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Monday, 31 December 2012

End of Year Mop-Up - December, 2012

It's official - 2012 has been the wettest year in England since records began (whenever that might be?)! Many people, I'm sorry to say, have been mopping up in the literal sense, having been flooded to various extents. I'm one of the lucky ones who have only suffered minor inconvenience, having had to make a few diversions to avoid flooded roads, but it has severely curtailed my bird watching activities. This is, therefore, a brief mop-up of what I have done over the past couple of weeks and not covered in my blog so far.


I've done very little in the way of owl watching in December, although I have managed to add another two new Little Owl sites to my list, and I have had a couple of sightings of Short-eared Owl at the site where I had good sightings last winter.

I've not got any more images from my LO Site No.32, but I did get some from my most recent site (No.33). These were taken under extremely difficult circumstances - it was very dull and windy, and the environment was very noisy! I won't say more than that, but my pal Titus, who introduced me to the farmer here, will know what I mean! Hopefully I will be able to return in better conditions and get some improved images!

Little Owl - my new Site No.33
Just before Christmas, I also had a bit more luck at my LO Site No.31 in Calke Park. It was cold, dull, and breezy, and I couldn't find an owl to start with. Then one flew from behind a tree which was much nearer than I'd seen the owl here before. Unfortunately it flew to the ground, doubling the distance between us. I managed a few grabbed shots from against the fence before it flew back towards me, and landed in the tree - with the trunk between me and the owl again.

Little Owl - my Site No.31
I hung around for a couple of hours in the hope that it would fly back down to the ground, but it didn't, and the only way I could see it was still there was to walk away along the fence and look back - as shown below.

Little Owl - my Site No.31
Garden Birds

On 21st December my annual Garden List reached a new record with the addition of a Brambling. I only count birds that actually land in my garden. Fly-overs do not count. My previous annual record was 31 species, and I now stand at 32 species for 2012. I'm very pleasantly surprised by this as the elimination of the garden pond 2/3 the way through 2011 means that I'm not now getting the birds that used to be attracted by the water or the fish. Missing from previous year's sightings are Grey Heron and Grey and Pied Wagtails. Also missing are Common Pheasant and Fieldfare. I only started records in 2009. 'Firsts' to the garden list this year are Goldcrest, Willow Tit, and Chiffchaff, although the first two have definitely been seen in the garden before I started records.

The recent sightings of Brambling, Blackcap, Bullfinch and Redwing have not, unfortunately, continued, with a pair of Lesser Redpoll being the only uncommon (for our garden) birds visiting us on a fairly regular basis. The weather has not been conducive to garden photography, but here is a token recent image.

Lesser Redpoll (male) - our garden
Other Birds

I've not really done much birdwatching that I've not already reported on. A couple of return visits to Calke Park (one on 17th December and one on Boxing Day) served to remind me to attempt better images of Marsh Tit ( got some, but still not better, on 17th) and gave me my first Treecreeper images from Calke on Boxing Day, when the weather was pretty grim (but, again, I need to do a lot better).

Marsh Tit - Calke Park
Treecreeper - Calke Park
So what will the New Year bring?

Tomorrow the Garden List starts again from zero - always an exciting time for me!

For Christmas I got Adobe Photoshop Elements 11. Until now, I've use Corel Photopaint for all my photo editing, but I'm looking forward to getting to grips with Photoshop. So far the results have been far from encouraging - I've not yet found a way of loading multiple images into Photoshop, other than by calling them in one by one (clicking the first, and then clicking the last with the shift key held down, only results in the first getting loaded). Any hints and tips - particularly where to find a good learning resource - would be much appreciated.

I'm hoping for a prolonged spell of dry, bright, and windless weather so that I can get in some serious owling.

Other than that, all that is left for 2012 is to wish you all a happy, healthy, and prosperous 2013, and to thank you for your past kind encouragement and support .


  1. Fantastic set Richard,love the Treecreeper,not an easy bird to photograph,your Marsh Tit like wise.
    But,the star for me is the Lesser Redpoll,stunning bird and capture.
    Happy New Year.
    John and Sue.

    1. Thank you John and Sue. A Happy New Year to you both. Looking forward to your posts in 2013.

  2. Can't help with Photoshop sorry, I have the same issue in CS3. Is there a help forum availiable? If that fails there are some good books out there, though I would SERIOUSLY recomend going to a book retailer to check book first to make sure it's relevant rather then buying straight from a certain internet site. Great images Richard, especially Treecreeper a species I struggle with. I contacted Blogger about MY spammers, was told to make sure I check Spam folder and delete, this way they can see the source I went from 5-8 a day and now have only had 1 in two weeks.
    Have a great 2013 Richard

    1. Thanks for your hints and tips Doug. Have since found a website - - which looks as it it might be useful for tutorials.

      Since initiating ' word verification' I've not had any spam at all. Not sure I understand your suggestion re spam folder. I've always checked it and deleted the items there, but it still didn't stop me getting all the notification e-mails.

      All the best for 2013 Doug. Weather perimitting I shall be out there on New Year's Day!

  3. I like your last LO image the best mate, a nice change to see them on the ground, and a little bit of mystery added with it looking out into space.
    I use elements 10, well say use I think I've mastered about 2% of it so far. I purchased a useful guide though, elements 10 for dummies, very comprehensive but it should do the job, in time?
    See you in the new year mate!

    1. Thank you Paul. I think I like that one best too. It was just checking out where it was going to fly to!

      Might get the 'dummies' book - if they do one for elements 11 - will check it out.

      Hoping it's not too long before our paths cross.

      All the best for 2013


  4. Chin up!
    Oh do I know to feeling of frustration when the weather is against us!
    But, considering, these are not bad at all!
    A lot better than I ever did since I don't ever see these guys! ;-)
    I'm sure you will return soon with the pics of your dreams... 2013 is still VERY young! LOL!
    Happy New Year, Richard!

    1. Thank you for your words of encouragement Noushka.

      Happy New Year!

  5. Great pieces of photography Richard. Have a great new year in 2013.

    1. THank you Bob. All the best to you too!


I'm pleased to report that the anonymous spam problem seems to be solvable without using word verification. I'm now just using the 'Registered Users - includes OpenID' option in Blogger settings, and I'm not getting any spam - touch wood! I've also not received any contact from people saying that they are no longer able to make comments.