Monday, February 8, 2010

Away again (UK)

Even non-birding trips turn out birdy in some ways, since I'm typing this watching Dunnock forage in my parents' back yard in dark and sleeting conditions. Although this winter has been moderately harsh in Britain - leading to a Fieldfare invasion as they fled the snow-covered north of Europe - birds are already singing. The Dunnock is one of them, (Eurasian) Robins sing throughout the year, and I've heard (Winter) Wren, Great Tit and Marsh Tit singing in recent days. I did take one day out to dedicate to birding, and amongst the "usual" rarities like Bearded Tit and Marsh Harrier at the RSPB's Minsmere reserve there was my lifetime high of 6 Smew - in fact 6 Smew probably more than doubles the number I've ever seen. 2 males, 4 females. Birding in Britain again after 20+ years mostly away from it is educational - Hen (Northern) Harriers are now downright rare, as well as Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. That woodpecker was borderline common when I was young. Species that were infrequent but possible to find like Bullfinch and Corn Bunting are now threatened. Other species - probably as a result of global warming - have experienced an expansion. 20 years ago there was no way I'd ever have seen an aggressive Peregrine at Minsmere flush a Little Egret, but the Egrets are not even that rare anymore.

Although some species gain, more species seem to lose.