On the 14th September:
This is the date that all my records begin. Laurel and I had only recently started birdwatching seriously, I had been interested as a boy, but, Laurel had never considered it at home on Guernsey. Earlier in the year we had joined the Bristol Ornithological Club and through that had met more experienced and adventurous birders. To begin with the group consisted of Tim Cleeves, Roy Smith, Bob Richardson, John Rossetti and Paul Andrew - I think they let us join them because we had a car. Roy had an old, black Morris Minor, but nobody liked going in that! We had a reasonably new Vauxhall Viva which was far more comfortable and it meant that I did all the driving. Later, there were other regulars like Kieth Vinicombe and Anthony Merritt, with others joining us when we had space. So, the first few months were a steep learning curve of common species, when nearly everything was new.
Today, Laurel and I were at the start of a week's holiday to Portland, staying at a guest house in Weymouth. Our first stop was at Ferrybridge were we saw an immature Tawny Pipit and a Buff-breasted Sandpiper, both new for us, also seeing a Little Gull, a Little Stint and several Sanderling.
We then drove to Portland where we saw another new bird, a Wryneck, also around the fields at the bill were Whinchat, Turtle Dove, Redstart, Garden Warbler, Whitethroat, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Kestrel and Little Owl.
Overnight at Cley, in the morning it was blowing a northeasterly gale with heavy rain storms, we began a sea-watch from the beach by the coastguard's building, seeing c50 Arctic Skuas, c30 Great Skuas, c15 Manx Shearwaters, c25 Gannets, a Glaucous Gull, 80+ Fulmars and 5 Sooty Shearwaters, a new bird for us.
Fed up with getting battered by the wind and wet we decided to drive to Hunstanton where we could sea-watch from the car, here we saw 5 Arctic Skuas, a Great Skua, 21 Fulmars, 12 Gannets, 6 Manx Shearwaters and a Leach's Petrel which was flying behind a Fulmar at about 200 yards out in good light, another new bird for us.
A day out, starting at Steart where we saw 2 Little Stints, a Greenshank, 13 Knot, 50+ Dunlin, c400 Curlew, c1200 Shelduck, 5 Wigeon, 9 Yellow Wagtails, 2 Wheatears and a Manx Shearwater. Then to Durleigh Reservoir where the best was a Ruff and 3 Pintail. From there we drove to Fry's Hill overlooking Cheddar Reservoir, where we saw 9 Cirl Buntings (at least 2 males, a female and the rest immatures), also seen were 2 Yellowhammers, a Willow Warbler, 2 Blackcaps and a Green Woodpecker. On the way home we stopped at Chew Valley Lake where the best was a Black-necked Grebe and a Spotted Redshank.
A drive to Berrow for a reported Yellow-breasted Bunting, but we couldn't find it. On the beach there were c400 Dunlin, 50+ Ringed Plovers, a Sanderling, 4 Little Stints, a few Redshank and c80 Oystercatchers.
From there we went to Wall Common at Steart, where it was still breezy, seeing an immature Sabine's Gull, 5 Manx Shearwaters, a few waders including a Whimbrel, 3 Yellow Wagtails and 2 Wheatears.
Then we drove to Herriott's Bridge at Chew Valley Lake, where there was a Wilson's Phalarope, also seeing a Common and 3 Green Sandpipers, 8 Ruff, a Little Stint, 11 Snipe, 4 Greenshank and 18 Spotted Redshank.
Drawing of Sabine's Gull by Laurel Tucker.
On a recce tour of Spain, 2 new birds seen today.
Leading a Wingspan tour to Turkey, 2 new birds seen today.
Leading a Wingspan Tour to Western Turkey.
On a filming trip to the Bosphorus, Turkey, with Hugh Miles.
On a birding trip to Spain.
On a filming and sound recording trip to Zimbabwe, 1 new bird seen today.
A visit to Blagdon Lake to see an immature Baird's Sandpiper, also seen were 6 Dunlin, 2 Curlew Sandpipers, 8 Ringed Plovers and a Little Ringed Plover.
A visit to Chew Valley Lake where I saw a Spotted Crake, 2 Water Rails, lots of Greenshank, a Spotted Redshank, 11 Black-tailed Godwits, 5 Ruff, 4 Green Sandpipers, 3 Dunlin, lots of Snipe, 12 Black Terns, a Hobby, 2 Kingfishers, a Ruddy Shelduck ?, and, 2 Black-necked Grebes.