Wednesday, 31 December 2008

2008 Highlights and Lowlights

With three megas, two other Norfolk ticks and plenty of other good birds, there were plenty of Highlights. The first being the White-crowned Sparrow, Sunday lunch was literally boxed (and eaten on the way), with help towards parking received on the way and sensible viewing suggestions, the bid was seen within 10 minutes of arrival. Waiting by the side, I dived into the front of the crowd (disturbing no one!) to see the bird feeding well. I do not know how many time s I revisited, but was never on my own! No further rarities were seen until April, when I was instrumental in refinding and getting others onto the Cattle Egret at Stiffkey (managing to do so without flushing the bird, as one well known 'birder' did). The next day I lucked into flight views of the Great White Egret at Guist, which had proved very frustrating.

The next major highlight was the Black Lark at Winterton. The pager said 'wholly unconfirmed report of' but that was enough to get me racing away in the car. I arrived at that between time when the 'locals' had already seen it and those travelling were yet to arrive. The comment, 'It's just flown south and possibly out to sea', greeted me! And I went off to relocate it! This I did, having a stunning flypast as it flew back towards the assembled crowd (thus creating the years highlight for many others). Only later was the experience slightly damped when news that many (including some I know) knew of the bird’s presence for some time before I did, Oh well! That is birding!

Enjoyable times and birds were seen during spring, most memorable was twitching the Whiskered Tern after school, relocating the Blakeney Subalpine for others and finding five of my own Common Cranes drifting over Titchwell. Suppression reared its head over the Trumpeter Finch on Blakeney Point, but it all worked out well in the end, and a Marsh Warbler that I was privileged to be allowed to witness, helped me to understand suppression more! A showy Bee-eater and mu first Marsh Sandpiper since I moved to Norfolk in 1996 continued what was an excellent year, but the lack of scarce birds always had me 5 or 6 birds behind the total for a record.

Passerine autumn started with a bang, as a decision not to go for a Red-breasted Flycatcher in Yarmouth, had me circling Holt as the pager went off with news of a Melodious Warbler on Blakeney Point. I was the first to start off down the point, meeting the finders and then quickly others who fortunately managed to relocate the bird, as it had flown south. There were many good birds in the autumn, but not really the variety, two Blyth’s Reeds and 2 Raddes etc. Then along came the elusive Wilson's phalarope - 11 visits finally had it 'in the bag', although more flushing marred this too! (I tried 15 times for the Black-bellied Dipper, but never connected - glad to see it was someone's highlight!)

Finally seeing a 'real' Ferruginous Duck, or at least 'appearing unringed' (yes, it was distant!), made up for the ringed bird at Linford! But the late flourish never emerged, if only I had gone for the Alpine Swift, or not gone to the wrong site for the Buff-breasted Sandpiper (!), or not been working when the Great Reed Warbler showed at Cley ( and don't forget the Dipper!)... Or just found some birds of my own! The year could have finished with the record, oh well, there is always next year!

Monday, 29 December 2008

2008 Yearlist: 3 short of the record

Managed 277 this year + 6: recent addition - Ferruginous Duck. The record was getable (280), but I didn't get that extra piece of luck! 22/11 Iceland Gull, Little Auk, 16/11 Black Guillemot, 11/11 Ring-necked Duck, Ring-necked Parakeet, 3/11 Dusky Warbler, 2/11 Pallas' Warbler, Red-flanked Bluetail, 28/10 American Golden Plover, 12/10 Wilson's Phalarope 3/10 Leach's Petrel, 28/9 Woodchat Shrike, Greenish Warbler, 27/9 Barred Warbler, 26/9 Blyth's Reed Warber, 25/9 Radde's Warbler, 24/9 Melodious Warbler, Puffin, 15/9 Yellow-browed Warbler, 14/9 Red-necked Phalarope, 7/9 Cory's Shearwater, Long-tailed Skua, 18/8 Marsh Sandpiper, 22/7 White-rumped Sandpiper 24/6 Lesser Yellowlegs 21/6 Lesser Grey Shrike 7/6 Bee-eater 1/6 Trumpeter Finch 27/5 Citrine Wagtail 13/5 Red-footed Falcon, 5/5 Subalpine Warbler, 28/4 Whiskered Tern, 24/4 Black Kite, 20/4 Black Lark, 5/4 Great White Egret, 4/4 Cattle Egret, 6/1 White-crowned Sparrow