On the 30th January:
A day birding around north Somerset, starting at Chew Valley Lake where we saw 24 Goosander, 5 Pintail, 2 Grey Wagtails, a Water Rail and 2 Foxes. On the Mendips, at Stock Hill we saw a mixed tit flock of around 65 birds which contained at least
5 Willow Tits, we also saw a flock of about 60 Goldfinches, a Sparrowhawk and a Woodcock. We continued to the coast at Berrow, where on the sandflats were around 1500 Dunlin, 6 Sanderling, 3 Grey Plovers and 10 Bewick's Swans. Around the dunes we saw 6 Stonechats, a Short-eared Owl and a Fox. On the shore at Brean were another 2000+ Dunlin, 6 Ringed Plovers and 41 Shelducks. On the drive back towards Weston we saw 2 Little Owls and a Tawny Owl.
Making a detour on our drive back from Suffolk, we arrived in the Fordhouses area of Wolverhampton and in a hedgerow alongside a very busy main road was a single Waxwing feeding on berries.
A very cold, mainly cloudy day with occasional snow and sleet showers, we were at Slimbridge where amongst the 2000 White-fronted Geese was an immature Lesser White-fronted Goose.
Also at Slimbridge were 200+ Bewick's Swans, a Bean Goose, a Pink-footed Goose, 40+ Pintail, around 5000 Wigeon, 20 Gadwall, 200+ Teal, an immature female Peregrine, about 2000 Dunlin, a Little Stint and 200+ Curlew.
Drawing by Laurel Tucker.
We watched the immature female Peregrine fly in over the field with the flock of White-fronted Geese in it, most of the geese took no notice, apart from being alert, even though the Peregrine flew low overhead. A few small groups of 4 to 6 geese did fly up and were swooped on, and, on one occasion the Peregrine did dive at a goose, but only managed to attack its tail feathers. After a couple more passes the Peregrine flew very low across the field, only inches above the ground, then a goose leapt in to the air and tried to kick the falcon, with both feet, as it passed, only missing by a few inches.
In Tanzania, a drive from Seronera south and east to Ngorongoro Crater, stopping on the way to view species of interest, 4 new birds and 2 new mammals today.
Photo: Red-and-Yellow Barbet.
On the Poor Knights Islands, North Island New Zealand, where the only new bird today was a Spotless Crake.
Photo: Fairy Prion.
A visit to Catcott Lowes to record Wigeon and Lapwing for a forthcoming RSPB film on wetlands, called Waterlands. Apart from general calls, big flock take-offs of both species was needed. There were several hundred Wigeon as well as Shoveler, Pintail, Teal and Mallard, and around 1000 Lapwing. Recording their calls wasn't a problem, but noise-free was, there was always something in the background, from barking dogs, traffic to helicopters. But, over the next couple of days I managed to get all that was needed, although the take-offs could have been a bit closer.
From Catcott I went to Westhay where I heard 4 Cetti's Warblers and also heard 4 Water Rails, there were several big groups of Long-tailed Tits in the trees and bushes, and I saw 80+ Lapwing flying over and a few Redwing and Fieldfare, but I had come to try to record the 1,000,000+ Starlings coming into roost, unfortunately lots of other people were there to witness this incredible display, so I gave up recording and just watched.
Wigeon calls while bathing.