25th. A lab trip to Slimbridge with 6 nations represented. Highlights included barn owl, little stint, and I refound the ferruginous duck on the Asian Pen - it was last seen on 13th I believe. A bank vole showed nicely along the track to the Holden Tower, just past the tunnel. A garden birdwatch first thing included 2 long-tailed tits and 2 bullfinches.
24th. I saw the drake green-winged teal at Aust Warth briefly, and a peregrine was on the pylon near the Old Severn Crossing. In the Forest of Dean I saw a goshawk, 2 bramblings and a siskin at New Fancy, and at least 3 mandarins on Cannop Ponds. I missed the Crabtree Hill great grey shrike for the fourth time, though did see 3 crossbills fly overhead. No sign of the short-eared owls at Aust at dusk on my way home.
18th. A day on the Exe. The penduline tits haven't been seen for two days, but there was still lots of interest and some great winter light. Two Egyptian geese flew over Darts Farm. There was a spotted redshank at the Goatwalk, Bowling Green Marsh, and lots of Avocets on the estuary. The snow bunting showed really well at Powderham, and I often had to move away from it as it would come too close for photography.
There were a pair of showy stonechats nearby too.
The Slavonian grebe is still going strong at Cockwood, and a couple of greenshank were photogenic here.
At Dawlish Warren I saw a female long-tailed duck, a common scoter, water pipit, sanderling and knot.
17th. Blagdon Lake - black-necked grebe, 2 goosander, tree creeper, and about 7 snipe. A male blackcap in the garden.
11th. Strong westerly winds in the Severn blew few birds in. There was a dark-bellied brent goose at New Passage, and an adult pink-footed goose at Slimbridge.
10th. The Brean Cove black redstart was given a tough time by the local stonechats, pied wagtail and robin.
2nd. Birds at Chew included great northern diver, great white egret, Egyptian goose, and a female red-breasted merganser.
Whereas 2013 ended on a rush, 2014 was the opposite. A frantic teaching block in a new building, with extended term times, extended teaching hours, a 30% increase in student numbers and an extra year added to our degree programme left me exhausted and then having to deal with another hospitalization event, and a cancelled trip to Colorado. 2015 will get better!
I’m using the 400mm lens more and more as carrying the 500mm around is getting in the way of birding and walking. Several birding web sites are closing down, as Twitter is proving an effective way of sharing bird photographs and news quickly. I’ll keep this site going however, as it’s nice to have an ordered collation of photos and sightings to dip into from time to time.
I saw 213 species in Britain during 2014, with my new birds for the country being red-flanked bluetail (bird of the year), Ross’s gull, night heron, marsh sandpiper and bee-eater. I had a great family holiday in Florida with my daughters, and other birding highlights included jointly finding a Kumlien’s gull at Aberavon, finding a Channel wagtail at Northwick, and seeing the Aust twite, nesting attempts by the reintroduced cranes at Slimbridge, black-winged stilt on the levels, great reed warbler at Chew, the Severn Beach wryneck and wood sandpiper, Blagdon lesser scaup, a photogenic male red-backed shrike in Norfolk, snow bunting and rose-coloured starling at Barrow, and a tame ferruginous duck at Slimbridge.