This year I saw a respectable 120 species plus one which I heard but did not see (grasshopper warblers at Otmoor). These are my highlights.
A walk along the River Hamble in March gave me plenty of Brent geese.
Also in March, on an early-morning walk in Dunblane I saw grey wagtails flitting about by the Allan Water.
The gravel pit at Little Marlow was rewarding: here I saw my first chiffchaff of the year, on 17 March and first willow warbler on 7 April.
A memorable walk in April along the Pembrokeshire coast near Stackpole gave me choughs and a rock pipit.
My first swallow of the year was on 8 April, near Nuffield, Oxfordshire.
I spent a glorious morning on 21 April in White Wood on Dartmoor, with my friend Hil Marshall. We saw wood warblers, pied flycatcher, redstart, tree pipit, siskin and many other species, and I heard my first cuckoo of the year.
On an early walk up Tavy Cleave on 23 April I saw ring ouzel and whinchat.
As I came back along the leat to Lane End I saw a redpoll on a gorse bush.
When I was at Tynrhyd in Ceredigion for Ramblers Cymru’s Big Welsh Walk I had a very special early-morning walk on Dawn Chorus Day in nearby Coed Rheidol. Here I saw and heard wood warblers displaying, my best sighting ever. You can listen to my recording here.
On 14 May I saw hobbies over Otmoor in Oxfordshire. I visited Otmoor many times during the year and also saw marsh harriers, a female hen harrier, a Cetti’s warbler and many other species.
I helped with the annual nightjar survey at Barossa, near Camberley in Surrey on 12 June and saw and heard nightjars and woodcock, but sadly no Dartford warblers.
I had a snatch sighting of a little owl on a telegraph pole as I drove past Quainton in Bucks on 13 June.
Unusually for recent years, I had four sightings of spotted flycatchers: in Turville (19 June), at Hidcote Gardens, Gloucestershire (20 June), Hanbury Hall, Worcestershire (1 July) and Piddington near Wheeler End, Bucks (11 August).
There were two kingfishers on the Rochdale canal at Hebden Bridge, Calderdale on 15 October.
I also did quite a few surveys. There were my usual two Breeding Bird Survey visits, for the British Trust for Ornithology, to Prestwood in Bucks (30 April and 18 June). I made four visits for the River Thame Conservation Trust—three to Wormsley in Oxfordshire on 26 February, 17 April and 27 May, and one to Sydenham on 2 December. And I did house martin surveys on the houses in Turville.
So although I did not visit that many different habitats during the year I didn’t do badly on species.
Now for my 2018 list. My first sighting this morning was a colourful one, a great spotted woodpecker, followed by marsh, coal and blue tits.
Happy new year everyone!