Thursday, 31 December 2009

Last chance this year!

Right, I have been putting this off for as long as possible, and now it's crunch time.

2010 Goals

Professional Goals
- Potty train Pudding before spring migration
- Improve my cleaning skills in an undefinable way
- Find a new career that does not involve banks

Personal Goals (geeks may wish to skip this section)
- 2 new birds a month for a BOU list of 362 by 2011
- 150 for Rainham in 2010
- 100 in Wanstead again
- 220 for London & 235 for Essex
- Get a haircut
- Become a better birder...

Right, that's that sorted. Next up the year in review.

Best birding moment
Finding a male Ring Ouzel on Wanstead Flats in April. I left the house with the firm intention of finding a Ring Ouzel, and went straight to that bit just east of Long Wood where I had seen one the previous autumn. I walked around a hawthorn and was absolutely staggered to see one in front of me. I'll never forget it.

Worst birding moment
Mrs L has a number of suggestions, but this is mine (though it's on her list too). Going for the Black-winged Pratincole on the evening of it's first day. I just abandoned the family as soon as we got back in from seeing friends, was ratty throughout our long-planned day out, and I should not have gone. Drove all the way to Reculver in Kent and dipped.

Best bird
Any number of candidates for best bird, but I think my overall favourite was the Pallid Harrier in Cambridgeshire. Magnificent! The Pratincoles were great, especially the Collared which flew around quite a lot, the Fea's and the Bee-eater are the stuff grips are made of, the Collared Flycatcher was a lovely bird, but four hours in the car meant I experienced relief rather than elation, and the Crested Lark was simply boring. No, the Harrier takes the prize - a ghostly vision across a bleak landscape.

Worst Bird
A toss up between Ferruginous Duck and Wryneck, but the duck edges it. I drove all the way round to Staines to see one, and then scrubbed it from the list when it became known to be a long-staying escape having a sojourn. One then turned up at Trimley in Suffolk, and I went for it not realising that the walk from where the road ended to where Trimley Marshes began took about six weeks. When I finally got there I couldn't find the correct lake and spent another three weeks looking for it. When I eventually found it, it was behind a locked gate. And when I had finally negotiated that, the duck was right at the far end of the lake and gave crap views before swimming round a corner. Then I had to get round the gate again and start the walk back. Rubbish.

I dipped four Wrynecks, driving something like 500 miles in the process, and then got one less than an hour after arriving on Scilly. But when you see one you forget all the torture as they're really cool.

Best UK Trip
Hardly any competition for this one seeing as I have barely left Wanstead all year, but the trip to see half the Snowy Owl in Cornwall in mid-January was the most fun. Great company, a nice Owl's head, and an excellent supporting cast of winter birds. A solo one-day trip round the Scottish highlands cleaning up on everything expect eagles was a lot of fun too, but lacked the humour and camaraderie of Cornwall.

Worst UK Trip
Exeter to London via South Shields in a day. I was kidnapped by a birding associate who shall remain nameless. Bradders then forced me to sit in his car for 671 miles and thirteen hours, which made for a killer day. But the Eastern Crowned Warbler was still there, and we got it. I am retrospectively glad that I went but at the time I just wasn't in the mood. On the plus side, it put me off twitching for most of the rest of the year, and I got back into the patch big time.

Best Foreign Trip
A rather pointless category. I have left the country twice, once for a funeral in Australia, and once for a wedding in India. India it is then. It was a three-day trip, with a wedding and various parties slap bang in the middle which inconvenienced my birding hugely, but I still managed to see a host of new things all on my own, I didn't get a bad tummy, and I have learnt that Hoopoes are rubbish.

Best Domestic moment
Too many to mention. But finding the brush was memorable, and I still smile when I see it, and I doubt there are many cleaning implements you can say that about.

Worst Domestic moment
Quite recent actually - making a turkey curry that bit more exciting by adding some 6-7 year old Branston Pickle to the mix. Midway through the meal I asked Mrs L if she could detect the slight fruity edge?

"I told you to throw that away! That came with us from Beckton!"
"Did it?"
"Yes, and it was old then, and when the fridge died I said to ditch it then as well! I can't believe you're so stupid etc" [carries on for five minutes]
"It smelled OK..."

JL trots off to kitchen to check jar. Best before Dec 2006. Once open refrigerate and consume within 2 weeks. Ah.

Needless to say we were all fine. It was pickled after all, it probably has a half life.

Most amusing photograph
Taken just for Paul, this had me sniggering for hours, first at the thought of taking it, then actually taking it, and then driving home thinking about sending it to him. I am irrepressibly juvenile, and I don't intend to change!

Least amusing photograph
Technically taken in 2008, but I only received the good news in 2009....

So there you go, that was 2009. There are plenty of other highs and lows, but it's time to start afresh, and I have a lot of critical work to do to prepare for 2010. I will start a fresh page in the notebook, and all my spreadsheets need adapting. I need to work out tomorrow's targets, and a few January excursions. I am literally giddy with excitement!



  1. Happy New Year, Jonathan,

    I'm so enjoying reading your blog - even though I don't recognize half the birds you have over there. You've inspired me to shoot more of my local flock here in Mill Valley, and maybe even start a count of my own for 2010. Maybe.


  2. Happy New Year! I am not sure I understood all of this post, but I still enjoyed it. Wishing you excellent birds and brushes in 2010.

  3. Yes very good jono, you will have bogey birds too!! atb Hawky.

  4. Well it's a bit late in the day to be commenting on your review of 2009, but just had to say that I laughed my socks off at the ageing Branston Pickle 'situation'. Excellent stuff!