24th. Berlin - so sad to see this after my last visit in November (bottom photo).
19th. Lab trip to Slimbridge - birds included a glimpse of the goshawk, 2 peregrines, 8 golden plover, little stint, spotted redshank, about 10 avocet, 4 ruff and the unringed ruddy shelduck. The water rail showed well beneath the feeders again, and I tried out Matt Zeale's 100-400mm Mark 2 lens with an extender hand-held on this rook - very impressive in sharpness and close-up abilities.
18th. I went to Broadsands in Devon hoping to see the Pacific diver, but it had gone. I did see a black-throated diver, 2 black-necked grebes, 2 eider, common scoter, gannets, kittiwakes, and shags. I spent some time photographing the cirl buntings at their feeding station.
I then drove to Thurlestone to photograph the desert wheatear in lovely evening light. A black redstart was also present.
11-12th. Chew Valley Lake. The adult ring-billed gull showed well for about 30 minutes. Keith Vinicombe believes it is the same bird that appeared 5 years ago. Some photos from then here.
And here's Chew's latest dodgy gull that is causing some interest at present. Maybe just a 3rd-winter lesser-black backed gull with strong head streaking? It's a piratical loner of a bird that spends a lot of time on the water. Thoughts now moving to herring x lesser black-back hybrid, though shows similarities to Heuglin's gull!
The duck flock at the dam is great at present - 14 greater scaup and a drake common scoter.
On 12th I walked around Backwell Lake and counted 11 egrets roosting there. I wondered if the cattle egret would be in with the little egrets, but without binoculars had no way of checking. Sure enough, it was spotted there on 21st.
9th. Siskin in Flax Bourton, marsh tit Ashton Court. Little owl heard in Flax Bourton on return cycle.
8th. Two stock doves and a singing nuthatch in Ashton Court on the cycle ride to work, and a calling little owl near Gatcombe Farm on the return leg.
I was in Italy January 29th-February 4th. Most of the time was spent working, but we had a day in Florence and half a day in Arezzo. Since my last visit in December, the camera trap had photographed up to 4 wild boar, a fox, roe deer, hooded crow and the first brown hare.
We returned to the Basilica di Santa Maria Novella in Florence on 2nd. A huge Giotto crucifix is the centrepiece. We missed the Spanish Chapel on our rushed previous visit. The frescos there are amazing. The last one shows Pythagoras, Euclid and Ptolemy. How male-dominated science has been! The token women in the background don't get a mention on some of the online descriptions of the fresco. Thankfully things are changing.
Then we visited Santa Croce, where many famous Italian artists (including Rossini, Michaelangelo) and scientists (including Galileo, Marconi) are buried. Florence flooded in 1966, with the Arno reaching the level marked in the first photo at the Basilica di Santa Croce. Cimabue's 750 year-old crucifix was damaged and remains in poor condition, though still has a weird abstract beauty about it. Some of the restorations, like Bronzino's Descent of Christ to Limbo, have been remarkable.
I've never been to a synagogue before and have no great desire to go back to one, but the Florence synagogue was worth enduring the security checks and donning a kippah for.
A flock of starlings formed a murmuration over Santa Maria Novella station as we headed for our train back.
4th. Arezzo. A frequently overlooked Piero della Francesca gem at Arezzo Cathedral, Arezzo during the antiques market, and Morris the cat at Lucie's house.