Monday, January 09, 2012

Bird Race

So yesterday I did the Michael Clegg bird race. The idea of the day is to see as many species as possible on the day to raise money for a wildflife cause in East Yorkshire. This year the money raised will go towards the Heslington East site of York Uni where tern rafts and a sand martin bank will be put in!

So we wanted to do well! In the months running up to it between the 4 of us we put in a lot of work finding sites for certain species and planning out a route that we see us get as many as possible!

After birding all day on the 7th we planned out a target possible 92 species if we managed to see everything that we knew was in the area! Hoping that we might jam in on something to boost the total!

The previous York area record was 86 and apparently the 80-mark had only once been broken when this record was set! So we aimed for a total of 80+ with an eye on the record!

The day started well at Buttercrambe Woods, a private site to the north of the city where luckily one of our team members works!

We arrived at the woods at 06:45 with our eyes and scoring plenty of woodland species and getting the day off to a good start!

Wondering around the woods and checking out the feeding station that Jack had set up scored us some good species; Tawny Owl, Marsh TIt, Woodcock, Green Woodpecker, Crossbill, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Song Thrush only missing one target, Jay!

Moving on towards Castle Howard a few tactical stops got us Tree Sparrow, Meadow Pipit and Stock Dove.

A quick stop and scan of the main lake at Castle Howard got us plenty of duck species such as Goldeneye, Gadwall, Wigeon, Teal and Pochard, again missing one target, Goosander.

From Castle Howard we then headed south to Heslington East. Getting out of the car we noticed a 'Buzzard' over the fields, this Buzzard quickly turned into a Red Kite! Bonus species! Buzzing from that we quickly added Snipe and Jack Snipe and Red-legged Partridge. Getting back in the car and heading off site we flushed a falcon out of a tree alongside low lane, we quickly realised it was a Merlin! We all scrambled to get out the car to see it fly back along the lane towards the lake. A quick jog up the lane and we soon nailed it as a stunning female Merlin, my second campus raptor tick of the day!

On a high we headed over the other side of the A64 quickly bagging Little Owl, Corn Bunting, Reed Bunting, Great-spotted Woodpecker and Linnet, we couldn't pick out a Brambling in with the good numbers of finches but it doesn't seem to be the best winter for them!

New Leica and Canon work well together! Just need an adapter and practice now!

By this point we we're up to 74 species and we hadn't even got into the LDV! Feeling confident we arrived at Bank Island and added Shoveler, but the Willow Tits weren't playing game on the feeders. Undeterred we headed onto Wheldrake and a quick walk out to the hides saw us add Peregrine, Dunlin, Ruff, Redhshank, Pintail, Shelduck, Whooper Swan and Pied Wagtail! (our 82nd sp!)

Up the road to Elvington for a shot at Geese we bumped into the rivals! A claim of the being on 90 whilst we were on 83 saw our spirits drop! Walking back gloomily to the car, Oli came running back announcing that they were actually on 80! Game on, quick dash round the corner to get Little Grebe and we were on our way back towards the city. A lucky Grey Partridge on the way equaled the record, then a quick stop at some gulls gathered in a field near Poppleton scored us LBBG to break the record! 

We now had our eyes on 90 but with half an hour of light left could we do it?!

Racing down the road where SEO had been showing but wasn't now, a quick tactical decision and we headed round the corner to Redhouse Reservoir, potential for Goosander and Jay a run down to the Resv got Oystercatcher but no Goosander! Back round the corner where we needed 2 to get to 90 would the owls preform?! 

We quickly got SEO for 89, but would Barn Owl show?! They weren't particularly regular so should we move somewhere else to see them?! 15 mins to go so we stayed put and luckily the Barn Owl hopped out of its tree before quickly dissapearing again! We'd managed it! 

A fantastic day had by all and despite the rivals only being on 80 something before it got dark they somehow managed to pull out 90!

As the totals were rang in later on it turned out that we'd managed to come 3rd in Yorkshire behind Scarborough and Filey!

Anyone for a May-day bird race?!

Species list in post below.

1 comment:

  1. Sounds like a decent day and a decent start to the year pal!

    Posted a proposition for you on BF...