On the 24th January:
On a cool, mainly dry, bright day we set off for Brocton on the northern side of Cannock Chase, where we saw a Little Owl, an amazing 50 Roe Deers, 30+ Redpolls, 30+ Siskins, heard a Willow Tit, 2 Green Woodpeckers and the bird we had come to see a Great Grey Shrike. We continued to Blithfield Reservoir, where in fields to the east we saw 26 Bewick's Swans, around the lake we saw 38 Goosanders, 80+ Wigeon, 409 Ruddy Ducks and 2 Goldeneyes, as well as lots of commoner ducks, there were also lots of Long-tailed Tits, 2 Nuthatches, 2 Treecreepers and a Marsh Tit. We then went to Goldsitch Moss where there were 5 Short-eared Owls, 18+ Red Grouse, 2 Golden Plovers and 2 Kestrels.
Illustration by Laurel Tucker
A drive to Plymouth on a cold, misty, dull day and from the Barbican side of the harbour we saw the bird we had come for, a 1st winter Franklin's Gull, also seen were 2 Kittiwakes, a Black-throated Diver, 3 Turnstones, a Little Grebe, 4 Shags, an Oystercatcher, 4 Eiders and a Guillemot.
Illustrations by Laurel Tucker.
In Tanzania, a drive to the Serengeti, to the tented camp at Ndutu. Saw 8 new birds and 2 new mammals.
Photo: Immature Woolly-necked Stork.
On north Brother's Island, the larger of two islands in the Cook Strait off the north coast of South Island New Zealand. Today I saw 5 new birds and 4 new reptiles.
Photo: Juvenile Fairy Prion still with some down.
A visit to Portbury Wharf where on the pool there were 12 Coot, 13 Tufted Ducks, 2 Little Grebes, 2 Mute Swans, the male
Ring-necked Duck, 2 Gadwall, 4 Mallard, a Teal and I heard 3 Water Rails. On the foreshore I saw Meadow Pipits, 2 Reed Buntings, a Green Woodpecker and in the fields 2 Foxes. On the shore were 56 Shelduck, a few Lapwing, 8 Curlew, about 50 Redshank and a Snipe.
Out with the new DV video camera, a Canon XL1S with a 16x zoom lens, trying to film 3 Purple Sandpipers at Battery Point at high tide.
Later I went to Severn Beach where there was a 1st winter male Black Redstart on the rocks at the top of the beach, on the shore were around 120 Dunlin.
Then a drive to Chew Valley Lake, where apart from the usual wintering ducks, Coot, grebes and gulls were 2 female Goosander, a Smew and a Bittern.
Video: 3 Purple Sandpipers roosting on rocks at Battery Point, Portishead at high tide. Also at here.
Video: A 1st winter male Black Redstart which wintered on the rocks at the top of the beach at Severn Beach. This video starts with the bird on the 24th January and shows it on 3 more occasions ending on 25th February. During this period it was singing a soft sub-song, only at its closest picked up by the microphone.
Also at here.
At home in Portishead where there was still snow in the garden and the fat balls were being visited by 2 males and a female Blackcap, one of the males chased off the other male. There were also 2 Song Thrushes feeding on the lawn.
Photos: Female Blackcap.