Sunday, 8 January 2012

Bird Race York Record SMASHED (twice!)

Today was the day of the Michael Clegg Memorial Bird Race with teams competing to raise funds for a local cause - this year to provide funds to provide habitat management to a new wildlife site in York.

I was part of the LDV Birders team, made up of Russell Slack, Jono Leadley, John Beaumont and me, Andy Walker! The previous best total for the York Recording area was 86 species, so that was our target! There were several other teams from the York area, our biggest competition would be from Chris Gomersall, Tim Jones, Ollie Metcalf and Jack Ashton-Booth's team - at least for bragging rights anyway!

The day didn't quite start as planned with John, who was picking Jono up from York getting a blow out on the A1! We had to immediately change plans! This seriously impacted on our start time + location as Russ and I had to drive up from Bank Island - our original starting place, to Bishopthorpe to pick up Jono. All this meant we didn't get started until 0815/0830ish! Russ and I couldn't believe that Ollie got his traffic cop mate to put a stinger out in front of John - total sabotage!!!

As events would transpire Johns' misfortune turned out to our benefit as on picking Jono up we hit Bishopthorpe Ings (a new local site for me), getting several key birds such as Kingfisher, Goosander, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Bullfinch, Coot, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Great Spotted Woodpecker and Siskin.

We then moved on to Askham Bog (another new site for me) where we hit up Marsh Tit, Willow Tit, Jay, Goldcrest, Lesser Redpoll and Woodcock.

Grey Wagtail c/o Chris Gomersall

Our third site was Dringhouses Pond where we had Great Crested Grebe (and another Goosander!).

We then drove around through Crockey Hill and Naburn to Escrick, highlights here included a mega flock of Corn Bunting and Yellowhammer (over 30 of the former in one tree!), Skylark, Meadow Pipit, House Sparrow and Common Buzzard.

Next up was Escrick, where we connected with Nuthatch and Mistle Thrush (by this point we'd also seen Blackbird, Song Thrush, Fieldfare and Redwing).

Then it was on to Wheldrake over the back road, en route at a cracker of a lookout we connected with Tree Sparrow, Golden Plover, Shelduck, Sparrowhawk, c40. Pink-footed Goose and 3 Bean Goose.

We then got to Bank Island - Wheldrake where we got a few new species such as Cormorant, Wigeon, Teal, Pintail, Shoveler, Kestrel, Peregrine, Ruff, Lapwing, and Dunlin. It was here that John found a very interesting Buzzard. Front on it looked spot on for Rough-legged Buzzard - pretty much perfect, however when it dropped down the tail didn't look 100% right. We didn't count the bird (apparently in the area since Boxing Day) - but will check on it during the week and may add 1 species to our final tally if it turns out to be one.

Green Sandpiper c/o Chris Gomersall

After Bank Island we drove around several sites in the north of the LDV where we added Common Snipe, Grey Partridge, Little Grebe. It was here we hit the wall. Not our energy, but we ran out of birds/luck. Several of our decent sites for Grey Wagtail, Little Owl, White-fronted Goose, Egyptian Goose and Green Sandpiper all drew blanks....... time was pressing, we needed to get to Wheldrake but we also needed these 5 species.

We bit the bullet, ditching our chances for the above and made our way to Wheldrake. As late afternoon approached we waited in hope for a white-winger to drop into the gull roost - no luck here however as we waited we picked up Whooper Swan, Curlew, Goldeneye, Tawny Owl, Barn Owl, and a real surprise in the shape of 2 Short-eared Owls! The latter was certainly not expected as SEOs are rare in the LDV - these were in fact my first in the valley!

Great news, not only had we equalled the previous best (86), in the last half hour of light we'd smashed the record too, moving on to 90 species! A final hour in darkness trying to connect with something, anything, like a Redshank or Little Owl failed, however we were fairly please with our haul.

Looking back we missed some major species that on a better day we may have connected with - certainly species that we know the whereabouts of on any other day of the week such as Jack Snipe, Crossbill, Green Woodpecker and Green Sandpiper, but most disappointingly Redshank, Little Owl and Grey Wagtail!

Little Owl c/o Chris Gomersall

What about the other teams I hear you ask, well as far as I know the only other team that got close to our total was Ollie, Tim, Jack and Chris, who also beat the previous record.... they too managed 90 species!!! Congratulations to them too!!! An amazing coincidence!! So now, both of our teams hold the record (unless we can get better looks at the unusual buzzard!!)! Our list is below - check out Tims blog for a comparison of totals...

It was a great day and for a good cause, it will be interesting to see how the other teams have done across Yorkshire too, and how much money has been raised.

We are looking forward to next years event, anyone for a May Bird Race....

1. Little Grebe
2. Great Crested Grebe
3. Cormorant
4. Grey Heron
5. Muste Swan
6. Whooper Swan
7. Bean Goose
8. Pink-footed Goose
9. Greylag
10. Canada Goose
11. Shelduck
12. Wigeon
13. Gadwall
14. Teal
15. Mallard
16. Pintail
17. Shoveler
18. Pochard
19. Tufted Duck
20. Goldeneye
21. Goosander
22. Sparrowhawk
23. Kestrel
24. Buzzard
25. Peregrine
26. Red-legged Partridge
27. Grey Partridge
28. Pheasant
29. Water Rail
30. Moorhen
31. Coot
32. Golden Plover
33. Lapwing
34. Ruff
35. Dunlin
36. Common Snipe
37. Woodcock
38. Curlew
39. Black-headed Gull
40. Common Gull
41. Lesser Black-backed Gull
42. Herring Gull
43. Great Black-backed Gull
44. Feral Pigeon 'Rock Dove'
45. Stock Dove
46. Wood Pigeon
47. Collared Dove
48. Barn Owl
49. Tawny Owl
50. Short-eared Owl
51. Kingfisher
52. Great Spotted Woodpecker
53. Skylark
54. Meadow Pipit
55. Pied Wagtail
56. Wren
57. Dunnock
58. Robin
59. Blackbird
60. Fieldfare
61. Song Thrush
62. Redwing
63. Mistle Thrush
64. Goldcrest
65. Long-tailed Tit
66. Willow Tit
67. Marsh Tit
68. Coal Tit
69. Blue Tit
70. Great Tit
71. Nuthatch
72. Treecreeper
73. Jay
74. Magpie
75. Jackdaw
76. Rook
77. Carrion Crow
78. Starling
79. House Sparrow
80. Tree Sparrow
81. Chaffinch
82. Greenfinch
83. Goldfinch
84. Siskin
85. Linnet
86. Lesser Redpoll
87. Bullfinch
88. Yellowhammer
89. Reed Bunting
90. Corn Bunting

1 comment:

  1. Congratulations by the Bird Race and by the 90 species! I never watch in liberty Goosander, Herring gull...
    The 01/01/2012 in Murcia (Spain) two friends and I found 104 species: Regards!