Monday, 31 December 2012

Relatives stopped play!

Well, Xmas has been a bit if slow one as far as birds are concerned. A combination of dreadful weather (it started raining mid December and hasn't stopped since) and a houseful of relations has meant little or no birding since the buff-bellied pipit. I got out once to go to Tyttenhanger with my brother-in-law and his two sons, aged 4 and 7. Never seen it so wet, the sheep field was almost under water.A couple of yellowhammers in the hedge and the usual red-legged partridges were all that was available.
So, i came to the 31st of December with 249 birds on my BOU list. My target at the start of the year was 250 so only one to go. Spurred on by having watched "the big year" over Xmas, i studies bird guides and realised there was nothing around locally. I had two choices - a long staying glossy ibis at Ringwood or, my banker, Bewicks swan in Norfolk. After deciding the swans were the better bet, it was how to get them. Welney was cut-off and mostly closed because of flooding so took a chance on Ouse Washes RSPB. I had been there over the Summer so knew the general layout and that the swans should be feeding in the fields.
Early alarm at 6am and out of the door at 6.15 (well, actually 6.18 as i forgot my coffee flask and had to turn back!). Weather forecast was bad turning to awful!! By first light i was neat to Ouse washes. The fields looked very grey and muddy. Just as i was contemplating hacking up to the hides in the rain i spotted about 20 white shapes in a field. The 20 turned to about 500 when i stopped. Although a quarter to half a mile away and in poor light you could see they were mixed whooper and Bewicks. I only lasted about 2 minutes out of the care before rain and wind drove me back in and it was birding from the relative comfort of the car with a warming coffee in hand.
The birds eventually moved to be even more distant so i drove on, picking up another 2 flocks of decent size in the surrounding fields. The Welney road was still closed so i called it a day at about 9.30 and left for home.

Not bad, finished the year on my target of 250 and the relatives have now all gone home leaving me, Judith and Eddie to bring in the New Year in peace, which is when it all starts over again!!!