..........HAPPY NEW YEAR TO YOU ALL................
Well, its here again, the final full patch walk of the year, and just like the past few days, it was dull and damp, but the persistant rain has at least moved off now.
It was really hard going at first today, I had walked the Tree Nursery, Migrant Alley and the College Grounds, but nothing of all was seen that was of note, apart from the KINGFISHER at one of the ponds in the college grounds, in fact the number of birds were well down than of late - I get more in my garden!
There were of course the usual suspects, LINNETS were seen leaving their roost at the tree nursery, REDWING and FIELDFARE were flying over with BLACK HEADED and HERRING GULLS, a few BLUE and GREAT TITS were about, the odd CHAFFINCH, and GREENFINCH were seen, they were unusually outnumbered by BULLFINCH'S. A CORMORANT flew towards the Lake, and a GOLDCREST was seen along ashes Lane. However, the walk did come to life a bit when 3 GOLDEN PLOVER flew up from the sheep pasture as I returned through migrant alley at the end of the first part of my walk. Two sightings of Golden Plover on consecutive days! Unheard of on my patch!
The second half of my walk through the Small Holding and wet woods was just as still and quiet, very little bird activity was noticed. As I neared the lake area I could see that the two small lakes had thawed out - at last! Nearing the main lake I could see that it too had mostly thawed, and the far side had a patch of open water, a quick scan of that, and bingo! An amazing six GOOSANDERS came into focus, 2 males and 4 females quite something to see for my patch lake, in fact they out numbered the MALLARD until a few minutes later when they were reinforced by eight of their kind.
I was annoyed that I had left my camera at home now, so later on I returned for some pics. So the last walk of the year was mostly dull and quiet, but it did have some very good highlights!
As promised on yesterdays post, here's some more end of year figures, and I know you all love reading my really interesting stats - dont you :-)
The final tally for 2009 was 109 species, which is the best ever yearly total, beating last years old record of 106. I am well pleased with that, as I think if I can get 100 species in a year on my patch, with its less than optimum habitat, I am doing well.
7 species were patch ticks, Mealy Redpoll, Common Sandpiper, Mediterranean Gull, Woodcock, Barnacle Goose, Shoveler Duck, and Little Ringed Plover, any of which i will be lucky to see next year! These 7 species brought the patch total for the 8 years of recording to 127. The average number of species recorded per year is 97. The first two years of recording produced just just 89 species in each year, but I put that down to getting to know my patch, and the fact I was working full time then!
All these facts and figures are part of the challenge of patch watching for me, but in keeping them it also reveals some interesting changes in the bird life - which is more important. In each of the last eight years I have made 120 FULL patch walks, and I keep a track of the percentage of walks that any one species has been seen. It has thrown up some interesting facts - this year for the first time GREENFINCH has not been seen on 100% of my walks, it has dropped down to 97 %, maybe not significant, but year on year it could be. Yellowhammer has dropped year on year, and my findings compare well to the county trends.
Anyway, thats about it, next year it will start all over again, my target is set at finding 100 species, maybe thats a bit modest looking at the last two years, especially as I reached the target by May this year, but I dont think that will happen again next year, 2009 really was exceptional!
Here's the pics from today, I hope they are appreciated, as I had to go back to get my camera, then all the way back to the lake again, through all that mud!
Above: 4 Goosander, Below: 5 Goosander, couldn't get the 6th one in, I know the photo's are a bit rubbish, but I had to shoot in rubbish light and through a wall of branches!