Pitchou.

Pitchou.  No not a new one of those Pokemon things, but one of the five highly reliable characteristics in identifying Marsh Tit.  So when I heard this sound down by the lake at Watergate Park (tetrad f) I had to double back and have a look.  I watched it for about 10 minutes down to 2 metres and then for a bit longer as it moved north with some Long-tailed Tits. This extra time gave me confidence, not in its identification, but that it actually now was in NZ26, as the boundary cuts through the wood here.

So I now have all five species of English Tits in NZ26.  This in some ways has justified the effort so far across the tetrads. Up to Christmas 2014 there were only 2 records of Willow Tit and no records of Marsh Tit on BirdTrack for the 10km square.  In fact this was the first Marsh Tit, according to @Gatesheadandbey for Gateshead in the last three years.  I can’t say this is the same feeling as Hartert and Kleinschmidt, as visiting German Ornithologists in 1897, must of had in discovering a couple of Willow Tits in the British Museum collection of Marsh Tits. Thus adding probably Britain’s last, first discovery of an unknown resident bird.  However, I was pleased with the unexpected find all the same.

These one off common birds may not, in the last few years, have got the attention they are getting in 2015.  As this year is helping me evaluate what I know.  In 1983 the Shell Guide to Birds of Britain and Ireland gave me all the information I thought I would need about the Marsh/ Willow p222.  Things have moved on a lot since then.  However it was interesting to find that even as recent as 2009 British Birds still found space to give this species pair a lot of coverage.  The article is worth a read and at the end of which be honest when you ask yourself did I learn something I did not already know about these two.

Also down at the lake I managed to add Green Woodpecker, Grey Partridge, Yellowhammer and Lesser Black-backed Gull to take me up to 76 for the year in NZ26. These go with the other new birds this week in Tetrad p -Shoveler, Wigeon and Fieldfare.  Perhaps though more importantly I have passed 1000 records onto BirdTrack in the process this year.

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NZ26 25/25

I did not mean to do this, but once I had gone past half way it seemed inevitable.  I have now submitted a complete list to BirdTrack for each of the 25 tetrads in NZ26.

jan complete lists

The scores on the doors look like this with regard to the number of species.

e  33  19  21  16  23  z

15    6    9   26  20

20  20  21  20  24

24  27  17  23  37

a  34  31  32  19  21 v

Two stand out as being really low and I have to say there is not much on Town Moor and Nun’s Moor on a very windy January day.

The stand out surprise in the high numbers as I have already commented is tetrad w (Bill Quay, the Tyne and Walker Riverside with 37 species and must have a lot more to offer during the rest of the year.

Of the 695 submissions to bird track only 1 species made it onto the list of all 25 tetrads -Blue Tit.  Helped no end my the mild start to the year they seem to be singing everywhere.  Even in areas that may not provide enough caterpillars to feed a hungry brood, but more on that as we go through 2015

Other species came close, appearing in 23 or 24 tetrads including this species.

BH Gull Jan 15

This is added for no other reason than it is part of my first attempts at digiscoping.  For the princely sum of £2.01 for a phonecover, a milk bottle top and some super glue I am able to convert my iphone 4 and the Kowa 501 scope my Dad gave me into a reasonable telephoto lens.  This has the potential to make future blogs more colourful.

I do not intend to do all the tetrads every month.  And the challenge for February is to go to the best bits of the best tetrads to the get the year list up from its current 64.  However to let you know what I think the best bits are I intend the next blog to be an A-Z of NZ26.