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kb57's 2024 Year List (1 Viewer)

I may be wrong but I remember calandra as being quite loud and distinctive (starlings aside. I’ve heard a spotless starling do absolutely perfect golden oriole.). It just might just be the association with birding in nice places but I like all those Iberian larks.
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I may be wrong but I remember calandra as being quite loud and distinctive (starlings aside. I’ve heard a spotless starling do absolutely perfect golden oriole.). It just might just be the association with birding in nice places but I like all those Iberian larks.
It is quite a harsh call compared to skylark or crested lark, and certainly distinctive - the spotless starlings were doing a perfect imitation of it!
Jan 27: Seaton Burn, North Tyneside
Back in UK for the next month or so, decided to walk to Big Waters Nature Reserve along an old waggonway footpath - partly flooded stubble field held 4 grey herons and a grey wagtail.

118. Grey Wagtail

Big Waters, Newcastle on Tyne
My visit here exceeded expectations, starting with a point blank view of a pair of treecreepers in a small wet woodland just north of the lake. I quickly added goldeneye, although my waterfowl list is otherwise pretty good so there were no new additions, aside from feral greylags and Canada geese. Walking through the car park, I met a birder who tipped me off about an American wigeon which had flown in...I've had several failed attempts and near misses with this species over the years, so I wasn't confident.
Amazingly I got lucky, with a great view in plain sight out on the lake from the public platform on the south shore, looking like he'd found a lady wigeon for company (what did they say...'over sexed, over paid and over here...'). My luck continued when a local birder let me into the Wildlife Trust members hide at the west end of the lake, when I got further good views, along with yellowhammer, coal tit and willow tit visiting the feeders.
No Iceland gull, which was a hoped for target but apparently usually appears first thing, but I can cope with dipping a year list target for a lifer!

119. Eurasian Treecreeper *
120. Common Goldeneye
121. Greylag Goose
122. Canada Goose
123. American Wigeon
124. Yellowhammer
125. Coal Tit
126. Willow Tit *
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Jan 28: Weetslade, North Tyneside
A quick visit to the feeders with a circuit around the western part of the nature reserve and nearby waggonway produced a few more additions - plenty of tree sparrows, a flock of around 100 fieldfares heading south low overhead, and a goldcrest in a hedgerow.

127. Eurasian Tree Sparrow
128. Fieldfare
129. Goldcrest

The feeders also produced my best ever rat count - 7!

03. Brown Rat
Jan 31: north Newcastle on Tyne
This has been far and away my best start to a birding year, and I was hopeful of ending January on a nice round 130. Wasn't planning on going far today, and the wind and rain didn't encourage a change of mind, but there was some low-hanging fruit I might've picked up with a walk in the park or watching from my partner's place - wren, mistle thrush, song thrush, redwing...
In the end none of the above materialised and I was resigned to ending the month on 129, when my partner spotted a bird skimming across the garden and landing on the fence - great view of a male sparrowhawk! Positively identifiable raptor no. 7 of the year too...

130. Eurasian Sparrowhawk

I've got work, admin and family stuff to do for the next month I'm spending in UK, and don't have my own car here, but hopefully I'll still be able to add some more wintering species before returning to Portugal - and more importantly just get out and enjoy birding some more, like my recent Castro Verde and Big Waters trips.
Feb 04: St. Mary's Island, North Tyneside
No additions to the year list, but most noteworthy was a lesser black-backed gull flying north - uncommon enough in NE England in winter to show up as 'infrequent' on eBird. Once again only checked the island and rocks to the south, so no purple sandpipers or fulmars on my list yet...

Feb 05: north Newcastle on Tyne
Woke up to the first song thrush holding territory of the year, quite close but couldn't get out of bed in time to locate it! Got a really good addition to the year list a little later though, when my partner spotted a winter-plumage male brambling in a hedgerow outside the house, accompanied by a small flock of greenfinches and a chaffinch. Think this is the first for the house list after about 6 winters here - they used to be annual at her old place up in Rothbury.

Song Thrush (heard-only)
131. Brambling

Bolam Lake, Northumberland
Walking the hound round a busy-ish country park isn't guaranteed to add many birds, and the several nuthatches - including one singing - had to remain 'heard-only' as I had to remember to talk to the non-birding members of our family and not get too distracted...a nice male goosander on the lake did give me another year tick though.

Eurasian Nuthatch (heard-only)
132. Common Merganser
Feb 06: north Newcastle on Tyne
Woken up this morning to the less restful sounds of the bin wagon's reversing beeper. The song thrush was further away today, but I took a lunchtime walk and managed to track it down, getting a decent view without disturbing his flow.

133. Song Thrush
Feb 08: Queen Elizabeth II Country Park, Ashington
The deterioration in temperatures today made it seem like a good idea to visit the Montane factory store in Ashington for some more cold-weather base layers. eBird showed whooper swan and smew had been recorded at a nearby country park, the latter I believe a redhead. My partner really likes whooper swans, so was keen to visit.
We had a brief visit in grim weather conditions, and clocked the swan straightaway near the water's edge as we parked. It then proceeded to join the mute swans feeding on bread in the car park...Ashington's answer to Lake Kussharo - minus the ice and hot springs of course...scanned the lake with the 'scope, but no sign of a smew - there were a few goldeneye, and a great crested grebe though.

134. Whooper Swan *

A couple of iPhone pics - one from my partner of the swan, the other a sign for 'QE eleven' Country Park - I'd like to know what happened to the other nine :unsure:


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Feb 17: Weetslade, North Tyneside
Finally got my 2024 bogey bird, with a wren sitting on top of a fence singing in plain site, and a few more holding territory on my walk to the country park. The feeling of winter being at least tentatively over continued at Weetslade, where I counted 16 separate skylarks singing in the park and adjoining fields, and got some great views of small groups interacting in low song flight. How many will breed is another matter, as the exclosures haven't been closed off yet, and most of the rest of the park an off-lead dog playground.
Cetti's warbler is turning out to be another bogey bird this year - yet another heard-only, this time in UK - a bird in the same area as last year giving a brief burst of song then staying silent. While I was waiting for a further indication of presence in the western edge of the site, loud calls alerted me to 3 rose-ringed parakeets flying south - the Gosforth population is obviously starting to forage further north, this is at least the second time I've noted southward movement of a small group in this area.

137. Eurasian Wren
138. Rose-ringed Parakeet
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Feb 21: Morpeth, Northumberland
Felt like a proper old person today as I first got the bus to town for an eye test, then on to Morpeth to collect my new hearing aid.
I was thinking about some urban birding in Newcastle around Exhibition Park to try and add mistle thrush, but opted instead to kill time between appointments with a walk up the River Wansbeck, towards the area where we'd seen hawfinches a few years ago.
The male goosander which thinks it's a mallard was hanging around town with the mallards, with a few behaving more normally further upstream. Taunted by a couple of nuthatches in the woods which I couldn't pick out - while I was attempting to do so, a silent and unobtrusive redwing caught my eye at mid-canopy level, giving me another addition to the year list.
Disappointed the instant tinnitus-masking effect of my hearing aids disappeared after about half an hour of wearing them (and the sound quality streaming Tidal on the bus is appallingly bad for such an obscenely expensive piece of kit), but looking forward to field testing them next time I'm out birding.

139. Redwing
Feb 22: north Newcastle on Tyne
Didn't need any hearing assistance to add a close - but frustratingly unseen - tawny owl to my heard-only list. Actually, as I was wearing my hearing aids, maybe it wasn't that close...earlier in the day I saw a couple of flyover oystercatchers which I'd thought for a second were parakeets, due to the higher frequency-enhancement of my hearing giving them a more strident edge! I might have to re-learn some bird calls and songs, hopefully including goldcrest...

Tawny Owl (heard-only)
Feb 24: Wallington Hall, Northumberland
Not sure why I thought it was a good idea to visit a National Trust property on a sunny day at the end of school half-term...although as usual it wasn't too bad away from the hall, walled garden and play areas. No marsh tits (or bramblings) today, but finally managed to nail nuthatch at the feeders. Felt like I was cheating a bit, so found a quiet spot in the woods to eat our sandwiches and add another in a more natural habitat on a tree (out of an estimated minimum 8 different birds calling during our visit). Kind of wishing I'd suggested a coastal day out instead though, as there's a lot of wintering species I'm going to miss out on after returning to Portugal (divers, sea duck, twite...).

140. Eurasian Nuthatch

Feb 25: Wylam riverside, Northumberland
A gentle walk along the Tyne with partner, daughter-in-law and granddaughter, ending in a pleasant pint at the Boathouse pub by the station prior to catching a train back the way we'd walked. Wasn't really expecting any new avian additions, but got another mammal...

05. Rabbit
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Mar 03: Tavira
Did a circuit around Salinas do Forte do Rato on Saturday, walking out on the cycle path to Ribeira do Almargem and back through the saltpans. No new year list additions, aside from an unfamiliar call of a small bird flying briefly overhead. IDed by Merlin as Common Waxbill - I've no doubt it was correct; a classic case of adding something to my eBird list that I didn't see enough of to add to my year list. Plenty more birds though, including nice views of greenshank and pink-flushed slender-billed gulls (see pics below).
Took a walk into the centre of town for a coffee on Sunday - quite busy with the finish of the Algarve Bike Challenge. House martins are back at some (but not all) of their regular nest sites, while at the same time blackcaps are singing more fully than in wintertime, sensibly yet to depart for the Northern European snows.

141. House Martin


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Mar 05: Lagoa de Aldeia Nova, VRSA
I've been a bit out of sorts over the past couple of days, unsure whether I'd perhaps caught Covid on the plane over (top tip: don't check in late in order to score a free extra legroom seat as I did, they might give you 1C - you end up getting coughed over and sneezed on as people board). A negative test this morning confirmed it was just man flu, so I decided a spot of fresh air and an actual twitch was in order.
The lake was a little quieter than last time I visited, both in terms of birds and people - for example common pochard presumably departed by now. I've never studied coots so carefully before, and got round about three quarters of the site before spotting my target, which must've been out of site close to the fringing reeds when I walked past. Doubled back on myself to get some better pictures, although the light wasn't doing me any favours - results below, after messing about with shadows and curves on the RAW files.
Iberian green woodpecker must remain heard-only, but I got a good although brief view of a short-toed treecreeper, able to take in its buffy flanks as it ascended a pine trunk. Just as I was leaving, with the car engine running and about to pull away, I heard an unfamiliar call of something pursued by 2 magpies. Got out to investigate but it had been comprehensively chased off...checked later with Aves Vox / Xeno canto, and I'm pretty sure it was a great spotted cuckoo, also recorded recently at this site.
Photos show the lake - although fenced off, you can walk round and get decent views of most of its extent - the beach café (closed in January) where I celebrated with a coffee, and the café owner's dog who decided she'd like to sit on my lap...

142. Red-knobbed Coot
143. Short-toed Treecreeper *
Iberian Green Woodpecker (heard-only)
Great Spotted Cuckoo (heard-only)


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Mar 14: Quatro Aguas, Tavira
Went to the left bank saltpans about two hours before high tide, when the waders were still around on the old tidal-flooded pans.
A couple of new year list species which were also new to my Portugal list - a flock of knot on the saltpans (I think only a migrant here) and a common tern seen well at the mouth of the Gilao river. Quite a few Sandwich terns around too.

144. Red Knot
145. Common Tern
Mar 15: Lagoa de Aldeia Nova, VRSA
Another visit to the lagoon with my partner this time, successfully seeing the Red-knobbed coot again and photographing it in less harsh light, on a misty day. Was hoping for great crested cuckoo, but instead unexpectedly heard a common cuckoo calling. Taunted by at least two Iberian green woodpeckers, but managed to add crested tit to the year list, and saw another short-toed treecreeper. Tufted ducks have gone now, but red-crested pochard males are still around (are the females nesting in the reeds I wonder?). Young common coots being fed by parents, and a juvenile and adult swamphen also showing briefly at the edge of the reed.

Common Cuckoo (heard-only)
146. Crested Tit *


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