Sunday 27 January 2013

Twitch before patch

A twitch took priority over my patch this morning, as I headed north, with what seemed like most of the other birders in the County to Holy Island, to see Northumberland's second ever (and first twitchable) cattle egret.

The bird had roosted in the garden of the bungalow on the Crooked Lonnen overnight and was still in the garden, barely visible, when we arrived. It vacated the garden and flew around for a while, before landing in the adjacent field giving the assembled twitchers good views.

Sizeable twitch (Tom Cadwallenders luminous green hat could be spotted from the mainland!)
As regular readers of the blog will know, I am a reluctant twitcher and rarely travel beyond the County line and I have to admit today's experience isn't high on my list of memorable birding experiences. It was good to catch up with a few folk I've not seen for a while. The addition of cattle egret took my Northumberland list to 306, it was also a British tick for me, but I haven't a clue what that list stands at.

After a quick brew and bacon buttie at home, I was down on the patch. First job was my overdue WeBS count, which took a while as there was lot of birds on the Budge fields, not helped by them being flight for some reason.

Teal numbered 139, wigeon 127, shoveler 9, greylag 112, dunlin 22 and gadwall 10. On the big pool, the long-tailed duck reported yesterday was still present - a good patch bird indeed! This is my first patch 'oldsquaw' since 2007.

Oldsquaw - drake long tailed duck on the big pool
It may be because I have been in Thailand for three weeks, but the strong SW wind made it freezing cold, I retreated to the shelter of the dunes for a quick look at the sea. There wasn't much on it, one red-throated diver and some gulls, I picked up a great northern diver flying north, close in, and a flock of about 60 curlew with a single bar-tailed godwit amongst them.

So today's efforts saw my patch list reach 48 species (52 points in the patch competition). This could well be my last visit of January unless I can sneak in a quick dawn-raid before work.

24 teal
25 coot
26 gadwall
27 wigeon
28 shoveler
29 mallard
30 greylag goose
31 canada goose
32 stock dove
33 dunlin
34 redshank
35 pheasant
36 goldeneye
37 long-tailed duck
38 tufted duck
39 sanderling
40 red-throated diver
41 great-northern diver
42 herring gull
43 great black-backed gull
44 bar-tailed godwit
45 redwing
46 chaffinch
47 house sparrow
48 collared dove

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