Friday, 1 January 2010

First Lifer of The Year.

Firstly I'd like to wish all readers of this blog a 'Happy New Year' and may at least some of your dreams come true in 2010. Secondly I'd like to apologize if my last post had more than the normal amount of typos, it took so-o-o long to write I just didn't have the time, or brainpower left to proofread it, even once. I've corrected a couple today, if there were more than that thanks for not pointing them out, in fact keep that up, never point them out, ever! ;-)

Today Bun and I very uncharacteristically left the patch to get an early addition to both our life lists. Our target bird was the Ring-necked Duck on Cheddar Reservoir in Somerset. This bird has been about for a while but has been mobile between Cheddar Reservoir and Blagdon and Chew Valley Lakes. The latter two are huge, so we were waiting for the duck to settle down on the smaller reservoir before attempting to twitch it. The plan almost worked perfectly, I only say almost because we did locate the duck after about one and a half hours of scanning, but it was at the northern end of the lake and hence we could only view it looking directly towards the sun, which was a bit crappy. Non the less though it was a very smart duck indeed, much more attractive than I had imagined it would be, with a very distinctive shape (which was a good job as it was mostly in silhouette!) I managed to get one half decent photo of it, annoying because it could have easily been so much better.

Two superb bonuses here were a trio of Black-necked Grebes, showing down to about 100ft. Quite near for a Grebe, certainly nearer than you see them in Seaton! I can definitely tick Black-necked Grebe now ;-) And also a female Red-crested Pochard.

Black-necked Grebe- not at all distant :-)

A small collection of Somersetians on the banks of Cheddar Reservoir.

Then we moved on to Green Ore near Wells, Somerset to look for Tree Sparrows. Fortunately we had bumped into Alan Bundy and Dave Helliar at Cheddar who gave us pinpoint accurate directions to the site. I'd only gotten quite poor views and no photos of Tree Sparrows in Norfolk last January and at first I thought history would repeat itself here because although there were 25 of them they were mobile and elusive for some time, I was determined to stick it out until I got a photo though. So much to Bun's delight we stood in the freezing cold for about an hour and a half before I struck it lucky. Worth it though - well I thought so.

Most views were like this, they were very tricky to get near to.

Lovely - and as rare as hen's teeth in the South West.

Seeing as it was getting near sundown we decided to pop over to Shapwick/Meare Heath to see the  Starling roost. Neither of us had seen this spectacle before and I'm sorry to say we still haven't. We did see possibly close on a million Starlings but they flew over very high, probably to roost at Westhay to the north. Apparently they are a bit hit and miss like that. About a hundred or so other people also missed out this evening. I'm sure we'll have chance to go back one day though. A nice couple of bonuses here were a Bittern coming in to roost and a juvenile Marsh Harrier, which flew directly overhead. I took a nafftastic snap in the encroaching gloom. All in all a fabulous start to 2010! ;-)


Dean said...

A lifer on day one of the year. It doesn`t get much better than that, Karen. Unless you had multiple, that is ;-)

Wilma said...

That is a great start to the year! Hope this sets the tend for you.


Dave H said...

Hi Karen,
Glad you found the Tree Sparrows okay. 25 is a good number too.

Dave H

Karen Woolley said...

As usual, Thanks for commenting all.

Dean - It was so nearly two, having only seen my first Black-necked
Grebe(shaped blob) a couple of weeks ago.

Wilma - I hope so! I don't think I'll come anywhere near last years total for new birds though!

Dave - Great to hear from you on here and thanks for the directions :-) We saw the birds from the car parking spot. It was amazing how 25 birds can keep vanishing so quickly and easily!

Gavin Haig said...

Great stuff, as usual :o) (well, for a filthy twitcher anyway!)

Am I right in thinking that we are being treated once again to the most distinctive back view in SW birding??

Karen Woolley said...

Indeedy doodily! =D