Yesterday was spent variously at a funeral and in some pubs, and I was in no fit state to type when I got back, let alone trust myself to write things on the internet. For the week before that I was housesitting with the missus somewhere remote outside Basingstoke, and didn't have computer access. To top it all off, PG Tips has gone up to 65p a cardboard cup in the work canteen. Sheer folly. All this means that time for both blogging and birding has been limited, so I'm taking the chance to do some catching up. This post will be disjointed. At least, more so than usual.
First of all, I am doing it properly this year and keeping my lists on BUBO. I'm up to a stunning 33 on the year list. Considering I've not actually been out birdwatching yet this year, that's not bad. Being forced to count things up has given me a couple of other surprise statistics - my Tower Bridge list is up to 30 which is higher than I thought, and my life list is at 147. My life list and my 2009 year list are essentially the same thing, since I only took up the hobby about a year ago (think the only difference is Shag, which I didn't see last year but have seen in the Isle of Wight). Targets for this year will therefore be as follows:
Tower Bridge: 30
My work patch, well trodden and well watched though I'll be taking the north bank (no hedgerows and grassland, but several mature trees) while most London Birders seem to be working the south bank. The target is low because I'm restricted at Tower Bridge by what decides to turn up. I haven't counted the Peregrine, which I feel a bit bad about since it was in Bankside when I saw it (though I was by Tower Bridge), but last year's list does include things like Wren, Robin and Grey Wagtail which I've only seen there once and will be lucky to see again (especially the Grey Wag). On the other hand, I didn't see a Tern, and one day there will be a Med Gull among the millions of Black Headeds that frequent the area. Maintaining 30 is a reasonable goal.
Harrow Lodge Park: 70
I'd like to try my hand at an actual local patch, and Harrow Lodge Park is by far the closest and largest body of green to my house. It's 5 minutes walk away, and having a target might push me to get over there a bit more regularly. Also, no one else seems to watch this area so I will be doing VALUABLE SCIENCE by getting out over there. I believe there was a Ferruginous Duck on the lake in 2007 - fingers crossed for exciting wildfowl in 2010. If 70 starts looking too easy I'll rethink it, but I've got no previous figures for this site to compare with.
Year List: 180
This will necessarily involve increasing my life list. However, there are loads of Geese I haven't seen, plenty of Gulls, some scarce waders and things like Penduline Tit which I missed last year but are fairly regular in the area. Shouldn't be hard, especially not if I get another couple of Norfolk trips in this year, and some decent Seawatching with someone who knows their stuff.
Moving on, I got a very quick dusk walk on New Year's day and decided to take the camera out with me. Saw a number of good birds - a mixed flock of Long Tailed and Coal Tits, with one particular Coal Tit hanging off a lower branch and generally displaying fantastically. There was also a skittish Treecreeper which I recognised on Jizz, but didn't get a decent look at. My girlfriend did and her ID concurred with mine so it's on the list, but I still haven't had a satisfying view of this bird. One to watch. There was also a large Chaffinch flock, and a dozen or so Yellowhammers hanging around in the treetops. The setting sun completely washed out any colours other than yellow - fortunately this wasn't an issue. Pictures attached.
I think that's it for now. Next chance to get out will likely be Saturday, so I'll either be over Rainham or making a start on the Harrow Lodge list. Now I've seen one Redwing in the garden the buggers have turned up everywhere, so I'm blindly hoping one might get lost and fly into Tower Bridge, where it will lie stunned long enough for me to get there and see it. We can all dream. Having said that, looking at the weather report I very much doubt I'll bother trying to get into work tomorrow. Time to break out the laptop and enjoy an open window and tea for free.