After a bit of intense year listing in Essex [total as of Jan 3rd = 111], I finally got on the patch properly for the first time on Jan 4th. I'm not counting my annual night-time expedition to annoy Tawny Owls, which this year happened on the 2nd. One duly-annoyed Tawny flew over my head and went off to be somewhere else.Took a small boy for a bike-ride in Bush Wood, and got the expected Stock Doves and a Great Spot. A few other bits and bobs and the list is up to about 8. After five minutes of bike riding, he is bored and wishes to return home. "Not even once round the block?" I plead, "If we go back this early Mummy will just assume my desire to go to Abberton has trounced your cycling ambitions and get all stroppy". I make him promise to say it is his decision and his alone. The mountain of lego probably has something to do with it - his Y-wing is amazing I have to say. Might get an X-wing to go with it for my birthday.
Bush Wood is the southern tip of Epping Forest. Mainly Oak and Hornbeam, understory primarily dense Holly. Criss-crossed by a network of paths - not a big area but has produced 36 species over the couple of years I have been watching it. Used to a go a lot, not so much these days - the Flats has somewhat taken over - more on that later. As well as the Tawny Owls, Sparrowhawk is resident, and Hobby is a summer visitor. Other than that, just the usual array of woodland species with particular emphasis on Blue, Great and Long-tailed tits, and no emphasis whatsover on Treecreeper or Nuthatch, which is a big omission. There is a dried up pond in the middle which used to have a few birds on it, but there has been no appreciable water now for at least 18 months. I once saw a Mallard in an oak tree here.
Anyway, off to Abberton, to disapproving looks, where I get 3 Smew, 4 Red-crested Pochards, a Cattle Egret, a Slav, and about a gazillion ducks. And also a very showy Bittern, which is my 200th species for Essex, and is extremely satisfying, way beyond what seeing a Bittern should do for you. This whole blog is just a cry for help.