Monday, 31 December 2012

Review of the year and resolutions for 2013

Its that time of the year where I look back at the highlights of 2012 (mainly from Mid-Yare) and look forward to 2013. So this will be a fairly brief round up of the highlights of what has been a very good year for certain reasons.

January- Highlight from January was a Grey Seal in the River Yare, a first for me on the reserve. Apart from that the Beans, Whitefronts and the ever un/popular Lesser Whitefront was still present.

Febuary- It was a cold month, with the associated wildfowl movements. I mostly recorded winter wildfowl in search of water flying up riveras Strumpshaw was rock solid ice for at least 2 weeks.
-14 Goosander, Male Scaup (patch tick), Redhead Smew were the main highlights as well as many wild swans relocating.

Below are the travellings of the three neck ringed greylags found at Strumpshaw in Feb, if you look at the details you will see that these geese travelled from Birsay, Orkney on 20/11/11,were at Strumpshaw until 4/3/12 and were back on Orkney by the 13th. The Greylags you see in Norfolk could be more travelled than first thought!
OHVT    Loch of Hundland, Birsay        HY2925  10/07/2011              3       M     
COHVT    Loch of Boardhouse, Birsay      HY2625  15/10/2011      vv                    
COHVT    Sabiston, Dounby        HY2922  26/10/2011      vv                    
COHVT    Kirbuster Farm, Birsay  HY2825  01/11/2011      vv                    
COHVT    Kirbuster, Birsay       HY2825  20/11/2011      vv                    
COHVT    Strumpshaw Fen, Norfolk         TG3306  24/02/2012      vv                    
COHVT    Strumpshaw Fen, Norfolk         TG331067        04/03/2012      vv                    
COHVT    Farafield, Birsay       HY244311        13/03/2012      vv                    

March- Was notable for two new species to my Mid Yare list, the first was of 4 Glossy Ibis's together at Strumpshaw and then Cantley. Interestingly 5 were reported at Strumpshaw and 4 at the later site, I am still not sure if someone couldn't count in Fen Hide or if one decided it had had enough of the company and did not move with the others. The other MY tick, which was far more unexpected and probably holds a greater rarity value was a Red Breasted Merganser which decided to roost (?) by Tower Hide for at least 2 weeks. It gave me the run around and seemed to be able to disappear into thin air whenever I turned up, I eventually caught up with it, thankfully!

April- A relatively quiet month for me, the only noteworthy mention was the Hoopoe at Waxham Sands Holiday park, a Norfolk tick for me and a UK tick for Ruth. Other than that the migrants were mainly late back because of the awful weather.

May- May was kind to me, whilst carrying out a wildfowl surrvey I found a Savi's warbler singing from Tower Hide, this was a UK tick for me, my only one of the year so i'm glad it was a self find to boot! A verry attractive Pectoral sandpiper was present at the mill for a few days mid month too which was yet another MYtick. I finally self found a Red Rumped Swallow at Waxham early in the month too, which livened up a relatively poor stomp at the coast! My final highlight of may was seeing the fantastic Broad Bordered Bee Hawkmoths at Holkham with my father, cracking little moths which I have wanted to see for ages, they did not disappoint!

June- I kicked off the month very nicely with a self found Marsh Warbler singing like mad, a very nice surprise and excellent SF tick, I have wanted to find Marsh and Savi's for many years so I feel I have succeeded in one of my aims of being in the broads now! Other than that I went to winterton to see the fine female woodchat shrike and came accross the odd decaying thornback ray in one of the slacks.
 Listen with headphones from 30 secs to hear the Marsh Warbler

July- I finally caught up with Red veined darter at kelling quags, my only addition to the dragonfly list this year. A Caspian tern graced Strumpshaw and Buckenham for 4-5 days, a long stayer compared with the majority of casp records in the uk, a rarity in itself to be able to successfully twitch this individual. Other than that in the last week of July Strumpshaw held a week long Bioblitz, this was a great success where over 1100 species were recorded, we will do this again in May 2013- more details to follow shortly. I also found an odd looking Marsh Harrier with a white belly in the North Broads, this later relocated at Strumpshaw.

August- A quiet month with the usual waders at Buckenham being the main highlight, Ididnt manage to find anything rarer than a wood sand unfortunately but there's always next year. I did see the biggest flock of feeding cranes that I have witnessed before- an impressive 32 all in the same field.

September- Birdwise the highlight was my final decent find of the year a female/Juv Red Backed Shrike at Winterton Dunes. Was great to finally find this species on the coast although it was a very flighty bird which I only saw fairly briefly. The main event of September was the birth of my son Toby, a truly amazing experience (all 72hrs of the labour!! and seeing a caesarian section on my wife!) but the outcome is a beautiful little boy.

October was notable for me not seeing a single decent migrant, despite trying on 5 occasions at the coast. My first year without finding a yellow browed warbler since 2005! I will use the excuse that I had a newborn baby so couldn't get out as much as I would normally! However I did manage to time a well placed day off for what must be most birders event of the year- the thrush fall! As has been summed up so many times, it really was incredible, you had to be there from dawn to understand...didn't know where to look there were so many birds on every bush, tree, field and the air was full too...amazing!

November and December- pretty poor generally, not a lot happening apart from rain and flooding. Waxwing took up residence at the fen which was nice, a total of 6 Water pipits and 4 Jack snipe were seen on one stomp through the fen, apart from that I had a good encounter with an otter.

So looking forward to 2013- As stated previously I will be putting my efforts into the patch birding competition so will hope to explore the Mid Yare Valley more and more. I have seen about 170 species at Mid Yare in total over the past 2.5yrs as warden and 2 summers in the broads as Bittern researcher, My aim for the year list has to be at least 165. Which is aiming high but if I put the time in it is probably passable, we'll see!

I'd love to see a few new odonata species this year with White legged damselfly, clubtailed dragonly and southern migrant hawker the most likely additions if I manage a trip to some relatived in Gloucestershire and a well timed trip to Essex to see family.

It would be nice to see an Icterine Warbler, but I've been saying that for at least 5 yrs without joy- its unlikely at Mid Yare so would have to twitch one on the coast if I am to see one at all.

My BUBO BOU list targets show my top 5 british targets as;
1. Bonaparts Gull
2. Icterine Warbler
3. Semi P sandpiper
4. Humes Warbler
5. Stilt Sandpiper
 I'd have thought in Norfolk it would have to be between the two warblers for the most likely addition.

My BUBO Mid Yare targets show up as being;
1.American Wigeon
2. Geen Winged Teal
3. Curlew Sand
4. Little Gull
5. Lesser spotted pecker

I would have said that the list is the wrong way round personally with it being LSW, curlew sand, little gull, am wig and GW teal in that order, but who knows. There are many other species that are more likely than the top two for the patch like: Nightingale, Knot, Grey plover, whinchat , turnstone and redstart to name a few.

Mothwise i am taking a slight step back from trapping at the fen and am turning to my garden as a regular trap site. That said I'll certainly be trapping at the fen a few times a month at least when the weather looks good. I also have 4 'guided' trap opening events at the fen throughout the summer (check website and book early to avoid disappointment!)

No doubt there will be a few surprises in 2013, I'm looking forward to the new year, lets hope it a productive one.

Many thanks for reading my blog and I wish all viewers a very Happy new year.

- Ben

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