My bird year 2018

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,

White Wood

White Wood, Dartmoor

and heard them during the Big Welsh Walk in June in Coed Cwmnewydion-uchaf wood near Devil’s Bridge in Ceredigion.

12 Coed Cwmnewydion-uchaf

Coed Cwmnewydion-uchaf: Marika Kovacs and Gywn Lewis

Early the next morning I heard them once again in Coed Rheidol, with my visually-impaired friend Marika Kovacs.

22 Marika in Coed Rheidol

Marika Kovacs listens to birds in Coed Rheidol

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.

Where the goldeneye were

View across the lake at Little Marlow to where the goldeneye were (in the middle but not visible)

At Otmoor in November I had my third-ever sighting of a bittern.

small 8 2nd hide

At Otmoor where the bittern was lurking. A marsh harrier was on the red-coloured bush

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.

Tavy Cleave

Tavy Cleave

I did better with redstarts on a walk on the River Lyd on west Dartmoor, with Hil and my sister Sue, in June.

2 where redstarts were

Where the redstarts were on the River Lyd

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.

9 peregrine spot

Peregrine in Lymington Harbour (not visible)

I was pleased to get a flashing glimpse of a kingfisher on the Thames near Shillingford in August,

Kingfisher spot

Kingfisher spot on the Thames near Shillingford

a knot at Little Marlow in May, and turnstones on the pier at Cromer in October.

Turnstone 2

Turnstone at Cromer

The meadow pipit near Stokenchurch in December polished off a satisfactory birding year.

15 meadow pipit sec 10 small

Meadow pipit near Stokenchurch in Bucks

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.

11 copse at Handley Plain

Marika in the copse at Handley Plain

Happy new year everyone, and happy birding.

About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
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