With festivities approaching and storm Eva threatening the remains of the year with more rain and grey it is time to take stock, as previously requested by at least one regular reader, of a year on my patch. January is close and my approach will again be to take time to enjoy what is on my doorstep rather than constantly travelling to find the counties avian highlights. January brings with it the excitement of seeing every feathered friend in the garden as the first bird of its kind for the year.
First bird and one of the most common locally is one I have failed to photograph with any great success (one more new years resolution) a flyover 1) Rook, it was followed quickly by the common garden visitors 2) blue tit, 3) great tit and 4) coal tit. The garden feeders soon saw other regulars 5) chaffinch 6) goldfinch and 7) greenfinch and an hour or so of window watching produced 8) blackbird, 9) woodpigeon, 10) collared dove, 11) jackdaw, 12) dunnock, 13) house sparrow, 14) black-headed gull, 15) song thrush, 16) robin, and 17) starling
Starling – Last bird of the first day of the year
17 species an average tally for a bit of garden birding whilst others were flying round the county bird racing and getting over 100 species in a days birding. The next day of similar home birding produced one of my favourites and highlighted the importance of just taking time to stop and stare a 18) treecreeper shuffling up a pear tree was a rare visitor to the garden and was followed by a bold 19) magpie a fly over 20) grey heron and a 21) longtailed tit or two.
The first proper patch walk a couple of days later turned up the first 22) mallard of the year followed by a diminutive 23) goldcrest a 24) wren a singing 25) yellowhammer and my first 26) common gull feeding on scraps in a backyard.
Mallards species 22 of the year
The next birds of the patch year were a couple of predators in mid January first an early morning soaring 27) buzzard and whilst at home looking out of the window a flash of 28) sparrowhawk carrying its lunch an unlucky starling. Another patch walk to catch up with some relatively easy early birds that had been missing took in some skulking local 29) moorhen a 30) carrion crow a large flock of 31) Egyptian geese 32) herring gull, 33) green woodpecker and 34) pheasant.
January still had plenty to offer and the regular night calling 35) tawny owl was next followed by arguably the most flamboyant a 36) jay calling and displaying in the gardens close to home.
The jay Hethersett’s very own parrot loud and colourful.
January closed with a few more for the new year tally including 37) bullfinch another contender for most colourful along with the monotone 38) pied wagtail, a hunting 39) kestrel and then two new local birds for me both on the same day and proving what you can miss out on if you don’t look on your doorstep a 40) cormorant and the only ever locally recorded 41) meadow pipit feeding in fields on the west of the village.
February was inevitably slower than the hectic recording month that always is January and the only new bird was 42) great spotted woodpecker.
February’s Highight Great Spotted woodpecker
March saw the pace pick up with an early small flock and occasional individual 43) greylag goose followed by 44) lesser black-backed gull, 45) stock dove and the first of spring’s sentinels a 46) chiffchaff.
April saw further spring arrivals and more unexpected geese. First on the list was 47) Canada goose followed by the aerial duo of 48) housemartin and 49) swallow . Next was another migrating summer warbler the 50) whitethroat which marked the target I had set myself for a reasonable first patch year and it was only four moths old. April continued to offer further treasures including 51) Barnacle goose a local feral speciality and breeding species, as well as 52) skylark which were filling the skies with their song. The end of April still held an evening of patch magic with 53) marsh tit and 54) Lesser whitethroat both new species locally for me along with another spring leaf warbler 55) willow warbler and 56) little owl.
The diminutive Wensum valley speciality Barnacle Goose
May threw up a few new birds including the stalwart of birding lists the 57) feral pigeon and the considerably more graceful 58) common tern and lastly the herald of summer the bird that most represents warm evenings the screaming 59) swift. June was notable for a long awaited 60) mistle thrush and July for another long awaited finch the 61) linnet. August saw yet another long awaited bird which had eluded me for months the 62) nuthatch.
August special the nuthatch
September brought the only real non month with nothing new despite others seeing target birds such as barn owl . October however was more successful with a long awaited local patch tick of 63) Kingfisher followed by the Autumn visitors 64) Redwing and 65) Fieldfare. November was punctuated only by the highlight at the local birding mecca of Hethersett Hall Lake of a visiting 65) little grebe and December also relied on this magical water feature for a visiting 66) mute swan.
Possibly the last of the years highlights a mute swan
So the bar is set for next year both in terms of species and also in terms of eleven of twelve months with new birds. There are some notable missing species which I will be looking for next year including Barn owl siskin and redpoll and who knows maybe there is still a chance before 2016 arrives. until then Happy Christmas to all readers old and new.