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31 December 2012
Went on a dry run (ha!) for the big day tomorrow. The consensus in the pub last night was that it won't be brilliant on the 1st, not as good as last year (as it will be tomorrow), with it being quiet'n'all. Having spent all yesterday recovering from exuberant imbibing, I was just happy to be able to walk and focus. Wind tossed gulls everywhere and those not being tossed around in the wind paddling and picking in the new pools on the footy pitches. More Lessers and Herrings than Tim got on Sunday, but still nothing to get the heart racing.
Wandering through the SSSI I picked up a small goose hurtling down wind, dark with a big white bum, woo hoo a Brent! "Bullocks": was Mr Lethbridge's encouraging reply to my text. Disney has obviously worn off.
The Firecrest was singing sub-song in the little woodland north of the Alex, and there could be 2 birds, which no doubt will be no birds tomorrow. Naff all else bar loads of Gadwall flying about: 15 over the Alex itself (with another 30 doing not a lot on the lake), and flocks of over 30 whizzing around the park, which really buggered up my count as they were probably the ones already included from the basin.
So 43 species on the flats and a pitiful 38 in the park for a combined total of 52. Missing both Kestrel and Sparrowhawk, Little Egret, Kingfisher, Skylark, Redpoll, Collared Dove, Coal Tit and a few other possibles like Bullfinch and Linnet. So with the extra eyes of Tim and Jono tomorrow and maybe a few others it could be dire or not so dire. The slate is clean.
So 2012: good, bad, indifferent? I think we are pretty much all in agreement that, while we didn't top 2011, we got some pretty decent birds, records were broken, we welcomed new members to the task, and a few additions to the burgeoning list. Personally I had a pretty good year. If I ignore the amount of time spent working the patch, it was my best year yet. Close enough to the 150 that it would be nice to bag it next/this year. My best bird this year, apart from today's Brent, has to be the Hawfinch, better still after getting some god-awful pictures of it. The Wryneck, of course deserves a mention, and finding not one but 5 Pied Flycatcher is pretty special. The Marsh Harrier another contender, as was the day of 4 Kite. My Grey Plover in the fantastic cold snap, along with the Steve's Smew, and the Jack Snipe. Yup a pretty good year and that's not even counting the Greenshank.
Jono will be happy with his Short-eared Owl, his Golden Plover call probably the loudest I've ever heard him, the Snipe, Smew and Mandarin. Now he waits for Wheatear.
Bob, back into the game after a few year's sabbatical, was more than pleased with his new birds: Ring Ouzel, Waxwing and the others I forget. Tony's prize the Wryneck, with a supporting cast of Wood Lark and Golden Plover. Tim in the right place at the right time for the Jack Snipe, has probably spent too much time with moths and should get out more, but judging by what he told us in the pub, he hasn't had much time to do anything editing this and that and chairing the WREN Group.
Stevey T, found a few good birds; the Smew, Mandarin and the year's first SOE, good job!.
New patcher Dan Hennessy, contributed a couple of the Pied Flys, the flyover Godwit and the Goldeneye - so more of the same next year please.
Stu, now and infrequent visitor, still managed to pull some good-uns out of the hat, again! Rook, Cuckoo on our patch and the massive Melodious just down the road from his house. Congratulations too, on being E-Birds birder of the month, which isn't a sleazy centre spread award, apparently.
Of the irregulars, a big up to Barry Bishop and his understated "There's a Marsh Harrier". And to anyone else who's popped in to one of London's best birding sites - to you all thank you.
Bring it on.