31st Jan. I did say at the end of 2011 that I would be happy this year with good health and good birding with good mates. Well I know it’s early days but the year has begun extremely well for me and has gone the way I would have wished
First of all there was the trip to Norfolk giving me some great sightings including a lifer in Golden Pheasant and a UK tick in Western Sandpiper. Other great sightings are too many to list (again), but the watching of so many Marsh Harriers at Stubb Mill will be a spectacle which will take some beating this year. The geese too, were of course very special. The day after I returned from Norfolk I led a very successful walk up at Cresswell and rounded the day off watching three Short Eared Owls, with a Kingfisher also putting in an appearance. On patch I’ve been entertained by four Short Eared Owls and of course have watched even more of them at Prestwick Carr. It has certainly been the winter of the Short Eared Owl.
Then of course there is the Bittern (well two Bitterns in fact) seen at Gosforth Park N R. The best sightings I’ve had of this species and shared with enthusiastic mates on both occasions. I’ve also at last got myself a Glaucous Gull on my list. The two Iceland Gulls were even better, and all the better for having come to me unexpectedly!
Even a walk through Jesmond Dene brought me my second excellent sighting of a Water Rail of the year (the first one was just a few feet away from us in Norfolk). Incidentally I’ve been told by a knowledgeable dene patch birder that it is a first record for the dene! I was very surprised by that. I do know from Northumberland Bird recorder Tim Dean that Water Rail has not been recorded in the dene in the NTBC annual report, over the past ten years!
I’ve seen loads of Dippers (well quite a few) one of my favourite species and had a great afternoon at the Red Kite roost. Best my year list has ever looked at the end of January. Hoping the year continues as it has begun. Bring it on.