I didn't have much time for birding during December, with no time off work and weekends seemingly too busy to get out.
Disappointingly i didn't even take notes on the few occasions I went out, but my memory recalls a couple of late afternoon trips to Shuart to look for owls, finding a Long-eared Owl on each visit.
On Christmas eve I had an afternoon walk in Church Woods, which my garden backs onto. It was lovely to stroll round listening to the Nuthatches calling, and watch the Treecreepers among the various tits working through the trees. Around 4:30pm several Tawny Owls were calling, and I was lucky enough to see them flying not far ahead of the path.
On Tuesday 27th I had a trip to Stodmarsh with Patrick Giles, and we walked round to the water meadows, where we located the colour-ringed Glossy Ibis feeding at the back of the pool. Really nice to see were 3 Water Pipits as well. Waiting on the Lampen Wall for dusk to arrive we had probably about 20 Marsh Harriers drifting back and forth across the reed beds, but we found it impossible to count them accurately as they seemed to drop into the reeds, and every so often more would appear, but were they different birds, or the same birds re-emerging from the roost?
Rather nice to see were 2 ring-tail Hen Harriers, plus stacks of Fieldfares gathering to roost. The 2nd Glossy Ibis flew over our heads, but we failed to see where it landed, perhaps it circled and returned to the meadows. Walking back in near-dark I saw 2 Woodcocks flying over.
New Year's eve I went for another stroll through Church Woods. I set off at 3:15pm, a bit later than planned, and set myself the target of finding 30 birds. Although a purely arbitary target, it sounded fairly easy and I soon found over 20 birds, including a pair of Mallard, 2 Redpolls, and a flock of Goldcrests, but I struggled to get near 30, failing to get Nuthatch or Treecreeper. Around 4:30pm the Tawny Owls were calling, at least 4 birds in one small area, and I had some nice views as the big lumbering birds flapped around the trees. Last birds (no. 27 for the walk) were a pair of Woodcocks low over the trees.
I talked myself into thinking it would be easier for a morning walk to see more birds, so on New Year's Day I went out early for a couple of hours before the family woke up, covering much more woodland than the previous evening, but surprisingly I still failed to reach 30 birds. In fact I managed 1 less than the previous day, the 26th species being a flock of Redwings.
No sign of any Marsh Tits or Lesser Spotted Woodpeckers on the walks I've had over the last few weeks, a bit worrying as I used to see both birds regularly not so many years ago.