Saturday, 1 January 2022

A Green Day

A personal record Welly Walk today. According to Google's clever mapping tools (and rounding up a touch) a cool 15 miles or 24 kilometres. I don't think I've managed a walk that long for at least 18 months. My legs hurt.

Home to West Bay, then to the West Bex Mere, and back again via Burton Bradstock and North Hill

Most of my local birding involves a short drive first, but somehow it felt right to kick off the new year with a totally green effort. I'm glad I bothered...

I arrived at West Bay with the first of the rain, so plonked down in the shelter and got the flask out. A bit earlier than planned - and for longer than planned - but hey ho. A flock of 5 Brents W was an unexpected bonus from the enforced seawatch. Apart from singles of Teal and Gannet, nothing else but the odd gull.

West Bay 09:45

The next bonus bird flew E over Freshwater Holiday Park as I walked across it towards Burton Bradstock - a 1st-winter Kittiwake. Locally, almost certainly the only one I've seen comfortably inland of the nearest beach, and the only Kittiwake of the day. It was quickly followed by another surprise...

Black Redstart in Burton Bradstock

My first local Black Redstart for ages, and I definitely would not have seen it under normal circumstances. I never visit this spot in winter. From here it was a steady plod all the way to my shingle seat by the West Bexington Mere...

Lunch. The gulls and ducks are very, very small, and far, far away

I sat here for a while, with my hood up to keep the spray off my specs, and waited for a classy gull to drop in. There was a reasonable turnover of gulls, with 50-100 on view most of the time, but 4 Meds together was the best of it. No jam today. I did see a nice duck though...

A very distant female Pintail on the left there.

Next, off to the only stake-out of the day: Cirl Bunting. At least, I hoped so. Approaching its favoured hedge I was pleased to see 20-odd buntings and finches flitting up and down from hedge to field and back. But before I was anywhere near, the whole lot upped and flew. Closer now, I could see that just one bird was left, tucked in the hedge a bit. It looked vaguely promising, but a little too far and obscured to clinch with bins. Out with the camera...

Female Cirl - the only bunting in the hedge!

That was handy.

Heading homewards I was amazed to see how many people were now out and about. Maybe they'd waited for the morning rain to ease? Whatever, I counted 80+ at Cogden Beach, which is possibly more than you might see on an average summer afternoon. A little further on, this was the Hive Beach car park at 15:00...

Hive Beach at Burton Bradstock

I cut inland at this point, and a Chiffchaff in Burton Bradstock village was the final addition to the day's tally, which is 51 if I've counted correctly. There are loads of silly gaps, but I really wasn't looking for a big count.

Mistle Thrush is not a species I would have predicted...

...but Stonechat is.

Heading up North Hill out of Burton Bradstock I had one of those slapstick moments that are miles better when suffered by other people. On the wettest, thickest, slipperiest patch of mud so far (and there had been plenty) my right foot slid rapidly sideways to the left and took my other foot with it, dumping me on the deck with a mighty splat. I managed not to lie down completely, but I cannot think of anything else that might put a positive spin on the event. Oh, wait - I didn't break anything! There you go...

Wiping my specs for maybe the hundredth time, I squidged home.

It felt good to see all these local birds just by walking. When time allows I will probably do something similar again. In the meantime I can feel all virtuous and low-carbon for a few hours. Which reminds me...

On Twitter I came across a link to an article written exclusively by young birders, in which 19 of them talk about local, low-carbon birding, and why they do it. In the face of so many youngsters haring all over the country exactly like my generation did (and does) and apparently seeing no need to do any different, it is a delightfully refreshing read. Find it HERE.


  1. Happy new year Gav. 15 miles walking! I'm impressed. Not much of a walker myself. Two to three miles is as much as I can handle. No problem running or cycling though. 100km yesterday on the bike.
    Have you tried using Rain.X on your glasses? Combined with Dry Anti-Fog Cloth from LifeArt, I find that keeps my glasses quite clear when out in the damp.

    1. Cheers Ric. In wellies too! Which is like donning a pair of trainers, then strapping a bag of sugar to each ankle! A serious workout.

      I will investigate your spec suggestions. I think you've mentioned Rain X before, but I promptly forgot about it.

  2. I'm amazed anyone can walk that far in wellies... it cannot be good for your feet! My life has been transformed since I finally found some waterproof walking boots that actually are waterproof and a good fit (made by Keen). Enjoy your blog.

    1. Many thanks Ken. 😊 👍
      About ten years ago I discovered Muckboots, which are comfortable enough to walk in all day. I bought a new pair a couple of months back, so the linings are still in one piece - with age and wear they do get a little tatty inside. The drawback is their weight!