Monday, 31 December 2012

December 2012

November's quiet end continued well into December; birding was particularly quiet with the same set of birds from Pennington and Needs Ore evidently still in situ. A total of 15 Waxwings dropped in for a few days just round the corner from where I live in Hedge End, a drake Red-crested Pochard was at Blashford Lakes, an adult Bewick's Swan at Harbridge and another Glossy Ibis had joined the resident Great-white Egret on the flood at Bickerley Common on 8th where it remained throughout the rest of the month.
I was only tempted out of Hampshire once; for an adult drake Falcated Duck of unknown origin at Farmoor Reservoir (Oxon) late on the 9th. It nonetheless provoked the usual speculation; is it or isnt it a wild bird, do Falcated Ducks naturally occur in Britain etc etc but once again we'll never know. The bird itself was unringed and fully winged and its arrival coincided with a mass arrival of dabbling ducks from the continent, it associated with a large flock of Mallard (perhaps not ideal, depends which way you look at it) but it was noticeably wary. It remained at Farmoor on and off for the rest of the week before it disappeared and hasn't been relocated so far this winter. A chilly walk around the north Basin also produced three Scaup and a Slavonian Grebe.
And now as the year comes to a close, it is always nice to reflect on the year as a whole and the many highlights it contained. I won't bore everyone with more monthly summaries but my personal highlight of the year was our university trip to Romania where we were bluff charged by a Brown Bear. And I must say I've never shit myself so much nor experience such an adrenaline rush! I also notched up a number of new birds in Romania and later Greece, but more pleasing were the 16 new species I saw in Britain and Ireland including one or two species that I expected to wait another 20-odd years for; Cream-coloured Courser and Belted Kingfisher. And then there were those that were simply out the blue: like Hartlepool's Western Orphean Warbler, though unfortunately many of the other major birds of 2012 didn't stick around long enough to be twitched (Black Skimmer, Magnolia Warbler, and Eastern Kingbird). In addition to the lifers were a few potential arm chair ticks that may or may not make the grade at some point in the future and a handful of decent county ticks which are always greatfully received when I still spend a large proportion of the year at university in Cumbria.
2013 is looking just as promising with a short spell in the Cairngorms early on to film Ptarmigan and Mountain Hares in their harsh winter environments. Then 10 days in Israel towards the end of March with Dan Pointon, Josh Jones and Will Soar; a trip I am very much looking forward too. I will hopefully be graduating with a first followed by a holiday somewhere in the Mediterranean (yet to be confirmed) with Emma in July to soak up some sun. Then finally kicking off the autumn with some seawatching in Ireland in August and rarity hunting in Shetland in October with Dan Houghton and Lee Fuller.

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