Considering I haven’t been to that many places, I am pleased with my total of 112 species seen and a further three heard this year. Those heard but not seen were nightjar, garden warbler and grasshopper warbler.
It seemed to be the year of the wood warbler, a joyous thing for me as I love that whirring high in the trees. I saw them first at Gregynog in Powys in April when I was there for the Ramblers’ Welsh Council.
Then I saw them again in my traditional spot of White Wood on Dartmoor in May,
and heard them during the Big Welsh Walk in June in Coed Cwmnewydion-uchaf wood near Devil’s Bridge in Ceredigion.
Early the next morning I heard them once again in Coed Rheidol, with my visually-impaired friend Marika Kovacs.
On my way to Devil’s Bridge I stayed with Peter and Elizabeth Newman in Dolau, near Penybont in Powys, and saw my only siskins of the year in their garden.
A first-timer for me this year was a goldeneye at Little Marlow gravel pit in March.
At Otmoor in November I had my third-ever sighting of a bittern.
On 27 May I took an early walk up Tavy Cleave on Dartmoor with my friend Hil Marshall and we saw ring ouzels and whinchat. Later that day I had a fleeting glimpse of a pied flycatcher and a female redstart.
I did better with redstarts on a walk on the River Lyd on west Dartmoor, with Hil and my sister Sue, in June.
I saw my only peregrine of the year unexpectedly as I was crossing the Solent, having visited the Isle of Wight Ramblers for their 50th anniversary in June.
I was pleased to get a flashing glimpse of a kingfisher on the Thames near Shillingford in August,
a knot at Little Marlow in May, and turnstones on the pier at Cromer in October.
The meadow pipit near Stokenchurch in December polished off a satisfactory birding year.
But on the very last day of the year, when I was once again walking with Marika, I had a happy discovery of a copse at Handley Plain, near Swinbrook in west Oxfordshire. We paused to listen and gradually the birds around us increased, so that we heard blue tits, great tits, long-tailed tits, marsh tits, goldfinch, nuthatch, robin, blackbird and buzzard. A little way off two red kites were wheeling. If we hadn’t stopped we would have missed this lovely winter chorus.
Happy new year everyone, and happy birding.