Saturday 18 January 2014


My wife and I were just on our way across to South Ronaldsay this afternoon to see some friends. As we got to the bottom of the hill from our house I could see there was a large flock of around 200 Greylag Geese in the field just across the road from the junction. The field itself isn't in my patch but can easily be seen from the road that forms the boundary between my patch and the field so under the Challenge rules anything I see from my patch even if it is outside of my patch counts. Not that I would get that excited by a flock of Greylag's as they are everywhere up here and they are already on my patch list for this year.

As I turned onto the main road and started driving past the field some movement in the middle of the flock caught my attention and straight away I could see at least three slight smaller birds with black and white markings. I drove past the field did a quick U-turn and headed back up the road so that the field was on my side of the car. Pulling over I grab the bins and a quick scan of the flock confirmed my suspicions, there in the middle of the Greylags were three Barnacle Geese.

I countinued back up to the junction at the bottom of the hill and turned onto the road marking the patch boundary (the main road isn't on part of my patch) and took another look quickly relocating the birds and adding species number 48 to this year's patch list and giving me my sixth new species for the patch list. It was also a new species for my Burray list.

I then tried to ring my birding friend Barrie but couldn't get a mobile signal. As he lives in the village I popped round to his house to give him the head's up as they were also in his patch. He hadn't got this species on his 2014 list so I gave him the location details and as I set off to continue my journey he was busy getting his boots and coat on. Hopefully he managed to find them as I did a quick check on my way home after seeing my friends and they were still in the same field.

So I already have 10 species more than I had at the end of January last year and there is still a few days left to go, will I manage to get to 50 by the end of the month. Chances are probably not as the weather forecast for the coming week isn't looking to good for birding and I'm off the island for the last week of the month.

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