   #4
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16 January 2010

Snow + ice + overdue baby don't make for much birdwatching, although it has been pretty good for watching the influx of Redwings and Fieldfares in our normally sparrow-dominated garden. A drive to the supermarket in a neighbouring town today brought me one more species.

47. Grey Heron
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Old Tuesday 26th January 2010, 08:54   #5
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25 January 2010: Baby's First...

Baby LP arrived last week, so we've had a birding hiatus. I spotted a Jackdaw on the roof opposite the delivery room (good or bad omen?), various sparrows and starlings in the garden since, and yesterday, on our first trip together to the supermarket, Baby's First Raptors: a pair of Common Buzzards soaring over our suburban road.
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Old Wednesday 10th February 2010, 17:47   #6
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10 February 2010

Two unexpected garden sightings today in between blizzards. A Male Sparrowhawk sat perched on our fence for a good five minutes, feathers from his lunch poking out from his beak; and a quick glance out of the window on the way to change a nappy brought a very unexpected pair of Reed Buntings in our neighbour's tree. We've seen these on our local patch of fields and canal, about half a mile from the house, but this is the first time they've strayed up the hill to our garden. A fine birthday present for me!

48. Reed Bunting
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Old Friday 19th February 2010, 16:11   #7
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19 February 2010: we finally leave the house

On the last day of CactusD's paternity leave, we went on a trip to Brandon Marsh with LP. It is surprisingly easy to navigate with a pram, as long as you're willing to settle for the nearer hides before the path gets very muddy. There are also changing facilities at the visitor centre, and they don't mind baby-feeding in the cafe, so I think we might be going back there regularly.

We had a total of 40 birds, plus 2 heard between the two of us (LP slept all the way round, so he doesn't count...), including a new lifer for me!


49. BARN OWL
50. Tufted Duck
51. Coot
52. Shoveler
53. Wigeon
54. Pochard
55. Shelduck
56. Great Black-backed Gull
57. Common Snipe
58. Greenfinch
59. Great Spotted Woodpecker
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Old Monday 1st March 2010, 07:16   #8
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28 February 2010

An emergency trip to Mothercare (not a phrase I'd ever thought I'd have to type) brought a flock of Golden Plovers flying off from a field by the road.

60. Golden Plover

Last edited by maenad : Monday 1st March 2010 at 07:17. Reason: Pedantry: my editorial self requires consistent headings
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Old Thursday 4th March 2010, 17:26   #9
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4 March 2010: Spring has arrived

Otmoor RSPB reserve was beautiful in the spring sunshine today, although there was still a cold wind that limited the amount of time we could spend outside with LP. The drive there and a short walk added four species to my list, including Red Kite, which was a regular garden tick when we lived in the south of the county but is a bit harder to come by in the Banbury area. The feeders at the reserve were very busy, with four species of tit and several Reed Buntings. I was particularly pleased to get Yellowhammer there, as its usual haunts on our local patch aren't accessible with the pram.

61. Red Kite
62. Canada Goose
63. Teal
64. Yellowhammer

Last edited by maenad : Sunday 7th March 2010 at 19:40.
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Old Sunday 7th March 2010, 19:42   #10
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7 March 2010: unexpected garden tick

No new year ticks today, but after being so pleased to see a Yellowhammer at Otmoor on Thursday, was surprised to find one in the garden this afternoon, along with a couple of Reed Buntings!
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Old Sunday 14th March 2010, 17:56   #11
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14 March 2010

Dipped on a Great Northern Diver today at Draycote Water as it was too cold to take LP out of the car. So we went on to Brandon Marsh again, and on the way, saw some Stock Doves. I also picked up Greylag Goose at the reserve, as well as the usual ducks etc. The Wigeons appear to have moved on now, but there were Shovelers and Tufted Ducks in large numbers, and a few Teal.

65. Stock Dove
66. Greylag Goose
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Old Monday 5th April 2010, 14:44   #12
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19 March 2010 to 5 April 2010

Just back from a trip to Scotland and Derbyshire, mostly to take LP to see his grandparents in both locations, but also to give our year lists a boost, particularly with the seabirds in Scotland. As usual, my husband CactusD managed to pick up a few more species: we discovered that feeding LP in the car is possible, but not really comfortable for either of us, so CactusD managed more trips out than we did.

Derbyshire at the beginning and end of our trip gave me some much needed woodland/garden species, including my first UK Brambling at Longshaw. We stopped there on the way up north and it definitely still felt like winter! On the way back, the garden had suddenly filled up with daffodils and Chiffchaffs; I've never noticed such an abrupt change of seasons (although we did have some snow up on the hills as well...). The Nuthatches are nesting in the ash tree again (check out CactusD's list later for some pics, I expect!) and gave us some gorgeous views on the feeder, and we heard the local Tawny Owls calling.

We had hoped to take the scenic route up through the south of Scotland, but the weather was very discouraging. We couldn't take LP out of the car at Southerness Point, but we fortunately did spot a field full of Pink-legged and Barnacle Geese near Kirkbean, two lifers for us both. Barassie, Troon, and Irvine supplied us with most of the usual coastal species, and I was very pleased to see Dippers back on the local river for the first time in a few trips. We also spotted our first hirundine of the summer, a Sand Martin by the River Irvine.

So, in summary and in rather random order, my year list has jumped by 26 species.

67. Siskin
68. Nuthatch
69. Brambling
70. Curlew
71. Skylark
72. Lesser Black-backed Gull
73. Oystercatcher
74. PINK-FOOTED GOOSE
75. BARNACLE GOOSE
76. Eider
77. Ringed Plover
78. Shag
79. Red-breasted Merganser
80. Gannet
81. Turnstone
82. Common Guillemot
83. Great Northern Diver
84. Goldeneye
85. Black Guillemot
86. Tree Sparrow
87. Dipper
88. Treecreeper
89. Sand Martin
90. Chiffchaff
91. Mistle Thrush
92. Redshank

The Swallows and House Martins are expected back here at any minute, and with a good chance of Yellow Wagtails, Sedge Warblers, and more at our local reservoir, the magic 100 seems well within reach!
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Old Wednesday 7th April 2010, 15:50   #13
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7 April 2010

I haven't been down to the local reservoir since before LP was born, but we took a quick trip today. The path was rather soggy and not very suitable for the pram, and the wind was a bit too cold for a two-month old baby. After our experience at Draycote Water too, I'm beginning to think that reservoirs are not optimum locations for birding with baby.

Nonetheless, I did manage to see some summer migrants, including a couple of White Wagtails and dozens of Swallows.

93. Barn Swallow
94. House Martin
95. Yellow Wagtail (flavissima)
96. Common Sandpiper

Last edited by maenad : Thursday 8th April 2010 at 16:16.
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Old Thursday 8th April 2010, 16:15   #14
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8 April 2010

Quick trip to Otmoor this afternoon in the beautiful sunshine. The reserve was busy with people, but quite quiet for birds. Nevertheless, I picked up:

97. Red-legged Partridge (a bit plastic, but I'm really not fussy...)
98. Little Egret

In mammal news, we saw a mink crossing the path , and a Brown Hare sitting quietly in the field .
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Old Sunday 11th April 2010, 16:20   #15
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11 April 2010

I love Brandon Marsh! It's a perfect size for birding with a pram, and now that the paths are less muddy we can get round to all the hides (we take turns to go in the hide or stay outside with the pram, so as not to disturb the other birders! LP is generally a very placid baby, and slept almost all the way round today ). And great winter birds have given way to great spring birds! The Green Sandpiper is a first for the UK for me.

99. Little Ringed Plover
100. Kingfisher
101. Gadwall
102. Green Sandpiper
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Old Thursday 15th April 2010, 16:52   #16
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15 April 2010

News of an Avocet (a lifer: you can tell that I haven't had much/any birding on the East Coast where such things are easier to come by!) took us to Brandon Marsh, where we also found another summer visitor and a resident species that has been hiding from me this year so far.

103. AVOCET
104. Willow Warbler
105. Jay
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Old Wednesday 21st April 2010, 15:41   #17
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21 April 2010

Took advantage of the prolonged dry spell today to wobble the pram along a local farm track, where I suspected I might pick up my next warbler.

106. Common Whitethroat
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Old Friday 23rd April 2010, 15:47   #18
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23 April 2010

Went to Grimsbury Reservoir in the hope of Sedge Warbler and Common Tern, but instead picked up an unexpected wader.

107. Dunlin
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Old Sunday 25th April 2010, 15:49   #19
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25 April 2010

Finally got that Sedge Warbler at Grimsbury.

108. Sedge Warbler
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Old Friday 30th April 2010, 16:54   #20
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30 April 2010

We took a trip to Otmoor this afternoon. The weather wasn't great: a bit showery and blustery. But we nevertheless picked up a few more summer visitors, including a UK first for me (Turtle Dove: also the first I've seen in 20 years!). I finally managed to track down some Linnets, so one more embarrassing gap in my list filled.

One drawback of birding with a baby is that you can't spend a lot of time staking out bushes/ponds/etc. in the hope of spotting a well-hidden bird. So I've heard Cetti's Warbler both at Otmoor and at Brandon Marsh, but I have a feeling that I won't get to see this skulking species this year.

109. Linnet
110. Swift
111. Reed Warbler
112. Turtle Dove
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Old Wednesday 12th May 2010, 17:10   #21
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12 May 2010

Had a short walk at Boddington Reservoir this afternoon, dodging the anglers at the fishing competition. Two pairs of terns, and one single.

113. Common Tern
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Old Saturday 15th May 2010, 15:06   #22
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15 May 2010

A mixed day at Otmoor: some exciting birds, including a lifer; but LP did not enjoy himself and grizzled for much of the outing. He may be getting a little old to be tucked into his pram and wheeled around aimlessly, which doesn't bode well for the rest of the year! We'll see.

Today, Otmoor offered many of its summer specialties, including lots of butterflies and damselflies. A Marsh Tit visited the feeder, the first I've seen for a few months, and there were Reed Buntings, Reed and Sedge Warblers, and Whitethroats singing their hearts out at every turn. Several Hobbies were whizzing overhead, and the new hide offered a distant but exciting view of my very first Spoonbill.

114. Cuckoo
115. Hobby
116. SPOONBILL

I started the year with a list of target species that I thought I could see, even with a small child. These were mostly fairly common species that I knew I could turn up in a limited number of places: wetland birds at Otmoor and Brandon Marsh, seabirds at my home in Scotland etc. I've far surpassed the total number , thanks to some wonderful trips with my husband, and there are now only a few stubborn target species to go. I have a pretty good idea for Corn Bunting, but I have a feeling that Stonechat might be a bit trickier in the places I can visit. Hmm, I'll have to get thinking about that one.

Last edited by maenad : Friday 28th May 2010 at 16:42.
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Old Friday 28th May 2010, 16:44   #23
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28 May 2010

Two more LBJs at Otmoor today. The Cetti's was a pure fluke, but as I missed Garden Warbler altogether last year, I was pleased to see several staking out territories in the bushes.

117. Garden Warbler
118. Cetti's Warbler
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Old Monday 28th June 2010, 06:26   #24
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26 June 2010: I do like to be beside the seaside!

We haven't done much by way of birdwatching for the past few weeks, but we made up for it in grand style on Saturday with our first trip to Bempton. I managed to fill the embarrassing gap in my life list left by a certain popular auk, but the highlight was the sheer spectacle of the thousands upon thousands of birds on the cliffs. As an added bonus, I also found that pesky Stonechat. We heard a Corn Bunting, but didn't manage to see it.

119. PUFFIN
120. Kittiwake
121. Razorbill
122. Fulmar
123. Stonechat
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Old Thursday 15th July 2010, 18:26   #25
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1-15 July 2010

Another trip to see the grandparents, and some truly horrible 'summer' weather. We still managed a few bird sessions, although (contrary to what he says on his list) I haven't forgiven my husband CactusD for the LEO and Ring Ouzel he saw when I was at home with the baby.

Highlights included hundreds of Manx Shearwaters seen very distantly out at sea by Maidens in Ayrshire; an unexpected Spotted Flycatcher on the River Irvine near my parents' home; and a family party of 10 Goosanders on the river in Bakewell town centre.

124. Northern Wheatear
125. Manx Shearwater
126. Spotted Flycatcher
127. Sandwich Tern
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