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Maenad's 2010 Year List: Birding with Baby! (1 Viewer)


Well-known member
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 :t:) 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.

- 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.

- 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)
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
5 January 2010

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

45. Pheasant
46. Herring Gull
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
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.
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
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!

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
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
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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
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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!
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
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
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!
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
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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 :C, and a Brown Hare sitting quietly in the field |:d|.
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 :t:). 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
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.

104. Willow Warbler
105. Jay
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
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
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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