KB57's 2017 UK list
Having only got back into listing last year, my modest aim is to beat my total of 160 set last year. I failed miserably in last year's aim of beating my last UK list from 1972 of 182 - I obviously managed to get out more then...
I'm hoping to target regularly occurring UK species which I missed last year (a two-year 2016-17 list in a way), and (just like back in '72) 'heard-onlys' don't count. I've got lots to target, at risk of eliciting disdain from the more committed members of this forum I'll give a few examples of the more obvious...garden warbler, reed warbler (both 'heard-only' last year), red grouse, ring ouzel (grouse moors aren't my favourite habitat), purple sandpiper, green sandpiper, cuckoo (another heard-only), lesser whitethroat, whimbrel and short-eared owl. My top target is probably wood warbler, a bird familiar in my youth but sadly much rarer now.
January 1st started in Northumberland (Wooler / Holy Island / Bamburgh)
3. coal tit
5. blue tit
6. great tit
11. house sparrow
15. carrion crow
17. mute swan
18. pink-footed goose
22. black-headed gull
23. herring gull
24. feral pigeon
26. black-tailed godwit
29. brent goose (ssp. hrota)
34. GBB gull
35. common gull
36. grey heron
40. merlin * (not seen 2016)
43. grey plover
45. rock pipit
46. golden plover
47. common buzzard
Main dips: purple sandpiper (rocks at Bamburgh crawling with tourists / dogs / children, despite severe weather and incoming tide) and bar-tailed godwit (usually a certainty, but not enough time spent around Holy Island due to incoming tide)
January 2nd: River Coquet, Northumberland
49. little grebe
(great spotted woodpecker - heard-only)
53. marsh tit
Jan 3rd: back at work, Durham
Jan 4th: out and about with work, Durham / Northumberland
56. mistle thrush
59. meadow pipit
61. pied wagtail
Jan 5th: travel to work again
64. collared dove (a 'heard only' from Jan 1st)
Jan 6th: first 'blank' day, at work...
Jan 7th: Northumberland
65. long-tailed tit
Jan 8th: Low Newton, Northumberland
68. red-throated diver
70. long-tailed duck
71. purple sandpiper * (not seen in 2016)
72. greylag goose
74. whooper swan
76. tree sparrow
My definition of 'regularly occurring UK species' and consequent avoidance of twitching rarities was stretched to the limit yesterday...well, I was working in the area, and it is just a sub-species...
Jan 10th: Skinningrove, Cleveland
79. (Eastern) black redstart *
Jan 12th: Co. Durham, near my office
80. goosander / common merganser
Been on a (non-birding) holiday so catching up with a few additions before I left...
Jan 14th: Lindisfarne - mainland end of causeway area
81. twite (flock of 80 near the car park)
82. little egret
83. bar-tailed godwit
Jan 15th: Rothbury area
86. red-legged partridge
Although this is a deliberately parochial UK list, I did manage to add 2 (or maybe 3) species to my 'world' year list in the French Alps: Alpine chough, raven, and the presumably still untwitchable Lammergeier - which would've been a WP tick for me (if I kept a WP list...).
Jan 27th: lunchtime walk in freezing fog near my office
Out of UK and back in France for a week with no birding, but managed to add nutcracker (first I've seen anywhere for about 15 years), crested tit and Alpine accentor to my 'world' 2017 list.
Feb 5th: 89. red kite - 2 seen (Rowland's Gill, Gateshead & Burnopfield, Co. Durham) while driving this morning
9th Feb: Durham City
90. song thrush
Co. Durham (feeding on alder cones near office)
91. (lesser) redpoll
11th Feb: Northumberland
92. tufted duck
93. red-breasted merganser
13th Feb (I think, forgot to make a note...) Co. Durham
95. great spotted woodpecker
19th Feb: Abandoned any pretence of avoiding rarities, even if they do have to stay around a while in order to eat away at my resolve...
East Chevington, Northumberland
97. shore lark *
98. ringed plover
99. Pacific diver * (1st UK and WP)
100. Slavonian grebe
Probable late afternoon flyover peregrine too, but by the time I got onto it was disappearing behind the dunes. Yet more twite with the shore larks, but still haven't seen a reed bunting this year! Ringed plover were also somewhat overdue.
27th Feb, driving across Simonside, Northumberland
101. red grouse *
5th March: Burton Mere Wetlands RSPB
104. stock dove
105. lesser black-backed gull
106. marsh harrier
107. reed bunting
(Cetti's warbler - heard)
109. great white egret * (not seen in UK 2016)
6th March: Burton Mere
(water rail - heard)
For some reason my Scythebill list is showing 110 (even with 'heard onlys' not counting) so I may have missed something somewhere...
Mystery of missing #110 solved...
6th March, West Kirby, Wirral
110: great crested grebe
(could've sworn it was already on my list, but Scythebill tells me its the first I've seen since December!)
St. Patrick's Day - morning visit to the gym in Durham city, rewarded by:
111. grey wagtail
...dipper, grey heron and cormorant also on the river, optimistically checked the black-headed gulls for something more interesting.
Added a few more 'world' list species in Switzerland March 19th on a train journey from Geneva to Wengen..good numbers of black kites in the first part of the journey (replaced by red further east), and red-crested pochard on Thunersee. No snowfinches at Mannlichen though...
Only one addition to my UK list on March 31st, Newcastle Quayside:
Still puts me ahead of both 1972 and 2016. End of winter comparison with last year shows long-billed dowitcher, smew, and possibly willow tit and velvet scoter as the least likely to feature in 2017 - the last two will require a bit of effort on my part, recorded from Fairburn Ings and Gullane Bay respecively last year.
Been a bit under the weather lately, concentrating on bird photography as my better half gets used to her new camera, and not been anywhere likely to add new species, not even common migrants...however, enjoying the sunshine in a Rothbury garden at the weekend, she spotted two soaring birds high above....a sparrowhawk, providing useful scale to:
113: Northern raven (8th Apr)
...which was only added to her 'seen-from' garden list last year, despite occurring not so far away on the Simonside Hills.
Summer migrants arriving...
13th April, Durham city
114. sand martin
15th April, Druridge
115. willow warbler
20th April: Co. Durham, leaving before dawn to go to the airport
117. barn owl
...then while working in conifer woodland near Craigellachie, Moray
118. crossbill sp. * (in an area with Scottish crossbill records, but managed to inadvertently delete the recording I made on my iPhone, so I'll never know...FWIW bill looked just like a common crossbill to me, not that I have any experience of the other taxa). Note to self - learn how to use recording apps first before going out in field...
21st April: Portsoy, Aberdeenshire - attempted twitch of a white-billed diver on my way back to the airport. Dipped on the diver, but 40-50 summer-plumage long-tailed ducks riding the swell were some compensation - not a year tick, but good to see in very different plumage. I did manage two less impressive additions:
23rd April: Low Newton, Northumberland
...more gannets and shags, plus
122. yellow wagtail
white wagtail (1st UK, after seeing them in Switzerland last month), and...
123. ICELAND GULL * (lifer #671)
In my youth, large white-winged gulls were real bogey birds, and finding an adult in breeding plumage was a great way to rectify this omission. Although 'finding' is putting it a bit too strongly, having already scanned the flash several times for wagtails and waders, another birder pointed out the gull in the field in front of us I'd previously overlooked...
30th April: Coquet Estuary
Watching a grey seal feeding near the weir on an incoming spring tide, then saw:
124. common sandpiper
5th April, near Rotherham
126. common whitethroat
Realised I won't get near my 1972 year list if I don't go to some of the places I visited then...like Minsmere. But first:
6th May: near Alnwick
127. tawny owl
RSPB Lakenheath fen
128. common tern
129. cuckoo *
130. reed warbler *
131. sedge warbler
132. glossy ibis * (1st UK)
134. hobby *
Dipped on common crane and seeing a Cetti's warbler (again)
7th May: RSPB Minsmere
135. bittern * (1st seen for years! - also heard booming)
136. Sandwich tern
137. Mediterranean gull
138. house martin
139. little tern
140. Cetti's warbler
Finally added Cetti's warbler to my 2017 list, Lakenheath fen the previous day took some of the 'new for year list' species away, but great to see a bittern again. Changed a bit since my last visit in 1972!
Didn't have time to search heaths for Dartford warbler and woodlark, and weather not favourable (and season maybe a little early) for listening for nightjar. Also dipped on bearded tit, nightingale and stone-curlew, but all in all a great weekend.
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