The patch has gradually increases in size, from a single woodland to a whole strech of the river severn, to include a wider range of habitats, this has lead to my current sized patch to take nearly 5 hours to work thourghly, but i have many 'short walks' where i decided to walk to a certain area, check it out, then walk back.
In the 2nd half of 2010 the patch was very much abandonned, so the usual warbler counts i do never took place. the only day i have for patching is sunday, and when year 11 hit me, it was full of homework and coursework, and most of the time i was generally too tired to get out. but when i finally got back to the patch in mid december, i was immidiatly overtook by patch birding, finding a WHOOPER SWAN on the river, a self found bird, quickly followed by a stunning drake SMEW, which amazingly i also found, the supporting cast here though was amazing, 6+ Goldeneye, 30+ goosander, at least 15 tufted duck (an amazing patch rarity ( only 6 birds previous(2 records), a flock of 5 little grebe, common gull and a pair of Dipper, 4 patch firsts in 2 weeks!!!!, even though i had neglected the patch for almost 6 months!!!!
Unfortunatly, i wont be able to work the patch as much as i used to for many reasons, but have promised to myself that i will get down to the patch every 2 weeks, even if to only visit one location, just to see what is about, Patch birding is THE most furfilling type of birding, finding an odd bird on your patch means more than traverling 400 miles to twitch a gull (no matter how manky it is), finding a decent bird on your doorstep is just so much better, even if it is common 10 miles away, Patch birding always has the edge..
So my most recent patch exploit.
I decided to walk to the Gadwall lake, just to see if the bird for which this lake has this name had returned, but when getting to the lake it was frozen over, so no chance, but i was soon standing there scopeing the Reed bunting, i must say, a bird i overlook elsewhere, but due to being on the patch i decided to stop and watch. the light was stunning, and i got lost in time, and 1 1/2 hours later, i had realised i had watch a bird for that long, well tbh it wasnt one bird, it was 12, and with reed bunting being unusual on the patch (despite in the last 2 years having 30+ flocks and potential breeding birds), it has became a lot more common in the last 2 years, possibly due to the fact of the patch size increase.
Needless to say, i actually have never really spent time just watching a single type of bird (unless it is particuarly special), but i was engrosed in the Buntings behaiour, watching mutual preening, and even at one point a male and a female bird perched on opposite stems, and touched beaks, almosts as if the birds were giving a kiss, i certainly had never seen this before but i found them quite charming birds, they have gone up a few levels in my 'good' birds list!!!
After this long stint watching the buntings i headed home, but it was only when i got too the Moorhall Wood (aka balckcap wood), i quickly found a flock of 20 Lesser redpoll, and on sifting through the birds, One jumped out at me, Larger and frostier, white wing bars and only a brown tinge on the back, MEALY!!!
4th patch record. i dropped the legs on my tripod, and quickly aimed my scope at the birds, and without thinking i ripped back the velcro so i could access the focousing wheel, and the birds all took flight, flying towards the birch wood further along, but despite looking i never found the flock again..
1 MEALY REDPOLL
20 Lesser redpoll
13 REED BUNTING
8 Coal tit
1 Marsh tit
it was also quite nice to see that both Wren and Goldcrest have survived the cold spell in numbers, with decent numbers noted of each...