I saw 345 species of birds in the Uk in 2004. It was documented on Surfbirds
When calculating some stats at the end of January, and having managed 279 in 2003, I thought about trying for the 300 in 2004, which bearing in mind I have a full time job and can't spend all my free time birdwatching would prove to be a real challenge, particularly as I already missed some good birds that would be hard to get again. I was also on the look out for some life birds and more mammals to add to my list. This is a brief account of what birds I have seen, the excel spreadsheet gives more specific dates and locations.
I was in Scotland for Hogmonay, not really birding and it proved a bit poor for birds, with only dipper and Richardson's Canada of any real note. Nearer to home Bittern, Smew, Caspian gull and most of the common birds were added along with a Blackcap in the garden. A regular trip to Norfolk added Snow bunting, black winged stilt and all the common waders as well as woodcock. The prize was Rough Legged Buzzard. The year listing started with a trip to Lincs for the American Robin which was successful but Shorelark and Sardinian warbler were missed. I didn't start till late on and time was short in Jan with other commitments and finished with a total of 131.
February started slowly, although Brambling was added locally early on along with Northern Long Tailed Tits, Iceland Gull and long eared owls in Suffolk. A trip to Norfolk produced the usual, Black brant and Great grey shrike were the highlights. Closer to home the more unusual ducks, red crested pochard, goosander, fudge duck were added along with the Humes warbler. A quick jaunt to Kent produced Long tailed duck, GN diver, E whitefronts. Norfolk showed a cracking woodcock at Titchwell along with Slav grebe, shorelark still not around, but the American widgeon obliged. A trip to Devon dipped the Penduline but got the Glossy ibis, Dusky Warbler, Lesser Scaup and a whole raft of seabirds and those Cirl Buntings. A quick jaunt to Wales via the Sibe Chiff and the Glacu Gull at Cottenham (eventually) and for the Little Bunting and associates rounded off a good month, the total being 170.
A quick dash to Chosley for the pine bunting, and 3 Golden pheasants, and more leisurely trips for the ring billed gull and Gargany picking up tree sparrow and med gull along the way. I was missing two patch birds LS wood and tree creeper and time was put into finding these. A day out in Kent proved to be 100% successful, with Scandinavian Rock Pipit, water pipit, Both Bean geese, Pallas Warbler, yellow browed warbler and thanks to the kind people who put me on to the Mealy Redpoll and a treecreeper at last. A trip to the carmague slower my progress but picked up Red necked grebe, the long staying white headed duck at Broad water GP and a lapland at Cholsley. A treecreeper on the patch finally but already had one earlier. Then to Scarborough for the Alpine swift in high winds but still showed well, the Glauc gull and several purple sandpipers obliged at Scalby. The route home via Yorkshire was already planned for other reasons, but provided Willow tits at two locations including a continental race bird. A trip to Dorset for the Franklins Gull and Spoonbill also provided a Wheatear. LS pecker, sand martin, swallow and White wagtail on my local patch provided a nice end to the month with a tally of 208.
A slow start to April, missing several birds, but managed to pick up Ring Ouzel, Yellow Wagtail, Shore lark, Black redstart, Long eared owl (already had it) and willow warbler on a quick trip to Winterton / Waxham. House martin and Blue headed wagtail were picked up locally. Off to Yorkshire for the red rumped swallows which obliged then across the Cheshire the Hoopoe was present and SEO was found. Then to Wolverhampton for LRP and ruddy shelduck. Easter provided the Green Winged Teal at Coalhouse Ft and then the Bufflehead in Yorkshire. A trip to Kent brought Artic skua, Whimbrel at two locations, firecrest, sedge warbler more ring ouzels and a lesser redpoll.
A quick afternoon to Norfolk for Stone Curlew and Woodlark at Weeting and Whinchat and Grasshopper Warbler at Snettisham coastal park. The woodchat shrike was easily hooked up with near Recluver, but the Alpine Accentor had been replaced with a Tree Pipit at Overstrand. Whitethroat and Swift on the local patch with a nice Gropper then off to Scotland, stops at Bothal pond for the Dowicher (missed by 30 mins) and Methil for the King Eider proved fruitless. East Wymess proved better with a pair of Surf scoter, but no Ross Goose at Vane farm either. Early morning starts for Black Grouse plus lots of Red, a long climb for Ptarmigan, then up the Findhorn valley lots of Dippers and a lone Goshawk. Saw pine marten and visited the reindeer herd locally. Another early morning start for Capercallie at Loch Garten with the bonus of Redstart and crested tit, and osprey. Golden eagle near cairngorm, Findhorn again for another golden eagle, loch Ruthen for Slav grebes and Lochindorb for Black throated diver. We also went to a Pine Marten watch which was excellent.
The crossings to Lewis, N Uist and Oban provided Manx sherwaters, black guillemots and puffins.
Lewis gave up the Harlequin, bonxie and White Billed Divers, kumleins and iceland gulls in stornoway, on N Uist a poor Corncrake but excellent twite and on S Uist a ring necked duck. A day trip to Mull produced super views of White tailed eagles, whinchat and GN divers, before returning home.
A very good month the total now 253, with some common migrants still to get.
Bleary eyed from Scotland and off to the supermarket via Grafham water for the Black tern and loads of Artics. An obliging flock of Dotterel at Foxton easy on the way to work. Patch pickups of reed warbler and Sedge Warbler.
A quick trip to Tichwell for the Red backed shrike, turned out into a trek around East Anglia to Waxham for the Red Footed Falcon and to Bawdsey for the Citrine Wagtail, but missed the Temminks at both Welney and Holland haven. A trip to Vange marshes produced a Temminks finally, with another picked the next day at Cley. Excellent Golden Orioles were had at Lakenheath, Nightingale at Salthouse and a Spotted Fly at Weeting, Turtle Doves all over, Great Reed Warbler at Abberton. A work trip abroad curtailed a large part of May, but managed the Squacco in Staffs and the Icterine in Suffolk on the 31st.
Managed to miss the Night Heron and Bairds sandpiper
An OK month but missed lots of stuff the total 278
The Common Rosefinch at Hunmanby was first on the list, and the drive was worth it, showing down to a few feet. From there a bit of a drive to Coombe Valley RSPB where the pied flycatchers obliged and a male redstart was notable. The lucky find was however a quail near the visitors centre in the field at dusk. The next day a trip to Great Ryburgh for a very nice pair of Honey Buzzards, one perched for a great length of time. A mad after work dash on the Tuesday 8th to Staffs for the Broad billed Sanpiper was well worth the trip. After the many disappointments in May June was much better. Due to work and family commitments, I was unable to go for the red headed bunting or spotted sand which was disappointing, but did manage a quick trip to Dunwich for the Dartford Warblers which showed very well and popped back in on the Icterine. A stop at New Fancy View produced goshawks and a lone crossbill, the WWT centre did not give up the Great White egret and a trip to Pembrokeshire to visit Skomer was disappointing as the boats were cancelled by high winds, did visit Ramsey and saw all the usual stuff. On the return journey a detour to see the Spotted Sandpiper and was rewarded with excellent views. The last weekend produced a Montagu's Harrier at the RSPB watch point and then to Norfolk for excellent Nightjars. The last day of the month produced the Marsh Warbler singing well but showing poorly at Landguard.
The total of 289 was respectable and surpassed last years final total.
East Derham produced the White stork, and then on to Esher Rugby club for the RN parakeets on the Friday night. Another Mont'y and then a Sunday afternoon jaunt to Snettisham for the Greater Sandplover for some good views although a little windy. Gibraltar Pt on a sunny Tuesday evening produced the Long Billed Dowicher in Summer plumage, along with three barn owls. The following day was Fairburn Ings and the Cattle egret which showed on my arrival, the White winged black tern was much more elusive providing only a short flyby at distance. A quick trip to Ireland for the Short billed dowicher, also provided a Roseate tern. The American Golden Plover was eventually found in a field in the middle of nowhere thanks to two local birders in an evening jaunt to Norfolk
The White Rumped Sandpiper was a lot easier despite the long walk into Trimley marsh it showed after ten mins. The drake Blue Winged Teal (very non descript bird) was harder and took until 8.45 to show when it appeared right in front of us. An evening trip to Norfolk produced the Pectoral Sandpiper at Titchwell but no sign of the Wood Sand at Cley. A Wood Sandpiper did come to me at Amwell and I saw it several times. A jaunt to Sussex, to Weir Wood Res, and the night heron, which I missed by 5 mins at Barnes. This one was more oblidging showing well on the far bank. a 5am start got me to Fobbing where a few more local birders were watching the Marsh Sandpiper. It was a super little bird dwarfed by the aggressive greenshanks rounded off an excellent month.
The total of 303 was good.
This started badly with missing the Rosy starling in Birmingham and the Sharp tailed Sandpiper in Cornwall by 5 mins. However the Scillonian Pelagic proved more sucessfull with Sooty and Corys Sherwaters, Wilsons and Storm Petrel and Sabines Gull, also picked up the Woodchat Shrike at Glastonbury. More bad luck at Spurn with the Barred Warbler. A second try for the Barred warbler looked promising with a crown gathered as I parked, not a barred but a Thrush Nightingale which showed in flight a few times as they tried to mist net it. Unable to find the elusive barred I had to settle for a wryneck and lots of common migrants. Third time lucky for the Purple Heron at Breydon water although in the pouring rain. The weather at Blakeney Point was better and the Greenish Warbler eventually obliged though briefly late evening before the long walk back through the shingle. The Black stork required a long wait for it to fly from the marsh to roost in a dead tree showing very well, pity its wasn't an adult. Inner marsh farm did not produce a spotted crake, but an all afternoon wait eventually produced one at Martin Mere. Up to Staffs and Blithfield Res (site of the squacco earlier in the year) in the pouring rain, the weather cleared as I approached and the Red necked phalarope was showing well close to the railings on the causeway to the great pleasure to the small crowd who had been watching it distantly earlier in the day. The bank holiday weekend I ended up on the Bay of Biscay Minicruise (Report) the only bird in UK waters was a great shearwater, pity as the little shearwater on the trip was excellent.
August over and the total of 306 (316 inc subs).
A trip to Cliffe Pools for the Great white egret also produced a little stint but the Pec sand proved elusive although it showed after I had left.
Due to illness and lack of transport birding has been zero since the Cliff Pools Egret.
Although still ill I did fix my car and birding started again, connecting with the Lesser Yellowlegs at Stiffkey. Also went to see Dormice on a Dormice box check saw several. Fully well again and the overnight drive to Drift Res in Cornwall for the Semi Palmated Sandpiper which eventually settled giving excellent views. Then to Marazion for the long staying Bairds Sandpiper which was quickly located. Some sea watching produced 2 Balearic shearwaters, artic skua and plenty of Manx Shearwaters but not much else. The Melodious warbler did not show neither did the rose coloured starling.
The NW winds pushed lots of Leaches Petrels into the Wirral and a days seawatching at New Brighton and Leasholme produced several Leaches, as well as Long tailed and Pom skuas. The RSPB Yorkshire Belle cruise on the following day produced two Sabines gulls which were the highlight of the trip although good numbers skuas and two sooty shears made the trip worth while. Connaught water produced Mandarins and two Wood ducks (Probably Feral) bringing an end to September
The total 315 (325 inc subs)
October started with the trip to Brownsea Island, the Western Sandpiper showed well from the hide, the resident Red Squirrels were nice to see. The next trip was to Minsmere for the Curlew sp. followed by a midweek trip to Walton on the Naze for the showy Artic Warbler. A trip to cornwall allowed for the Cream Coloured Courser and Short toed Lark on St Marys. A red breasted flycatcher showed well in 60' cover, and eventually the juv rose coloured starling was located in Roskestal farm and a common crane was easily located in the Hayle estuary. The end of the holiday and the journey home via Brixham for the Grey Phalarope also produced an excellent juv sabines gull. A stop at Safeway Paington produced and Azure winged magpie only an escapee from the nearby Zoo, it was joined by two others and they flew around the carpark. A quick trip to Winterton produced the male sardinian warbler showing well. Kent produced the Buff breasted Sandpiper at Grove ferry, but no sign of Richards pipits although a Pallid Swift above Walmer Castle made up for it. Weybourne produced the Dark Breasted barn owl by the car park and eventually the Red Throated Pipit showed. A trip to Kenfig Pools for the Redhead and then a trip to the north east. The bluethroat was not showing on the cliffs at Burniston so I travelled to South Gare and after the Siberian stonechat did not show either, a Richards pipit entertained for 15 mins or so and I was about to leave when the stonechat was located by another birder. Next was the quick trip to Sunderland where the Barred Warbler was easily located after I found the right place. Back to Burniston to be told the Bluethroat was showing well, it was and I got good views till dusk. Two attempts were required for the Pacific Golden Plover at Fidwell good job it was local.
The total 333 (344 inc subs) was pleasing.
A crazy day 29 hour round trip to Scotland for the Masked Shrike first thing at Kilrenny, then north to Peterhead, a quick diversion to Montrose, the Snow Goose had come on the pager, it was still present. Peterhead produced the King Eider very quickly, showing well behind the oil store as did a Little Auk fishing with two red throated divers. Lousy weather in Wales did not prevent the Black Scoter from showing. A midweek trip to Cornwall did give crippling views of the Little Crake but the action was on the east side of the country. The overnight drive to Lands end for the Blyth's Pipit was sucessful, great views were obtained. The trip back via Wiltshire for good views of the Cattle egret. The third attempt produced the Northern race Bullfinches at Thorndon Country Park.
The total currently 340 (352 inc subs) was good picking up some excellent birds.
I was abroad for the start of December so no new birds until the second weekend which was spent at Tichwell, for the artic redpoll which contrasted with the other two species of repoll also present, also of note was the king eider. The Sora showed down to 12 or so feet and along with the superb drake ring necked duck made a good day in Nottinghamshire/Derbyshire. Nothing much until the 27th when a trip to Scotland produced the Black Duck on the Private site, it was visable from the road but took a long time to show itself. The following day the long staying American Coot was located on Loch Benston Shetland, feeding in the shallows in the SE corner, the Lesser Canada goose could not be located at Loch Spiggie. The final bird of the year was eventually located in Glen Tanar, and one that I put about 4 days searching before finding a group of three Parrot Crossbills in the forest near the Visitor centre. 9
The Grand total 345 (358 Inc Subs)
I enjoyed my year lisiting in 2004, I could not spend as much time as some other listers, and could not go for every bird. I only visited Shetland and the Scillys once, and I did not start until midway into January.
Things I should have done, don't get ill and don't go abroad, I spent almost 3 weeks abroad in 2004, which was not helpful with my listing, but 345 was much more than I had expected to get considering I have a full time job.
Best Bird - Cream Coloured Courser - a super bird
Worst Bird - American Coot- a bit of a disapointment
Easiest Bird - Quail / Golden Pheasant, almost ran both of them over
Hardest Bird - Parrot Crossbill over 4 days of searching Scottish forests
Worst Dips - Penduline Tit, Sharp tailed Sandpiper missed both by minutes
Should Have Got - Serin, Ortolan Despite several around none were accessible
E-Mail Mark Hows