Sunday, 6 January 2013

Bird Race: What a day!!

It was the Michael Clegg Memorial Bird Race today (read about last years race here). The record up to 2011 was 86 species, last year (2012) the LDV birders team (that I was in), and the String Quartet team (Tim, Ollie, Chris and Jack) both beat the old record, drawing on 90 species! What would happen this year... well there was no LDV team this year, however the String Quartet (pictured below) were at it again...

I'll leave Tim to write up what happened, but it will be a great read...! not to give too much away but the records set last year have been well and truly thumped!!! Given better weather (i.e. from noon till dark was pretty thick fog) more probably would have been seen too!

I didn't fare too badly either locally today with some nice year-ticks:

Hen Harrier - A decent bird in the York Area, this appeared to be an juv female, though always distant it was a huge beast! Picture below provided by Tim. Although probably not that rare in the York Area on passage (satellite tracked birds have been recorded passing through) they have proved very difficult to connect with, e.g. Tim and Chris didn't manage to connect with one last year while they were doing their year-list thing and it's the first one I've seen in the York Area. This bird was at Strensall Common.

Ringtail Hen Harrier - photo Tim Jones

Stonechat - A pair of birds observed at Strensall Common, a bird that was much commoner before a series of cold/wet winters I gather.

Jack Snipe - One on a little pool at Heslington East.

Green Sandpiper - An overwintering bird at Heslington East.

Kingfisher - A bird on the main lake at Heslington East.

Peregrine Falcon - A pair of birds hunting Woodpigeon near Heslington - the male was whiskers away from nailing the pigeon but pulled out at the last minute to avoid flying into some oncoming traffic!

Pink-footed Goose - A flock of 600+ seen in the fog, with another one or two smaller flocks heard but not seen.

Other highlights included Green Woodpecker, Jay, Fieldfare, Redwing and a whole range of common species.  Typically for a bird race Brambling, a species that I was tripping over yesterday was invisible and mute today!

I didn't get too many birdy pictures today but the following give an idea of what it was like...

What happens when you run through a bog after Hen Harrier...
What happens when you run through a building site for Jack Snipe....

What happens when it gets foggy! Spot the Pink-footed Geese! There was over 600 up there!

The String Quartet - What happens when pretty much everything falls into place!!
Well done guys!

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