January 2021

30th - RSPB Garden Birdwatch. A male blackcap is chasing birds away from the feeders. The highlight was a dog red fox.

England went back into lockdown on 6 January. Hetty and I walked to Clifton Downs a lot, mainly to see and photograph the firecrests. There are at least 3 present, including a stunning male. We also see a peregrine in the gorge from time to time, and up to 2 marsh tits, tree creeper, bullfinches and nuthatch.

Clifton Downs

Hetty managed to get some great shots of the firecrests.

firecrest

firecrest

firecrest

firecrest

2 January - my birthday - caught up with the long-tailed duck and great northern diver at Barrow tanks, and we saw a scaup and marsh harrier at Chew.

great northern diver

2020 was a very strange year. COVID-19 was detected in Britain in January, having arisen sometime in 2019 in Wuhan, China. At the time of writing (January 2021) more than 2.2 million people have died worldwide while having the disease, including more than 100,000 in Britain. I am familiar with zoonoses, especially ones related to bat viruses, but this virus is strange and devastating. After 2003 I was involved with sampling bats for SARS-like coronaviruses in China, and I stayed in the Metropole Hotel in Hong Kong 6 months before a superspreader spread the disease over the globe from there. The lack of transparency and the strange coincidences behind SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, make me want to see an in-depth and independent investigation into its origins.

So England went into lockdown for 3 months in March, and I spent that time in Cornwall with Hetty and Martha. The weather was great, the town deserted, and we had a lovely time. My work has been disrupted since March 2020, with all teaching online, and huge extra work involved in achieving this. I travelled to India in January, and has a great time there. Apart from that, I didn't leave England. I still managed to see 207 birds in England, including three new ones for me - TAWNY PIPIT, CASPIAN GULL and SOCIABLE LAPWING, all in Cornwall. Other highlights included photographing owls in March, the white gulls in Cornwall, watching divers, overhead red kites, and even common dolphins from my bedroom in Cornwall, long walks in lockdown and seeing ring ouzels on Buttermilk Hill, the red kite invasion in Cornwall, the Lizard rosy starling, a great week on Scilly in August seeing Wilson's petrels, woodchat shrike, black kites, spotted sandpiper and citrine wagtail, walking around the West Cornwall coast path in September, the Chew lesser yellowlegs, and some great birds on the Hayle Estuary - Baird's and semipalmated sandpipers, Caspian gulls, ring-billed gull and yellow-browed warbler. Being outside and immersed in nature has helped in me keeping sane during the pandemic.

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