'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.