January 2018

31st. Supermoon again. The Tycho crater and its rays look spectacular.

Supermoon

Supermoon

21st. Kingfisher heard Blaise Castle Estate.

20th. Aust Warth - 2 short-eared owls flying before dusk.

12th. Female blackcap in the garden.

7th. Shapwick Heath and Ham Wall. Male firecrest Ashcott corner, also chiffchaff and tree creeper. Great egret, 2 whooper swans and a at least 2 marsh harriers Noah's Lake. The ring-necked duck took off just as we arrived at its favourite spot, and I couldn't get my binoculars onto it quickly enough to identify it. The starling roost at Ham Wall was somewhat disappointing, and huge numbers of people came to watch it.

starlings

starlings

starlings

starlings

starlings

2nd. Chew Valley Lake - drake lesser scaup (diagnostic wing pattern below), 4 greater scaup and a bearded tit from Moreton Hide. A cattle egret with little egrets in a field off Birchfield Lane. Black-necked grebe at Blagdon, and drake long-tailed duck at Barrow Tank 1.

lesser scaup

I saw 202 bird species in Britain in 2017. My two new birds were both rock thrushes - blue and rufous-tailed. The movement of the blue rock thrush from Stow-on-the-Wold to Beachy Head at migration time was one of my favourite bird stories ever. My regular visits to Italy ended, and my time there this year included camera trapping a wolf, porcupines and up to 16 wild boar at once; rescuing a stone marten; red squirrels; short-toed eagle carrying a snake and a good passage of honey buzzards; singing golden orioles; up to 70 bee-eaters migrating; amazing insects including spectacular owlflies, broad-bordered bee hawk moth, and beautiful orchids. I enjoyed watching white-tailed and lesser-spotted eagles in Germany. Local highlights included the Weston eider, waxwings, ring-billed gull at Chew, the drake long-tailed duck, and the Chipping Sodbury Woodchat. The Somerset Levels continued to impress with glossy ibis, little bittern, white admirals, firecrests and an otter. I had a great day in Devon seeing the desert wheatear and cirl buntings, and another day at Dawlish in December enjoying firecrests, divers and another cirl bunting. We managed to land on Skomer during the field course. I enjoyed using the new 100-400mm lens and the Canon 5D Mark IV. A new bird for the garden was a hawfinch (heard). 2018 promises good things with my new girlfriend Hetty, including a trip to photograph the Northern Lights in Lapland, and a late summer holiday in Scilly.