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End of Year Birds

Gosh, it’s been almost a week since I drove south from Portishead to the Dorset coast, which proved hard to work. My indecision around Ilminster didn’t help. That’s not in Dorset, but Somerset stretches that far, and beyond through Chard. By then Bridport was my only sensible target.

That was fine. A little further on lay Abbotsbury, where a scaup had been reported. That wasn’t so fine, being closed. You can tell how this is going: nada all the way to my hotel in Bournemouth and a recovery pint at the rather excellent Goat & Tricycle. A pub with that name can’t be beat.

On the subject of scaup I finally logged the lesser scaup at Slimbridge the weekend before and that entered my English list. Also new for the Wetland Centre were redpoll and raven. Funny how common species keep adding to that tally, which now stands at 109. I can’t have been paying attention.

Anyway, carrying on from Bournemouth on the 22nd, I had a beautiful stroll round Hengistbury Head, where ravens again figured by boosting my Hampshire list. I’ve said this before: Bournemouth itself and everywhere east is for me still in Hampshire. So, Slavonian grebes in Christchurch Harbour also counted, and Brent geese there were new for the year.

Then, best for last, an entirely hopeful punt south of Shatterford in the New Forest for a reported great grey shrike. A couple of birders coming the other way late in the afternoon hadn’t seen it after a thorough search and I was left anticipating at best another decent stroll. Not a bit of it: a white blob at the top of a birch stood out in the gloaming for a splendid shrike and I was able to get close enough for cracking views.

That’s probably it for the year – 183 species – not as good as many years recently but then I haven’t been gadding off down under or living in Scotland.

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