Ok, so it wasn't the last blog of the year. This is! Honest!
I knew this would happen. Oh well, here's what happened after that. Not a lot but worth recording nonetheless. The only green-winged teal I had seen this year was with Barry on Dorman's Pool on February 22nd in a howling gale, at a great distance and then only fleetingly and, at best, partially. The one at North Cave this December [20.12.13] was showing really well. Not quite as close as I should really like but you should be able to pick him out quite easily in these three shots.
If you can't see him, he's pretty well centre channel in the above shot and down left from the right hand moorhen, facing us in the second picture.
In the last one he's afloat just left of centre.
Suddenly something caused great alarm amongst the sparrows and a larger bird appeared to throw himself into the sparrows' normal bush by the feeders by the kitchen. Pictures through the double glazing from upstairs.
Barry and I set off early for Budby in North Nottinghamshire to see, we hoped, some parrot crossbills. I hoped to photograph them: Barry hoped for a lifer. End story: we dipped! However I did grab a few shots of a pair of jays near the Great Oak.
Near the site where the crossbills were supposed to be I spotted a small number of redpolls on hawthorn in the sun.
Some longhorn cattle watched the birders go by!
At Rufford we saw nothing but I wasn't really surprised - it's a very early morning location. By the time we arrived it was heaving with folk and the birds had probably drawn back into the woodlands.
Finally I headed for Mirfield: quite a trek but I knew an almost summer plumaged great northern diver was on the fishing lake formerly frequented by the ring-billed gull. No sign this winter, alas. A great crested grebe was near the roadside...
...and the diver was soon located too.
The year continues to entertain! What's next, I wonder?
On Sunday 29th December Barry and I set off very early [6am] for Cheshire and North Wales. First stop would be Burton Marsh to see the American Buff-bellied Pipit. On site by 8am we were not the first to arrive but many arrived after us until the preferred site [as far as the bird was concerned] along the masses of tidal wrack became a bit of a scrimmage - to the masked annoyance of local walkers and cyclists. The bird was eventually seen by me on about three separate occasions, the best views being back by the entry gate where the birders were more sensibly spread out along the path edge. My photos are very distant and any kind of focus lock would be a challenge to the camera in separating bird from every other little brown thing. But it was my 400th British bird. I'd achieved that retirement ambition at last!
Additionally Barry's photos show that we also saw the reported siberian chiffchaff.
We tried Abergele for the hoopoes, but no sign. I had briliant views of two drake surf scoters in flight by the turbines at Llysfaen by the railway line.
A drive to Holyhead got us good views of black guillemot by the fish dock [see http://barryjohnbishop.blogspot.com/ ] and later of some chough at South Stack. In all my years of Welsh choughing I'd never seen chough bird-tabling. They were feeding off a wall outside a farm house until a gull disturbed the party!
Red of bill and red of feet...
...they disappeared. Over the wall and far away.....over the wall and far away....
Can't be bad. To the North-east on January 1st! We start over...