Thursday, 4 November 2010

I'm Not Doing a County Year List But...

I'm definitely not doing a county year list this year. After last year's efforts, exciting though they were, I've been enjoying not having to go for birds. Having said all that I have been keeping a tally on what's been seen in the county and have been keeping tabs in a spreadsheet (I run my life with spreadsheets!) of which birds I've yet to see in the county (marked in red). What this means is that if I fancy going somewhere a little further than the local patch I can look up to see what's marked in red and then have a go for it.

One bird which I didn't hesitate over however was water pipit. Readers may remember that last year I infamously strung my water pipit and had to retract the sighting later on in the year. I'd even posted a photo at the time which clearly was a meadow pipit though it appears my readership is either too polite or too dozy to notice (surely the former)! I was keen therefore when one turned up at Farmoor to make amends for this and decided to go for a run around Farmoor to see if I could find it. It was a glorious autumn day with very bright sunshine as I arrived. I parked along the road to Lower Whitely Farm as I'd been told that it was at the southern end of F2. Within a few yards of starting off I came across the bird, hanging out with a pied wagtail. It soon flew off making its buzzing pipit call. I ran all the way around Farmoor II and when I got back to the car there it was again so I too a rubbish record shot with my point & shoot camera (I don't of course take my digiscoping gear with me when I go running). Such was the brightness of the light that by contrast the bird was left in the very deep shade of the reservoir wall so the photo is absolute crap but at least you can tell what it is.

You can just make out that this is in fact a water pipit

On another occasion, a lot of mandarin ducks had been seen in their usual small pond in Blenheim Palace near Combe Gate. As this was a bird I'd not yet seen this year I thought that a run around the grounds would make a nice change. It was also nice to see some woodland birds such as treecreeper, nuthatch, marsh tit etc. and there were 27 mandarins on the pond lurking at the very back.

Another rubbish point & shoot shot

In between going for the odd "red bird" I've been dutifully checking out Port Meadow each day. Amazingly the lesser yellowlegs is still there for it's 21st day now and seems quite at home. I know that they can be long stayers but all the same it's really great to be able to see a genuine rare each day on your own patch.

Least you think all my photos are complete pants here are some better digiscoped efforts of the lesser yellowlegs though they have a slightly surreal air to them which I rather like actually though they're not a patch on the fantastic DSLR shots that proper photographers have been taking (see Port Meadow Birding for examples)

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