|Another dark and grainy GREEN WOODPECKER shot taken in my garden this afternoon, it only seems to show well when the light is poor!|
Anyway, that gives me an excuse to look back at the year 2012 on my patch, here's a summary :-) You may want to get a cup of tea and a biscuit !!! :-)
The year started of with mild and sometimes wet weather, which didn't bring too many cold weather species onto my patch, January's species total ended on 62, which was the joint fourth best from 11, and 6 behind the best ever January total. The best of the months birds were a LITTLE GREBE on the Lakes that was first seen on the 19th, and was last observed on the 22nd, also 2 WOODCOCK in the adjacent Scrubby Woods on the 8th, plus 2 GOLDEN PLOVER on the Pub Field on the 18th. It was good to get species such as PEREGRINE, KINGFISHER and COOT early on the year list.
February saw an early blast of bitterly cold, snowy weather, which lasted for a few days, this brought in some of the cold weather species, and made for a bumber February species total of 68, the highest recorded, LITTLE EGRET, GOLDEN PLOVER, SNIPE, WOODCOCK, TEAL and GOOSANDER were all good patch species. The first Owls for the year showed up in February, those being LITTLE OWL and TAWNY OWL as did the first MANDARIN DUCK.
Much of March was dry and warm, bringing some early Butterfly action with, Red Admiral, Comma, Small White, Orange Tip, Green Veined White and Small Tortoiseshell all being seen. The months bird species list reached 66, the fourth best, and included the years first flyover MUTE SWAN, as well a two nice birds of prey in the RED KITE and MARSH HARRIER, a GREY WAGTAIl joined the years list, as did the first two summer Migrants, those being the BLACKCAP and CHIFFCHAFF. March also provided the first and only RED LEGGED PARTRIDGE of the year.
Aprils weather was atrocious, the wettest on record, but was just a taste of the poor summer to come, the low species total for the month reflected this, with many spring Migrants arriving late, just 69 species were recorded, which put it in 7th place out of the 11 years. None -the-less, April did have a species that had never been recorded here before when a RAVEN flew over on the 14th. The Summer Migrants that did arrive included the regulars of SWIFT, SWALLOW, HOUSE MARTIN, SAND MARTIN, WILLOW WARBLER, GARDEN WARBLER, COMMON WHITEHROAT, and CUCKOO, plus the more scarce passage species such as YELLOW WAGTAIL, WHEATEAR and a BLACK REDSTART.
The poor weather continued into May, but despite this the last of the regular Summer Migrants arrived on my patch, TURTLE DOVE, LESSER WHITETHROAT, SPOTTED FLYCATCHER, and HOBBY all came home to breed, plus records of the scarcer passage birds like REDSTART, REED WARBLER, and the much rarer WHIMBREL, were had, the latter of which no less than 13 flew over in a flock on the 5th, a particularly nice sighting, as was an OSPREY that went over on the 21st :-) These all helped the May species list on to a respectable 70, the fourth best of 11, and just 3 behind the record May total. Butterfly wise, it was excellent to find my first patch Small Heath Butterfly :-)
June's weather was cool and wet again, a reasonable total of 65 species were seen this month, the same as June 2009, which is the 4th best June total. The undoubted highlight of the month was watching a female HEN HARRIER fly over Migrant Alley whilst doing one of my long sky watches, the only other bird new for the year was a flyover COMMON TERN.
July is a quiet month anyway, but this year was particularly so, with not one species added to the years list, the monthly total reached just 63 species, the lowest since 2005, and barely reached the mean average total for the 11 July's on record, which is 63.2 species. July did provide only the second Grey Wagtail sighting of the year though :-)
August was only slightly better weather wise, and the main focus was trying to find the returning passage migrants, mainly to be found on or over Migrant Alley. I had some success too, with the likes of SEDGE WARBLER and WHINCHAT added to the year list, plus a most unexpected bonus of a patch tick YELLOW LEGGED GULL which flew over on the 27th :-) Also found on return passage this month were REDSTART and WHEATEAR, making the August species total up to 72 species, the third best August out of 11.
The weather was kinder in September, allowing me to continue the hunt for scarce passage migrant species that might pass through, the first returning SAND MARTINS and YELLOW WAGTAILS were picked up, and another OSPREY was seen, the first time I have recorded them in both spring and Autumn migration. WHINCHAT, REDSTART, and WHEATEAR were all nice passage species to find, as was the REED WARBLER that fed on a raspberry dump at the Greenhouse Grounds. A SHOVELER DUCK found at the lakes was a new bird for the year list. Septembers species list ended on 73, equal to the previous two Septembers, but 5 behind the record set in 2009.
October is the last month that I might just find a scarce passage migrant, and indeed it did provide me with a fantastic BLACK REDSTART at the Greenhouse Grounds, this is another species that this is the first year I have recorded them on both spring and Autumn passage. The last WHEATEARS also went through, and on the lakes a WIGEON was found, the first for the year. Also a new species for the year was a RING NECKED PARAKEET. The first Autumn LESSER REDPOLLS arrived, as did the first BRAMBLING, REDWINGS and FIELDFARES, a good Autumn record of a GOLDEN PLOVER helped the October list to 74 species, the second best October, just 3 behind the record October of 2010.
November was dark and wet - as always, but there are always birds to be found, although I didn't add any species to the year list, another RING NECKED PARAKEET was seen, as well as another BRAMBLING and the LITTLE EGRET that flew over was just the second this year. A CHIFFCHAFF was also found, a presumed overwintering bird. 64 species were recorded, the third best November tally, 4 species behind the record November of 2010. A Comma and Peacock butterfly were noteworthy for November.
December isn't quite over yet, and the months species total sits at 64, in fourth place out of 11. Some nice December species have already been found, not least a fantastic WAXWING that flew over on the 1st, an over wintering BLACKCAP feeding on apples in my garden was also nice to see, as was another RING NECKED PARAKEET. Also found were another LITTLE EGRET and a REED BUNTING - a scarce bird here. 5 GOOSANDER and 6 WIGEON have been recorded on the lake - as regular readers know, any duck is rare here! The year list is currently at 107, two behind my target for the year, and the fourth best yearly tally so far, but with holidays coming up, and more morning visits I am hopefull to reach that target :-)