Friday, 9 January 2009

Old year out, new year in...

Brass monkeys over Hennock. You'll need to look carefully to see 'em though.

First off, a happy New Year and all that malarkey. In the grand birder tradition (why, I wonder?), here's a roundup of last year: it was great!

OK. Being more sensible... I... saw a lot of new birds, met the girl of my dreams and moved in with her, earned a bit more money than the previous year (hardly difficult, but there you go!), visited three new countries, ringed a load of birds and generally had a very happy year. Vomiting yet? I am... This year I resolve to do more of the same, though as I've met and moved in already with the girl of my dreams, I'll not be aiming to improve (much) on those stakes.

We finished off last year with a trip to Slimbridge, where we admired the birds - both wild and tame - and enjoyed watching the hardcore birder element who stride resolutely past all the captive birds, making it very clear they're not going to look at any of those things, thankyou very much. But it was nice to get some practice at female Aythyas and potential hybrids - all those Canvasback really do look like hybrids, having read up Keith Vinicombe's article (I'll link to it when I find it again). Not that I'm likely to find one, but it's nice to practice :o)

Good to see that the aberrant Moorhen is still alive - seems to survive despite the aggression of the other Moorhens around the site.

A confiding Goldcrest that was the devil's own job to photograph.

The New Year's birding was brass-monkey chilling weather, so we skulked around the Exe for the day, amassing a vaguely respectable list of species and enjoying a large mixed flock of Calidris waders, Brent Geese and Shelduck at point-blank range at Dawlish Warren. My desire to see Snowy Owl overcame my reluctance to twitch, so we also gathered up the ever-dependable Judith and twitched the little bugger. Was well worth it too - a proper charmer, for all his/her inactivity. For the record, birding the Hayle estuary and Helston felt far more 'real' for some of us, and produced a nice selection of species to bolster the day, finishing off with a rather dimpsy Firecrest as the light faded.

As the famous brass monkey will attest, it's remained very - unusually - cold here in the south of England, and we've noted a complete clear-out of species such as Redwing and Fieldfare, which all seem to have headed for the river valleys. The feeders outside the front door have been literally carpeted with Long-tailed Tits at times (9 on a peanut feeder is quite a sight!) and we've been getting some Goldcrests in the garden recently, at least one of which looked to be at death's door. It don't half make you sorry for the individual, I can tell you!

Finally, and by no means least, we now have chairs for our dining table! Oh joy, oh rapture! No more camping table dinners - we are now officially a civilised household. Na might debate that last point, but it's my blog...!

The Teign just below our house. Looking very Dartmoorish, I tell you...

And in case I didn't post it earlier, a pic of the pre-roost gathering of Pied Wagtail from Kennick reservoir last year.

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