Reflections on 2012 - Part 2
August was dominated by our first foreign trip in years to the Interlaken area of Switzerland. There's no possible way that I can hope to summarise such a monumental location in just a few words, so instead here are a couple of my favourite landscapes.
The bird life was also something special with this Alpine Accentor being my personal pick of the bunch.
If you want to read more about the trip then I recommend heading here where Alpine Choughs, Marmots, Chamois and much more awaits.
The start of September saw me finding my first Reed Warbler of the year at, surprisingly, Sandy Water Park. It was skulking through some lakeside vegetation and was of great annoyance to Emma who had elected to stay in the car instead of braving the elements. She needn't have worried as a week later we were in Kent for my sisters wedding. While there we visited the fantastic Oare Marshes where a second Reed Warbler kindly showed itself along with an overhead Osprey and a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper. That was just the tip of the iceberg with the reserve holding thousands of other birds including Avocets, Green Sandpiper and Ruff. A few miles away and we were being treated to Marsh Harriers and a Yellow Wagtail whilst the cottage was a mass of Hummingbird Hawk-moths. Superb.
When we made it back home it was a Stonechat once more that really stood out from the various photographs I was taking. This brilliantly tame individual was up on Bryn-bach-Common and it allowed me to approach within a couple of metres.
September was also the month of spectacular sunsets with Llanelli foreshore seemingly the perfect location from which to take them all in. I was present for several evenings with the following landscape easily the best of all.
October saw us wave goodbye to most of our summer visitors but there was still the occasional Swallow or House Martin dotted around Gower. We also welcomed the return of some old favourites with Redwings and a Brambling back on patch. When I think back though it is my discovery of a Wryneck on the Pembrokeshire coast that really stands out above everything else. We found the bird on the northern slopes of Porth Maenmelyn after following a group of Stonechats into the area. That led to the discovery of a Dartford Warbler which in turn led to me flushing the Wryneck. You really couldn't make it up. My disbelief was only compounded further when I managed to get both the Wryneck and one of the two Dartford Warblers present in the same photo. Simply amazing.
Anything else was going to have to work very hard to beat that, but a Weasel above Oxwich Point came pretty close. We found it running through the ruins of a wall where it would stop to look at us before continuing on its merry way. In the end we were able to get pretty close but I never managed to get that killer shot I was after. Nevertheless this photo captures the Weasel character perfectly.
You might think that November is a bit late in the year to be taking a holiday but trust me, Norfolk is absolutely perfect for it. Pink Footed Geese feed in the fields in their thousands and there aren't any of those annoying tourists clogging up the roads or beaches. This year we chose to stay in the middle of Wells which gave us brilliant access to the reserves at Titchwell and Cley as well as the Holkham estate. At all three we were treated to the sight of several Snow Buntings feeding but they pale in comparison to the flock of sixty plus at Holms-next-the-sea. To see them lifting off together was just mind boggling and probably ranks in my top three wildlife experiences of the year.
Elsewhere Marsh Harriers, Red Crested Pochards, Barn Owls, Bar Tailed Godwits and Bramblings kept us entertained whilst the appearance of three House Martins and a single Swallow over Wells beach was a real surprise. I think they make the record books as the latest hirundines I have ever seen in the country.
At home we took a couple of nice walks on Gower to explore Paviland cave and to stretch our legs towards Broughton Bay. The latter led to the discovery of a sunken forest as well as what ranks as my favourite Gower view of the year.
And so to December which you only really need to glance down this page slightly to relive. The big news was that after a couple of years we finally managed to connect with some Waxwings. We found at least sixty feeding on berries along Bangor Street in Cardiff and they were every bit as fantastic as I'd hoped for. Although the light was terrible I did manage to get the following shot which I am particularly pleased with.
There was also the spectacular walk I took up to the snowy peak of Pen y Fan. As a self-confessed snow addict it was just what the doctors ordered following a year that, as you have seen, was largely bereft of the white fluffy stuff. For my third ascent of the peak I couldn't have wished for better conditions with the vistas stretching out for miles in every direction.
And there we have it. 2012 in a nutshell. In these entries I've only skimmed the very top of what was, on reflection, a very productive year and I really encourage you to flick back through this blog's history as there is real quality hidden within. Hopefully in the next twelve months that is something I can continue to build on so here's to 2013. Happy New Year and thanks for all your support..