2014 marks my slowest ever start to a year list or a patch list. I've got some truly wonderful stats that I am absolutely dying to trot out, but being the kind of guy I am I've decided to hold off sharing them with you. Sparing isn't sharing. Oh, OK then, just one. Are you sitting down? In summary, since I've started keeping records, eight years or so, I've seen more birds in the first week of January (often in the first two days of January!) than I have so far this year. Are you staggered? Are you amazed?
But more importantly, can you tell how bothered I am? Congratulations if you chose "not in the slightest". I don't know what it is, perhaps I'm finally growing up? I'm certainly not losing the desire to see birds - I went out today, admittedly for a very short time, and it was fabulous and I enjoyed every minute of it, especially when I finally caught up with Bullfinch on the patch for the first time in two years. It's just that the desire to continually chalk up species seems to be drifting away. Obviously I was a bit a tick-machine last year, but actually I saw relatively few species versus prior years - my year lists have on a downward trend since 2009.
This doesn't mean that I've lost the urge on the twitching front though. I got in our larger car the other day for the first time this year (I use the small eco-version for the school run) and was immediately struck by a desire to drive hundreds of miles. Curious, no? The minute I sat behind the wheel I was struck by memories of fabulous birds in 2013, as most of the journeys were done in that car. Had I had the time, it's entirely possible that I might have jumped on the M1 and driven to Inverness. Luckily I didn't, but I confess I'm looking forward to the first one that isn't a Coot.
Today I contented myself with a whirlwind tour of Wanstead Park. I started off attempting to photograph Shoveler - a bit of a challenge I've set myself this year - but got nowhere and so jacked it in. Heading off to the Old Sewage Works instead, I immediately found a Grey Wagtail on the Roding, and then as mentioned found a pair of Bullfinches. The place was alive with birds - three each of Green Woodpecker and Jay, Lesser Redpolls, Greenfinch, Chaffinch and Goldfinch all over the place. And the Dunnocks, good grief! After failing to find one on the first of January, today I notched up approximately 30,000 of them, all singing their heads off. I know I'm tempting fate, but it felt a bit like spring.... Now where's that Polar Vortex?