So its the last day of March, and as a result I decided to go to Old Moor after my lecture, to try and find the 3 species I would need to take me up to 100 in 1 quarter of a year.
I arrived in good time, all the connections went well, I'm getting good at this, but the weather was not as good as it has been on previous visits, it was quite foggy. As soon as I arrived I knew I had a chance at getting 3, as the first bit of news I heard was that of a Sandwich Tern on the wader scrape, unusual. So that's where I headed first. I arrived to the bitter news that it had left about 20 mins before, but I stuck around in that hide to see what would be around. There had been avocets on the scrape in recent weeks, but there were none today unfortunately. There were hundreds of Black-Headed Gulls, as well as multiple wildfowl species, such as Gadwall, Mallard, Pochard and Wigeon. There was also a lone Oystercatcher. It was while I was taking all this in that one of the other guys in the hide (Local, Hardcore birders) spotted an unbelievable bird fly in, a Kittywake, this far inland.
I was well impressed and got to watch the smashing bird fly over the scrape, stopping for a wash and moving on. Overall it stayed for about 10 mins, but I got some great views of it, sadly though not really close enough for the camera. I would have to say, were it not for the other birders in the hide I would probably have missed that, writing it off as a Black-Head.
I was left buzzing after that, a very unexpected surprise to say the least. I then received news of a Ruff up on Wath Ings Hide, so I headed up that way, not long after the Kittywake had left. This part of the reserve had much lower numbers of Black-Headed Gulls, but they were still in abundance. There were also good numbers of Tufted Duck and Pochard on this section of the reserve, as well as Lapwing on the island.
The Ruff was not hard to find, as it was feeding on the right hand island. I was able to watch it for some time, but once again it was a little too far for my camera. I managed a few record shots, but not like I had hoped.
A little closer however were the Little Grebes that started to appear everywhere while I was watching the Ruff. They were fishing along the near edge of the lake and allowed me to get some great views of them, even hunting and eating the fish that they caught.
After finding the Ruff, I only needed one more species to reach my target. However, as the day drew on it began to feel less and less likely until at around half 1 I was convinced it would not happen. I kept trying though. I went to the main hide to try and find the Med Gulls but I could not track any down. There was plenty of other stuff around, but nothing new for the day or for the year. I decided to head up to the reedbed hide to see if anything was there. The weather had picked up and as a result there were good numbers of Gulls riding on the Thermals. Among the gulls I found a Common Buzzard Loitering in the thermal. There was also a Kestrel hunting on the roadside verge.
The reedbed hide was quite quiet and as a result I did not stay long. There were good numbers of Shoveler and other wildfowl but overall it was quite sparse. There were however good numbers of coots quite close to the hide, so I improved my coot record shots with this photo of a coot displaying.
I did some more mooching about but to little avail, the highlight being a Redshank on the field pools. At 3 I decided to call it quits, safe in the knowledge that I had done all I can and not managed to find a 3rd species. On the way out I checked the feeding station for a few mins and was delighted to find that a Lesser Redpoll was feeding there. Being pushed for time I grabbed a few record shots and then cleared off.
And that was that. It was overall a really good day, with 2 surprise year-ticks and a host of other great species seen. Ultimately, I am disappointed for not getting to 100, but I figured I may as well save the cash than go off on a spontaneous trip to try and find something. In the end 99 species is a record reward for me birding-wise for this year, and I am well pleased
So the only thing left to do is break-down all of today's sightings, starting with Peacock Butterfly...
Sightings List: Starling, Dunnock, Chaffinch, Blue Tit, Magpie, Blackbird, Great Tit, Robin, Pheasant, Black-Headed Gull, Mallard, Mute Swan, Common Buzzard, Kestrel, Woodpigeon, Feral Pigeon, Jackdaw, Goldfinch, Cormorant, Tufted Duck, Little Grebe, Moorhen, Coot, Great Crested Grebe, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Teal, Pochard, Shoveler, Redshank, Gadwall, Greenfinch, Tree Sparrow, Reed Bunting, Wigeon, Oystercatcher, Lesser Redpoll, Kittywake, Ruff