On the way back we watched a Song Thrush (61) feeding on the now fully thawed grass with a couple of Blackbirds at the top of the field.
It was far too dark and rainy to visit Patch 2 before work so we had to wait until lunchtime. It was useless for cetaceans as a westerly wind was making large waves. There was a feeding flock of distant Cormorants (62) with their attendant Great Black Backed Gulls, there could have been Harbour Porpoises with them but it was far too rough to have any chance of seeing them. Out there too was a Red Throated Diver (63) flying south though mostly hidden in the troughs. Much closer in were several small flocks of Common Scoters (64).
The tide was still up to the wall and we were intending to wait for it to drop a bit and watch the waders come back in. However, while we were scanning we got a text from CR (many thanks - gotta be worth a pint or a bottle of £3.99 plonk!) letting us know us there was a Red Necked Grebe just down the road so that was enough for us to dart back to the office grab the Land Rover keys and head off...so much for not twitching cos diesel’s hit six quid a gallon! (It went to £1 a gallon 20 years ago forcing us to ditch the old Series IIa Land Rover for commuting and get a Lada instead, which turned out to be the best car we’ve ever had until some numpty decided to drive in to it – needless to say our wages HAVE NOT gone up six fold, in fact we’ve just been told we’re getting a 1.1% pay cut whether we like it or not, at a time when everything is going up; anyone know whether ketchup or brown sauce goes better with tree bark!) A few minutes later we pulled up at the lake and saw a few scopes and camera lenses pointing out towards the middle. Hot on the heels of the Red Necked Phalarope, Fairhaven Lake gives us a Red Necked Grebe (65). What next? Go for the triple and pull in a Red Necked Stint? Well they do say things come in threes! What a cracking New Year bonus bird and of all the grebes the one we see the least and don’t really expect to see in any given year. Note that this bird is following the 2011 weirdness ‘tradition’ of Peregrine first bird seen and almost getting the Tree Sparrows before any House Sparrows. We have yet to see either of the common grebe species, not even had a Goldfinch yet! The first one we ever saw was at a certain Hollingworth Lake, host to the recent Pied Billed Grebe.
Whilst watching the Red Necked Grebe and chatting to the birders there news broke of a Mediterranean Gull a mile or so down the road. Well it would have been churlish not to go, wouldn’t it? We twitched the extra mile but the bird wasn’t there, we could only find a small flock of Black Headed Gulls being fed bread near one of the shelters. However, a quick scan of the marshes and river gave us a flock of about 100 Linnets flitting about the marsh and plenty of Pintail (66) on the mud banks of the river. Sadly we didn’t have enough lunchtime left to go a further couple of miles and see if the Bewick’s Swans were in the same fields as we saw them last winter, they have been reported from there this week, maybe tomorrow. We'll need plenty of nearby twitchable bonus birds if we're to get close to the 200 target set for this year.
Where to next? The tide looks better for shore birds so Patch 2 will come in to play.
In the meantime let us know what bonuses your outback has provided.