|Kumlien's Gull in February|
I was well and truly wrapped up in Footit last year - a great competition and it took my focus at the start of the year. Despite this I still managed six visits and 63 species in the first month. Top of the pops was the 1w Kumlien's Gull which wintered last year. This much debated individual returned later in the year as a 2w and has firmed itself in in the Kumlien's camp. The supporting cast of both Dark-bellied and Pale-bellied Brents, European White-fronted Goose, Woodcock and Jack Snipe were concentrated by extremely cold snowy conditions whilst other visitors were storm driven such as the Red-breasted Mergansers that flew south over my head and a couple of Little Gulls dancing over the surf after a huge blow that removed most of the sand from the beach. Snow Buntings were ever present in the dunes to the north. One of the highlights of the month was a Water Rail that took to feeding on the upper beach in the snow.
|Snow Bunting in January|
I was offshore for two weeks, working in Cumbria for a week and in Spain for 5 days looking at Wolves in February leaving not much time for patching but I did get a few common waders ticked off and better views of the Kumlien's Gull which was still present although quite bleached by this time.
|Purple Sandpiper in April|
The so called Beast from the East dumped lots of Lobsters and assorted dead fish on the beach leading to squillions of gulls and I managed to get onto the patch plenty which was a good thing. A smart summer plumage Mediterranean Gull and lots of Kittiwakes joined the throng which still included the now snow white larid from Baffin Island. A couple of Little Gulls offshore were nice as was a passing Great Northern Diver. The pipit field acquired its name as half a dozen Scandi Rock Pipits spent most of the month there including a very pink breasted bird. A good passage of Jack Snipe went through in mid to late March with up to four birds seen daily. On the dung heap near Barmston drain a male Continental Stonechat took up residence, black underwings and all. Very smart indeed, far smarter than the drab Black Redstart which put in a brief appearance. None of the 'proper' March migrants emerged and indeed Chiffchaff never did...
|Common Scoter in May|
With work starting properly in April only a single visit on the 7th was achieved. The Stonechat and the Kumlien's Gull were still present with some Scandi Rock Pipits and a couple of Jack Snipe. Not particularly spring like but the first passage Curlews and a Bar-tailed Godwit kept the species count ticking along. A few Siskin in the plantation were the only ones of the year.
|Corn Bunting in May|
I was desperate to get to the patch in May to find out what bred on site and where with the lure of several easy year ticks in recently arrived migrants. In the end I managed a couple of visits. A slightly cool day on the 11th and a warmer one on the 19th. The first visit yielded a nice surprise in a singing Corn Bunting. This part of the country still has them hanging on so it was great to see one on patch. Sedgies piped up in the reeds and a Common Sandpiper pratting about on the sewage outflow was a brucie bonus. A few Yellow Wagtails turned into a plethora by the following weekend and a female Common Scoter on the drain looked out of place whilst above my head one of the local Peregrines was making short work of the Feral Pigeons. My first Wheatear of the year (I know...) was well received and looked to be heading to Greenland whilst on the beach a Whimbrel was parading about. 107 species already.
|Continental Stonechat in March|
Due to work I failed to get to the patch but I was getting to know my away patch at St Mary's, Northumberland a bit better with a rather smart adult Long-tailed Skua.
Another blank month...poor work really but then I was either in Scotland or Northumberland the whole time.
Still no time for patching. It was driving me nuts not getting down to Barmston but I had managed a bit more time at St Mary's. Mostly I was in Kefalonia enjoying the sun.
Into the PWC admin fold and back onto the patch. Some decent seawatching failed to produce a shearwater but both the common skuas went past in decent numbers and Pintail and Eider were both new for the year. A juvenile Black Tern doing the worst plunge diving I have ever seen was the highlight of the month. On the land nothing new was added as I failed to visit when there was any east in the air.
Again I failed to visit when there was any decent weather so all I got was a hot hot day with all the local raptors up including 3 Peregrines dogfighting and a good number of Buzzards and Sparrowhawks messing about on thermals. Grey Wagtail was new for the year.
A Richard's Pipit came bounding out of the marsh calling its head off. A likely bird in a likely place but a very happy birder. In terms of additions it had slowed right down and my score was plateauing rapidly. The local holiday camp tried to introduce pay and display on the car park. Hmm. Apparently this was when the Kumlien's Gull came back but it took me until the following month to see it again.
The all white save for a bit of grey in the primaries gull was back on my patch and amongst the screaming south westerlies were a few other bits and pieces. I added Black-throated Diver to complete the commoner trio and Razorbill was the second auk of the year. I discovered a big area of cover crop which held lots of buntings and finches including a good number of Corn Buntings - hopefully they would stay into the new year. A (the?) family party of Pale-bellied Brents made a late appearance with birds feeding on the fields to the south of the marsh.
Overall I managed 121 species and 155 points for 2013. I also managed 28 complete lists for Birdtrack and 930 records. Not too bad for a first timer although I missed all the big passage days aside from one seawatch.