Josie then took me to a local site for Dartford Warblers, which she had had great views of there that morning. It wasn't looking good as there was quite a bit of wind and it was getting dark, but after a while a pair darted (no pun intended) across the path in front of us, and provided close, but obscured, views. Lifer!
We spent the rest of the day relaxing, sleeping, having a natter, and did a short walk which only produced some laughing Green Woodpeckers amongst the more common stuff.
With the weather forecast to be wet and windy and a train ticket booked for 2 pm, I didn't get my hopes up for Friday morning. However, after a very welcome lie-in the weather seemed to be calm and dry, so we made a quick decision to try and ring Dartford Warblers locally. After setting up the nets and playing the call for just 2 minutes, a bird flew into the net! They're such amazing little birds, and we got much better views of them not in the hand as well. We then moved the net and after just 90 seconds a bird flew in, then as Josie was processing it, another flew in! We then had a male and female in the hand together, providing a great comparison between the plumages. Stonechats and Meadow Pipits were also nearby but both evaded the net, with one pipit flying in and out again!
Blackcap, Snipe and Dartford Warblers in the hand is an experience I'll never forget - a huge thanks to Josie and her family for inviting me to stay.
Josie's blog: http://blog.josiehewittphotography.co.uk/
January was a month of revision and exams for me, with my mock GCSEs, so I didn't get out birding much. However a short visit to Attenborough Nature Reserve in Nottingham at the start of the month produced some good ticks, including Egyptian Goose and Goosander.
As I didn't have any exams on the last Friday of the exam weeks, I decided that I'd treat myself and do some good winter birding, with the intention of seeing Short-eared Owls, which would be a lifer for me. So after doing some research into the best spots for the owls near me, and convincing my grandparents to take me, we went to Nene Washes in Cambridgeshire. And... we saw them! 3 Short-eared Owls in total, and a Barn Owl also put on a show over the fen. It was a cracking day, but bitterly cold, with other highlights of Cranes, Kingfishers, Marsh Harriers and a Peregrine - please see my previous post to find out more about it.
But that wasn't to be the end of the owl-fest, as the following morning we got 4 or 5 Long-eared Owls closer to home, admittedly rather bad views but a great year and Notts tick none the less. Just a few months ago I hadn't even seen 3 species of British owl, let alone get 3 in the space of 2 days! After that we headed off to Kilvington Lakes in Nottinghamshire, to try for the Great Northern Diver reported the day before. It didn't take long to find the birders watching the bird, so another great year and Notts tick - my first GND since 2011.
I also saw a lot of the Peregrines on the NTU building in Nottingham city, seeing the pair on a regular basis from the school bus. It is really lovely to have such an amazing animal on your doorstep, and this is something I plan to share with my school by launching a Peregrine Project; following the lives of the birds using the live webcam to raise awareness of amazing urban wildlife, and to promote the truth that birdwatching is not 'uncool'!
Here is some other notable wildlife I saw this month:
I'm Sorrel, a young birder and wildlife artist based in the East Midlands - this is my blog all about my birding and wildlife adventures.