26.1.13

Patch League

So yesterday I paid my first visit to my 'patch' (not just my garden) of the year. For those who don't know, my patch is King's Mill in Driffield. It's a pretty good patch because it has a variety of habitats, but I'm not going to lie, I didn't go in with a positive head. I expected to see the usual garden birds and maybe if I was lucky a Kingfisher. I was right on the 'usual garden birds' Greenfinch, Blue Tit, Collared Dove etc etc. But actually, I have been rather pleasantly surprised, which is only motivating me more to get out (and win (probably not going to happen)). Either way, I am really enjoying it and am enjoying putting my ID skills to the test already which brings me to the first treat the patch had in store.
        After ticking a few Wildfowl species, I heard some noise coming from a tree close to the ponds. I had a quick look and ticked Great Tit and Coal Tit. And then they flew across to some brambles nearby so I tried to get a better look. Only then did I realise it wasn't in fact a Coal Tit I had been looking at, but one of two species; Marsh Tit or Willow Tit. Then I managed to latch onto about three of them, but unfortunately failed to many really sustained looks due to them being so flighty. Being the idiot I am, I had also decided against bringing my camera. Well, obviously the best way to ID between the two is call. Perfect, I'd heard them earlier. Of course, being me and having a non-existent short term memory I had forgotten the call. From the views I did get, I am inclined to say Marsh although I'm not 100% so I'll go back again armed with my camera.
        My next visit gave me two real treats. Walking down the path towards the feeder, I saw a couple of trees full of finches. Fortunately I had my camera with me this time, and rather than risk not ID'ing them prior to them fleeing I decided to take some photos as a back up before I got any closer. Before moving closer, I zoomed in on some of the photos to see what was around. I was thrilled to find that I had, unbeknownst to me, got a great record shot of a Brambling, my second ever! Patch gold, for me.



I didn't have much time on my patch because of dog sitting duties, and at this point planned to turn around and go home but before I did I heard a strange call. It wasn't like any I'd heard before and sounded sort of exotic. It continued for a long time, only with short pauses and so I tried to track down the source. At this point I was hoping for a mega (as usual) but Ring-Necked Parakeet did cross my mind and seemed like a more viable option! I decided to record the call on my phone, but only managed a bad quality recording because the sound of the mud swallowing up my feet was too extremely loud. I got what I thought was quite close to the source of the sound and two minutes later a slender, very long tailed bird flew out from the trees. I was almost certain it was Ring-Necked, and after checking it's silhouette in flight with that in the Collins it was spot on. A lifer (if you count it), and an ace bird for me; patch gold again! But then again at least there was only one...