Hello out there,
I've decided to keep a year list this year. Nothing fancy, just a straightforward British year list - hopefully it will motivate me to get out on those days when I would normally look at the sky and think '.... nah'. The list got off to a blinder when we heard the distant quavery fluting of a Tawny Owl outside at about 1.20am, which I suppose cemented my resolve to give it a go. I will try to include in my blog posts at least a record shot of the more unusual species, which will mean an increase in blurry and heavily cropped images for you to enjoy. You have been warned...
I wasn't so keen when the alarm went off at 6.30am, but did manage to get up by 8am (adding a heard Magpie and Wren in the meantime) and walked down to Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve to see if I could rack up a creditable start to the list. It was a 1990s-style winter morning - mildish, grey and damp.
Lots of the resident passerines are singing already, which made it very easy to add Song and Mistle Thrush, Great Tit, Greenfinch and Robin on the walk down, along with a bit of a bonus in the form of a 30-strong Fieldfare flock overhead. Then it was on to the reserve itself. I went into Grebe Hide to get the camera ready, then took a few shots. Just for fun, here's my very first photo of 2011:
I carried on to Slingsby hide but there was nothing to see - the lake was completely iced up at this end. I did get a Great Spotted Woodie on the way.
I went up to Willow hide next. This proved disappointing. Not only was the lake completely iced over, but one of the two stools was missing, and the other had been relocated by some idiot to the icy surface of the lake. This not only spoiled the view, but spoiled the chances of short people like me from enjoying the view, as the benches in this hide are set too low. I didn't hang around, but carried on past Long Lake to the field at the end. Overhead large noisy Siskin flocks roved around the alder trees, but I couldn't turn any of the Siskins into Redpolls.
So after about 3.5 hours' birding the year list stands at 54. I got some great bonuses, but many SWR regulars eluded me - the likes of Stock Dove, Sparrowhawk, even Goldfinch for pity's sake. Still, there are 364 more days to go.