In the end it was second place in the 1 mile FootIt challenge but all in all I thought a pretty good effort. Having had a target of 58 last year, based on the the two previous January efforts, and reaching 61 was I thought pretty good, so that was this year's target. I'd expected to get into the high 50s to be honest. The faithful Tree Sparrow having recently departed and various other species proving to be quite elusive in December. However, I had good weather at the beginning of the month when I was on holiday and on the whole the weekend weather was not too bad. There were sufficient calm days to be able to search the lochs for ducks and I got lucky a few times.
Star bird was of course the Blue-winged Teal, a really nice find, and my first "proper" find since the Red-rumped Swallow of October 2012. Also nice were Jack Snipe, in the past just a couple or so records, Woodcock, which can be very tricky, Red-throated Diver which was early and very distant on Loch of Harray, and of course Ellen's Waxwing which played ball (or at least ate apples) the following morn.
The benefits of FootIt were that I found a Raven's nest I would otherwise have missed, the Woodcock which was in the little watched northern section, as was a new Blackbird roost. The Skylark flock of 27 and the 35 Linnets were in a field I would otherwise not have checked, the Skylark flock being a patch record.
I will now be going back to watching my "proper" patch which no longer includes the northern sector, but does include the Howaback area of Loch of Harray with the water treatment works and burn. No doubt a fair bit of my birding will continue to be of a FootIt nature. I might even keep a FootIt year list.
This weekend it was back to the decorating, and to the coast. The Waxwing put in a brief appearance yesterday but today a more determined effort at Palace, in a bit of a blow, found both Glaucous Gull and Jack Snipe (I have a feeling that the Jack Snipe is a patch tick).