Anyway, back to more immediate matters. On 31st December I decided to sign up for the foot-it challenge. (see Foot it 2014 Blog for more details). I've never done this before but thought it might be interesting for a change. I set a 2 mile radius from where I live and have given myself a target of 70 species. That may be a bit kind but other more experienced observers in the same west Norwich area are targeting 75.
On my list I have broken it up into several groups (based on my experience of the general area in 2013, although I have to say I did very little birding around the neighbourhood last January). I have four groups, Probable, Possible, Slight Chance and Outside Chance. The total adds up to 110 species. In the Probable group its the obvious stuff like Robin, Blackbird, Great Tit etc., Possible has things like Water Rail, Kingfisher, Snipe and Skylark, in the 'Slight Chance' group I have birds like Goosander, Little Owl and Woodcock and 'Outside Chance' (i.e. unlikely but who knows!), I have things like a flyover Hawfinch, wintering Yellow-browed or Firecrest or perhaps a Smew on UEA broad.
I was all set last night to kick-off the challenge early but then I saw a report of a Red-necked Grebe at Whitlingham CP (which is outside of my patch). I couldn't resist the temptation and went for that first. There's nothing nicer than close up views of wintering diving ducks, grebes or divers on an inland patch of water. Somtimes you can be really lucky and get them close in to the shore and have some amazing photos. Not this time though, I arrived at 9am, the bird had been looked for but not seen. A bit surprising but nothing I could do. I drove back home, parked up and started the foot it challenge.
And I was glad I did. First of all the walk did me good, and all the time you're birding! Not driving from A to B, parking, walking to a spot, seeing or not seeing a bird, walking back again, more driving and more driving. This was back to basics birding and a lot of fun. A bit like doing a mini bird race. It reminded me of my days doing the bird races around Cobh, County Cork (see The Great Island Bird Race).
So, I finished the day with a modest 38 species, others working the same area hit 48. But for me it's more about knowing what's on my doorstep. Its what birding is about and hopefully by the end of January I will have a far better idea of the habitats and species that are on my local patch. I'm exciting about doing the same exercise come April and May as the summer migrants arrive and of course in autumn as stuff moves through again.
|UEA broad - 1st January 2014|