Yes, it's obvious that running a blog and a YouTube channel have seemed beyond me, but for me the events of January 2022, warrant a special mention. Is there any point carrying on the blog if I don't do regular updates? Maybe not, but here are my thoughts anyway.
January 1st was outstanding, helped along by the long staying Great White Egret, male Goosander and wintering Stonechats. My total for the day was an unprecedented 79, only missing Little Grebe, Room and Woodcock. Other tricky to get birds on any January day, were Chiffchaff, Mandarin, Raven, Siskin, Mistle Thrush, Meadow Pipit, Kingfisher, Peregrine and Fieldfare, but rarer than these were Kestrel, Skylark and rarer still Blackcap, but the rarest of all and a massive surprise was a flock of 40-50 Brent Geese that I barely got on, arriving from the NW over the landfill and dropping - I could even hear their barking calls as they crossed ESE, but due to an epic failure on my part I never got them in my scope, immediately losing sight of them behind the trees beyond Tern scrape, but then failing again as they turned back, looked tempted to drop, but went on ENE and out of sight.
I will mention the Stonechats again as them wintering at all is still a rare, but I am happy to say increasing trend. A female was around the car park field Jan to Feb 2002, but nothing more until up to 3 birds from Sept 1st to Nov 5th 2014, then a repeat 1/15th Sept 2015 onwards till 2/30th Oct, similar 2016, but 2017 they arrived Sept 19th and stayed all the way through to March 4th. Skipped 2018, but passage till July 21st, then from Sept 10th 2019, minimum 3 birds, but a new high count of 5/4th Oct, 1-3 all they way through to March 6th 2020.
Sept 2020 records began 8th, with 5, then another new record count of 7/27th, although that was the last for the year. Feb 21st to 25th 2021 a pair came and went, then Sept 3/23rd onwards, 5/27th, 7/28th and at times were with multiple Whinchats.
My belief is that the landfill has gradually become more appealing to chats in general, our putting our Eastern boundary fence, has acted as I had hope as nothing short of a perfect perching point - the Meadow Pipits like it too, as do many species. My question as the possibility of the sheep farming coming to and end in 2-3 years, is will they continue after we lose the sheep?
So back to January 2022 - Grey Wagtail, our first Yellow-legged Gull in 4 years, 2 Med Gulls on 2nd, then Woodcock finally for me 5th, Shelduck, Rook and Coal Tit by 9th, meant 86 species, only lacking Little Grebe compared to the park list.Med In with the Common & BH Gulls
But then another major surprise - 18 White-fronted Geese on the landfill 13th. No records since Dec 2002, making a very rare sight here. On top of this they were super confiding, allowing views down to 70m and as I write this, they are still here 17 days later...amazing.
Still not done, I caught up with Little Grebe 13th, Barn Owl 13th, Lesser Redpoll 22nd, then another rarity - the first Caspian Gull since 2017 and we have to go back to 2005 for the record before that.
January Green Sandpipers are another new rising trend, all due to Lea Farm Lake and one dropped in 25th, perfect timing for me as I was visiting the Tuesday work party team. I followed up and heard a Brambling and did the same with Linnet, catching sight of one this morning 30th and heard another.
94 Species is unheard of, the previous high count was 90, sure quite recently in 2016, and 88 in 2019, 87 in 2011 and 2021, all point to an improving species diversity.
All of this has been achieved without Great Black-backed Gull, Golden Plover, Jack Snipe and some of our other recent winter goodies like Firecrest, Pintail, Red Crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck (if we can prove they are not reintroduction stock), Kittiwake, Curlew & Dunlin - both of which one can say rely on proper frozen conditions.
I am fully optimistic we will see Oystercatcher in the next 2 weeks, Redshank by end March, but even though we haven't had an April Red-legged Partridge since 2017, they are almost regular, so it's overdue.
March has so much potential to impress, past ones have produced Brent Geese, Avocet, Common Scoter, Spotted Redshank and Water and Rock Pipits back in them good old early 80's.
I want 2022 to be 'The Red Year'
February - Red Throated Diver to balance things up on the Feb 22nd 1987 bird I missed
April - Red-rumped Swallow a county and park first if we can get lucky
May - Red-necked Phalarope because we deserve one
June - Red-footed Falcon because I am bitter I didn't even hear about the 1992 bird and I am sick I didn't get better views of the Oct 6th 2012 bird I am convinced was one
I encourage everyone to get out at dawn - the sunrises can be lovely