January 1st 2021   Leave a comment

When the New Year starts, I try to see how many species I can see on the first day. It gets the Crail year list of to a definite start, and it’s great to have one day in a year when seeing a house sparrow is just as exciting as seeing a rarity. Every species counts. The rules are simple – any species seen within 24 hours within 10 km of my house. To date I have only managed 85. Today it was a creditable 84. The expected ones that I can find easily every day with the addition of Lapland bunting, twite, Mediterranean gull (first appearance ever on Jan 1st) and jack snipe. First bird was a blackbird ticking outside my house when still dark as I left to start at Boarhills. The last bird was a flock of common scoter, catching the last sunlight as they flew far out to sea by Kingsbarns – the sun has already set for me watching from the shore. The two highlights of the day were finding a Mediterranean gull among the thousand or so black-headed and common gulls in the Kingsbarns gull flock and finding a jack snipe immediately in the boggy field corner that in many years is the only reliable place on my patch for this species, but not so for the last couple of years. I missed a few easy species – sparrowhawk, long-tailed duck, ringed plover, greenshank, lapwing and golden plover, and a few “with a bit of luck species” – jay, peregrine, grey plover, bar-tailed godwit, velvet scoter, greylag goose, water rail, whooper swan. If I had a perfect day, with everything possible being seen and a couple of lucky minor rarities (like great northern diver), I am sure I could get 100 species. Something to play for. I do like the element of Groundhog Day of my Jan 1st bird race. I get to do it again next year and can change things to make it better: a bit more scoping out of sites for lapwing and golden plover the day before, for example. If you don’t get this and you are shaking your head because of the obvious obsessive and inconsequential nature of the task I set myself for Jan 1st, then just give it a try sometime. A daily bird race (any day will do) is great fun, makes you focus on what is around you and perhaps most importantly, a key to happiness is setting yourself straightforward, achievable goals. I already feel well started on 2021.

Twite – no. 41 at 09:32 this morning
Find the Mediterranean gull – no. 45 at 09:59 this morning
Dipper, singing in its usual place on the Kenly Water – no. 57 at 11:20

Posted January 1, 2021 by wildcrail in Sightings

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