Saturday, 10 December 2011

2011 - the year, not a pan-species total

Colley Hill - part of 'North Downs and beyond'
Birds: Most of my time was spent locally, with Beddington Sewage Farm the normal choice of destination. The year began with my seeing Waxwings in Redhill, Cheam and Canons Farm, the latter site providing a flock of 60+. Common Redpolls were in the company of many flocks of Lessers. An Eider on a sandpit near Buckland was a stunning local record. Spring came early - March, April and May were dry, sunny and warm. Canons Farm produced for me Ring Ouzel, Grasshopper Warbler and a singing Quail that I actually managed to see. Not to be outdone, Beddington came back with two Common Cranes that flew through, calling noisily, in mid-April. The fact that I couldn't see them was down  to the fact that a thousand gulls were circling above me at the time rather than my incompetence. A week at Sandwich Bay in June was like stepping back in time. The farmland there still is home to breeding Corn Buntings, Grey Partridges, Yellow Wagtails, Turtle Doves and Barn Owls. These species were constant companions during my stay. Later in the year Hawfinches at Headley and a Cetti's Warbler at Beddington were welcome. Today I saw my first Canons Farm Barn Owl. I must record my thanks to three local birders who, apart from being avid patch-workers, also selflessly send out bird information to those who are interested - Johnny Allan, David Campbell and Graham James.

Flora: For the first time for quite a while I didn't botanise as much. My Beddington botanical survey did, however, kick-off and together with a few of the birders we identified 250+ species. A lot of work needs to be done on the grasses, sedges and rushes still. Thanks to fellow-blogger Steve Coates I was shown the biggest Oxtongue Broomrape colony in the UK, close to his Kent home. Sandwich Bay provided me with a week of botanising that was wide-ranging and enjoyable. A particularly pleasurable afternoon on Reigate Heath in June was memorable due to the good numbers of Bird's-foot, Annual Knawel and Knotted Clover.

Moths: The garden MV supplied me with two new macro lifers: Rannoch Looper (4 caught between June 3-6) and a Tree-lichen Beauty in August.

Fungi: I really fell for mushrooms and toadstools this autumn, spending time, in particular at Ebernoe Common and Box Hill, both full of fungal delights. It's an area of study that I will return to next year.

Pan-species: My target of reaching 3,000 species before the years end was made with several weeks to spare. It has been an eye-opener chasing this list. My awareness of other forms of nature has been heightened and my appreciation of it enhanced. It's not just about the ticking...

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