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KB57s 2021 list (1 Viewer)


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I usually start my year list thread off with some sort of statement of intent for the coming year, but the best thing I can say about 2021 is that the bar is set pretty low when it comes to beating 2020 (in bird listing and life terms...). Nevertheless, only a few days into the year and things seem to be getting worse before they'll get better, with a lockdown now imposed in England and vaccine rollouts across the world progessing slower than hoped. So the best I can hope for is to maintain good health, don't spend all my time sat at home working like a lot of last year...and try to make the best of local birding.
As before, in an attempt to remain cosmopolitan amidst this isolation I'm attempting to stick with IOC English names (when I can get them right) and taxonomy.

New Year's Day found me at my home with my partner (in the same 'bubble', I hasten to add...), emerging in the afternoon to brave the icy north wind on a trip to Teesmouth. Deliberately avoided RSPB Saltholme, although it was open, in an attempt to avoid clusters of people at screens. However, I was surprised how many people (and their dogs) were out and about in places like Greatham Creek and (in particular) North Gare Sands, very different to my memories of birding these areas many years ago.

Jan 01, NW Durham (garden)
1. Eurasian Blue Tit
2. Great Tit
3. Common Blackbird
4. Eurasian Collared Dove
5. Coal Tit
6. House Sparrow
7. Common Chaffinch
8. Western Jackdaw
9. European Robin
10. Great Spotted Woodpecker
11. Eurasian Tree Sparrow
12. Eurasian Nuthatch

Co. Durham (from car)
13. Grey Heron
14. Common Wood Pigeon
15. European Herring Gull

Cowpen Bewley
16. Common Starling
17. Northern Lapwing
18. Black-headed Gull

Zinc Works Road / North Gare Sands / Seaton Common
19. Carrion Crow
20. Common Redshank
21. Eurasian Magpie
22. Great Black-backed Gull
23. Great Cormorant
24. Sanderling
25. Little Egret
26. Fieldfare
27. Mallard
28. Eurasian Wigeon
29. Common Moorhen
30. Greylag Goose
31. Eurasian Oystercatcher
32. Eurasian Curlew

Greatham Creek / Seal Sands
33. Mute Swan
34. Eurasian Teal
35. Red-breasted Merganser
36. European Golden Plover
37. Common Kestrel


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Jan 02: Burnopfield, Co. Durham
38. Red Kite

North Newcastle-on-Tyne
39. European Goldfinch

Jan 03: North Newcastle-on-Tyne
40. Common Linnet
41. Dunnock
42. European Greenfinch


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Jan 07: NW Durham
Stuck at home trying to work; gave up late afternoon and decided a short walk in the woods before it got dark. Went upstairs to get an extra pair of socks for my wellies for the mixture of crunchy snow and muddy puddles which lay outside; coming back downstairs, I looked out of my back window onto the concrete back yard, and was surprised to see a new addition to my all-time garden list - a grey wagtail! The walk, although pretty in the snow, was very quiet - one solitary redwing, plus the distant screeching of some jays and the closer - but remaining invisible - ticking of a wren.

43. Grey Wagtail
Eurasian Jay (heard only)
Eurasian Wren (heard only)
44. Redwing


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Jan 08: NW Durham
Another short walk in the woods in an attempt to maintain sanity. Quiet again and more picturesque than yesterday after an additional overnight / morning snowfall, snow still on the trees although above freezing and starting to melt.
Great tits vocal and practising for spring, and a nice view of a nuthatch perched up in a tree and calling. A small party of long-tailed tits moving through the woods provided a welcome addition to the year list.

45. Long-tailed Tit


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Jan 09: Morpeth
Essential journey to collect a prescription for someone, so today's exercise was by the River Wansbeck...very different weather here with no snow, reflected in the additions to the year list of an overwintering chiffchaff and a song thrush. The male goosander that likes hanging around with the semi-tame mallards was there too, while my partner added grey wagtail to her list.

46. Common Chiffchaff
47. Song Thrush
48. Common Merganser


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Jan 10: North Newcastle-on-Tyne
Another errand rewarded by a flock of rooks in a pasture field, then I finally added a female bullfinch in my partner's garden. A walk past a nearby stubble field in the afternoon which has frequently supported winter thrushes gave us a flock of at least 150 fieldfares and redwings, plus smaller numbers of starlings and my first pied wagtails; redwing was a new year list tick for my partner.

49. Rook
50. Eurasian Bullfinch
51. White Wagtail (ssp. yarrellii)


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Jan 16: Morpeth
Another essential trip to the pharmacy with the added bonus of a walk by the river. Added my first unequivocally feral pigeons, having just seen tight flocks of racing pigeons before now, together with a little grebe on the river and a displaying sparrowhawk circling overhead. Missed a kingfisher spotted by some other walkers, we were distracted at the crucial time by a black plastic dog poo bag floating gently downriver, which we both thought looked remarkably like an otter until we got the bins on it...

52. Rock Dove (f. domestica)
53. Little Grebe
54. Eurasian Sparrowhawk
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Jan 17: North Newcastle-on-Tyne
Walk from my partner's home taking in Big Waters. Quickly added common gull on a playing field, then scanned the gulls at Big Waters carefully as there were reports at the start of the year of an adult Iceland gull on Twitter. No luck for us today, but good numbers of waterfowl, particularly wigeon, and an excellent view of a jay on the walk back. Possibly the first year I haven't had wren in my top 60, a 'heard only' so far!

55. Mew Gull
56. Canada Goose
57. Eurasian Coot
58. Tufted Duck
59. Common Goldeneye
60. Common Pochard
61. Eurasian Jay
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Jan 21: North Newcastle-on-Tyne
Back at my partner's, and decided to take a morning off work and pay another visit to Big Waters for er, 'exercise', as we'd heard too late about the American wigeon which had been seen at the weekend - should've checked the numerous wigeon a bit more carefully...
Anyway, no-one else there when we arrived so managed to deploy the 'scope and avoid arrest. Wigeon quite mobile with flocks arriving presumably from nearby fields / coming out of reeds, so had a few scans, but to no avail. It would've been nice to celebrate the US presidential inauguration yesterday with an American 'lifer', but I don't have a good record with either this species or green-winged teal. A couple of new additions to the year list though...

62. Common Snipe
63. Gadwall


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Jan 23: North Newcastle-on-Tyne
Discovered a few new footpaths around my partner's place, trying to avoid people on the more heavily trafficked paths - moving closer to town not such a great idea now we have a pandemic. Things have got pretty bad when I get excited about seeing a pheasant, and finally nail wren on a roadside hedgerow in Seaton Burn....

64. Common Pheasant
65. Eurasian Wren

A fox seen on the walk reminded me I should try and keep a mammal list too - seen a few roe deer so far this year, but nothing else, so:
1. Roe Deer (NW Durham & N Newcastle)
2. Red Fox
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Jan 24: St. Mary's Island
Well, this is stretching lockdown a bit I know but as my partner actually lives in North Tyneside I guess this could be construed as 'local area', and she was desperate to see the sea. Lots of other people clearly had the same idea, although we went deliberately late to avoid crowds, and to be fair car parks were emptier than on our autumn goldcrest watch. Lots of golden plover, and the wardens at the lighthouse do a great job of keeping people off the seaward part of the rocks - possibly the only rock outcrop in the whole of Northumbria Coast Special Protection Area where birds (and grey seals) can remain undisturbed. Roosting curlews, some great views of hauled out grey seals, and a few more additions to the wader list.

66. Common Ringed Plover
67. Ruddy Turnstone
68. Dunlin

3. Grey Seal


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Feb 09: Dunfermline
Work trip to Scotland, not exactly well timed as I had to drive through a blizzard on the A68 near Dalkeith and the Edinburgh bypass to reach my hotel. Just about to leave the following morning when a flock of 100+ pinkfeet flew SE over the car park. The subsequent drive up the M90 and past RSPB Loch Leven was on the challenging side, but thankfully my winter tyres were proving their worth.

69. Pink-footed Goose

Near Lochgelly, Fife
Arrived on site to see a visible SE migration of >25 skylarks, presumably relocating somewhere without snow cover! A total of a further 225 pinkfeet were also heading in that direction, along with 8 whooper swans flying low overhead. Saw a total of 5 woodcock and 11 snipe on site, as well as 4 fieldfares.

70. Eurasian Skylark
71. Whooper Swan
72. Eurasian Woodcock

...and another for the mammal list...
4. Rabbit

Near Carfraemill, Borders
Finally saw a buzzard on the drive home down the A68; disturbed a second further south from its meal of roadkill rabbit.

73. Common Buzzard


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Feb 10: North Newcastle on Tyne

Morning at my partner's place - despite my recent work trip, I'm still behind her on my year list, thanks to a greater diversity of species at her feeders and local area. She helped me this time though in pointing out a female reed bunting coming to a feeder - she's had up to 3 in the recent cold spell.

74. Common Reed Bunting


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Feb 12: NW Durham

Quite a lot of finch activity in some trees at the back of my house this afternoon, with a mixed flock of mostly chaffinches with some goldfinches - and a couple of siskins.

75. Eurasian Siskin


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Feb 18: NW Durham

This is about as plastic a tick as you get round here, but avian excitement is hard to come by at the moment when I'm stuck in the house working most days. And if I'm correct, the first species of 2021 I didn't see in 2020. [EDIT: my last woodcock was 2019...]

76. Red-legged Partridge
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Feb 19: NW Durham

Had to go into the office today, and got an addition to the mammal list as a weasel ran across the road. Could've been two species if I'd been able to identify what it had in its mouth - probable common shrew, but in any event almost certainly deceased!

5. Weasel


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Feb 20: Coquet Estuary near Warkworth, Northumberland

The above title looks really bad in the context of lockdown, but let me explain....my partner and I needed to take the work van up to Northumberland to pick a bulky item up, and decided to take a slightly more circuitous route back south, via Amble and a diversion on the road via Druridge and Cresswell. In deference to lockdown, we didn't leave the van while doing so, although the car parks at places like the Druridge Pools road looked pretty full, I suspect not of people from the 'local area'...
Anyway, got the obvious addition in the form of a small flock of eiders from a layby on the Coquet estuary. Also saw what was probably the local twite flock, but as we weren't fully equiped for birding (my partner was watching a red-breasted merganser with the only pair of binoculars we'd brought) - I couldn't get onto them before they flew back off to the far side of the estuary. She added pink-footed goose to her list near Widdrington, but I wasn't able to get her any whooper swans in the Druridge area. So only one confirmed addition to the year list. The addition of grey squirrel to the mammal list, from the north end of Druridge Bay was somewhat unfortunate, given the fact that its an area which still has some reds.

77. Eider

6. Grey squirrel


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Feb 27: North Newcastle-on-Tyne
We weren't more than 200m away from my partner's house when she spotted a treecreeper, which gave great views. She confidently predicted she'd get me willow tit and yellowhammer next, and sure enough she was right! I reciprocated by finding her some skylarks - these ones proclaiming territory, rather than escaping the snow as mine were a couple of weeks ago.

78. Eurasian Treecreeper
79. Willow Tit
80. Yellowhammer


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Mar 01: NW Durham
An hour and a half walk of 6km wasn't enough to meet my charity walk goals (cf 'My Birding Day'), but yielded a couple of new additions to the year list, one of which I hadn't seen locally for some years. There was a certain inevitability about seeing another willow tit soon after my first of the year - it often seems to happen to me.

81. Lesser Redpoll
82. White-throated Dipper


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Mar 04: North Newcastle on Tyne
Another one for the mammal list, partner not wild about having a mouse under her fat ball feeder.

7. Wood mouse

Mar 05: Big Waters, Newcastle
Brisk walk from my partner's place, who wasn't feeling too great today after her AstraZeneca vaccination. Didn't stop at the lake for long, but good to see that great crested grebes are back, with at least 6 birds present.

83. Great Crested Grebe

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