Tradition dictates that on my first visit to the patch of the year, I'll find a species that I hadn't seen on the patch in the previous year. This happens most years. And guess what? It happened again today.
I've not seen yellowhammer on the patch since 24th November 2019 so to find a flock of eight in the hedge behind Druridge Farm was a real surprise. I was beginning to think that they were locally extinct.
Today was unseasonably mild, 12 degrees C, but it was very windy from the SW. Janet and I had a good wander around the patch and managed to see 53 species in total. Highlights included a southbound great northern diver offshore, two woodcock flushed from the bushes, at least 300 Linnet and 200 chaffinch in the dunes and eight stock doves.
There was a lot of people though. It was like a July Sunday with cars abandoned at the site entrance and hundreds of people on the beach.
|The beach was busier than it looks in this photo!
The ringed plover flock that roosts on the beach at the south of the patch had no chance to settle and just flew back and forth, looking to rest.
|Ringed Plovers looking for somewhere to rest - no chance today.
I finished 2021 on a credible 167 species for the patch, which, given how poor an autumn it was wasn't too bad. Usual autumn stuff like pied and spotted flycatchers, garden warber, yellow-browed warbler, redstart and whinchat all missing from my list.
I also concentrated a bit more on the 5km patch challenge because of covid-lockdown. I saw 191 species within 5km of home which was nine more than the next patches. Ellington is obviously a good place to live if you're a birder. I'll continue with the 5km challenge this year as it does add a bit of variety to my birding.
I'm hoping to keep the blog updated more regularly too. My work/life balance needs some adjustment I think.