On beginning again

Last year was my first full year on the patch. I finished up on 98 species of bird for the year. It is obvious that I was aiming for 100, but I can’t complain too much – I enjoyed the year, the birds, the patch itself, and the company and advice from the local patch birders.

This year, I have made it out three Saturdays in a row for a few hours each and got up to 63 thus far. It actually took me until March to hit 63 last year but, inevitably, the improvement is mainly because I know the patch better now.

As anyone in Southern England will know, the year began as it finished; mild but rather wet (further North, of course, has been plagued with floods). Assuming the mildness was a factor, I have counted many Song Thrushes singing this year already.

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Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos)

Last year, it took me weeks to tick off all the common winter thrushes. This year, I did it much quicker, although Fieldfare have been relatively difficult to pin down. Nick and I watched 20+ Redwing fly over the Ornamental ponds last weekend and today we watched a couple closer up by the stables on the Eastern end of the patch…

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Redwing (Turdus iliacus)

Winter has now arrived – only a couple of months of late. In fact, last night was the coldest of the winter so far. Today was beautiful with bright sunshine and blue sky but the mercury never rose above 4.5 degrees centigrade.

Nevertheless, I ticked off my first patch warbler of the year (ignoring the regulidae, although I was delighted to have already ticked off Firecrest as well as Goldcrest): a female Blackcap, alongside the Redwing moving among quite thick vegetation next to the stables.

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Blackcap (Sylivia atricapilla)

It was also great to see a Water Rail swim in the swollen Roding today. The usually very shy bird forced more into the open by the water-levels.:

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Water Rail (Rallus aquaticus)

The year has got off to a good start on the patch, and I look forward to getting out there as much as I can this year to see as much as I can.

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Kestrel (Falco tinnunculus) with rodent prey

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