Monday, December 31, 2012

Not quite 300 but a British record?

With 6 species to photograph and 13 days till the end of the year hopes were still quite high for a 300 finish, particularly as there were still a few resident birds needed.  The plan was to do a trip before Christmas and a trip after to finish the job off.  The problem was where to go. With the Cornwall Pacific Diver and Subalpine Warbler being very hit and miss I decided to try and clear up the few remaining regulars still not photographed. After lots of head scratching and logistical analysis, the place I came up with was East Anglia, with the option of taking in Essex (Lap Bunt) or Donna Nook and Derbyshire (Lap Bunt and Willow Tit). The main problem was going to be light availability and the forecast of utterly shite weather.
For various reasons I didnt get out until 21st. The morning of which found me at Santon Downham looking for Lesser Spotted Woodpecker with also a chance of Willow Tit (apparently).

After a couple of hours searching without a sniff, a Lesser Spot suddenly decided to respond to my occasional bursts from the ipod. A real rush of adrenalin as I reached for the camera but instead of coming nearer it headed off deeper into the wood! 90 mins later and I was still trying to relocate it. It was now drizzling and the light was starting to fail, I checked the time and it was 13.30! I had to look again. 1.30 in the afternoon and the light was going. That was a real sinking feeling.

Woods at Santon Downham

RAF Lakenheath just a few miles down the road

Despite knowing there was a Lesser Spot in there somewhere, I just couldnt summon up the enthusiasm to carry on looking for it even though my options for year ticks were now very limited. I decided to head up to Fakenham, to Norfolks most reliable Willow Tit site!
I was in a bit of a hurry so the discovery of around 30 Waxwings in a tree beside the road in Brandon was only given the minimum of attention. This involved reversing back down the busy road and hanging out the camera to get a couple of record shots.

I arrived at Sculthorpe Moor with around 30 mins of daylight left. However on getting inside the wood that had soon disappeared so had to give it up for the day.
With wind and heavy rain forecast for the next few days I contemplated heading home but then thought of all the effort I had put into the year and decided to carry on. The decision was to drive up to Donna Nook to be there in the morning. After about an hours driving in heavy traffic and only getting a few miles past Kings Lynn I just couldnt carry on! I was tired, wet and thoroughly depressed! The last place I wanted to be was the windswept saltmarshes of Donna Nook! I turned the car around and headed straight to the Premier Inn at Kings Lynn.
The next morning was wet and windy as forecast, but summoning up the last of my will power I decided to give Sculthorpe Moor one more go for Willow Tit and then perhaps head down to Essex for Lap Bunt. Sadly it was all in vain and I had to finally admit defeat when a showery early morning turned into a really heavy downpour. And that was that! With the appalling weather it took me the rest of the day to get home.

Actually a pretty good place for photography with lots of birds feeding outside the numerous hides. Light levels just too low though today

During Christmas,  thoughts started to drift toward a possible Scotland trip with some goodies in Aberdeenshire and a chance to get Caper back! But it was not to be. Too many things going on and some really shite weather put pay to that idea. I could have probably got a couple more ticks but was never going to get 6. So the photo list is 294, I havent heard of anybody photographing more species in a year so presumably a British record but not the hoped for 300.

There is always next year...