2014 is with us and for those of us that keep year lists it brings a fresh start. The need to hunt down those last few birds that you know you should have seen in 2013 has disappeared. You start again with a clean sheet and every bird counts.
We had planned to get the year off to a good start by being out birding on New Years Day but, given the poor weather, we had to defer it to the Thursday. We were after quality not quantity and had a list of target birds that we wanted to pick up early in the year before they disappeared. Top of that list was the Lesser Yellowlegs at Lepe Country Park, so we started our day there and worked our way back along the coast.
|Lesser Yellowlegs in early morning light|
|Redshank and Lesser Yelowlegs|
Although not chasing numbers we did still manage to see over sixty different birds on the day. It seems odd having to look out for the more common birds such as Tits, Robins, and Sparrows but this time of the year they all count and are all greeted enthusiastically. Although, having missed one earlier in the day and fearing that he had fallen behind, Dave's cry of joy at finding a Mute Swan was perhaps a bit over the top.
Long-tailed Duck was on our list with a possible stop off at the Hayling Island Oyster Beds on the way back. However, we were lucky enough to find one in the entrance to the Beaulieu River and it gave much closer views than you normally get with the Hayling bird.
|With crab for lunch|
The only real disappointment on the day came when we stopped off at Stokes Bay but could not locate the long staying Yellow-legged Gull. However, we had better luck with another long stayer at Walpole park in Gosport where the Ring-billed Gull "Waldo" has returned for what must now be its eleventh or twelfth year.
There is always a bit of initial confusion in picking the Ring-billed out from the Common Gulls at the same location. The clincher is the yellow eye and slightly more aggressive look.
We spent the afternoon at Pagham North Wall ticking off some of the usual waders. There were thousands of birds there although with the tide high in the harbour and with the fields north of the wall flooded the birds were often distant. We were just starting to think of going home when we were tipped off to a pair of Whooper Swans on Ivy Lake Chichester. This is a bird that I missed completely last year so it was worth the quick diversion on the way home. We got there just in time to get a record shot before the light faded completely.
|Whooper Swans and Canada Goose|
After a couple of weeks away from birding due to the weather and Christmas commitments it was great to get out again. There is so much I want to see before the end of the month - I just need it to stop raining.