My UK Year List - 2014

  • 117-118) GREAT WHITE EGRET and LONG-TAILED DUCKS at Mary's Lake, Earls Barton GP, 9 January
  • 116) Barnacle Goose, Emberton Park, 9 January
  • 114-115) SMEW and Cetti's Warbler at Great Hardmead Lake, Amwell, 7 January
  • 113) Reed Bunting, Tyttenhanger, 7 January
  • 112) Tree Sparrow (32 birds), Tyttenhanger, 7 January
  • 111) Sparrowhawk, West Hyde, 7 January
  • 110) Mandarin Duck, Burnham Beeches NNR, 7 January
  • 100-109) Curlew, Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Dunlin, Oystercatcher, Grey Plover, Sanderling, Common Shelduck, Kittiwake and Mediterranean Gull at Church Norton, 6 January
  • 99) RUDDY SHELDUCK, Sidlesham Ferry, 6 January
  • 96-98) Purple Sandpiper, Turnstone and Rock Pipit in Shoreham Harbour
  • 95) Red-breasted Merganser, Widewater, 6 January
  • 94) GREY PHALAROPE, Hove Lagoon, 6 January
  • 93) Grey Partridge, Broom, 5 January
  • 92) Goosander, Woburn Lakes, 5 January
  • 91) Skylark, Totternhoe, 5 January
  • 90) Yellowhammer, Totternhoe, 5 January
  • 89) Corn Bunting, Totternhoe, 5 January
  • 88) Water Pipit, Wilstone, 5 January
  • 87) SABINE'S GULL, Weston Turville, 5 January
  • 86) Common Scoter, Brogborough, 4 January
  • 85) GREAT NORTHERN DIVER, Stewartby Lake, 4 January
  • 84) Red-legged Partridge, Hatch, 4 January
  • 83) Common Kestrel, Langford, 4 January
  • 82) GLOSSY IBIS, Frensham, 4 January
  • 81) Goldcrest, Frensham, 4 January
  • 80) Green Sandpiper, Lynsters, 3 January
  • 79) Stock Dove, Lynster's, 3 January
  • 78) Egyptian Goose, Lynsters Farm, 3 January
  • 77) Common Chiffchaff, Stockers Lake
  • 76) SIBERIAN CHIFFCHAFF, Stockers Lake
  • 75) Siskin, Stockers Lake
  • 74) Dunnock, Stockers Lake
  • 73) Ring-necked Parakeet, Stockers Lake
  • 72) Lesser Redpoll, Stockers Lake
  • 71) Coal Tit, Chaffinch House
  • 40-70: Nuthatch, Greylag Goose, Pied Wagtail, Lapwing, Golden Plover, Great Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Common Redshank, Common Snipe, Teal, Wigeon, Shoveler, LITTLE STINT, Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Wagtail, Goldeneye, Meadow Pipit, Greenfinch, Marsh Tit, Dunnock, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Long-tailed Tit, Bullfinch, Jay, Red-crested Pochard, Wren, Collared Dove (all at Tring Reservoirs), Brambling (Ivinghoe), Herring & Great Black-backed Gull, CATTLE EGRET (Briarhill Farm, Calvert) & Green Woodpecker
  • 1-39 all local, Chess River Valley & Shardeloes Estate: 1 January 2014: Chaffinch, Common Starling, Woodpigeon, Little Egret, Grey Heron, Common Magpie, Mute Swan, Mallard, Moorhen, Carrion Crow, Jackdaw, Rook, Common Buzzard, Canada Goose, Coot, Black-headed Gull, Tufted Duck, Pochard, House Sparrow, Common Blackbird, Woodpigeon, Pheasant, Gadwall, Kingfisher, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Robin, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Little Grebe, Common Gull, Red Kite, Redwing, Fieldfare, Song Thrush, Goldfinch, Mistle Thrush, WOODCOCK, Treecreeper, Greenfinch and Water Rail

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Year Listing in the UK

Lee Evans has been Year-listing in the UK since 1977 and has achieved annual totals of over 300 species ever since. Although he has recorded in excess of 360 species on some nine occasions, his record stands at 386 species - achieved in 1996. Adrian Webb in Year 2000 recorded at least 378 species, making him by far the highest-listing individual to compare with Lee. In terms of Life Listing, Lee has recorded 577 species in Britain and Ireland and 853 species in the wider Western Palearctic region.

Friday, 17 January 2014

Birding CAMBRIDGESHIRE - Thursday 16 January

Although reasonably mild (at 7.5 degrees C), it was a day of heavy showers, some of which were prolonged.
I had planned a visit to CAMBRIDGESHIRE today, largely with the goal of connecting with TAIGA BEAN GOOSE - two of which had been recently discovered just north of Cambridge by David & Jon Heath.
Before I got there, I checked out a few HERTFORDSHIRE farmland locations...........
A flock of 138 EUROPEAN GOLDEN PLOVER was in fields at ROXLEY COURT, NE OF GREAT WYMONDLEY, whilst in the DEADMAN HILL area of SANDON (TL 29 37), 40 Rook and 12 Eurasian Skylark were noted. The COOMBE ROAD at KELSHALL produced a total of 51 Fallow Deer (herds of 37 and 14), 12 Brown Hares, 2 Common Magpie, 2 Carrion Crow, several Common Pheasant, Common Buzzard and a party of 7 Great Tits. In the vicinity of LOWER HEATH FARM (TL 32 37), I added Common Kestrel, 6 Woodpigeon, 8 Carrion Crow, a Jackdaw and a further 18 Rook.

Fallow Deer herd

I then arrived in CAMBRIDGESHIRE where checking LANDBEACH ROAD near MILTON, a flock of 99 Greylag Geese was feeding just east of the cemetery. At the CAMBRIDGE RESEARCH PARK LAKES, both TAIGA BEAN GEESE (seemingly an adult pair) were roosting on the island in front of the hide, along with 59 Greylag Geese. After a long wait, one-by-one the Greylags started waking up and getting into the water, flying off in small flocks. The two TAIGA BEANS were virtually the last to move, eventually giving great views as they swam away to the left. I took a number of photographs (see immediately below), the two birds being extensively orange on the bill, fairly thick-necked, long-necked and almost Greylag-like in proportions.

In addition to the geese, the lake also held 46 Mallard, 34 Gadwall, 24 Teal, 7 Shoveler, 46 Pochard, 36 Tufted Duck, 33 Coot and 5 Mute Swans, as well as an assortment of gulls. A lake much closer to the research park added a further 46 Coot, 35 Tufted Duck and 3 Moorhens.
Returning to the LANDBEACH ROAD, I came across a huge flock of roosting large white-headed gulls in the fields to the south and west of the cemetery - just under 2,300 in number. The flock included singleton first-winters of both CASPIAN and YELLOW-LEGGED GULL, along with 175 Black-headed, 144 Common, an impressive 1,256 Herring (over 70% of which were Scandinavian Argentatus), 637 Lesser Black-backed (of both intermedius and graellsii forms) and a notable 76 Great Black-backed. Further south and much closer to MILTON TIP was another large roosting flock, this one supporting some 8 YELLOW-LEGGED (including 6 adults), a further 848 Herring (again, a large proportion of northern birds), 603 Lesser Black-backed, 97 Common, 437 Black-headed and another 21 Great Black-backed.

The first huge flock of gulls - just under 2,300 in number

Superb numbers of both Herring and Lesser Black-backed Gulls

The second flock - opposite Milton Tip

I then drove north to HOLME FEN (TL 20 89), where the GREAT GREY SHRIKE was visible from the Trundle Mere Hide in bushes close to the red-and-white marker poles to the NE. A single MARSH HARRIER was seen, along with 9 CORN BUNTINGS, 3 Reed Bunting, 3 Meadow Pipit, 4 Stock Dove, 49 Fieldfare, 5 Common Kestrel, 8 Goldfinch and Wren. Most significant was up to 6 SHORT-EARED OWLS hunting over the vast rough fields to the east of the reserve; the HOODED CROW was in this area too - about a mile up the road with 36 Carrion Crows.

Short-eared Owls hunting distantly over the fields

Monday, 13 January 2014

An epic twitch for an AMERICAN COOT.....

Allan Stewart, Paul Rowe, Jeff Bailey and I embarked upon a 540-mile epic journey to Inverness at 10.30pm on Friday night. Taking our time, keeping to an economical 56mph and having to divert the M6 at Junction 5 because of overnight roadworks, we eventually arrived in Badenoch & Strathspey at around 0800 hours, at the same time as a heavy snowstorm hit the A9.....

The first birds we set eyes upon were in the KINCRAIG AREA (NH 82 05) of SPEYSIDE - 2 Carrion Crow, 110 Jackdaw, Common Buzzard and 30 Greylag Geese, whilst a COMMON RAVEN near SLOCHD was my first of the year.
In the CROY AREA (INVERNESS DISTRICT) (NH 78 48), 30 Common Pheasant, 2 Collared Dove, 5 Common Blackbirds and a Dunnock were noted. Croy was a very short drive away and at 0930 hours, we finally arrived at our destination - LOCH FLEMINGTON in NAIRNSHIRE - NH 80 51. It was a very cold morning with a sharp air frost.
The reason we had driven so far overnight was to see this AMERICAN COOT - an exceptionally rare vagrant from North America and only the 5th British record. The bird was showing very well towards the east end of the loch - from the road that skirts the northern shore - and was feeding voraciously on weed, either dragged up from the shallow bottom or consumed from the emergent reedbed above the surface. It was in the vicinity of a couple of Moorhens, with only one other Coot encountered on the loch. There were about 25 other twitchers that had made the drive including Stef McElwee, Alan Brown and the Craig Family. We observed the bird for about 90 minutes, Paul and I obtaining a large selection of images (see below).

 The loch also held a Little Grebe, 8 Cormorants, 5 Mute Swan, a pair of WHOOPER SWAN, Mallard, 2 Wigeon, 4 Tufted Duck, 13 Common Goldeneye, a drake Red-breasted Merganser and the single Coot, whilst 37 Pink-footed Geese flew NW. Rook, Chaffinch, Bullfinch (2) and Long-tailed Tit were also recorded.

On the north side of the A96, just as we joined it from Loch Flemington, a large flock of Pink-footed and Icelandic Greylag Geese were seen.
Further west, at ALTURLIE POINT (NH 71 49), the MORAY FIRTH held an OTTER, 4 ATLANTIC GREY SEALS and a wealth of seaduck, including at least 105 GREATER SCAUP, a female-type LESSER SCAUP, a female Tufted Duck, 53 Common Goldeneye, 27 Red-breasted Merganser and a whopping 230 LONG-TAILED DUCKS. There were also at least 25 Red-throated Divers and 3 SLAVONIAN GREBES whilst waders on the ebbing tide included 40 Curlew, 33 Oystercatcher, a few Common Redshank and 3 Dunlin, whilst large numbers of gulls were on the shoreline and a couple of Rock Pipits.

Some nice rafts of GREATER SCAUP


 Most interesting were the myriad of corvids scavenging on the foreshore - predominantly Carrion Crows - but including some 20 intergrades or so and 2 bonafide HOODED CROWS.......

We spent a long time in the FINDHORN VALLEY searching for White-tailed Sea and Golden Eagles but drew a blank on both - raptors though did include Common Buzzard, Peregrine, MERLIN and Common Kestrel, whilst 35 Common Pheasant, Red-legged Partridge, 2 Siskin, Mistle Thrush and 5 Red Deer were seen.
At LOCH GARTEN RSPB in ABERNETHY FOREST, the feast of action at the feeding station included 33+ Coal Tits (many of which were so tame they could be hand fed), 6 Blue Tits and a nice pair of CRESTED TITS, whilst in NETHYBRIDGE, we saw DIPPER and CAPERCAILLIE.

LOCH PITYOULISH (NH 92 13) supported a single Cormorant and a flock of roosting gulls - 33 Lesser Black-backed and 25 Herring - but due to fading light and increasing winds, we failed in our quest to find either Red Grouse or Ptarmigan at Cairngorm. It was dark by 1600 hours.

At around 3 in the morning (SUNDAY 12 JANUARY), a TAWNY OWL flew across the A508 just north of NORTHAMPTON