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March for March 11,000 step birding (1 Viewer)

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 1/31: March 01
Feeling particularly slothful one day last month, I signed up for the Prostate Cancer UK 'March for March' 11,000 step a day challenge. I stuck in £50 to show some commitment, and will proceed to hassle my friends and family for cash over the next 31 days. For once I haven't got too much work on, so it should in theory be achievable if I can maintain motivation.
To make it a bit more interesting, I've decided to do a bird list for my walks; if anyone else is signed up for the challenge, feel free to jump in on the thread and post your walk lists.
I started from my NW Durham home on a circuit of footpaths I used to walk a lot in the past, which I reckoned would get me over the line in one go. Didn't expect to see many birds as I set off uphill at a brisk pace - to far from the coast / too much ex-opencast pastureland / conifer plantations...but in the end it proved better for birds than steps, as it only turned out to be just under 6km, and gave me under 8000 steps - another walk needed this evening!
The total of 21 species in order of appearance were:
House sparrow
Robin
Great tit
Carrion crow
Blackbird
Curlew (3 heard in total on higher (>200m) parts of the route)
Chaffinch
Jackdaw
Dunnock
Woodpigeon
Blue tit
Pheasant
Bullfinch
Greenfinch
Siskin
Great spotted woodpecker (heard-only)
Willow tit (in wet woodland about 1km from my home)
Lesser redpoll (about 4 in a rural garden)
Dipper (first one I've seen for ages in the small river near my home)
Jay
Magpie

I was happy to hear the curlews back, but overall it was very quiet apart from robins in hedgerows and patches of woodland. It all kicked off in the last km or so with deciduous woodland, gardens and riparian habitat, with dipper the outstanding addition (willow tits at least I know are around). The main 'dip' was coal tit, which is one of the most common birds in my garden, and which I saw immediately on returning to the house.
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Finished day 1 with a dusk circuit of my local woods, ending up with 11,715 steps, so met my target. Only added song thrush to my day list with a couple of birds holding territory, and watched jackdaws flying into a large corvid roost in another nearby woodland further down the valley.
Lots of pheasants calling but no owls, recalling a comment Chris Packham made once about the majority of avian biomass in the English countryside being composed of crows and pheasants.
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 2/31: March 02
Modified my circuit with a 2km extension on paths I shamefully have never walked in the 21.5 years I've lived here, taking in some patchy heather and rushes at around 275m elevation. To be fair, hardly anyone had walked on one section. In 8km /2h I saw 25 species, started around 07:30 so more bird activity initially, but very foggy - would've been outside parameters for breeding bird survey for example - and quite a lot remained 'heard only'.
Started off with a drumming GSW as I left my house, and ended with quite probably the same GSW calling as I returned. In between perhaps the most unusual was a gadwall in a small flooded field corner, the first time I remember seeing this species in my local area. No willow tit this time (and still no coal tits until I got home, the entire local population seems to be in my neighbours garden!), but some good views of redpolls. Didn't quite make 11,000 steps though, but some housework got me over the line, remembering of course to carry my phone with me while I hoovered...
Great spotted woodpecker (h-o)
Siskin
Goldfinch
Chaffinch
Great tit
Nuthatch
Collared dove
Jackdaw
House Sparrow
Woodpigeon
Robin
Lesser Redpoll
Pheasant
Jay
Blackbird
Carrion Crow
Blue tit
Long-tailed tit
Curlew (heard-only)
Rook
Dunnock
Song thrush (heard-only)
Gadwall
Bullfinch
Starling

Cumulative list 28 species
 

Had.enough

Registered User
Supporter
Good work so far. If you are struggling for steps, leave your fitness watch on when you brush your teeth!!
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Good work so far. If you are struggling for steps, leave your fitness watch on when you brush your teeth!!
Thanks for the tip, but I'm just using my iPhone so that might not work! Explains why my partner's fitness watch always registers more steps though, she tells me it's because she takes smaller steps, but now I know...
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 3/31: March 03
More or less repeated yesterdays route, with a slight variation to take me to 8.55km, and 10397 steps, therefore easy to make up to 11k over the course of the day.
Another foggy day, -1C when I set off at 07:45. As expected, a similar set of birds, with a total of 24 species. Finally found a coal tit some distance from the village, and disturbed a mallard from a pond near the high point of the route. Wrens are back after disappearing from the local area with the onset of harsh weather, though 2 territories in an 8.5km transect is very low density!
Highlights were close up views of 3 roe deer, actually seeing a curlew (or rather the indistinct outline of one) and 2 nuthatches at close range calling loudly to each other. In order of appearance:
House sparrow
Goldfinch
Song thrush
Great spotted woodpecker
Great tit
Nuthatch
Blackbird
Robin
Chaffinch
Jackdaw
Curlew
Woodpigeon
Coal tit
Carrion Crow
Mallard
Wren
Pheasant
Blue tit
Magpie
Rook
Bullfinch
Siskin
Lesser redpoll
Dunnock
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 4/31: March 04 - River Wear - upstream of Durham City
Had to take my partner for her Covid jab to a vaccination site just north of Durham, so we'd planned to reach today's target together with a walk from Durham City. Weather was wet in the morning, but brightened up a little by the time she'd had her vaccination. We parked in Durham and walked upriver to Shincliffe Hall and wood. Great views of treecreepers in particular, while getting into a new area and range of habitats added a few more species to the March walk list. I'm not adding these to my 'walking from home' list though!
Did a lot of steps too - the walk was logged at 10.49km and gave me over 16000; I finished the day on 20436, after walking back to my partner's place from the nearest fast EV charger, then returning to collect my car after a coffee. On the negative side, as we returned to Newcastle she became increasingly ill, and by the evening was shivering with a flu-like reaction to the AstraZeneca vaccine.
22 species, again in order of appearance:
Cormorant
Black-headed gull
Herring gull
Mallard
Carrion crow
Mute swan
Common / Mew gull
Blackbird
Long-tailed tit
Goosander / common merganser
Robin
Jackdaw
Starling
Blue tit
Treecreeper
Goldfinch
Woodpigeon
Grey heron
Greylag goose
Dunnock
Jay
Greenfinch
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 5/31 (1) - Big Waters
My partner's adverse reaction to AstraZeneca meant I took another day off work and stayed over to make sure she was OK. Temperature back to normal, she just wanted to sleep for a while, so I decided to walk to Big Waters, with a quick 'march' there and back logging 'heard only' species so as to minimise my overall time away and maximise my time at the lake.
Only 5.88km and around 6500 steps left me with walking to do later, but in a relatively short walk in diverse lowland habitat I managed to log more species - 31 - despite not spending too much time scanning the lake. Highlights were displaying goldeneye, and my first great crested grebes of the year.
Song Thrush
Starling
House sparrow
Woodpigeon
Blackbird
Magpie
Great tit
Robin
Greenfinch
Jackdaw
Goldfinch
Carrion crow
Herring gull
Dunnock
Reed bunting
Cormorant
Canada goose
Black-headed gull
Mallard
Goldeneye
Coot
Tufted duck
Great crested grebe
Wigeon
Pochard
Grey heron
Moorhen
Common / mew gull
Blue tit
Long-tailed tit
Wren
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 5/31 (2) NW Durham
Happy my partner was OK and with her daughter coming to check up on her this afternoon, I returned home to do some work, leaving at 17:00 for an evening circuit of 4.73km, a combination of public footpaths I've never done before, and involving a very little used route across sheep-grazed pasture I've only walked once before. Didn't see a single other person on the walk.
I didn't log greylag goose at Big Waters, probably because I didn't look hard enough, and I was surprised to add them to my local list (probably for the first ever time) as I saw two heading west up the valley. Further on, as I traversed a sheep-grazed pasture, a buzzard flew past - raptors are suspiciously rare in these parts, I think I've only seen common buzzard around my village once or twice at the most.
Otherwise the evening was quiet with only 11 species seen or heard - the most bizarre being a pheasant which was calling perched high up on a leaning tree, getting the better of a rival a few tens of metres away in terms of volume and echo - don't recall ever hearing a pheasant calling above my head before...
Achieved my step count objective with a current total of 14198, and brought my cumulative 'local' list to 30.
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 6/31 - NW Durham
Shorter walk today as I need to find time to call into work, but hoping my partner is OK to join me on another walk later. Logged at 6.21km and my step count pushing 8000.
Started off at 07:30 on a beautiful morning, -2C with a ground frost, taking a steep walk out of the village - the direct but shorter route. An early highlight was a crossbill flight call, chipping its way between the relatively small conifer plantations in the valley; I have to say I was surprised by this, haven't seen crossbill in the area before and I didn't think there were large enough plantations around, particularly in the breeding season. Unfortunately I couldn't actually pick out the bird...
A flock of 80 common / mew gulls in a pasture field provided another addition to the local list, and I was looking forward to actually seeing more curlews - however, they were absent this morning, despite having identified three territories along this route earlier in the week.
Dunnock
Blackbird
Song thrush
House sparrow
Blue tit
Jackdaw
Starling
Robin
Chaffinch
Carrion crow
Woodpigeon
Pheasant
Crossbill (heard only)
Common / mew gull (80)
Rook
Jay (heard only)
Magpie (heard only)
Wren (heard only)
Great tit
Siskin
Lesser redpoll
Bullfinch
Nuthatch (heard only)
23 species - total 'local list' including heard only 32.
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 7/31 - Northumberland coast / N Newcastle

The previous days walk was supplemented by a short trip around my partner's local country park, which added little of interest apart from a passing fieldfare flock, but brought the step count up to 16208.
For various reasons I've explained elsewhere we decided we needed a beach walk, and had to travel to Northumberland in any event, although it wasn't local to our route. A 4.56km binoculars-only walk took us from Warkworth beach car park to the Coquet estuary via the salt marsh, and back along the beach. Trees and scrub around the car park added to the passerine list, although the local twite flock wasn't around on the salt marsh, possibly too late in the season. Stonechat was a more remarkable 'dip', normally nailed-on here, perhaps a consequence of our emphasis on walking over birding. A small flock of common scoter fairly close inshore was the highlight.
Chaffinch
Tree sparrow
Blackbird
Robin
Black-headed gull
Teal
Redshank
Curlew
Wigeon
Skylark
Carrion crow
Oystercatcher
Shelduck
Herring gull
Greater black-backed gull
Cormorant
Starling
Eider
Diver sp. (almost certainly red-throated, but saw once then couldn't pick up again)
Common scoter - flock of 7, bird of the day
Sanderling
Linnet
Wren
Goldfinch
Magpie

Had to earn some more steps, so a quick march along a railway path to a stream crossing enabled me to end the day on 13225; a sing-off between two song thrushes not 20m apart, and a grey wagtail along the very small stream were the highlights.
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 8/31 - NW Durham
Work commitments building up this week, so having to plan carefully to fit in my steps (and spend less time on Bird Forum!). Today's strategy was a quick lunchtime circuit of 2.93km around the local wood, followed by an evening walk after 17:00 of 6.28km, giving me a total of 13287 steps. This was the shorter circuit I used on Day 1, with a further shortcut that took me across fields on public paths, then cut into my local wood. The alternative passed a nearby village and involved a short section on a roadside path - I liked to take this route when I had sufficient time though, as there has always been a flock of Siskins, with redpolls and goldfinches hanging about in trees close to the village.
Low species totals on both walks, with nuthatch the highlight of my woodland walk. The evening route was notable for a small mixed flock of around 10 fieldfares and a couple of redwings in hedgerows near a farm; a song thrush singing from the very top of a Sitka spruce, undisturbed by my passing underneath; and a small group of roe deer as I entered my local wood in the gathering gloom. Species list from the evening walk, which also added black-headed gull to my local list - with redwing and fieldfare now at 35 species.
Blackbird
Blue tit
Pheasant
Magpie
Common gull
Black-headed gull (9)
Rook
Jackdaw
Woodpigeon
Redwing
Fieldfare
Starling
Chaffinch
Song thrush
Robin
Carrion crow
Wren
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 9/31 - NW Durham
Decided to repeat the Day 2 & 3 8km route with an early start just after 07:00, giving me plenty time to work on my return just after 09:00. What was different was the lack of fog, which meant I could see the landscape for the first time in the unfamiliar western section of the route. This included a small heather-covered bog I'd walked close to but was previously unaware of - it didn't provide me with any additional species, although a nearby gorse patch held a few linnets, and a lapwing was displaying over pasture a little further along the route. The song thrush was back in the same Sitka spruce. Local total now 37 species; ended the day on 13262 steps.
House sparrow
Chaffinch
Woodpigeon
Great tit
Great spotted woodpecker
Wren
Song thrush
Robin
Pheasant
Blackbird
Curlew
Skylark
Common / mew gull
Dunnock
Starling
Coal tit
Linnet
Lapwing
Carrion crow
Magpie
Blue tit
Jay
Nuthatch
Mallard
Siskin
Goldfinch
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 10/31 - NW Durham
I didn't plan to repeat yesterday's route, as the forecast was for strong SW winds, and the start consists of a steady uphill SW walk which becomes quite exposed. However, the winds were light when I set off, and my 07:10 start fitted neatly into a 2 hour dry spell between periods of rain. A drumming GSW greeted me as I left the house; displaying curlews, including a pair calling more softly to each other were the highlight of the more open country to the west of my home, along with a small flock of fieldfares. The bog I'd 'discovered' the previous day held a reed bunting on territory, while I renewed acquaintance with the linnets in the gorse and the siskin / redpoll / goldfinch flock near the neighbouring village. A flyover LBB gull provided a new addition to my year list, with herring gull and reed bunting bringing my local list to 40 species. Step target reached with current day total of 12668.
Great spotted woodpecker
Dunnock
Chaffinch
Great tit
Song thrush
Robin
Woodpigeon
Common / mew gull
Pheasant
Magpie
Blackbird
Carrion crow
Curlew
Blue tit
Fieldfare
Long-tailed tit
Skylark
Lesser black-backed gull
Herring gull
Reed bunting
Linnet
Wren
Siskin
Lesser redpoll
Goldfinch
 

dantheman

Bah humbug
Very impressive, and most likely you're doing much more than the average ... just checked with my partner and she used to do about 15,000 a day based on just over an hour of commute and then normal life and work with a fitbit.

Now with working from home (and rarely leaving the house!) she still does c5000 a day without any specific exercise.
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 11/31: Durham - Kepier Wood
My lease car was booked in for a recall service at the local Hyundai garage today in the northern suburbs of Durham City. I'd checked the OS map, and saw there was good access to woodland walks along the River Wear downstream of Durham, with the possibility of walking back upriver to the city itself. After a wet and windy night, the morning dawned surprisingly brightly, albeit somewhat breezy too. I dropped my car off and headed across the A690 over bridge to a small picnic site, then followed a tarmac-surfaced path down into the ancient woodland which clothed the sides of the river valley. I expected an easy suburban walk, but I was very wrong...
Descending to the river, I decided to walk downstream, hoping to see the impressive old viaduct which held the former Durham to Sunderland rail line, and hopefully a few woodland and riparian birds too. The path passed a couple of waterfalls, and sandstone cliffs; the latter reminded me of geology field trips in school 6th form, where we visited 'exposures' of Coal Measures strata in the Durham area. I also realised I hadn't walked this way since I was a teenager, when I explored the riverside with a former girlfriend - I think we snuck over some farmland beyond the woods, eventually reaching Finchale Priory, a ruined abbey further downriver.
The surfaced path soon gave way to a muddy riverside trail, while the river itself was quite a torrent, with whitecaps forming in the narrower sections. Eventually path met river, and I was forced to swing out past fallen branches before reaching the end of the line, where flooding reached the adjoining cliff...retracing my steps, I found a higher level route which had its own hazards, being narrow and adjoining a steep drop above the river - my walking boots were sliding alarmingly on the mud. After picking my way down a steep muddy path, clinging to wood-rush and trees for support, I reached the point I would've been at beyond the flooded section, only to be confronted by a steep muddy climb - not impossible to get up, but much more difficult to get down - which I'd have to do on the return leg. Not being a teenager anymore, I decided not to push my luck and retrace my steps, heading further upriver on the better used paths to finish with a loop around a meander on an open field within sight of Durham Cathedral. Didn't get to see the viaduct, and my concentration on putting one foot in front of the other meant I didn't get to see many birds either - but I did get to over 12000 probably quite small steps on my 8.17km, 2 hour walk.
Highlights, if they can be called that, were a nice view of a jay, a grey wagtail, and a pair of buzzards - the latter to the south of the wood, and not that far from the City centre.
Woodpigeon
Blackbird
Great tit
Goldfinch
Robin
Blue tit
Wren
Greylag goose
Bullfinch
Mallard
Grey wagtail
Magpie
Common buzzard
Jay
Herring gull
Great spotted woodpecker
 

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kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 12/31: Big Waters
Back to north Newcastle for this morning's walk, accompanied this time by my partner. She spotted a redwing on the path ahead of us with a small group of blackbirds, giving great views, as well as a bullfinch which came to drink at a puddle, providing a perfect reflection. Pity she decided not to bring her camera...Big Waters itself had a similar suite of species to my last visit; rather fewer wigeon, but a pair of great crested grebes provided a year tick for my partner.
6.21km and around 8000 steps, requiring a quick circuit of my local woodlands to make the 11000 later in the day.
Big Waters walk list:
Woodpigeon
Blackbird
Great tit
Wren
Herring gull
Redwing
Bullfinch
Chaffinch
Robin
Carrion crow
Jackdaw
Magpie
Black-headed gull
Coot
Mute swan
Goldeneye
Canada goose
Tufted duck
Great crested grebe
Wigeon
Mallard
Common / mew gull
Goldfinch
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 13/31 Northumberland
Other commitments intervened today, and I had a 100+ mile drive around Northumberland to perform a variety of errands from dropping off lawnmowers to signing legal documents. We did have a slightly more legitimate reason for exercising near the coast this week, and did a circular route around Warkworth village of 4.18km...not enough for 11000 steps, so we returned to Warkworth beach and did a high-tide walk along the salt marsh of 2.2km, which together with earlier activity gave a total of 11445 for the day.
Nothing to add to the previous weeks species list, lots of redshanks on the salt marsh, but the river was relatively quiet. Willow scrub recently felled along the path by the Coquet - why I wonder? - while patches of invasive snowberry remain.
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 14/31 Big Waters
I had an afternoon free for reasons of Mother's Day, and decided to take myself off from my partner's place for a circular route around Big Waters. Much of the route to the north of the nature reserve takes in fairly featureless farmland, although a flock of 10 lapwings and a pair of buzzards provided some avian interest, feral greylags and Canada geese notwithstanding.
The nature reserve and lake were predictably much more birdy, although the near-highlight was less predictable - a lone redpoll foraging low down in wet birch woodland. Watched from a few meters away, but partly obscured by low undergrowth, I could see head and part of wings, but not rump or flanks...pale wing bar, pale ground colour suggested common redpoll, but then I lost sight when it flew off, so its going to have to go down as a redpoll 'sp'. Overall a good afternoon with 43 species on a 2.5h, 10.1km walk, and I finished the day on 16160 steps.
Herring gull
Woodpigeon
Carrion crow
Goldfinch
Robin
Blue tit
Greenfinch
Blackbird
Common / mew gull
Starling
Jackdaw
Canada goose
Greylag goose
Common buzzard
Lapwing
Magpie
Black-headed gull
Great tit
Curlew
Cormorant
Lesser black-backed gull
Goldeneye
Wigeon
Coot
Great crested grebe
Mute swan
Tufted duck
Teal
Reed bunting
Moorhen
Wren
Redpoll
Tree sparrow
Bullfinch
Long-tailed tit
Mallard
Gadwall
Rook
House sparrow
Dunnock
Collared dove
Song thrush
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 15/31: NW Durham
Had to go to the office for most of the day, and didn't get the chance to walk until after 16:30. I'd amassed a few steps earlier in the day, but still needed to do my 8km /2h route, allowing me to exceed my target with 12332 steps by the end of the day.
Largely very quiet in bird terms - a distant curlew calling, with a much closer bird over the bog; 13 linnets near the hilltop gorse; and the song thrush from day 9 back on its perch atop a Sitka spruce. Two new additions to the local list however - a kestrel (surprisingly scarce locally) on the hill, and a grey heron in the river valley, bringing the total for the month to 42. A stoat crossing my path earlier in the walk provided some mammal interest.
Great tit
Pheasant
Robin
Wren
Jackdaw
Song thrush
Carrion crow
Curlew
Lesser black-backed gull
Rook
Linnet
Woodpigeon
Kestrel
Dunnock
Blackbird
Herring gull
Magpie
Common / mew gull
Blue tit
Grey heron
 

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