It's been a while since I last did a blog post, A Levels took over my life last year! But now the A Levels are done, and I'm on a gap year before I go to uni next September. The plan this year is to volunteer locally, spend a lot more time on my art, earn some money for uni, see as much wildlife as possible, and not have to worry about school work or exams! This summer I've seen some great wildlife, so I wanted to do a blog about what I've been up to.
My best digiscoping attempts:
Other British birding highlights in July included my first Pectoral Sandpiper, at RSPB Frampton Marsh, along with 16 other species of wader that day.
At the end of July, I went on a family holiday to Iceland, staying in the southeast of the island for a week. The bird list was relative small, at 42, but included some great species and superb views. Red-necked Phalarope was the bird of the trip (and a lifer), with brilliantly close views of a male at Thingvellir National Park. The second lifer of the trip was Harlequin Duck, which I unfortunately only managed very distant views of 2 females on a rocky inland river, but a great tick nonetheless. I also saw my first ever whale, a Minke, on a whale-watching boat trip from Reykjavík. We only got glimpses as it surfaced a couple of times, but the large numbers seabirds were also amazing to see - Kittiwakes, Gannets, Puffins, Fulmars, Manx Shearwaters and close Arctic Skuas.
The scenery in Iceland was just breathtaking, and we of course visited some of the key sites in the Golden Circle. Despite all the people, seeing the waterfalls of Gullfoss, Skógafoss and Seljalandsfoss, the Geysirs, the geothermal river at Reykjadalur, the black sand beach at Vík, and standing between the North American and Eurasian tectonic plates at Thingvellir, were all brilliant. And of course the glaciers and volcanoes were spectacular - Hekla was visible from our accommodation!
It's a beautiful country, and we were very lucky with the weather, with most days being gloriously sunny. It's somewhere I'd definitely love to visit again in the future.
The 3rd weekend of August saw the highlight of the birding year... Birdfair at Rutland Water. Always a great event, and again this year I spent hours wandering around the art marquee in awe!
Straight after Birdfair I was off to Menorca for a week on a family holiday. It was a beach holiday, but I managed to see some pretty good wildlife. Bird highlights included an Egyptian Vulture flying over the beach, Blue Rock Thrush, Purple Heron, Woodchat Shrike, Booted Eagle, Stonechat, Raven and Turtle Dove. I've been to Menorca 11 times, but only seen Turtle Doves in one other place on the island. I noticed that every evening on the beach, when most people had left, a few doves would come down onto the sand looking for food, and they seemed quite tame and unafraid. So one evening I took some food for them, and managed to get them to come very close, so close that I even got them onto my feet! It was bizarre, but they just weren't bothered by my presence at all, and happily fed at my feet for over half an hour!
I also got 3 butterfly lifers - Cleopatra, Swallowtail and Two-tailed Pasha. And there were Hummingbird Hawkmoths everywhere, some even stopping long enough to get a close look.
So that was my summer, and autumn so far has been equally as busy and filled with wildlife, so there'll be another blog soon!
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.