Friday, January 17, 2020

Review of the Year, 2019 - Part Three

April saw the beginning of a long and fascinating season surveying the breeding waders of the North Yorkshire Moors. Again with comrade Rich, we spent a lot of time up on the most remote parts of the moors over the spring and summer months, and by the end of the contract, I'd conducted 54 surveys up there, providing many valuable insights (and some serious exercise)....

We recorded effectively everything, but our target species were European Golden Plover (top), Eurasian Curlew (above), Northern Lapwing (below) and Common Snipe.

As with pretty much any survey - and especially those where you routinely find yourself in remote situations - there was plenty of collatoral to enjoy, from breeding Merlins, to smart Emperor moths and gorgeous Adders (below); of the latter, it's impossible to tire of these beautiful beasts, and I had some memorable run-ins with them this summer.

Spring and summer isn't just about surveying birds these days - plenty of late evenings (and a few very early mornings) were again spent looking for and monitoring bats, again as part of Wold Ecology's team. Sites, species and surroundings were rich and varied, and no two nights were the same; some were a real privilege to experience, often involving my personal favourites, Brown Long-eared Bats.

Birding on the coast was sketchy, regarding both time in the field and relative returns; long gone are the days when I could justify numerous day-long shifts sniffing out everything with feathers and a pulse in spring (and to be honest, that's no bad thing), but I'm still fortunate enough to be able to reshuffle some of my workload and maximise at least some time in the field when the conditions look promising. It's all relative, I know, and yes, I do appreciate how lucky I am...

Inkeeping with the last few years, I spread the spring birding love more holistically and satisfyingly again this spring (the days of ├╝ber-insular patch-induced mania are also happily long gone), with Filey, Flamborough and elsewhere within realistic striking distance on the table for those generally at-a-premium days of seasonal promise. I even twitched a few decent birds within a half hour or so - what have I become? (A little less insane is the correct answer, in case you were wondering...).

In truth there were't too many days that hit the spot on the coast, but a couple spring to mind - a fine day of quality and quantity at Flamborough in mid-May, and another there right at the end of the spring migration season were particularly enjoyable; one of several Wrynecks and Black-headed Bunting (both pictured above) being two species featuring in the above links, as well as a decent sprinkling of Redstarts this spring (below).

As well as all the above, in May I stepped down as (volunteer) Communications Officer for Filey Bird Obs. After a productive seven years or so at the helm and a lot for us to be proud of, ultimately it's important to realise when those efforts are better directed elsewhere to make the most of those spare hours and skills. A more detailed summary can be found here.

More importantly, I got to spend my wonderful wife's 40th in the Czech Republic with her and my lovely in-laws - and I didn't even take the bins and camera! New-found levels of perspective and self-control abound....

(Part Four to follow)