Friday 31 January 2014

January PWC Update

As usual at this time of year I seem to have gone into a sort of cyber-hibernation. Nothing on here since before Christmas and only one post on Facebook so far this year. But I have been making the effort to get out to Eyebrook for the Patchwork Challenge, with a reasonable haul to show from 6 visits totalling  22.5 hours during the month.
Eyebrook on an atypically nice day
Eyebrook on a more typically grim day (this morning)
Before I started, I had a rough target of 80 in mind for January, and I’ve managed to exceed that. As of today, my total stands at 83 species and 90 points. Not surprisingly given the indifferent weather we’ve experienced so far this year, there haven’t been any major surprises amongst the wildfowl. The Velvet Scoter very unsportingly buggered off before the end of 2013, leaving the Ring-necked Duck as the only noteworthy duck present. I say ‘present’; in fact it’s been absent more than it’s been present this month, and I only saw it on my first visit. But that was enough to get it on the list with its very welcome 3 points.

By far the best bird of the month was a female/imm Merlin over the dam on the 17th – this was one I really didn’t expect to see during the year, and a definite bonus, despite being only worth 2 points. Other highlights were a Water Rail at the inflow on the 22nd (another unexpected one), the regular Barn Owl on the 17th, and a Willow Tit on the 25th. Other bits and pieces worth mentioning are Little Owl (first bird of the year), up to 6 Smew, Kingfisher most visits, 1 Lesser Redpoll and a Chiffchaff.

Birds notable by their absence so far include Mandarin and Red-crested Pochard, both of which I saw in December, Grey Wagtail and Mistle Thrush. Ridiculously, Starling very nearly made it onto this list as well, until I saw a small flock flying over the dam this morning! There are also no Goosander or Pintail at Eyebrook this winter, and no gull roost, although I did pick up Yellow-legged Gull on the 25th.

So far I’ve had at least one addition to the list on every visit, but I don’t expect that to continue in February! I’d be happy with 90 species by the end of the month.