27th. Around visiting relatives in Wells I caught up with at least 3 brambling in the orchard at the end of Woodford Lane at Chew, 3 waxwings at Lidl in Wells, and eventually a redhead smew on Noah's Lake at Shapwick Heath.
26th. I spent the afternoon on the Somerset Levels. The whooper swan remains at Catcott Lows, and I saw 4 great white egrets, at least 2 marsh harriers, a kingfisher, and 2 black-necked grebes on Shapwick Heath. A moderately large flock of starlings settled temporarily near the car park at dusk, before eventually leaving to roost on the Ham Wall side. Earlier in the day the RSPB Big Garden Birdwatch was unremarkable, the highlight being a grey heron which I couldn't submit as it flew over the house.
23rd. On a work trip to London I spent a lunchtime watching the two female bearded tits in Hyde Park. I wish I had taken my DSLR and telephoto lens! The birds showed down to a couple of metres, either feeding in a tiny reedbed or on the muddy margin in front of it. They are the first bearded tits recorded in central London, and at least one of them was ringed. I also saw Egyptian geese and ring-necked parakeets in the Park.
19th-20th. The snow still lies fairly deep in Flax Bourton. Along the cycle track this weekend I saw 330 wood pigeons, 33 skylark (below) and 3 reed bunting. Up to 3 snipe flew overhead.
18th. We've had significant snowfalls with prolonged subsequent cold weather for the last four winters - I can remember relatively few before that during 28 years in Bristol. This morning's fall deposited about 10cm. Hundreds of fieldfares flew SW over Flax Bourton, and I also saw small flocks of skylarks and about 30 linnets. A drake goosander flew over our house.
13th. I usually make a trip to Slimbridge in January, and had a great day there on 13th. I just took the 400mm lens and 1.4x extender so I could travel around easily and concentrate on birding. This paid off when I found a drake green-winged teal from Lathbury Hide, presumably the same bird that was seen on Christmas Eve. A record shot below, with the bird asleep next to a drake Eurasian teal.
The day started well with a bittern creeping around outside the Zeiss Hide. The bird then flew to the South Finger reedbeds. A red fox trotted over the fields, ignored by the lapwings it approached.
I photographed a blue tit, great tit and a lesser redpoll around the bird feeders in the sunshine.
A lesser black-backed gull posed nicely on South Lake, and a flock of wood pigeons epitomised the current winter landscape.
I spent the end of the afternoon photographing greylag geese, Canada geese and Bewick's swans flying into Rushy Pen.
6th. A trip to Apex Park, Burnham to see the very tame juvenile/first winter glaucous gull. An adult Mediterranean gull was also present.
4th. Chew Valley Lake. Juvenile red-breasted merganser (Woodford), 2 redhead goosander (Woodford and Heron's Green Bay), and a first-winter greater scaup (Villice Bay). The drake lesser scaup was still at Blagdon Lake, where there were also ca. 5 lesser redpoll.
1st. After the dreary end to 2012 I spent the afternoon at Chew photographing some common birds in the winter sun. Mallard and tufted duck below.
I saw 210 bird species in Britain during 2012: new species for me were Spanish sparrow, common yellowthroat, short-billed dowitcher and barred warbler. And I suppose I'll count the Richardson's cackling goose too.... My favourite bird was the squacco heron feeding among cuckoo flowers at Blagdon, followed by the Sand Bay hoopoe (photos of both on this year's home page). Other highlights were the dark-eyed junco in the New Forest, red-breasted goose and surf scoter in Devon, though most of my birding was done within 50 minutes drive of home. Local high-quality birds included red-necked grebe, the Catcott spoonbills, cattle egret, common crane, lesser scaup, ferruginous duck, spotted sandpiper, buff-breasted sandpiper, long-billed dowitchers, black-winged stilt, lesser yellowlegs, spotted crake, ring-billed gull, wryneck, great reed warbler, a waxwing invasion, twite, and snow bunting. I had the first sighting of the ring-necked duck drake at Chew (presumably the returning bird), close in at Stratford Hide. Most embarrassing omissions this year included little stint and brambling. My travelling was limited in 2012, with no overseas birding. Here's to 2013 (and hopefully less rain.......)