20 April 2008

Beating the elements...

It’s been a long hard day, and I also have beer to drink and Pringles to eat, so this is going to be just a brief update of today's birding. Here goes...

5:45AM - I get out of bed and then have a quick breakfast. I load all my gear into the car, in the rain, and set off for Willington Gravel Pits (yes, that place again!).

6:30AM - The rain is easing, a little, and I’m walking onto the reserve.

6:45AM - I stumble across the first new bird of the morning for my “10-Mile List” when a Common Whitethroat suddenly appears out of nowhere and starts to sing from the top of a bramble bush just a few yards in front of me. As I watch the Whitethroat I add the second “tick” of the morning when a Cuckoo begins calling in the distance. The Cuckoo remains a “heard only” bird but, for listing purposes, I’ll count it!

7:35AM - For almost an hour very little has been seen, or at least nothing out of the ordinary has been seen. I pass the time by counting the Black-headed Gulls (150), Common Gulls (5), Shoveler (14) and Gadwall (10) amongst other things. Just as I’m starting to think about moving on to another part of the reserve things pick up. The drizzly rain stops and within minutes a couple of Common Tern fly low over the water. They don’t land and only stay around for a very short time before flying off into the distance. I’m not too bothered - they are another year tick!

8:30AM - Once again, I’m birding with my ears. As I walk down the lane towards the first viewing platform I can hear a fishing reel being wound in. Alarm bells start to ring with me - you don’t get fishermen in the lane so that can mean only one thing, Grasshopper Warbler! After spending around 15 minuets trying to locate the “Gropper” I move on. Another year tick that remains a “heard only”.

9:10AM - I get the easiest new species of the day when two Sedge Warblers come bursting through the reeds in front of the third viewing platform and start to sing in full view. Sedge Warblers certainly aren’t the most tuneful of birds but, on a cold and wet April morning, they certainly gave a hint of the warmer days to come.

9:20AM - Time for the best birds of the day to put in an appearance - three Bar-tailed Godwits. The Godwits fly in low from the south, land on the spit in the centre of Gull Pit and rest up for just quarter of an hour before flying off high to the north.

11:00AM - The wind is now getting quite strong and very cold. I decide that it’s time to head for home and a hot drink!

16:45PM until 19:45PM - I return to Willington just in case anything new has turned up! Nothing has, so I come home again even colder than I had this morning!

During the course of the day I have seen a total of 73 species which is 10 more than my previous high count here. I have also added six new species to my all-important “10-Mile List”, which now leaves me with a total of 100 birds seen within the 10-mile radius of home. Apart from the horrible weather, it’s been a great day!

Now, I’m going to finish that beer and maybe chase it down with a small whisky!

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like you've had a great day. I went to my favorite spot Saturday and someone was having a wedding (did I do something to deserve this?) Lots of noise and no birds or any other creature of nature to be seen. Not even a squirrel. The wedding party and guests had taken over the entire nature preserve. Not to fret. I've been told of another nature preserve a few miles out of town. It may well be worth checking into.