At the beginning of January we managed to find the Heron nest on my local patch, it was high up in a coniferous tree and very obscured. We often managed to see the Adults sitting up there, but never saw them nest building.
On the 13th we headed to Fairlop Waters and saw Golden Plover Fieldfare, and got incredible views of a Cormorant drying its wings, I slowly approached the barrier and took some shots trying to get its reflection, I like this shot as it has the late afternoon sun on it.
A decent visit over Wanstead Park had Kingfisher, Parakeet, Redwing and a fight at least 5 minutes long from a pair of Coots! They were really going at it with Talons slashing, and they were also trying to submerge one another.
On the 3rd we visited Two Tree Island. It was a cold day, but the birding was okay; Curlew, Redshank, Oystercatcher, Turnstone and Common Sandpiper. The biggest surprise though came from a Robin who came into one of the hides, obviously escaping the cold.
The garden in Brighton had a Woodpecker on a Peanut feeder the day it was put up and a Meadow Pipit came to drink from the pond! Not a bad garden tick!
On my patch the Greater-spotted Woodpeckers were putting on a regular performance at the feeding station, and one day they behaved very strangely; the female was taking Peanuts and placing them in holes she had drilled into a tree! The male then came in, and they both flew off, very odd.
My first trip to my Grandma's in Ireland was in February, it was a fun stay. As she is in the country she has loads of birds in the winter when she puts out food; often around c.20 Chaffinches, 3 Goldfinch, 3 Siskin, c.5 Blue Tit, 2 Great Tit, 3 Coal Tit, 2 Greenfinch, Robin and 2 Dunnock.
Redpoll, Sparrowhawk, Bullfinch, Pheasant were all seen. On the beach saw Rock Pipit and Turnstone, Ringed Plover, Reed Warbler and Meadow Pipit. One of the most exciting things though wee Treecreeper! I was treated to several views, but decent images were hard. The Siskin though were the occasional posers!
I was still in Ireland when March came, I spent a lot of time Pond-dipping with my cousin Caleb (who I am proud to say, I have turned into a birdwatcher!), we found loads of species; Frogs and Tadpoles, Whirligig Beatles, Great Diving Beatles, there larvae; Water Tigers, something I'm sure was a Red tubifex worm, Flat worms, Dragonfly Nymphs, Fresh Water Shrimp, Pond Snail. The highlight though, without a doubt were Smooth Newts, especially the males in Nuptial dress! My cousin and I estimated 4 males and 2 females, by slightly different colours and size; one male was tiny and a paler colour. I couldn't get any good shots as we didn't want to keep them out of the water too long.
I got lucky up at the Golf-course in April, Skylark where singing up in the sky and I saw a Linnet atop a bush as well as a Buzzard over. In the garden in Brighton we had Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff and Blackcap.
At the patch, I found a Woodpecker building a nest, unfortunately the tree was blown down in the strong winds we were experiencing.
One of my best birding experiences was in May, at Rainham Marshes with my father, Uncle Iain and Aunt Amanda. We walked around on an overcast day with Swifts whizzing on each side, some close enough to touch, there were hundreds everywhere! In one of the hide someone showed us Grey Plover in breeding dress and a Whimbrel through his scope. At the Lagoon a man kindly pointed out a Black-necked Grebe in summer plumage! He also helped us see: Sand Martin, House Martin, Swallow, White Wagtail, Dunlin and Common Sandpiper! At another point we saw Yellow Wagtail and Reed Bunting. As we walked back to the centre we saw Linnet and Whitethroat, a day list of 47. A poor record shot was all that was managed of the Grebe.
Another nice surprise in May was a Red Kite over my Grandmother Amy's garden It glided fairly low over and we all got to see it! The Heron chicks were visible in the nest and in the garden we had Great Tits franticly feeding chicks in the roof!
A trip to Rye Meads was also incredible. We arrived in the Kingfisher hide as they were fledging, most had already come out but we saw a couple take their first flight! They were unfortunately quite distant, but great to watch! A pair of Kestrels were also visible brining food to their nest.
The first thing of note in June was a Green Woodpecker who was tolerant of our presence at dusk in the Park. After he flew off we heard a strange and repetitive call, and upon investigation we found a male Sparrowhawk in a tree clutching prey, a female came into the tree and as far as I could workout took the prey.
While waiting for a train at Moulsecoomb train station I ha a close encounter with a Blue Tit Fledgling! As I didn't want to disturb the chick or the parents I quickly backed away after photographing it.
A young Grey Wagtail on the patch was nice and my first ever Nuthatch was a great see at Warley Place.
I'm sure by now you have read enough, but, this is just part one of 2012, so, maybe tomorrow you will be "pleased" to read part two.