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Old Saturday 7th January 2017, 21:19   #1
JWN Andrewes
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Ten targets for 2017

Had a quick attempt for Bittern over at Pennington Flash CP on 2nd, with no luck. Couldn't find the Long-tailed Duck that's been there either but got the year list started off with the likes of Goosander, Kingfisher and Scaup (which we missed last year).

Finally sorted out this year's targets (down from twelve to ten, but with Bittern still outstanding from last year). And here they are...

Barnacle Goose - a real one (we've seen a few that I've disallowed)
White-fronted Goose - Greenland or European will do for now
Ring-necked Duck - I've decided to let a couple of scarcer ones on this year...
Surf Scoter - ... this being the other one.
Woodcock - nocturnal birds are have a certain charisma
Hobby - probably second only to...
Turtle Dove - ... in the most-wanted stakes
Nightjar - see Woodcock
Grasshopper Warbler - heard in spring 2016, so unfinished business
Crossbill - well, smart aren't they.

So, game on.

Had a very brief window today, so headed to Wrexham Industrial Estate to look for Waxwings with Arch (Sam didn't want to come). Spent ages trying to find the units they're supposed to have been by, never did locate them because Arch suddenly started yelling "Waxwing! Waxwing! Waxwing!", and sure enough there one was, a typical tree top bird, with at least twenty others as it turned out once we stopped and got out to look. Very nice, and as we headed back trough town he announced he thought he'd seen another flock go by, and sure enough as we passe the bottom of Vicarage Hill there were at least two dozen sat up in one of the trees up on the left. Year list currently on 52.

(NB - on the last of the Waxwing pics the bird appears to have Gapeworm, something I'd never heard of until recently but now I seem to see it everywhere. But don't worry, it got better just after I took the photo.)
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Old Saturday 7th January 2017, 21:23   #2
ClarkWGriswold
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A trip to Somerset should sort some out James

We stayed here: http://www.honeycroftfarm.co.uk

My boys(9+6) loved collecting the eggs each morning.

Rich
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Old Saturday 7th January 2017, 21:29   #3
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My boys(9+6) loved collecting the eggs each morning.

Rich
And that is positively the only time you'll ever read that sentence on BF!

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Old Saturday 7th January 2017, 21:41   #4
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And that is positively the only time you'll ever read that sentence on BF!

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Yeah. Should have thought that through. I blame an early start for Waxwings. And a bottle of Red

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Old Saturday 7th January 2017, 22:53   #5
Sandy73
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A weekend trip to Kent would currently cover the duck at Dungeness and the White-fronts on the Isle
of Sheppey. Later in the year Stodmarsh for Hobbies and woods round Canterbury for Nightjar. Grasshopper Warbler also at Stodmarsh

Looking forward to reading the adventures.

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Old Sunday 8th January 2017, 00:09   #6
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Delighted to see the challenge extending into a second year.

It seems the investment is paying off if one of your lads is picking up waxwings in flight!

Best wishes for the rest of the year.

Cheers
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Old Sunday 8th January 2017, 06:21   #7
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Come and see us in May and we'll do you Hobbies catching dragonflies at close range, Nightjars sitting up if they're in, Woodcock roding, probably Crossbills, and Turtle Doves if you're lucky, though I reckon one of the best places for the last named is Fowlmere RSPB.

If Surf Scoter is a target you should set course for Rutland Water forthwith, the views there will be better than anywhere else!

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Old Sunday 8th January 2017, 09:55   #8
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Come and see us in May and we'll do you Hobbies catching dragonflies at close range, Nightjars sitting up if they're in, Woodcock roding, probably Crossbills, and Turtle Doves if you're lucky, though I reckon one of the best places for the last named is Fowlmere RSPB.

If Surf Scoter is a target you should set course for Rutland Water forthwith, the views there will be better than anywhere else!

Cheers

John
Yes it is a first winter so not a spectacular looking bird like an adult drake but with views often from 10 yds well worth a visit. Best in the morning or you may be looking directly into the sun later in the day. You should also get a full list of winter wildfowl including smew etc from the Egleton reserve. Green wing teal still on north arm although elusive and great whites. A great day out. Glad to see you continuing the great adventure.
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Old Sunday 8th January 2017, 18:20   #9
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January 8th

Thanks for all the tips, might be a struggle to fit them all in but far better to have too much gen than too little! Next week's spoken for, but we have a day's window on 22nd.

So, to today. I fancied getting the target hunting off to a good start this year so had a bit of a shopping list. First off was an attempt for CROSBBILL in Clocaenog, with the little car park and pool at Bod Petryal usually a good place to start and today was no exception. Calls were coming thick and fast as soon as I killed the engine, and lots of toing and froing taking place overhead as we walked down the track, it was only a matter of time before we tracked down some scopable birds. Always distant, and light still gloomy at 08:30, but nice unmistakable birds staying put and demonstrating their feeding technique made for a great start to the day.

Next up was a drop in on Wern Road to scan the sea but conditions were against us as misty drizzle all but hid the ocean. Shame, since the bits we could see were glass flat, and we managed to pick up a few Red-breasted Mergansers and a rather lonely looking drake Common Scoter before moving on to Rhuddlan, where a handful of White-fronted Geese had been seen yesterday.

Alas, no such luck. Fortunately, given the time of year, we were racking up plenty of year ticks, Shelduck, Dunlin, Skylark and so on, but best of the bunch was an Unkindness of thirty plus Ravens with a rather arresting looking grey bodied individual amongst them. They were on a sheep corpse but seemed to be raiding it for wool to line their nests rather than feeding off it.

After lunch we headed east to Marbury in the hopes of picking up the Bittern that's occasionally seen here at the back end of the day, but in spite of fine weather overhead there was a stubborn clot of mist clinging to the corner of the mere containing the reedbeds, so we we hampered by compromised visibilty for the second time today. Goosander, Kingfisher and Great Crested Grebes were all in attendance but some nearby Siskin was the only year tick on offer here, and closed our account on 69.

Still, first target down, can't complain.
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Old Friday 13th January 2017, 10:08   #10
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No notable British records this year for the boys apart from some chance roadside waxwings yesterday. However 10 days in The Gambia mean that they have seen such things as Egyptian plover, African finfoot and Abyssinian ground hornbill!

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Old Friday 13th January 2017, 13:35   #11
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Given the age profile of many birders these days I think the primary target for 2017 is probably getting to 2018 without any serious ill-health!
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Old Friday 13th January 2017, 19:35   #12
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My 10 include most of last years ten, but I did only start halfway through the year.

1) Great Grey Shrike
2) Gyrfalcon
3) Puffin (Will be going out to Isle of May in Summer, so this should be easy)
4) Bearded Tit
5) Hawfinch
6) Snow Bunting
7) White-Tailed Eagle
8) Golden Eagle
9) Chough
10) Ring Ouzel

One extra

11) Red-Throated Diver (But it has to be in Summer plumage)
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Old Monday 16th January 2017, 14:13   #13
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A sortie to St Andrews yesterday afternoon produced one of your 10 targets: 2 drake surf scoters in a large common scoter flock. Daniel saw them, Andrew didn't bother. Also seen: up to 100 scaup (best in Fife for many years), velvet scoter, long-tailed duck, dipper and grey wagtail. One of the houses on the clifftop (in The Scores, Scotland's priciest street) had a peregrine sat on its balcony!

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Old Monday 16th January 2017, 21:40   #14
JWN Andrewes
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January 9th - 12th

Center Parcs, Whinfell. Stopped in at Leighton Moss on the way up, cold and wet, but nice to catch up with Marsh Harriers, Marsh Tits, Otters and the like, and the bacon butties at the cafe there are first rate. Managed to miss a Bittern while most of the hide was being distracted by the Otters, one bloke picked it up and called it just before it ditched into the reeds, the bloke sat next to him, by his own account, just managed to see the top of its wings as it landed and the rest of us were denied.

Not much going on wildlife wise at Whinfell, even the feeders were out of action due to recent cases of pox in the local Red Squirrels. There were a few fly-over Crossbills but none perched up. Otters have been seen recently on the lake there but having just seen some and with so much else to do no-one (barring your correspondent) was really up for a stake-out.

Another (cold) stop off at Leighton Moss failed to yield Bittern once more (fourth attempt so far this year), but we were well compensated when a very nice fellow, presumably a regular, introduced us to a friendly Robin in some willows by the Causeway that would come to the hand for food, so the boys took turns having it perch up on their hands for tidbits. Some highlights can be neither planned for nor predicted.
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Old Saturday 21st January 2017, 18:23   #15
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January 21st

The bulk of term time Saturdays tend to be taken up with non-birding activities (anyone confused by this expression PM me and I'll try to explain), but we are at last reaching the time of year that there is just enough daylight at the back end of the day to get out and do something with it. Today that meant a trip down to Burton Mere Wetlands. Not a massive amount on show, but the boys picked up Redwing as a year tick while we were scanning the fields by the car park for a heard-only Green Woodie.

Burton Point proved much more productive, with a fine male Hen Harrier swinging by while we waited for Barn Owl to show, which it duly did, and then a Great White Egret low overhead coming off the estuary and heading towards the RSPB reserve where I believe they often roost in the trees by the mere. A handy little run out. Tomorrow we have all day...
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Old Sunday 22nd January 2017, 22:28   #16
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January 22nd

A day of slightly mixed fortunes, but on balance a good one. We decided to see what we could help ourselves to from the Goose buffet currently laid out up at Cockerham, and after arriving at around 08:30 and finding the Geese in a rather tricky field to view (high hedge and into the sun) they soon moved across the road to a more amenable position. Well then, let's get on with it. Eventually started picking out European WHITE-FRONTED GEESE, at one point enjoying four in the scope at once, but of the Red-breasted there was no sign. Then the call went up, as a nearby birder picked it up, flying in with a trio of White-fronts. Unfortunately, in spite of several low passes, the group never landed and eventually headed north over the sea wall until they disappeared into the haze. Although the boys got onto the four Geese as they flew about they weren't happy with the views and the bird remains unticked.

After a lot of very cold waiting and scanning we decided to be proactive and see if we could get a view of the saltings off to the north, and have a go at scanning fields along the way. Year tick Whooper Swans, Linnets and Tree Sparrows were all picked up, but a small flock of Twite at Cockerham Sands were the stars of this little jaunt.

Back at the Goose flock there was still no sign of the Red-breasted but we did pick up our second target bird of the day, a lone BARNACLE GOOSE at the back of the flock. More scanning, more waiting, a change of location to a smaller flock a bit further west gave us a Tundra Bean for the year, and then a huge flock of Geese started to arrive from the north, dropping in mostly at the main flock, so back we went. Still no sign, in spite of the big influx, and by now, five hours in, we were cold to the bone and ready for home, so off we went. Seems like the Red-breast finally arrived more than two hours after we left, and I really don't think we could have held out that long so leaving when we did feels like a good call. A month in and three targets down I really can't complain.
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Old Sunday 5th February 2017, 13:38   #17
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February 5th

Stinker of a day. Red-breasted Goose, round two. Had a time constraint imposed by an important engagement back home, but both Red-breasted & blue Snow Geese had been consistently in place at Pilling & Nateby respectively pretty much all week. Long story short, went from Pilling to Nateby to Pilling to Knott-End to Pilling to Nateby, nada. Highlights, such as they were, year ticks in the form of Red-legged Partridge, Yellowhammer & Black Redstart and a little group of Roe Deer. Ten minutes from home and I got a text to say the engagement had been cancelled. A minute after getting home news came through the Red-breast was at Eagland Hill (where we saw the Partridge, Yellowhammer & Deer, and did indeed stop to grill the Goose flock). The Greylag flock at Nateby, which had managed to lose its Snow Goose overnight, did contain a neck-ringed bird, presumably one of the Windermere ones. With Black-tailed Godwit (Flint) & Dipper (River Alyn at Hope) yesterday afternoon the boys' year list stands at 99. Two weeks now till a day off together. We will not be looking for Geese.
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Old Sunday 5th February 2017, 15:20   #18
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Red-breasted Goose, round two. Had a time constraint imposed by an important engagement back home...

Ten minutes from home and I got a text to say the engagement had been cancelled.

We will not be looking for Geese.
Surely it should be a declaration that no more important engagements taking precedence :)
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Old Sunday 5th February 2017, 17:45   #19
JWN Andrewes
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Surely it should be a declaration that no more important engagements taking precedence :)
Ha! Well, there is that of course. In fairness though, I consider myself extremely fortunate that the boys are into birding enough to do as much as we do, and so it would be most ungracious of me to let it get in the way of their other interests. It's having to work every other weekend that gets in the way of things more than anything else.
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Old Saturday 18th February 2017, 13:40   #20
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February 18th

Nice little run out to World's End this morning kicked off with a plumage tick for the boys with a roadside Greyhen, well before the area we usually start seeing Grouse, and this also brought the year's tally to 100. Further along there were already a couple of cars pulled up watching the roadside lek so we had to make to with a sub optimal position but still managed pretty decent views of at least sixteen Blackcocks strutting their stuff before a passing jogger put the lot up. Just round the corner was a small group of Red Grouse, one right by the road. This is a species we somehow manged to miss last year (God alone knows how) so it was nice to pick it up. A short stroll across the top revealed three more leks , all very distant, consisting of 19, 5 & 4 males, not too shabby considering a few years back you could struggle to find any on occasion.

Stonechat & Peregrine were the other year ticks on offer, the latter first seen bowling along very fast and very low, dipping down a gully to stay out of sight, heading the opposite way from us before doubling back and heading away higher up in front of us, considerably quicker than I could follow it in the car on the narrow road. A mile or so further on we spotted a handful of white feathers drifting slowly down onto the moor.... Not bad a bad haul for the hour we had available.
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Old Saturday 18th February 2017, 16:24   #21
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Nice.
At the end of January Daniel and I had an unsuccessful outing to Arbroath for glaucous gull. There were compensations with 4 purple sandpipers there, a green-winged teal at Balgavies Loch, ridiculously tame goosanders in Dundee, greenshanks etc. on the Eden and 99 scaup in St Andrews.
We had a night away for the boys' half term down in Northumberland. Pacific diver the obvious highlight, but plenty of other goodies including shore lark, c100 twite, 4 Eurasian whitefronts, slavonian grebe and plenty of scaup.
We left ourselves insufficient time to try for the black scoter at Goswick but called in at Belhaven Bay on the way home, adding great northern diver, plenty of long-tailed ducks and another slavonian grebe.
Final highlight (for me and the boys - Sue dipped) was successfully picking up the great grey shrike beside the A1 at East Linton (no chance of stopping and no chance of turning round for about 10 miles!).

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Old Saturday 18th February 2017, 20:38   #22
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February 18th: part II

Afternoon run out to Marbury for the year's fifth attempt on Bittern. Great thing about Marbury is that behind the blind that overlooks the Coward reed bed is a massive open area for the boys to run riot across while Dad gets on with the scanning which, after year ticking Pochard, I did for an hour or so before old friend from back in the day Zoot rocked up. Excellent to catch up, and to cap it all, just as we were on the point of calling time on the enterprise Zoot saved the day, spotting a very well concealed BITTERN (it was easier to make out than the attached images would suggest, just)! 2016's targets finally wrapped up. A good day.
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Old Sunday 19th February 2017, 14:31   #23
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February 19th

Over three hours trawling through the Scoter flock off Old Colwyn failed to produce any Surfies, but picked up year ticks in the form of several Red-throated Divers and a Long-tailed Duck, as well as drake Scaup as a plumage tick. I picked up just the one female Velvet wing flapping briefly but it was too far out for tickable views for the boys. Plenty of Fulmars on the cliffs, Turnstones on the beach and a single Rock Pipit right by the car as well got ready to head home leaves the year list on 110.
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Old Sunday 19th February 2017, 16:24   #24
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February 19th: part II

An afternoon run up to New Brighton for Purple Sandpipers, another miss from last year, bore fruit. Tide wasn't quite high enough to move them onto the pontoon in the marina but it did force them up onto the top of the breakwater where they could be easily scoped. Sanderling also new for the year.
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Old Sunday 19th February 2017, 17:10   #25
edenwatcher
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Join Date: Apr 2004
Location: Fife
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This morning Daniel and I did some local birding. The outer Eden estuary held more pintail than I have ever seen in Fife before (comfortably into 3 figures). We thought we had missed pale-bellied brent geese but found a flock of 21 in a field beside the A91, together with whooper and mute swans.
Letham pools were very quiet but the American wigeon at Gaddon loch showed very nicely. Interesting behaviour too as it was following a coot around and apparently feeding on weed dislodged when the coot dived. Several Eurasian wigeon were behaving in a similar manner.

Rob
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