NZ26 was a ‘sabbatical’ from my patch. By January 3rd I thought it was a bad idea. The dog poo, the noise, missing the countryside were all going to be too much. Then I found a Kingfisher in Team Valley and I realised while this was going to be difficult, the unexpected rewards were going to be surprises. Some were genuine surprises -Jack Snipe, Goshawk and Redstart. These were never on a list of likely finds. It was almost like seeing the bird for the first time. Out of context birds, like the Stonechat in Gosforth, Eider on the Tyne and Wheatear by Gateshead College, all raised the pulse.
As a year comes to a close I am looking forward to return to the patch –Burdon Moor, Causey Arch and Tanfield Railway. It has begun to dawn that 2016 has to be different from this year. And what could be more different than taking a species and following it over 12 months?
A major feature of NZ26 is the Tyne and its low tide mud, it has largely played no part in my birding until this year. In 2015 I have gone back day-after-day to look for Ringed Plover, as well as just see what I could turn up. I have come to love the predictable ebb and flow, knowing each tide in the summer had an opportunity to turn up new waders. With Whimbrel and Greenshank it could move them on just as quickly. You had to be prepared to go in that tide cycle if you wanted to guarantee an addition to the list. Other waders are more frequent and in significant numbers–Redshank, Lapwing and Curlew.
On ‘my’ patch Curlew lift if you approached within a few hundred metres. By the Redheugh Bridge there is one that runs away if you get closer than 20 metres. Another Curlew I watched, fascinated, for about an hour as it pulled worms out of the mud; and the whistling call is a familiar sound along the river for most of the year.
Curlew is quickly becoming that species which could influence the shape of 2016, as the restrictive boundary of NZ26 is lost. So the plan, if this loose association of ideas can be called that, is to bird the patch with its 94 species in 2014: the blog will focus on the patch. Each month there will be an exploration of Curlews. I will probably spend as much time by the Tyne but, nowhere is out of bounds: I can go to places where curlew are.
Therefore, Morethankittiwakes will conclude on 31st December 2015 as it is a record of my year in NZ26. From 1st January 2016, Curlews’ Feathers will take its place. I don’t know what this is going to be like, but in November 2014 I had no idea how much I was going to get out of NZ26 either. Hopefully it will be interesting enough for you to stick with this as your views and comments have been really helpful.
The aim is to improve my writing, but in so doing it may get a bit weirder before it gets better.
And the music, not sure if Jimi Goodwin is a birder, but the video this promo is produced by Ceri Levy who is. Ceri with Ralph Steadman produced Nextinction. A special take on what birds we will loose next if we do not change our ways. This is a follow up to Extinct Boids a moving account of what we have already lost; with a little Needless Smut (Supervacuum spurciticia) thrown in for good measure.