26th January 2014 - London Wetland Centre

The day after my somewhat alcohol filled birthday party we actually managed to get up and popped to the London Wetland Centre for a short walk around.  This proved to be a good idea as we met people in the Peacock Tower who had just seen a couple of Jack Snipe and were scoping the area where they were last seen.  Within minutes a stripy bird made a dash for it, inadvertently revealing the other bird happily sitting in the vegetation where he remained at least until we left the hide, a good half an hour after.  These two were only my second and third Jack Snipe, so I greatly enjoyed viewing them. 


We managed an excellent list of 40 species, with another highlight being a lone Brambling on the feeders which showed briefly.  One of my favourite ducks is the Pintail and a pair of these were asleep quite close to the hide.

Pair of Pintail

Trip list: 40
Year list: 65
Lifers of year list: 2

Otter <3

19th January 2014 - Waterbeach, Strumpshaw Fen and Buckenham Marshes

The plan was to get up early and buzz around Suffolk, seeing as many fun birds as possible.  We made a map and everything.  In reality, we overslept and didn't even make it to Suffolk, instead stopping off in Cambridgeshire and Norfolk.  Hmmm.

Coal Tit

The first stop was Waterbeach in Cambridgeshire, just off the Cambridge Resarch Park.  The Reasarch Park itself was full of Moorhen scooting around and a lovely Green Woodpecker flew low in front of the car.  We were hoping to see Taiga Bean Goose, which would be a lifer, but unfortunately they'd disappeared elsewhere for the morning.


It was then on to Buckenham Marshes, but as we weren't quite sure where they were, we ended up at Strumpshaw Fen, an RSPB reserve that we'd always meant to visit but had never quite got round to it.  We didn't have time to have a wander but had a great time at the feeders with both Marsh Tit and Brambling excellent sightings for us.  A Great Spotted Woodpecker popped in for a while and a couple of lovely little Nuthatch were feeding.  The lady at the hide told us how to get to Buckenham Marshes so it on round there for what turned out to be the last stop of the day.

Buckenham Marshes were full of Lapwing and Wigeon, which provided a lovely background sound to our walk.  We had planned for half an hour here but the round trip took 2 hours - oops!  We did well on geese though - Canada, Greylag, Egyptian, White-fronted (which was the reason we went), Barnacle (a lovely surprise, my favourite goose) and Taiga Bean Goose (a lifer!!!).  It was definitely worth missing the following planned stops I think.  A good sighting on the way back was a perched Peregrine pointed out to us by a local.  Lovely.

Some geese


Trip list: 42
Year list: 60
Lifers on year list: 2

5th January 2014 - Wilstone Reservoir and Steeple Claydon

Water Pipit and Little Stint were the targets for today and, unsurprisingly, we didn't see them.  I wouldn't have been out in that weather either if I was sensible.  Golden Plover numbered about 50 and were huddled together on the bank in amongst Lapwing and Cormorant.  The Pochard were looking good and after scanning the water we spotted over 100 Wigeon on the far side.  Redwing and Fieldfare were flocking by the car park and I put my Grey Wagtail radar to good use, finding one just metres away on a small stream.


We then headed up to Steeple Claydon hoping to arrive before it was dark and find the Cattle Egret.  It was surprisingly easy to find, standing in the middle of a field by a farmhouse, much reminiscent of the Glossy Ibis from Radipole the week before.  It was very pretty, but with the fading light I'm afraid I didn't get the best of photos.  

Cattle Egret

Trip list: 22
Year list: 22
Lifers of year list: 0

1st January 2014 - Rye Meads

We only had time for a short trip to Rye Meads to get the 2014 year list off to a start.  The first bird was a Grey Wagtail - lovely!  The weather was glorious-ly bad and we had to get to a party so a grand amount of 45 minutes was spent on the reserve.  There weren't too many birds around, but a little Little Grebe was a delight.

Trip list: 22
Year list: 22
Lifers of year list: 0

31st December 2013 - Rainham Marshes

On the 31st it was off to Rainham Marshes to try to see the White-fronted Goose to make my 2013 list up to 200.  Of course, when we got there they had buggered off.  Great.  

Stock Dove
I liked these two friends

A run round the reserve to find *anything* I had missed that year proved fruitless and a search along the river gave a lovely Scandinavian Rock Pipit - useful if I was counting subspecies, but alas, not to my year list.  However, I did manage to ID  a Stock Dove for the first time and there were a small row of Snipe - adorable.  Just before we left the first hide, I spotted a Pintail which provided some hilarious photos.  


Pintail, what are you doing?

I have to admit, I did go out of my way on the way home from a New Year's Eve meal to go to Hyde Park/Kensington Gardens to hopefully spot a Tawny Owl as that hadn't made it onto my 2013 list.  There were none to be seen or heard.  Of course.  

Rock Pipit

Trip list: 19
Year list: 199 (grrrrr!)
Lifers of year list: 33