James Lowen 

Wildlife

Wildlife

Northern Waterthrush was a new UK species for me, so much appreciated. I was on Scilly when the Portland bird was around in 1996, and - given a relatively recent return from South America and arrival of a baby, hadn't returned to the long-distance twitching fold when the St Mary's bird wintered. Thinking back, I can recollect only one year where I have seen a new bird this early in the new year - that being a Killdeer on Anglesey on 1 January 1994. Which was very much the morning after the night before... 

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5 January 2024 And we're off...


After last autumn's record arrival of New World passerines, a few were bound to winter in Britain. Finding them would be another matter, however. Traditionally January and February tend to be good, perhaps because there is less food available in the countryside, so birds gravitate towards gardens where they are more likely to be noticed. And so it was on 3 January, when Essex birder Simon Wood caught sight of a Northern Waterthrush in his small garden on a housing estate. It stayed only 90 seconds then disappeared. A check of the surrounding area revealed potentially suitable habitat: two creeks and a canal. So hopes were high come the morning of the 4th. And, glory of glories for Mike Buckland, me and others present, the bird was still present - announcing its arrival at the creek each time with a series of explosive calls. Shortly before we left, in mid-afternoon, it shot off towards the housing estate. Perhaps it spent the afternoon there, or - we guess more likely - near the canal, but a brief check of the area produced nothing.