Despite the weather forecast (drizzle, followed by showers, ending with driving rain) a disparate team from the Marsh set out in high spirits for the traditional NYDay Bird Count. Chris (Marshman) Philpott was wheelman, alongside Mark (The Joker) Hollingworth, plus Phil (Listman) Lightman and myself.
Faggs Wood - 0715hrs - On arrival Tawny Owls were vocal, after which 3 of us slogged around the wood not seeing very much while MH held the fort in the car park and mopped up on the woodland birds. Eventually we noted good numbers of Redpolls, a few Redwings, Siskins, Coal and Long-tailed Tits, Nuthatch, Treecreeper, Great Spotted and Green Woodpeckers, Goldcrest, Jay and Mistle Thrush, all of which would be difficult at sea level.
Warehorne - 0930hrs - The bank of feeders by the church produced more tits and finches plus Tree Sparrows, while down by the canal we noted Mipit, Fieldfares, Great White and Little Egrets in flight but precious little else. As we were to discover, passerines were very hard to come by this morning right across the flatlands.
Midley - 1045hrs - Slim pickings here too, although we did pick up Goldfinch, Pied Wagtail, Marsh Harrier and a herd of 32 Bewick`s Swans. The drying barns area having been tidied up was largely birdless, apart from 2 Yammers, and there were no flocks of wintering geese anywhere to be found on Walland Marsh.
Scotney - 1130hrs - A Raven was the best bird here as it flew over from the ranges `cronking` away. As expected there were large flocks of feral geese, Lapwings, Goldies and Wigeons, plus Redshank, Curlew, distant harriers, Kestrel, Snipe and Shelducks.
Galloways - 1215hrs - The Rye Bay scoter flock eluded us but we did have Stonechat for the day on the drive down to the sea.
RSPB - 1300hrs - Called in at the Visitors Centre, (so Phil could buy his calendar!) and catch up on any news. Pintail went onto the slowly rising list. Over the road from Hanson hide the weather really closed in, with poor viz adding to the horizontal rain, as we began to struggle to find new birds. However, on New Diggings we added Ruddy Duck (6) and Smews to the day list.
Lade Bay - 1400hrs - Undaunted, we soldiered on checking the sands in driving rain for Barwit, Sanderling, Dunlin and Knot with a bonus of a small flock of Brents.
Dungeness - 1500hrs - Seabirds here included the usual Red-throated Divers, auks, Kitts and Gannets from the concrete road in appalling weather with near zero viz and lashing rain. We eventually located the 2nd winter Glaucous Gull and then decided it really should have a name, seeing as it is now a Dunge resident; a bit like old Boy George up at Cley all those years ago. Anyhow, Gary was mooted (too soft), followed by Dan (a hard enough name, but not quite right) and Gloria (well, it could be a lady bird...). In the end we were undecided, so called it a day. After a cursory look at ARC from the road (where even the Ltduck kept out of sight) and with the rain hammering down we decided against doing the harrier roost; the weather had beaten us.
The final tally was a pitiful 91 species, but it had been a great day in good company with plenty of jokes and loads of mickey taking all round. Thanks to Chris for driving, Mark for a constant stream of gags and Phil for being the butt of most of the mickey taking - see you next NYD Phil!!