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.

Wednesday, 3 February 2010

I finally nailed MERLIN

Not the Merlin I saw today but the female/immature I have dipped on now on five occasions, superbly photographed by Mike Lawrence. Below, Phil Hasell illustrates the Corn Bunting mass this Merlin has been terrorising.


Grey skies predominated, with temperatures peaking at 7 degrees C late afternoon. The forecast rain, sleet or snow never materialised. MERLIN and WATER RAIL were my two target birds of the day, with both excelling in their appearance............

(0800-1100 hours)

Returned once more to the stubble and purposefully seeded fields immediately west of Stotfold, mainly with the goal of connecting with Merlin. Took Steve Blain's advice and got there early and waited, waited and waited.

Although the Skylark flock was still in the 270 bracket, the number of CORN BUNTINGS on site is diminishing daily. My highest click-counter tally this morning was of just 452 birds, a marked decline in numbers. Yellowhammers had disappeared also.

The only raptor noted was the regular Common Kestrel but alas after three cold hours of searching, the Merlin did not put in an appearance........


Taking the kind advice of Arlesey patch workers, I then decided to try my luck in the large stubble fields straddling the village and the Blue Lagoon. Quite a few Yellowhammers and Redwings were found but still no Merlin. Frustrating or what !

Whilst in Arlesey, I took full advantage of a visit to the River Hiz, a relatively shallow river forking off the River Ivel. I walked a 600-yard stretch of river, starting just short of the Amenity Tree Nursery and continuing north on the marked footpath. This truly is a wonderful place to observe, study and photograph WATER RAILS. They were easy here, and I saw four different individuals relatively easily, one parallel to the disabled parking area and then three on the section between the north end of the nursery perimeter fence and the wooden bridge over the river.

The riverside walk also produced 3 Moorhens, 2 Wrens, 5 Song Thrushes, 8 Redwing and 6 Fieldfare.

DIRECTIONS: See map below. In Arlesey village, take Mill Lane across the traffic light-controlled railway bridge and turn immediately right. Park sensibly by the houses and follow the public footpath up the east side of the River Hiz alongside the tree nursery from TL 189 359 to TL 189 368.

WALLINGTON (HERTFORDSHIRE): 50 Fieldfare in roadside field


Driving along the Rushden road, I stopped off at suitable vantage points and was delighted to finally track down a MERLIN - my first of the year (species 161). Remarkably, it was sitting on top of a partridge-feeding silo, adjacent to a hedgerow, and adjacent to a game strip. It was a beautiful male and sat there from at least 1227 to when it finally flew at 1258 hours. The game strip lies between the Bury Barns and the Rushden road at cTL 300 356. A single male Eurasian Sparrowhawk was also patrolling the game strip, whilst a party of 8 Long-tailed Tits actually mobbed the Merlin for a short while.

A pair of GREY PARTRIDGE performed well, with a flock of 33 Eurasian Skylark and a single Linnet seen, whilst Brown Hares were abundant in the area, with at least 40 encountered on various scans.

At Heath Farm on the Kelshall road, 98 Rooks had gathered, with 28 Feral Pigeons on the silo roofs, 16 Fieldfares and 12 House Sparrows (8 males) in the garden there. A Common Buzzard was nearby, and a further small group of 8 Eurasian Skylarks. A Red Fox was also seen well.

Conversely, the Reed area, either side of the A10, was largely devoid of birds, with just three Common Buzzards noted. What a difference a year makes.


Thanks to Alan Reynolds, I was able to spend an enjoyable 90 minutes in Broxbourne Woods connecting with birds. Parking up at the Broxbourne Woods (West) car park at TL 324 071 (this is the usual Purple Emperor/White Admiral car park), I followed the very muddy track (wellingtons essential) NE, passing all of the areas currently being regenerated and forested. The track drops down into a dip and then up again and after 700 yards from the car park reaches a bench and a deep ditch. Traversing the ditch brings one into a mixed area of Pine, Spruce, Larch and Cypress known as Cowheath Wood and it was here that I quickly located COMMON CROSSBILL (3 birds, very vocal, in the tall introduced Pines at TL 334 077), SISKIN (8 birds), Great Spotted Woodpecker, 1 Goldcrest and 5 Coal Tits. Most delightful was a fabulous WOODCOCK, trying to conceal itself with camouflage at the edge of a track through the Silver Birches.

My only disappointment was failing to locate Marsh Tits, even at their stronghold at Brambles Wood. Oh well, something for another day.....

WARNING: Be very careful in Broxbourne Woods West car park. There are several stumps in the car park that have been cut low and are very misleading. I managed to get my car completely stuck on top of one and could not move. It took me the best part of an hour to get off of it and only by constantly jacking up the car and pushing it back a short distance.

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