The idea being to see as many bird species as possible on foot from home. OFFH, something we've been doing locally for.... decades.
(Think I'll best do this over 2 blog entries)
|Lapwings arriving to roost at Chilton Moor|
So a realistic target this year would be aim for an inland 100, with as many as possible on usual local-patch stomping grounds & then head off with perhaps 20 others to be added with coastal visits.
A good start on New Years day in the company of MH saw a solid 70 in the bag - The highlight being 2 Mealy Redpoll perched at close range. The Seventy giving a real insight into the wealth of birds to be found locally.
No two years are the same, and the rapidly changing climate & unpredictable seasons are certainly making our hobby interesting.... if somewhat worrying... This mild winter has had its pros & cons. On the plus side our first overwintering Black tailed Godwit - a species which has become more familiar over recent years, but overwintering inland in NE.England is ridiculous.
|Black wit overwintering at H'Gate pool.|
A decent autumn showing converting into a final trio which made it to the years end & this one staying with us into 2014. A single yes, but by no means alone! its finding company & security in a three figure flock of Curlew which has peaked at over a whopping 630 birds, with frequent trips off down to Chartershaugh.On the other hand, 2 hard cold winters out of the last 4 have changed the habits of overwintering Chiffchaffs, with none being noted on the patch - c/p 5 or 6 birds at Sedgeletch alone when the Siberian was there. The result, an easy one missing from the OFFH list. Mild conditions have meant far fewer winter thrushes & finches, eg Fieldfare & Siskin pretty thin on the ground, Water Rail, Snipe & both asio Owls in far fewer no's than usual.
Our local patch holds several special species over winter, Green Sandpipers giving a good showing with perhaps 4 or 5 this year in the Houghton to Chester area. The unlikely looking modern sewage works at Ch-le-St holding is regular winter bird, while close by these 2 were found on floodwater near Lumley Castle:-
Water Rail have a scattered breeding population here, with several sites producing sightings; eg Joes Pond/Rainton complex, Sedgeletch, Seaton Pond, but as usual The Bogs has been the place for them.
A couple of Greenland White-fronted Geese initially picked up by Man with Stick CW at Leamside were only the second patch record, but they quickly headed north into GyetsHeed, luckily i managed to re-find them down in the R.Wear valley at Chartershaugh Flashes, plus a swimming Pheasant ! both site firsts.
|Greenland White-fronted Goose|
|Great Crested Pheasant|
Part 2 to follow....