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

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 16/31: NW Durham
I was all set for a 07:00 start, then looked at the weather outside, and the forecast, and decided it was better to start work early and take a long lunch instead - there was a marked improvement from early rain to sunshine and a pleasant breeze. I decided to try a new route, branching off in a circuit that took me further to the south-east, through mixed plantation on former opencast, and currently fallow arable land. The plantation had quite a few alders, as well as pines and larch, but was virtually birdless, aside from a pond in a stream valley within the wood which held moorhen. In contrast the arable land was alive with birds, small flocks of skylarks and a few yellowhammers. Other highlights were a flock of around 15 fieldfares, and a buzzard. Moorhen and yellowhammer take me to 44 on the local list.
I should've checked the distance first though, as it was over 12km, and took me 3 hours, with a total ascent of 290m. Easily exceeded my steps target, currently on 16870. Somehow failed to see or hear a blue tit, and siskin was almost cheating, as I was nearly back in my backyard when I saw it - in an inverse of garden listing, I've decided I can't count birds seen from my garden at the start and end of the walk.
House sparrow
Nuthatch
Jackdaw
Pheasant
Blackbird
Song thrush
Chaffinch
Robin
Rook
Common / mew gull
Magpie
Coal tit
Moorhen
Skylark
Yellowhammer
Carrion crow
Herring gull
Fieldfare
Buzzard
Great tit
Woodpigeon
Dunnock
Goldfinch
Siskin
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 17/31: NW Durham
Got out for a 7am St. Patrick's Day morning start, opting for the shorter 6km circuit so as to get back in time to make a reasonably early start to my working day, and aiming to make the rest of my steps up later.
The route takes me past a farm with a rookery, then into a conifer plantation where I join the longer route - the song thrush was singing from the top of a different Sitka spruce today. Bird of the day, bringing my local list up to 45, was a treecreeper which I heard and then saw in trees adjoining a path along a dismantled waggon way (former railway used to transport coal). Good views of lesser redpolls with Siskins near a neighbouring village, then a great view of a calling nuthatch near the end of the route. I somehow contrived not to see or hear a blue tit - lots of very vocal great tits, and even a few coal tits which weren't anywhere near my neighbours garden. Predictably the first bird I saw in my garden on returning was a blue tit.
Although its all very familiar - this being one of my staple walking routes from the past - I really enjoyed today's walk - but at just over 8000 steps, there is work to do before the end of the day.
Great spotted woodpecker
Collared dove
Great tit
Robin
Herring gull
Pheasant
Dunnock
Chaffinch
Woodpigeon
Jackdaw
Rook
Wren
Blackbird
Goldfinch
Fieldfare
Common / mew gull
Curlew
Magpie
Greylag goose
Song thrush
Carrion crow
Treecreeper
Lesser redpoll
Siskin
Coal tit
House sparrow
Nuthatch
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 18/31: NW Durham
Busy with work from early in the day, so didn't get out until after 16:30. As I hadn't done many steps I opted for the longer 8km circuit, taking in open fields to the west of my village. This was a good choice, as there was a lot of curlew activity, with some great views of displaying birds. With the Pogues' 'Young Ned of the Hill' playing in my head*, I felt privileged to experience this, given their decline and loss from many places. There were even some curlews on the lower, easterly section of my walk, including two flying over calling when I was walking along the river valley near the end of my route.
Aside from that it was quiet; linnets near the gorse, a few mallards flying around open fields, and the song thrush was back on its Sitka spruce. In fact there are really quite a few song thrush territories on my route, they really seem to have bounced back from their decline. Mistle thrush is a different matter - still not on my year list!
(* 'Have you ever walked the lonesome hills, and heard the curlews cry')
Jackdaw
House sparrow
Woodpigeon
Robin
Great tit
Pheasant
Blackbird
Chaffinch
Song thrush
Curlew
Carrion crow
Rook
Mallard
Linnet
Common / mew gull
Wren
Blue tit
Dunnock
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 19/31: NW Durham
In contrast to the generally favourable weather so far on my walks, this morning I was greeted with drizzle, a cold NE wind, and generally poor visibility which stopped short of actual fog. Nonetheless today was good for birds, helped no doubt by a 07:20 start. First bird when I stepped out of my back yard was a drumming GSW, later seen flying. I opted for the 6km walk with a direct route uphill to a farm; on the way two mistle thrushes (note BF autocorrect, not 'missile'...) flew out of a shelterbelt into the adjoining pasture field, the day after I'd been noting their absence from my local area. A less satisfactory view of a pied wagtail flying over the farm steading followed, bringing my local list for the month up to 47. Had to be content with a distant heard-only curlew today, but nice views of siskin and redpolls feeding on riverside alder, and 3 roe deer were highlights.
If the weather improves I might have a late walk up the road to add some more steps, aiming for the area where I saw a barn owl last night - which I can't count on my local walk list as I saw it from the car on my way back from buying fuel for the fire. Now I've got mistle thrush on the list, barn and tawny owls are top targets - haven't heard the latter round the village for a long while though. Also, I see tree sparrows daily in my neighbours garden, but have yet to see one on my walks.
Great spotted woodpecker
Jackdaw
Blue tit
Great tit
Robin
Dunnock
Woodpigeon
House sparrow
Song thrush
Pheasant
Mistle thrush
Jay
Chaffinch
Pied wagtail
Rook
Wren
Magpie
Blackbird
Long-tailed tit
Curlew (heard only)
Siskin
Lesser redpoll
Carrion crow
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 20/31: Big Waters
A walk of just under 8km to the nature reserve feeders produced just three additions to the March walk list - our first spring migrant chiffchaff, in a hedgerow in Seaton Burn, with oystercatcher and a GBB gull on the lake. Sharp-eyed partner spotted two roe deer lying down in a small woodland with only their ears visible at first. Good diversity for an early afternoon walk, reflecting the range of habitats present.
Blue tit
Goldfinch
Woodpigeon
Jackdaw
Carrion crow
Robin
Chaffinch
Blackbird
Great tit
House sparrow
Dunnock
Chiffchaff
Mallard
Moorhen
Greenfinch
Coal tit
Herring gull
Greylag goose
Mute swan
Great crested grebe
Canada goose
Coot
Wigeon
Greater black-backed gull
Lesser black-backed gull
Oystercatcher
Cormorant
Common / mew gull
Black-headed gull
Reed bunting
Great spotted woodpecker
Tree sparrow
Long-tailed tit
Goldeneye
Tufted duck
Pochard
Curlew (heard only)
Rook
Starling
Wren
Linnet
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 21/31: NW Durham
Took my partner on my regular 6km walk from home. Despite leaving at 12:30 we saw a lot more than I normally do, due to it being less of a quick march and more of a Sunday stroll, with more pauses to look at birds. Highlights included reprising the mistle thrushes I'd seen recently in more or less the same place, and seeing a local chiffchaff (bringing the local total to 48). Best of all was when we decided to stop in my local woodland for a sit down to see what would appear, and we watched a willow tit excavating the top of a dead birch bole (10m above the ground), before getting great views of two treecreepers feeding on another nearby tree.
Nuthatch (heard only)
Great tit
Robin
House sparrow
Pheasant
Woodpigeon
Magpie
Carrion crow
Blackbird
Long-tailed tit
Jackdaw
Curlew (heard only)
Mistle thrush
Chaffinch
Rook
Common gull
Collared dove
Blue tit
Song thrush
Dunnock
Chiffchaff
Lesser redpoll
Great spotted woodpecker
Willow tit
Treecreeper
Coal tit
Siskin
Wren
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 22/31: NW Durham
After a short morning walk near my partner's place, with tree sparrows and skylarks the highlights, I only needed my regular 6km walk to reach my 11k step target, finishing the day on over 12000. Undertaken in late afternoon at quite a brisk pace, diversity wasn't high. Highlights were a distant curlew, and a silent chiffchaff in willows along a conifer plantation ride. Lots of herring gulls flying west / north west over the village with a few black-headed; mostly I see common / mew gulls in the local fields, I expect these may have been heading for roosts on one of the North Pennine reservoirs located in that direction.
Herring gull
Black-headed gull
Dunnock
Pheasant
Jackdaw
Woodpigeon
Carrion crow
Chaffinch
Wren
Starling
Rook
Blue tit
Curlew
Song thrush
Chiffchaff
Great tit
Blackbird
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 23/31: NW Durham
Did the 6km walk again this morning - forestry operations in my local plantation, and wind turbine maintenance which have just started on the 8km route preclude more variety, and work commitments mean I don't want to start exploring longer options. To vary things I did the route clockwise, took a footpath across the river and through some fields (missing out the redpolls in the process), and added on a slightly longer variation near its southerly extent to give me a few more steps. The change of route meant more morning bird activity in my local broadleaved woodland with nuthatch and quite a few jays, as well as 2 close up roe deer - they hadn't spotted me, nor I them! No new additions to the local list - I'm really going to have to vary my route to take in a few different areas before the end of the month. Had a quick afternoon spin round the woods to reach my 11k target, with no new additions to the day list.
Jackdaw
Pheasant
Jay
Wren
Carrion crow
Robin
Woodpigeon
Coal tit
Song thrush
Nuthatch
Chaffinch
Blackbird
Great tit
Dunnock
Blue tit
Blackbird
Bullfinch
House sparrow
Collared dove
Chiffchaff (heard only, probably the same silent bird I'd seen yesterday)
Skylark
Curlew
Common / mew gull
Long-tailed tit
Rook
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 24/31: NW Durham
I was planning on visiting my partner's place this evening, so with the prospect of a second walk I decided on a truncated version of my normal 'anticlockwise' 6km route, cutting across open fields on public rights of way on a gentle descent from 260 - 180m, where I joined the old railway path to regain my normal route. The slight change brought a new species for the list - oystercatcher (no.49) in a field with 58 common gulls. Otherwise the main highlight was a flock of fieldfares in the village - a distant view of about a dozen or so at the start of my walk, and another view of the pair of mistle thrushes.
Great tit
House sparrow
Fieldfare
Starling
Woodpigeon
Robin
Wren
Chaffinch
Pheasant
Jackdaw
Rook
Goldfinch
Mistle thrush
Common gull
Carrion crow
Oystercatcher
Curlew
Blue tit
Song thrush
Lesser redpoll
Chiffchaff
Blackbird
Dunnock

I made my steps up with a 5km evening walk from my partner's place, without anything notable to report in terms of birds but lifting my step total to 13413.
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 25/31: N Newcastle / NW Durham
Started the day with a quick 2.45km walk from my partner's place to put a few steps on the board before work. Siskin, tree sparrows, skylarks and a little egret were the highlights.
My main walk took place in the evening, and was almost my classic 6km anticlockwise circuit. I varied it by taking a path which avoided a nearby village (which I'd include at other times so as to see lesser redpolls), and crosses a stream. This is a little tricky if you're not wearing wellies, and involves balancing on some partly submerged bricks and stones; I survived without wet feet or worse. Although it feels like a short cut, it isn't in distance terms - 6.23km - with both walks just exceeding my target to give me a total of 11789 steps.
An unremarkable bird list, but an enjoyable walk nonetheless.
Goldfinch
Robin
Pheasant
Woodpigeon
Chaffinch
Curlew
Carrion crow
Jackdaw
Great tit
Rook
Mallard
Magpie
Wren
Coal tit
Blackbird
Blue tit
Dunnock
Song thrush
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 26/31: NW Durham
I was out of the house by 07:20. Despite a somewhat iffy weather forecast, I decided today would be the best opportunity for striking out in a different direction to take in a patch of heathland where I'd be certain to add meadow pipit to my local list as well as my year list. That's right...a meadow pipit twitch!
I set off into a fresh south-westerly and overcast conditions, rain having recently cleared. This was the start of my 8km walk, and as the turbine maintenance seemed to have stopped last night, I was tempted to follow it, as much of the later part of the route would be relatively sheltered. Unsure if commitments next week would allow another try and the new route, I decided to go for it, and struck off north across pasture fields. 14 fieldfares and some starlings (the same flock as a couple of days ago?) and great views of curlews encouraged me, and by the second pasture field I had my target - a meadow pipit, species no. 50. Having ticked it off closer to home, I did wonder if it was worth a steep climb to over 300m to cross a windy heath, but the prospect of a possible SEO (seen increasingly infrequently here in recent years though) encouraged me to continue. There was a certain inevitability about the rain that came lashing in when I reached said heathland, but I carried on disconsolately westward. At first there weren't even any more meadow pipits but I did see a brown hare, then some pipits appeared, sensibly staying close to the ground.
The return leg took me on a gentle descent down a valley, with the wind behind me and the rain easing. My mood didn't improve though; I don't often come this way, and I'm always reminded why - sheep grazed pasture nibbled to an inch of its life, woodland patches fenced in for pheasant chicks. Closer to home there's actually some very nice woodland which looks like a possible redstart site in summer, but there's a huge density of hopper feeders for pheasants, the path cut up by the gamekeeper's quad bike visiting each of them to top up. This explains why there are so many pheasants around the village, and sadly probably why there are so few raptors...although there remain enough corvids to make life miserable for the curlews - the latter favouring less intensively grazed fields on farms further upslope.
This latter part of the route wasn't totally without non-pheasant avian interest though...an estimated total of at least 250 common / mew gulls in the fields, a few oystercatchers around, and two red-legged partridges to add to the local walk list...so pleased they weren't no. 50!
My total route was 10.85km, easily exceeding my 11k target, although I'll be more than happy to get back to my familiar circuit next week.
House sparrow
Wren
Woodpigeon
Pheasant
Curlew
Jackdaw
Chiffchaff (heard only today)
Dunnock
Blue tit
Robin
Bullfinch
Carrion crow
Fieldfare
Starling
Common gull
Skylark
Meadow pipit
Chaffinch
Greylag goose
Herring gull
Song thrush (heard only)
Blackbird
Greenfinch
Mallard
Goldfinch
Oystercatcher
Red-legged partridge
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 27/31: North Newcastle on Tyne
A couple of shorter routes from my partner's place today, just reaching my target with 11244 steps. The main walk was a circuit taking in Little Waters, a small pond separated from Big Waters by the A1 dual carriageway, but which nevertheless supports nesting mute swans. Nothing new for the walk or year lists, and didn't keep a walk list today. Nesting tree sparrows and a significantly greater density of singing chiffchaffs were the main features of note.
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 28/31: North Newcastle on Tyne
Two walks today, the first a quick 2.9km walk up a local waggonway walk, rewarded by my first Goldcrest of the year, and a couple of stock doves in my partner's garden - I can just about count them for the walk list, as we spotted them before we were back in the house!
The second walk was a 4.96km circuit of Big Waters, starting from the car park - partner didn't want to repeat part of the morning's walk to get there. Strong but warm W / SW breeze, we did the route clockwise so as to be sheltered whilst walking west; felt guilty about counting my steps on more open eastbound return, as they were wind-assisted! Big Waters didn't disappoint from a birding point of view...the highlight was undoubtedly the herd of 10 whooper swans, but there were still reasonable numbers of other waterfowl species present, including my first walk / year list shoveler.
Ended the day with 12374 species
Coot
Mallard
Black-headed gull
Lesser black-backed gull
Oystercatcher
Cormorant
Goldeneye
Whooper swan
Greylag goose
Great crested grebe
Herring gull
Greater black-backed gull
Wigeon
Canada goose
Tufted duck
Shoveler
Pochard
Chaffinch
Great tit
Tree sparrow
Blue tit
Reed bunting
Teal
Blackbird
Carrion crow
Jackdaw
Long-tailed tit
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 29/31: NW Durham
My usual late afternoon anticlockwise walk, with the stream crossing variant which missed out the chance of seeing the redpolls in the next village. Very windy indeed, trees swaying alarmingly - not my favourite walking conditions, and relatively birdless by comparison to a normal day. Got a great view of 2 curlews in a field, lit up by a rare shaft of low sunlight, and saw a buzzard - probably the same one I've seen before - which unlike all the other birds, seemed totally unaffected by the wind!
Had to walk around the houses at my partner's place in the evening to make up my 11k, my 11218 total lower than yesterday's 12374.
House sparrow
Jackdaw
Rook
Chaffinch
Goldfinch
Curlew
Robin
Buzzard
Chiffchaff
Carrion crow
Bullfinch
Song thrush
Great tit
Woodpigeon
Pheasant
Long-tailed tit
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 30/31: Beadnell Bay, Northumberland
A pre-birthday day off for my partner, decided on because of the favourable weather forecast for today. A 6.79km coastal walk from near High Newton to Boulmer and back. A single Sandwich tern and stonechats were additions to both walk and day lists. Beach was quiet, but still enough canine disturbance to keep any shorebirds away, apart from a distant flock of sanderling seen flying. 250 pink-footed geese and 200 curlews on the Long Nanny Saltmarsh were highlights of the walk. Visits to Alnmouth and Amble on the return journey helped bring my step total up to a respectable 14675; list below only relates to Beadnell Bay.
Chaffinch
Skylark
Woodpigeon
Herring gull
Great black-backed gull
Cormorant
Eider
Common / mew gull
Black-headed gull
Meadow pipit
House sparrow
Sandwich tern
Pied wagtail
Carrion crow
Ringed plover
Shelduck
Redshank
Pink-footed goose
Curlew
Stonechat
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
Day 31/31: NW Durham
My final walk of the month was a 6.35km circuit from my office, an amalgam of shorter lunchtime walks I've done over the years, taking in post-industrial areas, lowland heath and wet woodland. Despite the earlier forecast for cold wind and rain, it remained pleasantly sunny, 18C with a light - and still warm - NE breeze.
Didn't keep a list and didn't have my binoculars for the first time, having lent my bins to my partner after dropping hers on a concrete path...I decided instead to count chiffchaffs, as I do have some data on breeding density in this area from a few years back for comparison.
Reached a total of 20 territories, and got a few decent naked-eye views. I must do this again later in spring to count willow warblers too.
I was still about 1000 short of my target back at my partner's, but the weather had turned suddenly cold and unpleasant with drizzle and freshening cold wind. So I did a few circuits of the house, interspersed with working out with weights and rowing machine, calling it a day - and month- when I reached 11070.
 

kb57

Well-known member
Europe
April 01: Conclusion
I ended up walking over 415,000 steps in March, an average of 10.5km a day (compared to 2.3km in February), and am confident of reaching my fundraising target once the relatives who said they'd wait until I finished put their hands in their pocket!
In birding terms, the best thing was starting off a new green list of walks from home within 5km radius - I reached 50 species observed, but never heard another crossbill, and never did see a tree sparrow outside my neighbours garden, or a barn owl when I wasn't driving. Local bird of the month was undoubtedly dipper on day 1, only seen or heard once despite incorporating the stream into almost all my local walking routes.
I'm going to try and keep this list up over the summer, and post contributions to the green birding thread...hopefully I'm not on the slippery slope to obsessive patch listing! I'm sat in front of my computer today not intending to walk very far, but will try and get out of the house more, it has really lifted my mood to look at birds every day for a month.
And although I expressly avoided using this thread as a thinly veiled advertorial for Prostate Cancer UK, if anyone does fancy chucking in a fiver, feel free to DM me and I'll send you the donation link. You get to find out my first name, and see a terrible selfie I took on the yellow bridge in Jardin...
 

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