Thursday, 4 February 2010

January Birding Highlights!

Generally, most folk who read this blog, will have some interest in birds in some way or another.. ''I hope''. Now, I expect a lot of you are keen birdwatchers like myself and know that at the beginning of each year; January is the starting point for all yearlisters. For any of you that don't know - 'yearlisters' consist of birders trying to see as many species of bird in Britain as they can, in a single year.

As you can see from the blog, I have only been yearlisting since 2008 and even that year was fantastic!! However, 2009 saw me beating my target by only 4 species.

2008:- 238 species
2009:- 242 species

Both fantastic years.

Right, enough of that. I thought this year I would do a monthly post on my birding highlights. In January I got off to a flying start seeing 137 species alone. Taking into account that I ''do not'' drive and all the birds have either been seen via: Bus/Train/Ferry or by someone else driving.

Below are the birding highlights for January 2010.

January 1st - Saw me out with good friends Mike Stocker, June (Mike's girlfriend), and Simon Jackson, for the new year's day spectacular. Places visited included:- Fleetwood Marine Lakes on the Fylde for the Drake Ring-Necked Duck, then onto Barrow Lower Lodges on the outskirts of Clitheroe for the very obliging Velvet Scoter. Next was Rishton Reservoir in Blackburn for the Adult winter Black-Necked Grebe. So, after seeing these 3 great birds and one of them being a lifer for me, we headed on home. Tally for the day was 70 species - great stuff!

January 3rd - I was out again with more great birding friends, this time with Jason Stannage and Bones Adderly. We had decided to bird an area of Merseyside today and boy, was I on form. First stop was Crosby Marine Lakes where I went on to find the Black-Necked Grebe. (This bird went on to show for a week or so, with many birders enjoying this lovely winter bird) It was the 10th record for Crosby and Seaforth - nice!! On the lake I also found 2 Drake Scaup and the 2 obliging Shags. Next stop was Birkdale where we found 130+ Twite and 4 Jack Snipe.. Marshside next where we saw a total of 9 Short-Eared Owls and a couple of Peregrines and Merlins. Tally for the day was 77 species.

Black-Necked Grebe

January 14th - Back in Bangor University now, however, when a flock of 16 Woodlarks turned up in Stubble fields on Glanwyddan Lane near Penrhyn Bay, it didn't take me long to sort a lift out to go and see these birds. Many thanks to Alan Davies for giving me a lift to the site as well as finding a Woodcock.

January 17th - The evening before (16th) saw me on the phone to Jason seeing if I wanted a lift to the Adult female Black-Throated Thrush up in North Yorkshire!! I was home by 10pm on the 16th and watching this truely amazing bird the following morning by 11am! Fantastic! That day we also caught up with a Drake Smew and yet another Ring-Necked Duck at Pugneys Country Park near Leeds.

Ring-Necked Duck

Black-Throated Thrush (Photographed by Jason Stannage)

January 21st, 22nd and 23rd - These 3 days I went birding mad and mopped up all the winter birds and I mean all of them. On the 21st I got the train to Prestatyn and walked the 4 or so miles up to Presthaven Sands where I went onto find the Shorelark; not only for myself but for 3 other birders. I walked upto these 3 guys and asked them if they had seen the Shorelark, but no sign. They then u-turned back to the car and if they had just walked 100 yards further, they would have found the bird themselves. Funnily enough, I only walked 100 yards further up and the bird popped out of the tide line, so a 200 metre jog back to these folk saw them watching the bird.. As if to repay me, they gave me a lift back to Colwyn Bay saving me the 4 mile walk back to Prestatyn - nice one! That day I also had 2 Dark-Bellied Brent Geese {Scarce in North Wales}, a drake Velvet scoter, Goshawk, Purple Sandpiper and Black Redstart.

January 22nd - Birding Anglesey today. I got the train to Holyhead and walked to Soldier's Point where I had Chough and Water Rail. A couple of Black Guillemots in the harbour itself. Then onto the Inland Sea where I had 3 Mediterranean Gulls, Long-tailed Duck and Pale-bellied Brent Geese. A text from Alan Davies again saw me back at Holyhead and on the train to Valley as the Drake Green-winged Teal was showing again, after turning up there, scope set up, the bird was right in the centre of my scope! Great stuff! A Lesser Redpoll was outside my window back at university which was mega!

January 23rd - Last days birding saw me blitzing Anglesey yet again. I was back on the Inland Sea for 10am and met up with John Roberts and his son who were looking for the Long-Tailed Duck which I had the day before, but there was no sign. 6 Scaup were nice as I had missed them yesterday. I carried on to walk all the way to the main bridge seperating the Inland Sea from the actual sea. Arrived at Beddmanarch Bay in the rain, only to find John and his son in the car-park scanning the bay. Another chat with them revealed the Long-Tailed Duck to be in the bay, having done a short hop over the wall, as well as Slavonian Grebe and more Brent Geese.

There had been an Adult Bonaparte's gull at Traeth Lligwy on Anglesey for the past week and a bit. I twitched this bird twice and still did not see it! The bird then came on the pager! John and his son then decided to go and have a look at it and I was very quickly offered a lift to the bird and as you can imagine; I was straight in the car! A short and speedy trip around the top of Anglesey saw us on the beach at Traeth Lligwy! On arrival, not a birder in sight! I thought I can't dip this bird 3 times in a row. John's son then said: ''There is a small gull sat on the sea over there'' Ey up. Where?? A quick look through his scope revealed it to be the bird. Great! We watched the bird for over an hour as it sat on the sea and occasionally had a fly round in the bay. Fantastic! Many thanks to John and his son for the lift!

Bonaparte's Gull

January 28th-31st - Myself and Kane Brides in County Galway and County Dublin saw us watching 3 Ring-Billed Gulls, Forster's Tern, Red-Necked Grebe, 2 Great-Northern Diver, Common Sandpiper, Sandwich Tern, Hooded Crow and Black Guillemots! Fantastic! More to follow on the next post!

Forster's tern

Overall, January has been extremely successfull for me. 137 species seen via Trains, Buses, Ferries and walking many miles. Mega birding if you ask me!


  1. The start of the year is so exciting! I look forward to it as well. Your pics are wonderful.

  2. nice btt capture great dig-scopeing how did you get it

  3. Is it surprising that I ended up finding both the last 2 birds for Jason, Bones, John aitchison and Simon glinn... Oh the memories.... hi mate how did you find the duck and the smew.

  4. Hi CE Webster,
    Thanks very much for your comment. It is nice to hear from someone who likes my shots. I wonder what the spring will bring for you. Good birding, cheers

  5. Hi Jason,
    Thanks for your comments and you will be more than happy to know that I have fixed them now, cheers