2012 started badly for me with the loss of Paddy our 6 year old Springer Spaniel, and this wasn't the end of the pet related deaths as in July we lost Sweep our 3 year old Cocker Spaniel both to horrible freak accidents when out walking. As well as several close relatives and family friends. Not a year to remember!
But enough of the personal trauma. What about the wildlife?
Well most of the early part of 2012 was spent trying to catch up with the Short Eared Owls of Bransbury Common. Usually unsuccessfully, although 2012 was an abundant wintering year for them. (11 counted one day by another birder) I still never really got close enough to get any shots I was happy with. Although watching 4 SEO's and 2 Barn Owls hunting together at the same time was pretty special. Definitely on the list for this years early expeditions, especially now as Bransbury Common is part of my new patch. I just hope the heavy rain from the past few months drains through pretty quickly.
With moving in full flow come March and April, photography trip time was at a premium and I had to make sure I made the most of my jaunts to see my girlfriend Nat in Shropshire, I had one especially cracking weekend where all the birds I wanted to see appeared and appeared well, a couple of firsts for me. Great Grey Shrike, Common Crossbill, Red Grouse, Dipper & some really close Red Kites.
By May things were more settled at home, and the garden was starting to get up to scratch. Allowing a lot more time to be spent wandering the riverbank, footpaths and water meadows of the new patch. Also enjoying some time with the local Brown Hare population.
Early June was a bumper month for me and my camera, a weeks holidaying in coastal Pembrokeshire brought some great birding opportunities and a chance to visit Skomer. A must for anyone with any interest in Sea Birds. A pretty special day was spent in the company of Puffins, Razorbills & Guillemots.
|January - Short Eared Owl (Barton Stacey, Hants)|
|March - Red Grouse (The Long Mynd, Shrops)|
|May - Brown Hare (Longparish, Hants)|
|Early June - Puffin (Skomer, Pembs)|
|Late June - Barn Owl (Longparish, Hants)|
|August - Banded Demoiselle (Longparish, Hants)|
|September - Short Billed Dowitcher (Lodmoor, Dorset)|
|October - Merlin (Long Mynd, Shrops)|
|November - Pintail (Slimbridge, Gloucs)|
|December - Otter (Andover, Hants)|
So in conclusion a pretty good year I guess, and I can't complain at all, other than I guess not having enough time. A full time job along with a part time seasonal job (Groundsman) doesn't allow for as much wildlife watching as I would like. All of my encounters apart from the Barn Owl really come down to just being in the right place at the right time. Not being able to sit and learn patterns in behaviour and when and where I am most likely to see certain species.
I think my main aim for 2013 is to try and focus on a much narrower range of species and projects, hopefully to reward me more in viewing & learning about the wildlife I hope to photograph. I ended the year with a pretty average 156 Species of Birds so I am hoping to improve that dramatically for 2013 too.
Download it here - 2012 Species List - Excel File
Here is too 2013 - Best of luck one and all!