2010 began with two excellent local rarities lingering from last year, the overwintering Long-billed Dowitcher at Port Carlisle stayed for a few days before the big freeze forced its premature departure, and the Rose-coloured Starling continued to visit gardens around Kendal.
My 5th Black-throated Thrush was observed near Whitby towards the months end, the bird eventually putting in an appearance after a lengthy wait.
Scrutiny of the thousands of Pink-footed Geese in the area once again proved worthwhile, a Greenland White-fronted Goose was seen regularly and then I discovered a superb Bean Goose in early April.
In May a hike up onto a Cumbrian Fell with the camera gear was one of the highlights of the year, literally sat surrounded by Dotterel, strolling past me just a few feet away. Breathtaking scenery and stunning birds.
Skua passage on the Solway this spring was not one of the best, but reasonable weather conditions on the 16th May produced the fantastic sight of 11 Long-tailed Skuas circling way up high before eventually disappearing into the cloud base to continue their journey. The sight of a ‘swirl’ of Pom Skuas with Criffel as backdrop is surely one of the best in birding. In mid-May I made the long journey to Frampton Marsh in Lincolnshire for my first British lifer of the year – Oriental Pratincole.
A Great Reed Warbler on the same trip was only my second, and well worth the detour.
Wader passage on the Solway begins in earnest in July so it’s a month when I like to get out as often as possible, and on the 28th I found a tricky ‘peep’ which I thought looked good for Semipalmated Sandpiper. Thankfully, despite being tidal, the bird stayed for several days and eventually gave itself up – a 1st for Cumbria!
In August I visited the east coast for my second lifer of the year – a Sykes’s Warbler at Druridge Bay Country Park in Northumberland.
Autumn felt well under way when a Red-necked Phalarope was found on the River Eden near Carlisle, a typically confiding bird.
The appearance of a Sharp-tailed Sandpiper in nearby Cleveland coincided with a shift that made it possible to go for it, two things that don’t happen very often! And so my 3rd and last lifer of 2010 was ‘in the bag’.
October had soon come around again, and this year due to the continued increases in prices, we decided not to go to Scillies, it’s just getting too expensive for a family holiday nowadays. A real shame as there’s nowhere I’d sooner be in October. So the Northumberland coast beckoned, and a week in Craster. The 10th was quite a day – with Red-flanked Bluetail, Dusky Warbler and Radde’s Warbler all seen in the same county.
Back in Cumbria I jammed into a long overdue county tick – a Yellow-browed Warbler in a Whitrigg garden.
During November an exceptional influx of Waxwings into Cumbria took place, with birds being seen almost daily. Birds became less numerous during December, but the sight and sound of these colourful visitors was a nice finish to the year.