Despite my best efforts, I could not add the 2 that I needed to hit my baseline of 130 in 2020, it all ended 18th October with Ring Ouzel, our first ever autumn bird.
The highlights Goosander, 3 records of Med Gull for me, having missed them in 2019, Golden Plover, Great White Egret Sandwich Tern, Black Tern, a pair of Cattle Egret over twice in April, Hawfinch, Wood Sandpiper, Red-legged Partridge, early morning Greenshanks, multiple Ringed Plover, Redstart, multiple Whinchat, more than doubled our record count of Stonechat - 7, Tree Pipit, Pintail, Merlin, a very late Whimbrel, Linnet, Lesser Redpoll and Brambling passage in Oct, but of course the top birds were the Cattle Egret on Sandford, 1 then 3 Great White Egret over Sandford and top slot and the first in Berkshire since 1987 - Black-crowned Night Heron from the 8th.
I always say "how can we top this year" and 2020 is a classic example, how can it be topped? For me it's not about topping because as we all know we have no control over birds and never have, so we can do is stay the course of a year, keep 'patching' as often as you can, especially during passage.
Jan 1st I was out as usual before 07:00 to try and get the night birds under the belt, which did kind of work, Water Rail, Cetti's calling early, then the first bonus a Peregrine chasing Redwing as they came of their roost, In the space of the next few moments a Mandarin called and I am 90% sure a Golden Plover also called. I bombed out on Woodcock, so attempted Barn Owl, which was also a no show.
The damp cold got the better of me, but I managed another 45 minutes picking up 2 Raven over the landfill, before looping back to my car for a warm up at home. This extended till 12:40, when I took a walk along the Loddon and got lucky with Snipe, Meadow Pipit, Grey Wagtail, Chiffchaff and best of all 4 Siskin, which I haven't seen on the deck all autumn.
I then looped around Lavell's, the old Gold Course - Collared Dover and DP centre, where I failed to see House Sparrow, on to BSL where a Goldeneye had been seen earlier and arriving at WSL for 15:05 as planned.
It only took barely 10 minutes before our star bird - Bittern showed and rather well too, with a little fly and fumbling around in the reeds. Onto Sandford for a Little Egret, then a lucky pair of Rook over East, onto Lavell's where an even luckier Kestrel was perched up high above Sandford Lane, then the final stop at Bittern for Little Grebe, Sparrowhawk, Barn Owl and Woodcock. No Sparrowhawk, of Barn Owl and I missed the grebes chatting outside, but Marek and I stood in the 'right place' to see the Woodcock fly right over our heads about 12 feet up at 16:44.
I finished on 67, not bad at all on a quiet day, picking up really good tricky to find birds on Jan 1st, making it easy to pick up the missing Little Grebe, Buzzard, Bullfinch, Feral Pigeon, Sparrowhawk, Song Thrush, House Sparrow, Kingfisher Lesser Black-backed Gull, Skylark and Coal Tit.
Over the coming 6-7 weeks in the key time for Goosander, Med Gull, Golden Plover and has in the past produced many wildcard wildfowl, waders, raptors, crests and finches.