Saturday, 3 January 2015

Highlights of 2014

Well thats another year gone, 2014 was a particularly good one for me too, both on and off the patch.

Mid Yare Valley bird highlights of 2014 included some fairly decent rares as well as uncommon species. My total for the year was 160, exactly the same as last year funilly enough, although I achieved 209 patchwork challenge points compared to 203 in 2013. I had 8 reserve ticks, all but two of them self found.

Reserve Ticks;

Iceland Gull- As far as I can tell this is the first record of Iceland Gull for the Mid Yare Valley, it was a subadult at Cantley, which I stumbled upon on 28 Feb. This was not only a reserve tick, but also a Norfolk tick.

Brent Goose- Just a few days after the aforementioned gull I was walking the riverbank at Cantley when I saw two dark medium sized birds flying straight towards me, to my amazement they were 2 Brents! Even more odd was that I found yet another one at Cantley this autumn hapilly feeding with Canada geese!

Little Gull- this was an overdue reserve addition for me, this individual hung about with the breeding Black Headed Gulls for early summer, I even saw it next to whitlingham so was quite far ranging.

Whiskered Tern- graced Rockland for one afternoon only, a cracker, but tricky to photograph,  I wont say too much as I know it still hurts some!

Bar Tailed Godwit- finally caught up with this species, after years of twitching other peoples 'bar tails' only to find black tailed godwits in their place, I finally connected with a couple of my own this year

Arctic Tern- A species where you have to be in the right place on the right day in the Yare Valley, luckily I was. I had a single bird fly down river, at last!

Blue Billed Duck - quite rare these days, so was pleased to see this on the patch (my only twitched addition)

Penduline Tit- my find of the year! Unfortunately I did not manage to see the birds but I heard their distinctive calls on four different days. I first heard the/a bird/s on 11 Oct and they were not seen again until mid November!

Ring Necked Parakeet- no idea wether this should make it onto the list, but one flew over the strumpshaw office calling on 17 Oct, a Norfolk tick too....dodgy I know!!

So they were the new species but other patch highlights included; Smew, Merlin, Common Redpoll, Ring Ouzel, multiple Cranes, Long Eared Owl, Spotted Crake, Black Tern, Knot, Spotted Redshank, Pec Sandpiper, Honey Buzzard, Curlew Sandpiper, Scaup and Goldeneye, as well as other scarce regulars such as many Jack Snipe, Water Pipits and more frequent waders.

So what did I miss? Not too muched missed (thanks to a late Whooper Swan movement!) but its the first year I have failed to see Short Eared Owl, Crossbill and Waxwing on the reserve, Goosander and Turnstone are not easy but are also missing from 2014. These are the most obvious species missing, everything else is pretty rare.

So all in all another great year for birds in the Yare. Hopefuly I can beat 160 this year, but continue to add species to the reserve list and obviously hope to get some decent finds in there too, another Marsh and Savis warbler duo find would do very nicely! I'm feeling as if it is time I caught up with Great White Egret, Purple Heron, Red Footed Falcon and perhaps something like a migrating Goshawk, although my top two species to see on the reserve (which have long gone) are Lesser Spotted Woodpecker and Willow Tit, they would do very nicely!

Away from the patch I did a bit of successful twitching this year!

Additions to my UK list included

Black Headed Bunting
Short Toed Eagle
Spectacled Warbler
Masked Shrike
Little Crake
Steppe (southern) Grey Shrike

A very good year considering my last tick before this year was the Pacific Swift in Suffolk in June 2013 and that was my only addition of 2013.
So I end the year on 402 (BOU) or 416 (UK400)

This year I hope to add afew more obviously, at present the only holiday I have booked is a trip with Mr Eele to Fetlar for two weeks in September/October, where I hope to add a few shetland specialities to my UK list, and of course self found list!
Needless to say I will also continue my quest for an Icterine Warbler, my holiday dates in autumn 2014 were tailored to find/see this species but there were not many at all seen, despite good conditions for prolonged periods. Ah well I'll see one eventually!


  1. A nice round-up Ben, thanks for sharing. I am sure we can look forward to more decent Yare Valley birds this year.

    A slow start for me in Surlingham and around, but the highlight so far has to be the continued presence of at least 2 Bearded Tit on Surlingham Marsh. Heard again this evening, but a bugger to see! I would like to think there are more than 2; but having never seen them who knows!

  2. That's a good start, with their decent breeding season last year they should certainly spread well. Hope you see them soon, as you say it's likely there are more than 2. Best of luck this year, hope you get some good birds! I've not been to strumpshaw yet, but buck and can't have produced the usuals plus at least 2 tundra beans yesterday (on,y my second record in the valley) full patch walk tomorrow so will make a full day list.