2012 was an extremely frustrating Birding year for me, until the end of September. In the final months of the year, a hastily planned trip to Scillies, and a Marinelife survey across the Bay of Biscay ensured that the year would be fondly remembered.
My theory that “Spring is rubbish” held true in 2012 with a very poor return for many hours searching around Hampshire. A Spring trip to Shetland was derailed by a North wind, and the one really good find, a White Stork from the A1 near Newcastle turned out to be an escape.
Add to this a probable Siberian Chiff chaff that showed well, but didn’t call, followed a couple of months later by a probable Siberian Chiff chaff that called twice but didn’t show beyond a glimpse and you begin to get the picture!
It wasn’t all bad though, and finding a Lesser Spotted Woodpecker territory near home was a bonus, along with some super photo opportunities from the Shetland trip.
Then the Olympics came to town.. Annual leave cancelled and not much chance of a boat survey around Weymouth either.
World of Gugh
Once the Olympics was out of the way, The Scillies beckoned. The advantage here was I could book the trip the day before, so no excuses about the weather being all wrong. So I headed out right on the back of a low pressure which rather unexpectedly doubled back and sat in the Irish sea for the duration of my trip! This, together with the doom and gloom from a fellow birder about “nothing arriving here until the low moves on” threatened to put a dampener on the trip. But I never give up, and this time luck was on my side. 3 mornings spent on Gugh got me a tantalizing glimpse of a Melodious Warbler, plus Yellow-Browed Warbler, Ring Ouzel and Pied Flycatcher.
Biscay gamble pays off:
More quality birding was in store when I got chosen for the November Marinelife survey on the Poole - Santander Ferry. Bay of Biscay in November could have been a pretty nasty experience, but fortunately the sailing took place and the sea wasn’t too rough for the most part. Highlights were Minke Whale, Pilot Whale, Common and Striped Dolphin, plus Great and Cory’s Shearwater, Leach’s Petrel, and Little Gull.
An added bonus was sailing out of Poole past Brownsea Island. Such a good area and on this occasion I saw Pale Bellied Brent Goose, 4 Black Necked Grebes, double figure Spoonbills, and a large flock of Avocets.
Other Mammal highlights for the year were Nathusius’s Pipistrelle seen on both of my Nathusius’ Pipistrelle Surveys, plus sadly a dead Polecat close to home.
Closer to home:
A surprisingly good year for the house list with 3 additions (Kingfisher, Meadow Pipit, and Woodcock).
If 2013 can beat this I’ll be more than happy!