Sunday, 5 February 2012

The Stars of 2011...

A bit late I know but I thought I'd finally put together the birding and photography highlights of 2011:


January was one of the best months birding. The highlight was of course Hungerford's Glossy Ibis which allowed some stunning views. The bird stayed a long time allowing everyone to see the bird. After the Glossy Ibis we were also able to go and find the Great White Egret just 10 minutes down the road!! Of course a summary of January would not be complete without mentioning the Waxwing invasion. I was lucky enough to have these birds in my garden although I think the majority of birders were able to connect with these lovely little birds. They were tame as well!! A Great Grey Shrike at Arne was also a fantastic bird to see.

Great Grey Shrike - Arne

Glossy Ibis - Hungerford

Great White Egret


The highlight of February was undoubtedly my trip down to Dorset where the bird highlights include a very tame Ring Billed Gull which came down to bread in Poole Park, a Tawny Owl in the Arne RSPB car park and photographing Fulmars at Durlston Country Park.

Ring Billed Gull - Poole Park 
Tawny Owl - Arne RSPB

Fulmar - Durlston


March was a quiet birding month for me although the Waxwings continued to pose brilliantly. (Photos will appear in due course).


Another surprisingly quiet month but highlights included a Nightingale singing his heart out at Dinton Pastures who even decided to show himself for a bit. We also went up to Thursley common and found my first Woodlark and Tree Pipit. However none of these even come close to the main highlight of April, Fiona the Flamingo. Fiona continued her grand tour of the country and for 2-3 days she took up residence at Lower Farm GP. She was very distant but gave nice views through the scope, a great bird (though a little out of place!).

Nightingale - Dinton Pastures 
Fiona the Flamingo! - Lower Farm GP


May, as always was a very good time for birding. For me a highlight was being able to watch a Blue Tit family in my own back garden, they successfully raised 3 chicks. I also managed to get some decent shots of Hobbys at the Jubilee River, as well as photographing a very obliging Juvenile Long Tailed Tit on my patch.

Hobby - Jubilee River


The highlight of June for me was the opportunity to see Great Bustards back in the wild in the UK, down at Salisbury Plain. We saw two birds one of which was the oldest bird in the programme. These are birds I hope to see again in the near future. Photographing (badly) Redstarts at a nest site at Thursley Common was close behind!!

Redstart - Thursley Common

Great Bustard - Salisbury Plain


July was also another fantastic month which begun with me attending a ringing session where I was able to get very close views of Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Treecreepers, Jays and Blackcaps. I also found a Yellow Wagtail nest site in Berkshire (a rare sight these days). I managed to get decent shots of both the beautiful male and the juveniles. A showy Sedge Warbler was also a highlight along with some Black Tailed Godwits in summer plumage at Titchfield Haven. I also managed to get my best shots of Terns here.

Yellow Wagtail - Berkshire 
Yellow Wagtail

Sedge Warbler - Jubilee River

Common Tern - Titchfield Haven

Black Tailed Godwit - Titchfield Haven


The highlight of the year, my trip to Scotland!! If I mentioned all the species seen this post would be even longer than it already is! Highlights for me were finally finding Crested Tit and Snow Bunting (Summer Plumage), photographing Red Grouse from just a few metres away, having good views of both Otter and Pine Marten, gaining good photographs of Dunlin but most of all, the White Tailed Eagles and Osprey. In the cairngorms we were lucky enough to have an Osprey fly right over our heads and on the Isle of Mull we were treated to mesmerising views of White Tailed Eagles fishing.

Sea Eagle - Isle of Mull 
Red Grouse



Pine Marten



September was also one of the best birding months of the year. I was able to get within a few feet of a wild urban Fox as well as photographing Little Grebes at Dinton Pastures with young just a couple of metres from the hide. A summary of September would not be complete without my day trip up to Titchwell Marsh, Norfolk. I saw my first Curlew Sandpiper as well as getting very poor views of the Little Bittern.

Juvenile Little Grebe - Dinton Pastures

Adult Little Grebe - Dinton Pastures

Curlew Sandpiper (and Ringed Plover) - Titchwell RSPB

Urban Fox - Hersham


Another good month where I got close views of Woodlarks up on Thurley Common, as well as photographing Red Deer Stags at sunrise at Bushy Park. The highlight of October for me though, was the Ferruginous Duck at Dinton Pastures. This is a duck I had wanted to see for a long time but every local bird had quickly been dismissed as a hybrid, but at last a pure bird turned up!!

Woodlark - Thursley Common

Ferruginous Duck - Dinton Pastures CP


November was a little quieter than October and winter migrants failed to arrive in large numbers due to the very mild weather. The highlight of November was of course my close encounter with a male Dartford Warbler which allowed an approach down to 2-3 metres.

Dartford Warbler

Dartford Warbler

Dartford Warbler


The month begun with Short Eared Owls turning up locally which allowed for great views but unfortunately the light was not good enough for any great photographs.  A trip to Slimbridge WWT was also fantastic with great view of my first Bewick's Swans and female Lesser Scaup. The main highlight for December however was Norfolk. I got some spectacular views of Golden Pheasant at Sculthorpe Moor as well as some wonderful views of Bearded Reedlings and Common Cranes (both had been on my wish list for a very long time!!). Although for me the stars were the 10 or so seals at Wells beach.

Lesser Scaup - Slimbridge 

Pintail - Slimbridge 
Bewick's Swan - Slimbridge

Short Eared Owl - Papercourt Meadows

Short Eared Owl - Papercourt Meadows

Common Crane - Norfolk

Bearded Reedling

Golden Pheasant - Sculthorpe Moor
Common Seal - Wells Next the Sea

A cracking years birding which resulted in me seeing over 215 species. 2012 has already turned out great with Jack Snipe, Kingfishers and Whooper Swans!

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