Sunday, 15 November 2020

A record-breaking year

Five Scaup flew south during my afternoon seawatch today - nothing unusual there, but these Scaup were a year-tick, 175 for the year and a new patch record!

The previous record of 174 was first set in 2016 and matched again in 2017 and I've been stuck on 174 since 28th October this year. This year has been a record-breaker for a lot of patch-workers and year-listers, it has been a good autumn which will have helped but for me, it's been the COVID restrictions and working from home that have made the difference, despite missing two months on the patch between March and May (and a Hoopoe)

Since lockdown was eased and I could get back to the patch, I've hardly missed a day. Working from home means I can get out for a walk on the patch before work. If I was going into the office, I'd have to have a shower, iron a shirt, have breakfast and commute to the office. Nowadays, I finish birding, grab a slice of toast and switch my computer on. Taking a walk before work also makes me ready for work more than crawling out of bed and straight to work would. I'm not looking forward to next week (or maybe the week after) when it's too dark before work and I switch to lunchtime walks but at least I'll still be on the patch. 

There's still a few possible species and 180 could be achievable?

Black-throated Diver, Little Auk, Water Pipit, Yellowhammer, Collared Dove, Spotted Redshank as well as outsiders like a white-winged gull, Bean goose, Green-winged Teal, Great Egret or even a Waxwing are possible.

Also on my seawatch today I had a dark juvenile Pomarine Skua headed south, A November Pom! It was beautifully-lit in nice light about half way out, the low sun making it look a bit gingery, more like an Arctic but the deep wingbeats, powerful flight and pot-bellied all pointed to Pom. Med Gull, a few Gannets and good count of 26 Red-throated Loons was also notable. 

There has been a good high-tide gathering of Ringed Plovers on the beach opposite the plantation lately, Janet and I counted 41 yesterday and there were about 30 today. The beach was so busy with people and dogs, they could hardly land before being pushed back out, but they always returned to the same place. Seawatch list

Some of the ringed plover on the beach on Saturday

It was also WeBS today, it was quiet though with very few waders or ducks - 163 Wigeon was a canny count   - full list here. 

Birding has moved into winter mode - other than a few Blackbirds and Redwing hanging on, the last-gasps of autumn, it feels like winter now. 

It's been good for Bullfinch this week and this year in general. Three females fed by the road earlier in the week and we had three males beyond the hides today - so that's six different bullies.

Sorry for the lack of photos, it's been so dark in the mornings I've not taken any, other than this dead eel on the beach. 

Dead Eel

The forecast for the tail-end of the week looks like strong northerly winds coming right out of the Barents Sea. I feel a seawatch coming on. 

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