Monday 28 January 2013

Round Britain Tour of January 2013 - Really hard going due to the extreme weather conditions

This year's trip was particularly testing, mainly due to the extreme weather conditions. We literally got snowed in in Norfolk for four days before hitting gale force winds and torrential rain in both Cornwall and South Wales. As such, we really struggled to hit the high numbers, and this year's total of 174 species fell well short of last year's 192 and 2011's 178. Despite these setbacks, we had a really enjoyable trip, and it was a fantastic team that really gelled well - just under 2,000 miles was covered.

Amongst the many highlights in Norfolk included the Black-bellied Dipper, 31 Taiga Beans, Stubb Mill Common Cranes and roosting harriers, Slavonian Grebe, 40 Mediterranean Gulls, Waxwings, Bittern, 36 Snow Buntings, Rough-legged Buzzard, Lapland Bunting, Twite, Golden Pheasant, Red Kite and Wild Swans in the snow, whilst Suffolk afforded fabulous views of a juvenile Great Northern Diver, as well as exceptional numbers of Barnacle Geese and Red-breasted Geese. Hertfordshire in deep snow allowed us to closely examine no less than 67 Grey Partridges, with the added bonus of Merlin, Hen Harrier and 2 Great Grey Shrikes.

A trip first was the American Buff-bellied Pipit at QMR, with that area adding Siberian, Scandinavian and Common Chiffchaffs, Blackcap, some lovely Smew and Goosander, Black-throated Diver, Water Pipit, Stonechat and a nice selection of birds at Staines. We failed to see the Pallas's Leaf Warbler though.

Along the South Coast, we mopped up Ring-billed Gull, Common Sandpiper, Great White Egret and Bewick's Swan, enjoying a stonking flock of 30 Hawfinches in Hampshire and 3 Tundra Bean Geese in Dorset. More additions came in the form of Spoonbill, Velvet Scoter, Curlew Sandpiper, Rose-coloured Starling, Cirl Bunting, Lesser Yellowlegs and Greenshank before we lost over a day to the inclement weather. Before we had left Cornwall, we had managed to connect with Lesser Scaup, Ring-necked Duck, Green-winged Teal and Greenland White-front, but the Common Tern never gave itself up.

Despite dipping the Bonaparte's Gull twice in South Wales, Pembrokeshire sufficed with Surf Scoter, Chough, Long-billed Dowitcher and Glossy Ibis.

Although many of the same team are booked on next year's trip, spaces are available for up to 5 more - email me for details and bookings ( Dates are now confirmed for an additional Scottish Long Weekender this spring - 3-6 May 2013 - whilst spaces remain on the Summer Round Britain Tour. Email for details