That was the year that was, so far

A dip in the temperature, with grey skies and rain, certainly turned my internal 'seasonal dial' from summer to autumn. It also had me indulging in the unforgivable act of looking back through the year - sheer madness for September 9th! But what I discovered was quite interesting...

It will be (unless something mightily dramatic happens in the next four months) my quietest year's birding ever. There are some species that I haven't seen that would make most of you report me to the ornithological police for 'not trying'. I've left Surrey rarely, and when I have it's been mostly for social reasons. And the time spent birding in my home county has been infrequent, with the highlights being few:

(i) Massive Hawfinch flock at Mickleham (twitched by several hundred birders)
(ii) Male Black Redstart in the back garden (stayed for 11 days)
(iii) Dead Kittiwake at Holmethorpe

Hardly the stuff of ornithological legend (although the Hawfinches might just be exactly that).

Moth wise it was very quiet until the weather warmed up in June, but so far there have been only two surprises in the garden MV - Royal Mantle and White-point.

As for plants I've really not done too much, but what I have done has been largely predictable but enjoyable. And that last word - enjoyable - is how I sum up my response to the year's meagre natural history haul. I have found a peace in what I do that has been, over the years, masked by a combination of immaturity, frustration and impatience.

It's only taken me fifty-four and three-quarter years to arrive here.

So, if I was to look back on the highlights of 2013 (so far), what would they be?

Eldest daughter Rebecca getting a first from University College London

A boat trip along the Thames in glorious weather, and a Greenwich lunch, with the whole family

A cracking week in Dorset with the family (and an excursion into Devon to meet Bradley 'Haig' Wiggins)

A boozy evening with MAH at Littlestone being entertained by Tom Petty and The B52s

The Mickleham Hawfinches

Watching Game of Thrones

New albums from Laura Marling, Amy Mann, John Grant and Duckworth Lewis

Hoegaarden beer and Dark'n Stormy's (Ginger Beer and Rum)

Final Lions Test and Lords Ashes Test

The Tottenham Hotspur summer transfer haul


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