Average Birding

1: Prologue

Whence a 200 bird year?

2: A false start

Many birders are up bright and early on New Year's Day, eager to make a start on a new list. The best laid plans of mice and men, however...

3: Hertfordshire Hawfinches

This week brings many reports of Hawfinches. Perhaps one or two might still be reachable by the weekend.

4: An unexpected Little Bunting

This week's "please stay there until the weekend" report is a Little Bunting at Walthamstow Reservoirs. (N.B Yes, the cover photo is of a Reed Bunting - read on for tale of why).

5: North Norfolk Surprise

The next weekend stays mysteriously free. A short-notice winter trip to Norfolk is hastily planned; we'll do our usual trip of picking up a car from Stansted Airport and driving the rest of the way.

6: Broadly Acceptable

With no equivalent goose chase on offer near Cromer, Sunday has a considerably more leisurely start.

7: Suffolk

Or: Out East, again: Circumstances conspire to bring us back to Stansted to pick up a different car the following weekend.

8: A Bristol Weekend

A couple of weeks pass. We have a growing collection of people (spawners, indeed!) we know in Bristol that require a visit. Planning occurs.

9: Cassiobury Park

Our first trip this month ends up being a bit closer to home. I decide, arbitrarily, that this is the year I am going to track down Lesser-spotted woodpecker.

10: An Excuse For Essex

A pair of our friends from the North have roped AB2 into some charity dinner and raffle. In Chelmsford. At the cricket club.

11: The Search For (Jack) Snipe

The weekend arrives and presents one final opportunity to add to the March total. Spring is starting to show its face; we opt for a trip to Barnes.

12: Easter Bird Hunt

April arrives and with it, hopefully, a flurry of new ticks from spring migration.

13: A Ring Quest

The weekend of the 7th arrives. I am on call on the Saturday; I need to stay near an internet connection. AB2 disappears off to meet some of our friends for a night out in South London. Trouble.

14: An Estuary Excursion

The week rolls round, and another weekend brings another birding scheme. The traditional Spoonbill sighting has been reported at Cliffe Pools, so it's time to get the scope in the mulepack, and stuff myself and my bike on HS1 to Gravesend.

15: Cuckoo

The next weekend finds us further out along the Thames estuary in Leigh-on-Sea, where AB2's parents reside. There are plans for Saturday day, but there is a small window available for a bit of birding early on the Saturday morning.

16: Pulborough Brooks

One weekend left in April. Where to go? I'm at a bit of a loss; some inspiration arrives in the shape of a tweet from Marylebone bird society. They're running a trip to Two Tree Island, but they also mention that the RSPB Central London group has a coach heading to Pulborough Brooks on the same day.

17: Padley Gorge

May arrives, and its time to catch up with Mum; both in person and hopefully in bird count.

18: Kentish Bank Holiday Monday

This early May bank holiday isn't over yet! Although, given we're eight ticks up already, perhaps we've earned a rest. What's that they say about the wicked, though?

19: The Five Ds of Birding

Dodge, duck, dip, dive and dodge. Dodgeball's a great film. Don't @ me. This weekend, a bit of all five things is in store.

20: A Northern Experience

It's time to get out of the London - there's a royal wedding happening. Let's away to the North. Specifically, the North East.

21: The Farne Islands...and more!

Continuing our avoidance of any mention of republican-unfriendly events in the capital, from Newcastle we travel to Beadnell. And from there, well, there's a place we really have to go...

22: Fenlandia

June begins with a trip out to Cambridgeshire, ostensibly to visit family. They do live conveniently near some good birding spots though.

23: Solitary Yellowhammer

The next weekend comes and goes; friends are seen, birds are not. I do my very best to ignore BirdGuides. The weekend after, we're back in Beeston.

24: An Osprey Spectacular

It's time to go to Scotland, and I am very excited.

25: Distant Diver

Day two in Scotland can't rival the first, but the views get pretty close.

26: Cape Wrath

We wake to the smell of bacon sandwiches; there's a food wagon on site and it makes breakfast from 7:30. The sun is out, and the breeze has lightened; good, we've got a packed itinerary to get through today.

27: Handa

The next day's itinerary is less busy: the only item on the agenda is Handa. As a result, the start of the day is a bit more relaxed; there's plenty of time to gawp at the pair of Red-throated Divers looking for their breakfast in the bay.

28: Coigach to Gruinard Bay

We're up early the next day, and are disappointed by the lack of loons in close proximity to the campsite. Perhaps that isn't always a feature?

29: Inverewe and Loch Maree

This post may not by the most productive of the Scotland trip, but on the average size of new birds ticked, its a winner for the year.

30: Glens and Grebes

GLENS! Yes, glens! Specifically, Glen Strathfarrar, which Gordon reckons is the underrated one.

31: The last days in Scotland

We've got two days left in Scotland - let's see if we can distract ourselves from the impending return to work by filling those days with activity.

32: An Epic Day Out

With twelve birds to go, we could be forgiven for taking our foot off the gas a little. No fear.

33: Oare, Once More

We're so close! With our last trip the scoreboard ticked over to 196. Can we finish the job with a further trip to Oare?

34: A race to Staines Reservoirs

The numerically inclined among the readership are presumably on the edges of their seats, at this point. So am I!

35: Dixons, Cats, Durham and Children

An only mildly delayed train to Newcastle sees us arrive at the Dixons' for just after half past ten on the Friday.

36: A Soggy End To August

August is not traditionally a productive birding month - towards the end of the month, however, things start to happen.

37: Dungeness

September rolls round and I am blessed with a renewed resolve. Through good behaviour and a cunning deployment of miniature railways, I also am gifted with an AB2 who is prepared to try a Dungeness outing.

38: Staines Wagtails

We reach the middle of September and a few more species start to make a break back to the continent. We catch up with two of them.

39: Royston Rarity

A couple of fallow weeks follow. BirdGuides is almost dead to me at this point; new ticks are almost entirely more than four hours away from London. Only one bird feels in range - a juvenile Pallid Harrier is apparently hanging about on Therfield Heath.

40: Spotted: Crake

Another weekend rolls around. Spotted Crake fever is still in full flow. Can we get to one before they all disappear?

41: Rustic Bunting

Two further weeks pass; trips to fall migration hotspots are turned down in favour of a quiet life; again I am grateful to have picked (and reached!) 200 already. A nearby twitch beckons, though - the gang over at Wanstead have found a Rustic Bunting, and that's really too near to ignore.

42: Probable Water Pipit

November. The month where it really gets properly dark and cold, and, if you did all your winter birding at the beginning of the year, there's not a lot to be offered in the way of ticks.

43: Skye

A hastily arranged week in Scotland suddenly looms in the calendar. After much negotiation, we're going to spend much of it on Skye.

44: East of Inverness

Time to switch coasts; we've got a night in Lossiemouth before a flight back from Aberdeen.

45: Cliffe Dipping

Previously, we failed to find Red-necked Grebe on Loch Spynie. A week later, the quest for Red-necked Grebe is back on; there have been several sightings of a pair on the Alpha Pool at Cliffe Pools.

46: Nottinghamshire Excursions

The end of the year is rushing towards us and I have more vacation than I can carry over. A couple of days off to see the madre (and drive her to see a few year ticks of her own), then.

47: Coal for Christmas

A low key Christmas is successfully negotiated, and passes without incident. Well, a small incident: I slightly overdo some chips. Oh well.