Nature Calls_ New 12 months, new bird-watching record

All we want are a few good birds early on (Image: Tim Graham/Getty Photographs)

Our goal is 52, which, whereas not conceited, is actually not a given. What we now have in our favour is the climate – the solar is shining after days of wind and rain – and the panorama – marsh, sea, estuary and farm.

All we want are a few good birds early on.

We’re at Swale Nationwide Nature Reserve on the Isle of Sheppey in Kent. It’s January 2 and we are attempting to see as many birds as attainable.

Most birders record what number of species they see in a yr. They may also possible have a life record, a British record and a ‘patch’ record. Some can have a backyard record.

We now have additionally heard of couch lists (seen from the couch by means of the lounge window), TV lists (from reveals, together with these heard calling within the background) and even a rest room record. That one may be made up.

It’s a custom amongst these listers to exit on January 1 – or January 2, ought to New 12 months’s Eve show too eventful – and get the yr record off to a great begin.

Brent Goose in flight (Image: Alamy)

We now have returned to Sheppey, the place 12 months in the past we recorded 52 species. It’s 9.50am and we now have round six hours earlier than the solar goes down.

Off we go.

Scanning the sector inland from the ocean wall alongside the monitor to Shellness, we see a solitary brent goose. A carrion crow is attacking a mollusc by dropping and bashing it onto the Tarmac. A kestrel sits on the telegraph wire. Wooden pigeons, a magpie and a gray wagtail take us to 6.

A trio of mute swans sweep overhead, a blackbird ‘chacks’ because it dashes alongside the fence line and a stonechat perches upon a grasshead, swaying within the breeze. A chaffinch is silhouetted towards the solar, and we’re at double figures.

Carrion Crow attacking a mollusc (Image: Shutterstock)

Over the wall and on the seaside we see turnstones choosing among the many shells, redshanks, curlews and oystercatchers probing the mud, whereas gray plovers and back-headed gulls stand sentinel on groyne heads.

Out at sea are nice black-backed, herring and customary gulls, one every of a great-crested grebe and red-throated diver and several other cormorants. A flock of sanderlings zips by low and near shore and a gray seal is splashing about midway to the horizon – however we’re not counting seals.

Alongside the shore, we see dunlin and ringed plover feeding amongst shelducks. Meadow pipits ‘tseep’ out of the dunes and a pheasant pokes its head above the financial institution. Flocks of linnets bounce by. Skylarks drop into the marsh. A bit egret lollops by means of the air, neck hunched and folded in. Three reed buntings perch in a hawthorn tree.

An egret in flight within the daylight (Image: Rory Merry/ZUMA Press Wire/Shutterstock)

The primary signal that 52 is inside attain comes is the sight of arguably our most persecuted animal – the hen harrier, killed by gamekeepers who care extra for the grouse shoot.

This one is a feminine or juvenile – a ‘ringtail’ for its white rump. It flies low throughout the marsh, establishing redshanks, starlings, skylarks, and meadow pipits. Even somewhat egret is shipped honking skywards. A buzzard seems and assaults it briefly from above.

We at the moment are on 34 and stroll the outdated sea wall, marshes to our left, and fields to the proper. A flock of fifty or so lapwing move overhead.

A flock of geese (Image: Jason Whitman/NurPhoto/Shutterstock)

A combined flock of geese is made up of 4 new species for the day – barnacle, white-fronted, greylag and Canada. A gray heron lands within the creek. A bit grebe dives for canopy. A marsh harrier floats by. A raven ‘kronks’ and a mallard ‘quacks’.

Checking by means of the wigeon and teal on the Swale estuary, we see a small raptor on a put up. It’s a merlin – our smallest fowl of prey and one other good signal we could possibly be on for a great rating, which is now at 48.

Leaving the marshes we move by means of farmland. Listed below are inventory doves, rooks and dozens of goldfinches in a mixed-finch flock of linnets and chaffinches a number of hundred sturdy.

A pair of collared doves brings us to final yr’s whole and a robin takes us over the road.

However we’re not finished but. A blue tit and goldcrest, we see, and a cattle egret in a subject simply earlier than 4 red-legged partridges. A pied wagtail takes us to 58, and a flock of feral pigeons to 59.

The sky is pink-hemmed now and the is riviera fairly as we make one final cease at grazing land crossed by the Capel Fleet river, the place a coot and a pair of shovelers feed among the many mallard. A barn owl hunts within the final of the sunshine – ghost-white and with a heart-shaped face.

We finish the day on 62.

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