Thursday, 2 January 2014

My 2013 PWC review from Hemsby

Looking back at 2013 and I firmly believe this was my best year patch birding, probably due to being offshore less and PWC encouraging me to get out a lot more. Windy, rainy and generally unpleasant?? Who cares, lets get out and see what I can find! On more than one occasion I added some species on days when I might have not bothering going out on patch due to the weather. I even enjoyed birding in the terrible weather, there are less dog walkers about for a start! So in the end I managed to creep up to 163 species/ 246 points (and a humpback whale some of you may have heard about). That should keep me busy for 2014 as I try to reach these heights again, as well as trying to find my first patch 12+ pointer!

As with Mark's and Rob's post I thought I would follow the trend of breaking down my year month by month:

January was a relatively quiet month with 69 species recorded. A flock of 19 Whooper Swans was probably the highlight for me, a patch tick. Other good patch birds were on offer, mainly from seawatching with Little Auk, Velvet Scoter and GN Diver the best of a decent bunch.

As expected the year slowed down a bit in February with only 11 new birds added. There was some tricky patch birds recorded though with Bar-tailed Godwit (patch tick), Goldeneye, Peregrine and Coal Tit welcome additions this early in the year.

Away for all but 1 day of the month but still manage to add Pintail.

What a month, a combination of no March birding and start of spring migration bagged me 41 new species, starting with a couple of patch ticks, Egyptian Goose and Short-eared Owl. Spring started on the 7th at Hemsby when a Tree Pipit landed in my garden briefly and over the next couple of weeks I added the commoner migrants including the first (reported) Spotted Flycatchers into the UK on the 18th. A couple of roosting Long-eared Owls were a particular highlight but bird of the month for me was a stunning male Pied Flycatcher that hung around for a day. Another highlight of the year which will live long in the memory happened on the evening of the 14th as I sat in my back garden and watch over 5000+ Blackbirds and at least 1500 Redwings fly high north over a two hour period many taking off out of my patch and joining the masses.

Away again for most of the month but still managed to see my first Cuckoo, Greenshank and Swift of the year, in fact one of the BTO tagged cuckoos was soon to be tracked using my patch quite often!

Just when I thought spring was over a female Red-backed Shrike appeared at the north end of my patch. My first 6 pointer of the year! Manxie and GS Woodpecker were the only other additions in June.

A very quiet month with no real surprises, a couple waders (Knot & Common Sandpiper) and Arctic SKua added. Mothing took off this month though, as I caught 4000 moths in 9 traps throughout the month!

The bank holiday weekend from the 23rd to the 26th was a pretty special time on the patch. The weather conditions were perfect and the patch was dripping with migs. It all started on the Friday evening when I found an Icterine Warbler and then the following days I foundd Wood Warbler, 2 Wrynecks as well as finding a Wryneck and Red-backed Shrike on my work patch in Great Yarmouth. The amount of migrants around during those few days was amazing with multiple records of Tree Pipit, Spotted and Pied Flycatchers, Whinchats and Redstarts etc. A great end to a month that added 9 species and 22 points!

Not as productive as I would have liked but then I did spend the peak period at the end of the month on Shetland, bad patch planning! Seawatching in absolutely horrendous conditions paid off with a Black Tern and Long-tailed Skua as well as hundreds of waders while in more serene conditions I managed to find my first patch Grasshopper Warbler.

My favourite month of the year and it didn't disappoint. Everything favoured me again as the second big fall of the autumn (after the late August one) fell on a weekend again. I added four 6 pointers from the 11th - 13th, starting with a Leach's Petrel on the Friday followed up by at least 3 Yellow-browed and a Pallas's Warbler the following day. Firecrest and Snow Bunting were also added on these days and the Sunday began with a Richards Pipit making a brief appearance before the rain. A Jack Snipe on a road side verge was a great way to end the weekend. By the end of the month I had added 15 species (51 points) including a few more patch ticks, Shore Lark, Treecreeper and the long awaited Green Woodpecker! The month took a rather bizarre twist on the 29th when I noticed a 'blow' from my sofa before work one day. I was soon watching Norfolks first Humpback Whale!

My last two additions were seen early on the month, a Merlin and Purple Sandpiper. It was a difficult month as conditions were never great for seawatching (at least when I was at home anyway) and I always thought that was my best chance of any good birds.

Much like November without the new birds. The highlight was a flock of 100+ Snow Bunting that ventured down from my neighbouring patch at Winterton for a day.

2014 - this is what I have to beat, it will be tough but I'm sure I'll have a grand time trying......

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