Has it really been a year? (1 Viewer)

A year since I last posted to my blog so there's a lot to cover.

Firstly a quick update on 2011. I ended the year with a British year list of 121, one short of the previous year's figure while my Sussex year list ended on 116 which was one better than 2010.

At the end of June 2012 I have already reached 117 on both my British and Sussex lists, already surpassing my Sussex year list best and just five behind my British year list best - I should easily pass that figure by the end of the year. Now that I'm living in Sussex all of my birding has taken place within that county so far this year.

What those figures show is that I think that my knowledge has improved well over the last 12 months or so; I know where and when to go to see particular species of birds, and I can recognise a good number of calls and songs now (the one that shows that is the Med Gull's call a few weeks ago when I was otherwise overlooking gulls).

As for my life list, in 2011 I added 11 species and so far this year I've added nine. Here are the species seen:

Barnacle Goose
Hen Harrier
Garden Warbler
Lesser Whitethroat
Short-eared Owl
White-fronted Goose

Hooded Crow
Common Crossbill
Rock Pipit
Marsh Harrier
Glossy Ibis
Sandwich Tern

The big change in my birding is that I now have a scope. I have only had it a couple of weeks so it's still new and very novel but I'm loving it! This weekend was the first time I really had a chance to get out and use it with a trip down to Pagham Harbour on Saturday morning. It was a little too windy by the North Wall so I drove round to Church Norton where it was more sheltered and was rewarded with my first lifer courtesy of the scope - Sandwich Terns, about eight roosting on the mudflats out in the harbour. While there I had Cuckoo fly over - my fourth of the year (most I've seen in a year so far). I returned to the North Wall a little later in the morning where I was informed of a Glossy Ibis. Sceptical at first, I soon found it giving me my second lifer within a couple of hours of each other - I was informed that a pair have been in that area for a few weeks now.

Yesterday evening was the highlight though. While most of England was watching England's defeat in the football I was making the most of a rare sunny and calm evening by going up to Pulborough Brooks. It was lovely having the reserve to myself and gave me a chance to really use the scope and play around with it without too many prying eyes! Resident wildfowl were joined by eight Black-tailed Godwits, along with a good number of Swifts and a few Swallows, loads of Little Egrets and a few Grey Heron over the North Fields.

A little later I was sitting on the picnic tables hoping to see a Barn Owl go into the nest in the visitor centre when one of the chicks stuck its head out of the hole and peered at me! Still very downy, it did look rather healthy.

With the light starting to fail, I then made for the heath to hopefully see a bird that I have always wanted to see. Nothing for about half an hour, but from about 9.30 the churring started. And then seemingly from out of nowhere a nightjar appeared, silently flying towards me. Three times she flew to within about ten yards from me, and she perched in the open on a branch about 20 yards from me for a good 10 minutes. They're very eery when flying, so silent. And with a butterfly-like flying action. Smashing bird.

So that was my evening - despite having been bitten ad infinitum by the insects, I left the reserve with a huge smile on my face. Not even listening to the radio on the way home of England's inevitable loss in the penalty shoot-out could dampen my spirits!

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