My bird year 2019

It didn’t feel like much of a bird year, but when I counted up I was surprised to discover that I had seen 116 species (four more than last year) and heard (without seeing) three: Cetti’s, grasshopper and wood warblers. This was in England and Wales: I have not counted those I saw in Peru.

However, there were some pretty common species I didn’t see or hear: snipe, barn owl, golden plover and kingfisher, to name a few.

The year started well with a female crossbill on my River Thame Conservation Trust survey on 12 January.  I have only seen them once before around here, at Cowleaze Wood in 2010.

crossbill

Crossbill on treetop at top of Kingston Hill in Oxfordshire

There were curlews bubbling on 22 March, when I walked with my visually-impaired friend Marika Kovacs before breakfast from Edale youth hostel in Derbyshire.  We were there for an event to celebrate the seventieth anniversary of the National Parks and Access to the Countryside Act 1949.

IMG_20190322_075623

Curlews were bubbling near Edale

Another excitement for me were the jangling corn buntings below Lodge Hill in Bucks on a bright May morning.

3 bunting spot

The bunting sat on the wire

With help from a professional birder with a strong telescope, I saw my first Caspian gull on Spade Oak Lake at Little Marlow in Bucks in March.

Gulls 2

Close up of the five gulls, the Caspian is second from the right.  There is a gadwall in the foreground

I made two visits, in April and May, to lovely White Wood on Dartmoor, where I heard wood warblers but didn’t see any; however I was rewarded with pied flycatcher, redstart, tree pipit and siskin.

8 track

The track through White Wood

Ring ouzels were secured on my early walk up Tavy Cleave on Dartmoor on 28 April, with a cuckoo and whinchats.

2 ouzel on rock

Ouzel on a mossy rock on the edge of Tavy Cleave

I saw sand martins on the River Plym on Dartmoor in May, and in Cardiff Bay in July.

5 sand martin hole

Sand martins seemed to be nesting in the hole just above the greenery in Cardiff Bay

I made a number of visits to Otmoor in Oxfordshire, where I gathered a good collection of water birds and warblers, as well as a bittern and the increasingly elusive turtle dove.  On my visit on 5 May I listed 44 species.

IMG_20190804_180605

The turtle dove was in the tree on the left.

On two walks with Marika Kovacs I heard a mistle thrush sing (here and here), thanks to Marika identifying it for me.

23 M. top of tree

The mistle thrush is in the centre of the picture at the top of the tree near Woollas Hall below Bredon Hill in Worcestershire

In Aylesbury I saw my only peregrine of the year, which is nesting on Pooley’s Tower.

Pooley tower

Pooley’s Tower from the car park where I saw a peregrine overhead

I was beginning to despair of seeing a spotted flycatcher.  Then on 9 July, while I was running up the road, I saw one perched where I had seen one last year, on the wires by Turville Valley Farm in Bucks.

Turville Valley Farm spotted flycatcher site

Spotted flycatcher site at Turville Valley Farm

High in the Yorkshire Dales, at Arten Gill, I saw a whinchat carrying food on 21 July.

Arten Gill

Arten Gill viaduct

 

My only red grouse of the year were around the Nine Standards Rigg, near Kirkby Stephen in Cumbria.

Nine Standards Rigg

Nine Standards Rigg

And on a walk around Canvey Island I saw waders including black-tailed godwits and sanderling.

8 Black-tailed godwits

Black-tailed godwit on Canvey Island

The last bird to go on the list was a sparrowhawk; it swooped into my back garden on 19 December, probably extracting a small bird, leaving the feeders swinging and an eerie hush.

Garden

My back garden

Happy new year, and happy birding to all my readers.

 

 

 

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.
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