Well it's been a bit of an odd start to the birding year. On the one hand a good few winter specialities have shown up on the patch... Smew, Goldeneye, Bittern, Brambling... all of which I've managed to get... and Waxwing and winter gulls, that I've not. The Waxwing were apparently in Birch Wood near the east hide feeding on a few berries earlier in the year and I'd not started back on the patch at that time and so had no idea they had even been around until a couple of weeks ago. The Glaucous, Iceland and Mediterranean Gulls that other patchers managed to get, I seem to have missed as there's currently no sign of them on either Birchwood Pool or Pumphouse Pool and a lengthy scan of the Capped Tip the other day didn't produce any either. Even Richmond Bank appears to have suddenly gone quiet, according to tit-bits I've picked up. Odd, as white-wings usually show for a while yet... to such an extent that Moore has become one of THE few places in the north-west more or less guaranteed to have them at this time of year.
On top of all that I'm still missing silly species... Goldcrest, Willow Tit, Linnet... Ringed Plover, Peregrine, Tawny Owl, Grey Partridge, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Grey Wagtail... there's not been a sniff of Pink-footed Goose... the Golden Plover have already buggered off so I missed them... there's not a Stonechat anywhere to be found and I've yet to put up a Common Snipe, let alone Jack Snipe... both of which seem to have entirely abandoned the usual reedy corner where in previous years they have been regularly present. Woodcock are about, but so far I haven't stumbled across any... and the usual Little Egret has yet to join the Cormorants in their roost tree on Lapwing Lake. There's no Green Sandpiper on either Millbrook Pool or the Black Fields, no Common Sandpiper on the Manchester Ship Canal... no Short-eared Owl or Merlin on Norton Marsh...no Goosander on the river... and no Little Owl anywhere... and as for the site speciality, Lesser Spotted Woodpecker... who knows? It's maddening!
It's like I've hit speed bumps. Not much chance of getting up to the ton before the first migrants hit at this rate! However... but in patch terms are things REALLY that bad? Of those species mentioned above there's only really SEO, Goosander, Stonechat, Merlin, LSW, Woodcock, Glaucous Gull, Iceland Gull and Jack Snipe that aren't really gettable at other times of year on the patch so I'll no doubt add the other dozen species at some point. Just goes to show though how high the pre-migrant ton bar really is! I'd pretty much need all but 3-4 of the species above to make it. Touch and go this year... touch and go!