As most nature blogs seem to be doing it, and I’m always one to bow down to the slightest whiff of peer pressure, I thought it would be best for me to list my favourite wildlife events from the last year. Truth be told I can barely remember most of it through the haze of opium dens and glue sniffing but I’ll do my up most.
5. Adders at Allerthorpe
I have been to Allerthorpe at least 1000000 times. Every damn time I looked for adders. The stories led me to believe they would be so numerous they would be dangling from trees and playing badminton while one took my coat and led round the reserve informing of the rich history of the area. This was a lie. It was a lie probably started by the Daily Mail (this has now completed my daily quota of satire). I was beginning to believe that adders had never been at Allerthorpe, or that if Allerthorpe was a real place. Maybe I was going to Awerthorpe and someone was changing the signs. Then I saw some pictures of the adders. And more pictures. Then the internet was full of pictures of the adders at Allerthorpe. I decided one last voyage was required. I spent 3 hours wandering around heathland, being mocked by the omnipresent woodlark. “SHUT UP WOODLARK” I shouted at nothing. Eventually I went down along a path which sounded like where people had been seeing them. I waited a glimmer of sunlight. Then I saw one basking, like a reptilian strumpet working on its tan. I hollered in delight and fired my blunderbuss in the air. The little blighter let me take some intimate pictures before slithering into the undergrowth. I may have touched it has it slinked away because I’m a badass and chicks dig that sort of thing.
4. Red Rumped Swallow
It was raining but we decided a quick trip to Far Ings to have a cheeky peek at a red rumped swallow might be worth a bewettening. Didn’t take long to locate it and everything was lovely. It regularly flew past us on an abandoned lane several times. It might be the opium talking but I think it took some malteasers from my open palm.
3. Spurn Fall
I’d been waiting for something like this since I started looking at birds. Spurn is a tease essentially. It’s globally recognised as one of the best places to be for autumn migration, but can often have nothing worth lifting your head up for. I don’t mean in terms of twitchy birds either. I mean anything moving or alive. This october proved why it’s often regarded as ‘quite fun’. There was quite simply a lot of birds. Knackered fieldfares and redwings filled every available space. If we had trodden on a few I’d imagine some passersby would just laugh heartedly and proclaim ‘No worries, plenty more where they came from” before throwing a lit match at a brambling. Subsequent trips in the wake allowed us views of great grey shrike, redstarts and a church covered in black redstarts (the most pious of the chats).
2. Chambers Farm Wood and butterflyapocalyptica
James convinced that spending a day looking for butterflies would be nice. I agreed but probably muttered to myself about how they weren’t reptiles or dragonflies so should die in a heap. To Lincolnshire we popped with high expectations. Well I think we had high expectations which were met for a change. Purple hairstreak was found within minutes. Essex skipper was a thing that happened. White admiral took the biscuit for sexiest thing in a wood (I’m imagine the shape of that particular biscuit and its glorious but rude). The endless supply of migrant hawkers (30+ in the sky at once) was chuffing fun as well. We even popped at another site and found grayling, also known as the cryptic bastard, and a fox skull. If I remember correctly it was our highest ever count for butterfly species in one day, topping at roughly 2 billion species.
1. Grebe vs. Gull
My favourite moment of 2012 was brief but wonderful. I found my way to north cave, hoping for early spring delights along with a pair of black necked grebes which had decided to stick around for a bit. I found them and they were lovely and all that usual stuff. Then a greater black backed gull tried to eat one of them. It didn’t succeed but my gosh it was fun. I really like how GBBG’s have a genuine hatred of anything pure and wholesome and happily feast on the souls of the innocent. “Shine on you crazy diamond” I quietly muttered to myself.
Other good things included duke of burgundy and swallowtail, some mucky twitchy birds, a dead muntjac, golden pheasant, alpine newt and a load of things I’ve almost certainly forgotten.
So lets end on the disappointments. It was supposed to be a year of reptiles, but the weather largely put a stop to that with a planned Dorset trip being called off due to high chances of being made dead. Norfolk trip was also ended early due to the weathers. Scotland was oddly disappointing despite seeing plenty of lovely things, but a lot of plans were changed last-minute and not really replaced with well thought out alternatives. Plus we slept in the Eye of Sauron.