Tuesday, 10 February 2015

'New' site, new target


Gordon Hay alerted me to it. Or rather, Gordon reminded me of it.

"Can you see the far bank of Buckland Sand Pit from Colley Hill?" he asked me on the phone last night.

"Yes." I replied, "I was looking over that way from the hill on Sunday but didn't have a scope with me. If I did I'm sure larger stuff like wildfowl would be identifiable."

"Is it in your 2015 patch?"

"Geographically yes, although, as you know, you cannot gain access to them, so they didn't come into my thoughts."

"Well in that case go back and take your scope and look - there were at least 60 Wigeon feeding on the grassy bank today"

Wigeon! A bonus species if ever there was one. I needed no more excuse to head back to Colley Hill with scope and tripod. Accompanying me was brother-in-law Bill, who, although not a birder, is used to my ways and enjoys being out in the countryside whatever the reason.

Now, I must admit to feeling a bit sheepish about this 'additional' site. It is, without doubt, in my 2015 patch boundary, although due to the private nature of the site did not consider it as being a part of it. How I had 'forgotten' that you can look down on the water from the elevation of the downs I cannot say. But, here we were, scoping the water of the nearest pit and immediately coming up 'patch trumps' with four Little Grebes. In the image above you can see the trails in the water that the grebes have made. The grassy bank where Gordon had his Wigeon is further away, and scoping revealed that they were not present - at least in the section of grass that I could see. Truth is, 90% of the water and banks are hidden from view, so my ability to work this site, forgetting about the distance involved, is compromised. Even so, birds like Gadwall, Teal and Shelduck are now more than a pipe dream even if I have to rely on my 20-50W Swarovski telescope lens to gain identification...

Because of this I think it only fair to raise my 2015 target level from 90 to 100. Stewart was kind enough to give me a low target figure in the first place, and this 'new' opportunity opens me up to a good additional five species (at least) without too much effort.

Little Grebe becomes species 70, and is 70% of my new target of 100 (even a maths fule no that).

UPDATE: Just before midnight a calling Tawny Owl (heard as I was lying in bed) became species number 71.

7 comments:

  1. Its all looking good Steve, its a pity you couldnt get permission to access the pool once in a while.

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    1. I did try a few years ago but the operating company wasn't interested at all! Same result with other local birders. Just need to scope a bit of it from distance Stewart!

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  2. Hi Steve.

    I carried out a survey of LRPs there five or six years ago for the BTO without any issues. All I did was phone the site manager up - whose name was on the board at the front of the pit entrance - and he was very welcoming. Of course I had to avoid the working area of the site but other than a few brave Pied Wags there was not much there anyway. BTW:that's are two pits opposite each other across the A25 both managed by the same site manager and he was happy for me to access both. I only stopped birding the site as I moved out of the area which was a crying shame.

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  3. Hi Steve.

    I carried out a survey of LRPs there five or six years ago for the BTO without any issues. All I did was phone the site manager up - whose name was on the board at the front of the pit entrance - and he was very welcoming. Of course I had to avoid the working area of the site but other than a few brave Pied Wags there was not much there anyway. BTW:that's are two pits opposite each other across the A25 both managed by the same site manager and he was happy for me to access both. I only stopped birding the site as I moved out of the area which was a crying shame.

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    1. Thanks Simon, I might try and gain access again. I knew a birder who lived opposite the Lawrence Lane pit who recorded Wryneck, Spotted Crake and Bearded Tit there. A few years ago mind.

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    2. Good luck Steve! They are both sites that deserve regular watching - and you will probably have then to yourself!

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    3. Good luck Steve! They are both sites that deserve regular watching - and you will probably have then to yourself!

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