Tuesday, 30 January 2018

20 year anniversary of birding

The 10th January 1998, age 13, was the first day I went birding. As a child my Nan often carried a pair of pocket size binoculars with her when we walked her dog, and my cousins, siblings and I used to take turns in using them. Sometime in 1997 I saw a mouse running up a tree, upon using my Nan's binoculars and with my Nan and Mum's identification, this mouse turned out to be a treecreeper (well short-toed treecreeper, Common Treecreeper is very rare on Guernsey). For some weird reason this was quite exciting for a young me and shortly afterwards I asked for my own pair of binoculars for Christmas. A couple of weeks after receiving them that Christmas I went out on a walk and for the first time specifically looked at and for birds. I know this because I kept notes for all of a couple of months. I won't bore you with the preceding 20 years but it's fair to say it has shaped my entire life!

So 10th January 2018, 20 years on, I thought it was only right that I went out birding. Will Soar and I headed out to Cromer Golf course where an Iceland Gull and couple of Coues's Arctic Redpolls had been frequenting. The former was presented on a plate as soon as we arrived, right in front of us on the golf course, no other gulls in sight. Golfers were heading down the fairway so I took a quick, blurry shot and that was it, it then buggered off. The redpolls failed to show themselves and after an hours wait we went back to the car. Before leaving however, I thought we could quickly drive back up the road just to check they hadn't come in in the ten minutes since we started walking back to the car. It was worth the check, they had indeed, so we tucked the car in and saw the adult male briefly before a longer and poor view of the other bird. They weren't playing ball so we left them and headed west.
Iceland Gull, Cromer

Coues's Arctic Redpoll, Cromer

A quick stop on route got us poor views of a Dartford Warbler before we went to Salthouse to look at some Snow buntings. We then followed up on some more arctic redpolls that had been reported near Letheringsett. We found the flock immediately on arrival, 60+ redpolls, mostly Mealies and up to 3 Coues's Arctic-type. The identification features of these birds seems vague and it appears that a suite of features = Coues's, though not all need be present. One of the bird showed more undertail streaking then perhaps would be ideal, though everything else looked spot on. 

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