Sunday, 11 January 2009

Bird Race

For once the weatherman was right and the predicted wind and rain was there in force! We, a team of three, headed for a coastal location for the starting point. It's hard enough to find birds in the good weather so we set our target low for this spot but you have to look or you get nothing. Gulls were easy enough with Herring, Common and GBB followed by Hooded Crow. A sheltered piece of shoreline produce Mallard, Teal, Wigeon and Oystercatcher the rest of the place was dead. A flushed Grey Heron, flyby Greylag and a lucky find of a single Rock Pipit with a single Skylark patrolling the edges of the seaweed. On the way to the next stop we picked up Rock Dove, Song Thrush, Rook and Starling. 15 birds for the first hour, maaan it was bad! Needless to say things didn't improve any but we soldiered on. By lunchtime we had 38 species on the list with highlights of GN Diver and Common Scoter.
As we set off again we immediately picked up a Hen Harrier, a good banker on a bad day. Little Grebe was next on the list with, yet again, just a single bird. The wind was starting to increase and making life difficult to spot the birds we desperately needed from the Lochs. Not a Merg, Diver or Auk to be seen on a normally productive stretch but we still had time. A quick stop at a garden feeder gave us Goldfinch and Coal Tit. A high point overlooking an inlet gave us the RB Merg that should have been on the list this morning but nothing else. Damn! White-tailed Eagle was easy enough with a female sitting in a regular spot and a first-year bird clearing the trees behind her and eventually landing right next to her. The young bird was a female too but not one of the adult birds youngsters as she failed last year. A Meadow Pipit flushed from the side of the road put us on 45 and we knew that the only hope of winning was if everyone else was having the same problems as us. A flock of Barnacle Goose, 3 Mistle Thrush and a single Kittiwake had us into the last half hour. The only thing we picked up was an Eider. A total of fifty on the day.
It was hard work and we had fun battling the elements but we didn't win this year. One of the other teams turned in with 60 for the day. 72 species were seen on the day by the four teams that competed. Here's to next year!!

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