Friday 1st January
A New Year, 2016 and a fresh determination to see 300 different bird species this year. It has to be this year for this will be the last year that my legs will stand up to a whole year of day after day cycling.
I am once again trying to raise money for my four favourite charities :
The RSPB - https://www.justgiving.com/gary-prescott3/
The Wildfowl & Wetland Trust WWT - https://www.justgiving.com/gary-prescott4/
Asthma UK - https://www.justgiving.com/gary-prescott2
And then there are the incredible children of the Manu rainforest in Peru. This project supports some children in their own quest to get an education. - http://www.chaskawasi-manu.org/en/donation-for-chaskawasi-manu-project/
Please if you can donate to any of the above then I would be most grateful. every donation is such a boost to my legs.
There is another way you can help if you can or prefer. Please sponsor me. I am asking you to sponsor me 1p for every bird specie I see this year. I am hoping to see 305. The aim is 300 but the dream is 305, the European record.
If you would like to sponsor me then please either comment at the bottom of this page or have a look at my facebook page . . . Gary Prescott and either comment or message me.
You can also email me at -
Everyone who donates or sponsors will be named in my forthcoming books.
OK, request over. Here's the way the first day went.
It is 5:30am and a frosty, calm morning sees me at Upton Warren Worcestershire Wildlife Trust reserve, off the A38 south of Bromsgrove. Canada geese are the first bird to make a sound, closely followed by coot, mallard and moorhen. I am sitting in the Arthur Jacobs hide when I think I hear a tawny owl. I hear it again, definitely. This is a rare bird at Upton Warren and despite the early hour I text a couple of Upton birders.
Walking along a sloppy muddy path along the Salwarpe brook I stop and try to record the hooting. A single hoot and I press the video on my camera. At thirty two seconds the owl hoots a few notes and evidence is mine. I make three furrows in the mud to show other birders where the bird is sitting. It seems to be quite deep in the Education reserve, an out of bounds area between The Moors and the sailing pool.
I go back to the hide and await sunrise. A water rail sqeals in the reed bed in front of me.
7:30am, a pink wash over the eastern clouds and more birds call in the semi light; carrion crow, teal, cetti's warbler, dunnock and wren. The cetti's does it's Mozart calls constantly and the dunnock sings a pleasant phrase.
Across The Moors pool I can make out the birds with white plumage, black-headed gull and mute swan.
7:50 and it is light enough to start watching birds. A blackbird comes into the hawthorn next the feeders. Now I am listing; blue and great tit, bullfinch, reed bunting, greenfinch and wood pigeon. Meanwhile out on the water there are good numbers of tufted duck, pochard and shoveler with a single great-crested grebe. The bird of the day arrives, great white egret and parades along the reedbed edge.
Two little grebes come close and a couple of herring gulls fly over with lesser black-backeds.
Birders are arriving and I decide to walk around the reserve. A group of curlew fly in and a few redwings, jackdaws and a couple of magpies fly over also.
Fourteen cormorant are on the platforms, a mistle thrush is on the telegraph wires and a large female sparrowhawk disturbs all the duck that circle the pool before relaxing.
A flock of small birds atop some alders included both lesser redpolls and siskins, both birds that were scarce in the winter months early last year.
Into a packed east hide, the great white egret is an obvious start of the year draw, and more birds to add to the list. A flock of seven goldfinches charm their way over the water to some nearby teasel heads. A redshank is walking around an island, a grey wagtail lands another.
Walking back along the trail a song thrush pops out and at the back of a waterlogged North Moors a few chaffinch are in the hawthorns.
I cycle down to the other area of the nature reserve, The Flashes. These are a series of three large brackish pools behind a large sailing pool. There I meet up with John Belsey, the undisputed 'King of The Warren' again and together we go to the hides. A buzzard, fifty up on the list, is feeding on a rabbit perched up on a post of the fox-proof fence. The Warren's fence is about ten feet high and has been instrumental in allowing breeding waders, especially avocets to have high productivity per pair. Eleven pairs of avocet last year fledged twenty nine young; phenomenal number per pair.
Out on the short grass a green woodpecker is feeding and over the nearby tall radio masts a pair of ravens are calling.
The snipe need surveying and so John and myself, joined by Dave jackson, another Upton Warren regular birder, go out to see how many there are. Six common and four jack snipe are flushed; the latter soon landing not far away in their usual fashion. A kestrel is hovering nearby.
Leaving The Flashes I return to The Moors where a small flock of long-tailed tits are moving along the hawthorn hedgerow. Out on the water the only new bird for the day is a male gadwall.
Time to leave, the cycle back to Mum and Dad's house is mostly uphill. Six birds join the year list on the way; fieldfare, starling, collared dove, house sparrow, goldcrest and Jay. So it is the end of the first day. The Green Year list stands at sixty three, ten better than the first day total last year. Great start with a few birds I didn't get until much later in the year; lesser redpoll and jack snipe for instance.
11.86 miles 1042 elevation up 372 elevation down