January 1st notched up 56 species with nothing unexpected. My next visit added Ring-necked Parakeet, an absolute mega less than 10 years ago but now a regular sight and sound. I also caught up with the regular wintering Bittern. A snowy spell brought in two Golden Plover, Dunlin and Ruff and a fly-over Skylark. Patch Gold arrived in the form of a Coal Tit, always a difficult bird in the park.
Woodcock is a previously mythical species at Dinton until it was discovered they’re fairly regular at dusk and after a couple of attempts I had a brief fly-over. A Jack Snipe completed the trio. A first-winter Mediterranean Gull was my first good find of the year.
A Shelduck on 1st was bang on cue. Oystercatcher was expected, with several pairs breeding in the county now. A fly-over male Goosander was a major grip-back having missed one in January. A drake Pintail required an after-work twitch in fading light without bins (school boy error). Thankfully there’s a selection of “spares” in the Lea Farm hide! A Grey Wagtail was my first of the year and remained a scarce bird all year, despite being a regular breeder in previous years. The first Swallow of the year was seen on 23rd. A superb drake Garganey was another good find.
A Brambling was a good start to the month but a trip to Extremadura saw me miss Little Gull and Arctic Tern. Most of the regular summer visitors were added with the highlight being a very elusive Grasshopper Warbler. A Peregrine was one of only two sightings all year.
May was very slow with the only new bird added being a Lesser Whitethroat.
June is always quiet on the patch and I made few visits. The only new bird was Little Ringed Plover.
July brings the hope of wader passage but the only new one was a Black-tailed Godwit.
A Spotted Flycatcher was a good bird. Green Sandpiper and Ringed Plover joined the wader list. Yellow Wagtails were fairly regular fly-overs and Redstarts put in an appearance in the hotspot that is the Lavell’s car park field. A good find was a Whinchat on the landfill.
Laziness eventually saw me go out at night to get Tawny Owl. Having missed all the spring birds I eventually caught up with Wheatear! Early morning pre-work visits paid off with a Little Gull.
After a brief Yellow-browed Warbler early in the month Fraser Cottington found it, or another bird twelve days later! This required an emergency early-and-extended lunch break without bins, again! Thankfully I was able to borrow somebody else’s on site and add Yellow-browed to the patch and county list.
The highlight was a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. This bird dug out a hole in a dead alder and roosted in it every night for a couple of weeks before a Great Spot drilled out the hole! Another new bird and a patch tick was a fly-over Yellowhammer.
No new birds were added during December so I ended the year on 124 species and 139 points. This was my best ever year (by four species) and included two patch ticks. Bird of the year was the Yellow-browed Warbler, even though I didn’t find it. My best finds were Mediterranean Gull, Goosander, Garganey, Peregrine, Whinchat, Little Gull and Yellowhammer. All barely annual or less than annual but none earning any bonus points! The joy of inland birding!