The Portland Naturalist

The Portland Naturalist

Friday, 2 January 2015

AFONd Hello

Not a massive amount to catch up on up to the end of the year, with few birding opportunities. You might say I've been in hibernation (or you could just call me lazy!).
Either way, it was nice to pop back to Surrey on the 14th December to lead a walk at the picturesque Puttenham Common. It was even more so in the frosty conditions.

 Just the usual species of note, including 2 Kingfisher, lots of Mandarin, and 2 brief Raven.

It had to be whilst I was away that a longed-for Caspian Gull occurred at Radipole. I put a bit of time in the following couple of evenings, to no avail.  Just the usual alarming Herring Gull variation.

On the 21st, I joined a meet of the guys from A Focus On Nature - a group for young conservationists, at Slimbridge.  I hadn't been for quite a while, and I'd forgotten just how many birds the place holds! 

One of the highlights though was a glimpse, on a big screen (due to quarantine regulations), of the Spoon-billed Sandpiper and a talk about Slimbridge's internationally important captive-breeding and release programme.

Of the wild birds though, the sheer numbers were breathtaking, especially at the evening feed...

The best species were a small flock of White-fronted Goose, 2 Marsh Harrier, a distant and brief Barn Owl, a Little Stint, and a Whooper Swan, which appeared late-on at the feed.

The best bit of the day for socially-inept me though, was meeting so many wonderful like-minded people. We are strongly-positioned indeed to preserve the worlds wildlife in the future. 

One of the sites at the forefront of wildlife preservation in my home county of Surrey is Tice's Meadow. I was able to pop back in there briefly on Boxing Day. Nothing of massive note species-wise, but great to see the place looking top-quality in habitat once again!

In terms of Portland birding, the only notable sightings during this period were a Firecrest or two still at Penn Castle Woods, and a few birds in the Harbour including a surprise pair of Velvet Scoter which flew in at Portland Castle on the 29th, dropped their landing gear, but changed their minds and flew off. Could've been an unrivalled photographic opportunity in the sunshine! Oh well.

So, I failed to add to my patch list in December, and finished on 177 species and 278 points. It'll be tough to keep up with that in 2015!
Hope you all had a great Christmas, and may I wish you a spiffing and bird-filled new year!

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