Friday, 21 December 2012

Review of 2012 - January to March

My favourite day of the year is the 1st of January, a whole years birding ahead and a whole new yearlist to begin. Sticking to tradition I spent the whole day birding at various sites around the Fylde, recording 74 species which I then supplemented with another 18 the following day. Plenty of highlights, just a few of which include an Iceland Gull at Marton Mere, Great White Egret, 5 Tundra Been Geese, 2 Green Sandpipers, 2 Cetti's Warblers, Scaup, Mandarin, 3 Brent Geese, Marsh Harrier and a Long Eared Owl.

More geese were encountered on Pilling Marsh on the 7th, where much to the annoyance of a birder who had been present for an hour and found nothing amongst the 5000 pink feet, I quickly picked out 6 Eurasian White Front, 6 Brent and 3 Barnacle Geese! A ringtail Hen Harrier and 2 Barn Owls along Bradshaw Lane ended the day on a high. The first twitch of the year took place on the 8th when a drake American Wigeon was found with the Wigeon flock on Newton Marsh. My only previous sighting of this species was a distant drake which I refound on Glasson Marsh in 2010 so I was keen to see this one properly, which it obliged to do giving nice views despite the pouring rain that day. This was followed by another wildfowl highlight in the form of my first Fylde Smew, a redhead on the 15th at Skippool Creek and then Glasson; the supporting cast for the day included a Black Redstart, another Iceland Gull and a Short Eared Owl. Like the American Wigeon it was Nearctic ducks that provide the interest in the following weeks, a fine drake Green Winged Teal was at Leighton Moss on the 28th with the returning drake Ring Necked Duck on Thornton ICI Reservoir on the 1st of February. This is the 4th year I have seen this Ring Necked Duck in the Fylde and at 6 different sites (below photo is from it's visit to Bispham Marsh in 2011).

By Januarys high standards February was a rather slow month birding wise. A Woodcock flushed from the fields behind my house on the 4th was my first record for the house, although within the past couple of weeks I've seen 3 more behind my house. A flock of 15 Eurasian White Fronted Geese on Warton Marsh was a nice surprise and when they flew it is was the first time I have heard the species call. On the 14th I set myself the task of trying to see if the Hooded Crow was still around Singleton from the previous year, and after a couple of hours searching it gave itself up in the exact same field I saw it in last year. My second trip of the year to Leighton Moss on a freezing cold morning had the hoped for affect of forcing the Bitterns out onto the ice, 2 birds gave great views for over an hour and an Otter at the back of the pool was my first for several years.

March usually heralds the first signs of spring, and I noted my first movement of migrating birds at Rossall Point on the 4th when 4 flocks of Kittiwakes totalling 66 birds headed purposefully north just offshore. The first big tide of the year on the 10th saw my heading to Warton Bank along with a crowd of others in the hope of seeing a few specialities being pushed off the marsh. Whilst raptors failed to deliver the Water Pipits made up for it with 3 birds showing very well, as did a Jack Snipe which nearly landed right in front of us before realising it's mistake and powering away inland. Up to this point I had yet to see a lifer in 2012, but I sought to change that with a trip up to Sizergh Castle on the 11th where the Hawfinches (4 males and a female) gave quite brilliant views coming to food in the car park just a few metres from where I was sat in the car.  On the way home a quick stop off at Leighton Moss yielded the Glossy Ibis which had hung on from the previous year. As the month drew to a close more migrants began to make an appearance, Chiffchaff on the 16th, 4 Wheatears on the 17th, a cracking male Snow Bunting at Rossal on the 18th, Swallow powering north over Fairhaven on the 31st, the same day as 4 Little Ringed Plovers at Myerscough Quarry.

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