My Christmas Bird Count

In my very active years I always went birdwatching on Christmas Eve and if I could on Christmas Day as well. It’s been a tradition just like birding on the first day of the year.

/home/wpcom/public_html/wp-content/blogs.dir/30f/40695063/files/2014/12/img_5596.jpgI only had chance to walk out today to the nearby local nature reserve, the Blue Lagoon. It was cloudy and temperature just over zero celsius. For the first time I mapped my trekking with Trails app for iOS. I wanted to try how drastically the battery is draining during use. It definitely won’t allow all day recordings without extra battery pack.

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I saw and counted the anyway frequently seen birds, but a few of them were more abundant than on any previous visits. Eurasian Blackbird were the most abundant among songbirds. It was a pleasure to watch them after having days without recording any. Not in mind blowing numbers, but Eurasian Bullfinch provided a couple of perfect views.

All in all, I enjoyed walking even if I struggled with my bad knee. It was my contribution to the popular Christmas Bird Count. I hope I still have time to finish this year with some more birding.

Recorded birds:

Mute Swan (Cygnus olor) 1
Mallard (Anas platyrhynchos) 4
Great Cormorant (Phalacrocorax carbo) 2
Red Kite (Milvus milvus) 1
Common Buzzard (Buteo buteo) 2
Eurasian Moorhen (Gallinula chloropus) 5
Black-headed Gull (Chroicocephalus ridibundus) 18
Herring Gull (European) (Larus argentatus) 8
Lesser Black-backed Gull (Larus fuscus) 29
Stock Dove (Columba oenas) 10
Common Wood-Pigeon (Columba palumbus) 19
Eurasian Collared-Dove (Streptopelia decaocto) 1
Great Spotted Woodpecker (Dendrocopos major) 2
Eurasian Green Woodpecker (Picus viridis) 3
Eurasian Magpie (Eurasian) (Pica pica) 26
Eurasian Jackdaw (Corvus monedula) 11
Rook (Corvus frugilegus) 9
Carrion Crow (Corvus corone) 16
Coal Tit (British) (Periparus ater britannicus/hibernicus) 1
Great Tit (Parus major) 4
Eurasian Blue Tit (Cyanistes caeruleus) 17
Long-tailed Tit (Aegithalos caudatus) 24
Eurasian Wren (Eurasian) (Troglodytes troglodytes) 16
European Robin (Erithacus rubecula) 23
Eurasian Blackbird (Turdus merula) 49
Fieldfare (Turdus pilaris) 1
Redwing (Eurasian) (Turdus iliacus iliacus) 2
Song Thrush (Turdus philomelos) 4
European Starling (Sturnus vulgaris) 14
Dunnock (Prunella modularis) 15
Gray Wagtail (Motacilla cinerea) 1
White Wagtail (British) (Motacilla alba yarrellii) 2
Common Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs) 12
Eurasian Bullfinch (Eurasian) (Pyrrhula pyrrhula) 16
European Greenfinch (Chloris chloris) 8
Eurasian Siskin (Spinus spinus) 2
European Goldfinch (Carduelis carduelis) 6

A short note at the end: i have never seen as many Grey Squirrels in the Blue Lagoon NR as today. They are obviously great competitors to wintering thrushes. Apparently they have killed most of the winter berries what is in short supply by now. I wonder if the day is coming when authorities start controlling the population growth of this invasive mammal species. The cute factor cannot be the reason to deter it.

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Perfect travel companion: thoughts on Opticron’s MM3 50 ED travelscope

Opticron MM3 50 ED travelscope.

Opticron MM3 50 ED travelscope.

Just before the World Shorebirds Day I got a package from Opticron with the new MM3 50 ED travel scope in it. Prior to it Chris Galvin introduced me this tiny but very promising optics at the Opticron Day at the nearby College Lake.

The World Shorebirds Day was a good chance for me to test this optics in wide variety of light conditions. While I didn’t do any hardcore lab test for a sophisticated review, I still have a few thoughts probably worth to share.

It is extremely portable and tiny.

It is extremely portable and tiny.

The MM3 50 ED

The MM3 50 ED was a perfect companion for shorebird counting.

Tiny, yet powerful. This palm sized spotting scope is an ideal companion for a traveling birdwatcher. We all know the feeling when packing for a long-haul trip and we have yo make compromises to find places for important stuff in our luggage. Many times we end up leaving the heavy and large spotting scope at home hoping we don’t really need it. With the MM50 we don’t need to make such compromises. It just a bit longer than a toothbrush and fits easily in any pocket. Suspicious minds would think that poor optical performance comes with such tiny dimensions. Well, I first tried the MM3 50 ED from the Parrinder Hide of Titchwell RSPB Reserve in Norfolk. I arrived in complete darkness and enjoyed being alone surrounded by the mix of shorebird calls. Well before sunrise I spotted a Little Stint in the south west corner of the freshwater marsh. It was feeding with Dunlins in subdued lights but this tiny scope managed to provide enough details for positive identification. As lights improved it became more powerful with surprising clearness and sharpness.

The MM3 50 ED travelscope is incredibly small and lightweight.

The MM3 50 ED travelscope is incredibly small and lightweight.

Tripodless. It is hard to believe that the MM3 50 ED can be held in hand while observing. With a little practice and breath control it can be held steady. The close focus feature definitely widens the target groups in terms of sales. Back in the College Lake, Chris pointed to a nice moth inside the hide and asked me to try close focus. I held the scope in my hand just 2.5 meters from the moth and I could focus on it! It could be a brilliant solution to butterfly lovers.

This palm sized spotting scope easily fits in any size of travel bags.

This palm sized spotting scope easily fits in any size of travel bags.

I finished the Global Shorebird Counting Program on the World Shorebirds Day at the River Blyth Estuary in Suffolk and stayed until dusk. Hundreds of shorebirds were present and I didn’t have to leave because the travel scope wasn’t capable to handle decreasing lights despite having a 50mm front lens. This product is highly recommended not only for traveling birders but every bird enthusiast. The amazingly low £299 (body only) and £199 (HDF zoom eyepiece) price tag makes it an affordable spotting scope.

Huge thanks to Opticron for letting me using this product on the World Shorebirds Day and many weeks after.

Charles Duncan about the World Shorebirds Day

Former director of Western Hemisphere Shorebird Reserve Network, Charles Duncan wrote an excellent article about the World Shorebirds Day for the International Wader Study Group Bulletin. Charles has been one of the great supporter of World Shorebirds Day and I just hope his article encourages other organisation leaders to celebrate shorebirds in 2015.

Please find the article here. Full text can be accessed here.