My bird year 2013

Not much out of the ordinary, and not that many species (fewer than last year, 102 seen, three heard but not seen) but still plenty of good memories. Here are some of them.

I had a chance siting of a ring ouzel on 23 February.  When I posted it on the British Trust for Ornithology’s BirdTrack site my entry came up in red, with a note to the recipient to check because it was out of season.  Nevertheless, I was sure it was a ring ouzel, even though I’d only seen it from the car, perched on a gate near the Cherry Brook on Dartmoor.  The white band on its chest was unmistakable.

On Sunday 26 May I saw more ouzels when I went up Tavy Cleave on western Dartmoor, setting off at 6 am.  I saw one fairly low down and two at the same spot on the way back. Annoyingly, when I was right at the top of Tavy Cleave after I’d clambered over the massive rocks where there’s no path, I put my foot in a hole, fell flat on my face and sprained my ankle.  I then had to get all the way back on one leg.  It hadn’t even been necessary to negotiate that last rocky stretch in order to see ring ouzels, though I did get a nice photo of the early sun on Tavy Cleave Tors.

Tavy Cleave at 7.30am.

Tavy Cleave at 7.30am.

A first for me were the three willow tits I saw not far from my land at Common Wood on Dartmoor, in the early morning of 21 April.  I was particularly pleased that I identified them first from their call, su su.

Still on Dartmoor, I walked through lovely White Wood above the River Dart on 25 May in the hope of seeing, or at least hearing, wood warblers.  There was none, but in compensation I saw a pied flycatcher.

White Wood, Dartmoor

White Wood, Dartmoor

I had three sitings of a barn owl near Turville in the Chilterns, all in broad daylight. Twice on early-April evenings the owl was silently coursing the lower slopes of Cobstone Hill. Then on 27 April I saw one at 7 am when I was on my run along the lane.

The view down the valley from Cobstone Hill.

The view down the valley from Cobstone Hill.

In Wester Ross, Scotland, in May I saw common sandpipers and a flock of siskins on my walks by the Kinlochewe River close to where it enters Loch Maree.

By Kinlochewe River.

By Kinlochewe River.

The wood just west of Inveralligan on Loch Torridon that weekend was alive with willow warblers.  And I saw a ptarmigan on the start of the walk up Beinn Bhan.

Ptarmigan country on the way up Beinn Bhan, Wester Ross.

Ptarmigan country on the way up Beinn Bhan, Wester Ross.

I visited Otmoor RSPB reserve in Oxfordshire three times, which helped my duck count. It was magic to hear the grasshopper warblers in the meadows there in May.  The walk around Chimney Meadows in Oxfordshire on my birthday in February was also productive, and I saw my first stonechat of the year there.

The Thames at Chimney Meadows where I saw the stonechat.

The Thames at Chimney Meadows where I saw the stonechat.

On 30 June I joined the annual nightjar survey-walk on the heath at Wishmoor Bottom near Camberley.  I heard nightjars churring but didn’t see one; however I did get a fleeting glimpse of a Dartford warbler.

Wishmoor Bottom.

Wishmoor Bottom.

Then on 22 July I looked in on Iping Common, near Midhurst in West Sussex, at 10.15 pm and heard about five nightjars churring.  Magic!

Iping Common, West Sussex.

Iping Common, West Sussex.

In Dorset in September we walked over the Purbeck Hills to the coast, and saw a flock of young spotted flycatchers (my only sighting of the year, so depressing—I used to see lots) and two peregrines.

The Dorset coast near Worth Matravers.

The Dorset coast near Worth Matravers.

In November I visited the wetland centre at Barnes and, thanks to a man with a scope, saw a bittern from the hide (I had skipped a workshop session at a conference because how can one spend the day indoors when an event is held at the wetland centre?).  At the end of November, after launching the Emsworth Walkers Are Welcome town in Hampshire, I walked by Chichester Harbour where I saw black-tailed godwit and knot.

Chichester Harbour

Chichester Harbour.

But I’ll end on Cobstone Hill, Turville, with the mewing buzzard and the calling rooks still fresh in my mind from a walk in the fading light of the fading year last evening. Here’s to another year of birding!Full moon, almost

Advertisements

About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
This entry was posted in Birds, British Trust for Ornithology, My bird year, RSPB, Turville and tagged , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to My bird year 2013

  1. Tom says:

    Great item. Have an even better 2014,
    Tom

  2. Geoff Mullett says:

    My birdwatching was a natural progression from ‘just walking’. Far better to be able to stop and investigate the flora and fauna, than ticking off the miles. Most of the walks I lead focus on wildlife, architecture, archaeology etc.
    My new species bird list for 2013 is just 7, half that of 2012. The last one, seen a couple of weeks ago was a parrot crossbill, viewed in Scots pine on the edge of one of lincolnshire’s ancient limewoods. Particularly pleasing as I now have the ‘set’ of crossbills – common, 2-barred and Scottish.
    Of course, ancient woodland is now under threat after the Environment Minister Owen Paterson suggested that “Developers could be allowed to destroy ancient woodland if they agreed to plant many more trees elsewhere.” As if ancient woodland is just about old trees! Yet another example of our ‘green’ Government in action.
    A couple of years ago, we visited Worlaby Carrs in northwest Lincs , an area of arable land converted by Defra to wet grassland as sanctuary for wintering wildfowl. Here, we were treated to the sight of 8 short eared owls, plus buzzards and kestrels hunting for prey. Others have seen up to 24 SE owls in the area. But no longer, with funding withdrawn, the landowner has ploughed up the land ready for crops. See:
    http://sandkspavin.blogspot.co.uk/2013/10/the-end-of-worlaby-carrs.html
    The loss of DEFRA funding has resulted in the closure of many permissive paths around the country. They are particularly missed here in Lincolnshire, where they provided vital links between public footpaths in areas where PRoWs are thin on the ground. All very depressing!

  3. Good to hear from you Geoff, and of your sightings. The ploughing up of Worlaby Carrs is tragic, thank you for telling me about it.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s