It was a dull, damp and gloomy patch visit this morning, and it didn't get any brighter all day!
Good job then that the birds provided something to lighten the morning, a good day total of 46 species was recorded, which was without finding such regulars as Songthrush and Pheasant.
50+ LINNETS flew from their roost in the Tree Nursery early on, and a bit further on, at the pub field, a LAPWING flew up calling very noisily. A REDPOLL flew over as I crossed Migrant Alley, where at the manure heap there, a GREY WAGTAIL was feeding.
The large SISKIN flock in the Alder trees along the College stream had grown, there were now at least 150 of them feeding there, and whilst I scanned them for Redpoll, a GREEN SANDPIPER flew in and landed a little further downstream, incredibly, my third record of this species for Dec. Before moving on, I saw my first MOORHEN, away from my garden that is, for 4 visits, and overhead 3 MALLARD flew round, also a species not seen for most of December.
I found a good flock of YELLOWHAMMER at the wooded end of Migrant Alley as I passed back through, 7 birds were seen, how sad that a good flock is now indicated by the presence of just 7 birds :-(
One SNIPE was found at its usual place, which is now becoming a very wet piece of ground, who knows maybe a different wader may turn up here if it stays wet.
The trip around the Wet Woods and lake area was punctuated by finding all the regular woodland species, NUTHATCH, TREECREPER, COAL TIT, GREAT SPOTTED WOODPECKER, LONG TAILED TIT and a small gathering of GOLDCRESTS, 5 birds were seen feeding together, bringing the total for the morning to 11 birds. It was good to see that the lake had started thaw, but I think it will take a day or two to have open water there.
Two more nice species were seen before ending my 4 hour walk, a COMMON BUZZARD flew up from a large garden, and a LITTLE EGRET flew over the Greenhouse Complex, my second this month.
As we near the end of the year, the time comes to look back on the months that have past, and in doing so I can report that this year has been the best out of the nine years of recording so far.
Those of you that take note of the figures in brackets ( following the highlighted birds) on my posts, will already see that I have recorded 113 species this year, which is 4 more than the previous best, set last year! I have managed to increase my yearly species total year on year and the nine year total now stands at 134, I think, however, that the run may end next year, and things will level out.
One more interesting stat ( for me anyway!) are the monthly species totals, when I started my patch records, in 2002, the average number of birds seen each month was 57.5 this has increased year on year apart from one year, seen as follows.
2002 - 57.5
2003 - 59.1
2004 - 56.8
2005 - 60.3
2006 - 62.0
2007 - 63.6
2008 - 67.4
2009 - 68.7
2010 - 70.1
You can see the increases are getting smaller and smaller for the latter years, but I think an average monthly species total of 70 is very good considering my very average, and sometimes very disturbed patch.
More end of year stats tomorrow. :-)