Saturday, January 11, 2020

Review of the Year 2019 - Part One

One of a few close-to-home Waxwings in January
After a frenetic end to 2018, January began (and continued) with a busy winter talks programme, kicking off with a week of speaking for RSPB groups and local Nat Hist societies in London, and continuing across various points in the North. Of the latter, a memorably weather-affected adventure out West - incorporating talks for the Lancaster & District Birdwatching Society in Morecambe and The Bangor Bird Club in North Wales - wasn't just about white-outs on the motorway, black ice and breakdowns, but also about quality birding with friends new and old.

Whooper (left) vs. Bewick's Swans (right) - the smart money's on the little 'uns
Whooper & Bewick's Swans in the Lancashire snow
A fine day in the snow with Dan around Cockersand was notable for no fewer than four swan species, with Whoopers and Bewick's close-up and undeterred by the flashing lights of the never-more-appreciated AA van (more here), and another fine day - this time with some welcome post-storm sunshine - on Anglesey with Robin and Stephen followed soon after (more here).

Merlin hunting along the Anglesey coastline
Back on the Yorkshire coast, there was little in the way of winter movements, although a few Waxwings provided an always justified distraction; they seem to getting more and more regular these days - remember when we held our breath for a Waxwing Winter every six or seven years...? A far less predictable midwinter jewel, Hornsea Mere hosted a smart male Smew, which shared an ice-free opening in the surface with Greater Scaup and many other ducks. A cracking site only half an hour away, I really must spend more time here in 2020... more here.

One of the wintering Med Gulls looking the business before leaving for the summer
Icy white nun at Hornsea Mere
Sunny days in February means Goshawks displaying in the nearby North Yorkshire forests, and the old man and I had several enjoyable and successful days with them and a host of other active raptors, as described here; ditto Mediterranean Gulls, which were in various states of moult before they returned to breeding grounds across the North sea and beyond (see here); and rockpooling was back on the agenda with a few nice low tides, and South Landing always provides...

One of many Goshawks enjoying the early spring sunshine in the forests
Montagu's Sea Snail, South Landing
New roles I've been very happy to fulfil in 2019 included Digital Media & Logistics Co-ordinator for Champions of the Flyway, Digital Media Co-ordinator for The International Bird Observatories Conference and Website & Social Media Manager for Birdlife Israel - the first two of which in particular required a lot of attention throughout the winter, intensifying as both events approached in March. And as the month wore on with the merest vague hints of spring in the air on the Yorkshire coast, that trip to the Middle East couldn't come soon enough...

(Part Two to follow soon)