Saturday, 31 December 2016

Happy New Year

As the sun sets on 2016 I would just like to wish everyone a Happy New Year.

This is where I should also post a long review of the birds seen on patch in 2016, but to be honest my greatest highlights of 2016 have come from elsewhere. Saying that though, any patch tick is worthy of a mention in an end of year post, of which there were two for me this year. An overdue one with a Red-backed Shrike on Beer Head on 15th September...

And a unexpected one with a Least Sandpiper on Black Hole Marsh on 3rd August...

These two birds take my patch life list total to 257. But now for the real highlights...

It's been really exciting teaming up with Nikon and working alongside them this year, especially regarding the once in a life time project in Slovenia filming this. What an experience it was, so many incredible sights, sounds and people that have touched me forever. 

During the summer of 2016, although it was VERY hard work, being part of a small team that mapped pretty much all the breeding birds on the whole eastern half of Dartmoor was a challenge, but so SO rewarding - a proper monumental, important and historic survey. Getting up to the Moor at dawn meant we saw some incredible sights and so many birds. Hopefully the final report will be out soon, but I for one was encouraged by the numbers of birds like Cuckoos, Grasshopper Warblers, Redstarts, Tree Pipits and Whinchats that we came across.  Thanks to the RSPB and the Moor Than Meets The Eye project, and of course Chris and Kev for this opportunity.

I couldn't not include becoming an expectant father - this really is life changing. Now I suppose is a good time to mention that yesterday we went for our 20 week scan, and it was quite clear to see that we are expecting a..... BOY! Such thrilling news!  Although we've got a lot to sort out, we really cannot wait for May 2017.

It's easy to pick out the two low-lights for me this year, neither I want to dwell on, in fact one I don't want to mention at all. Missing a completely unprecedented movement of Cory's Shearwaters off Seaton on 20th August was seriously gutting, I was at Rutland all day!

So tomorrow is a New Year, and I cannot wait to get stuck into Patchwork Challenge. Today the Cattle Egret, Grey Plover and Tufted Duck were all still present, so I am hopeful of a good start to the campaign. Needless to say, you can watch my progress here on Axe Birding, and as ever thanks for reading.


  1. Happy new year to you and yours, Steve.

  2. Hi Steve, to have a serious movement of Cory's off Seaton and not further SW where I was, is mind boggling to say the least - the laws of seawatching had gone down the pan!

    1. Mind boggling is indeed the word! The lucky few that saw them all say they arced into and then back out of Seaton Bay (10 o'clock to 2 o'clock). So I really do think sightings during the day relate to the same few birds just blogging about feeding, making it less of a movement and more of a 'fall'. Sadly all gone by the next day though, but so had the wind. But are we to expect more freaky things like this with the rise in sea temps?

  3. Nice one Steve - No cakes though and what about discovering the secret Dartmoor Pie Shop!Great working with you on Dartmoor - It seems a long, long time ago already! Happy New Year.

    1. Oh yes that shop - what a place and I have been back a few times since. Doesn't it seem like yonks ago, especially that first square south of Haytor. I don't miss the piles of maps and the 'curse of Yar Tor' though.

  4. Happy New Year Steve.
    John and Sue.

  5. Hi John and Sue, thanks so much and Happy New Year to you both. And thanks for being such regular readers and commenters :-)