Friday, 31 December 2010

Review of year 2010

End of the year and time to tot up various lists!

Biggest success this year was the garden list, total 77 species is best yet, and pleased to get 8 additions in 7th year of recording here: Whitethroat, Canada Goose, Blackwit, Coot, Jay, Brambling, Tree Sparrow, Teal and Wigeon (and Hobby pending acceptance). Of these, the calls of nocturnal migrant Coot and Blackwit have to be the highlights, the vismig Jay was also surreal at the time after years of seeing none, and Tree Sparrows are now well and truly rooted in the area, peak count 4. Barnacle Goose record smashed with 310 on 3/10. The only previously annual species not seen was Peregrine. Now on 94 and 100 looks possible with further good targets, particularly for garden vismig. Full records: Excel s/s.

General vismig was good too, with 78 species logged migrating from "Ferny Ness" watch-point, under which are included also records from garden and coast to Port Seton. This takes total vis species here to 100 up (peak counts).

Atlas recording is proceeding well too, now with 134 "species" (out of 138 total) for winter and 138 for breeding (out of 145) in home 10km, NT47. Lothian status.

4 additions for my Lothian (self found) list are all pending LBRC acceptance (Bean Goose, Mandarin, Hobby & Hoodie). The same uncertainty clouds the year list (on Bubo) with 2 further descriptions submitted (BNG & Pec Sand) but even assuming all can be counted will only be 158 for the year, two short of last year :( Two near misses would have matched it - the dark shearwaters E off Ferny Ness in haze on 4 September, the same day Sootie was logged E off Anstruther opposite (and would have been a vismig tick), and the skua I picked up off Ferny Ness on 6 November, called as a Pom by Merv.

Worst omissions are Little Gull - clearly a poor year for this species after so many years of huge influxes (and how many hours spent scanning the Forth, many 10s, and nary a one seen?!) though they were at Muss in small numbers as usual, and Twite - no "self found" and none on vis :( Also lack of Lap Bunt is disappointing given the current unprecedented influx, odd to have got them on vismig the previous year when they were fairly scarce! Still a target for NT47, Ferny Ness looks ideal, but disturbance may be too great? Overall have not competed with the others doing the year list, despite having been out, at least briefly, both days virtually every weekend - but also have not ventured far from home range, only two species (grouse and GND) were located more than 5 miles from home, plus 4 of the description species being 5-10 miles (Hoodie at Scoughall furthest). Perhaps I should just do a patch list next year?

Lists aside, a year with many good memories, roaming East Lothian - 5 Med Gulls together again on the Seton Burn, encounters with various owls, e.g. handling a young Tawny alive, but contrasted with the worst year on record for Barn Owl casualties (20), many I believe associated with hard weather - and this we have also had in unprecedented abundance, with weeks of snow cover and temperatures plunging below -10C on several occasions. Other sad casualties included Hobby and LEO.

Looking ahead to New Year I take on the job of Lothian Bird Recorder so will be increasingly busy with even more bird records (please now send all 2010 records to lothianrecorder @! We also conclude the fieldwork for the national Bird Atlas and lots of effort will be needed to plug the last few gaps. Plenty to look forward too. Meantime, Happy New Year and good birding to all readers - thanks for your various contributions, all feedback always most welcome!

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