This has been a wonderful experience, watching and capturing the events in the natural world that have taken place around our home. I set out with the objective to find out how many birds I could see or hear in the year in an area around Four Marks, but it became much more. A whole natural history has unfolded as the year has progressed. We have seen flowers come and go, bone dry paths become streams of mud, and birds arrive, breed and then head back to warmer places.
My total of birds made 85 which exceeded my expectation, my target was 80. There have been some amazing sightings that I never expected, like Peregrine, Osprey, Redshank (where did that come from?), Firecrest, Cormorant and Stonechat, and it has been wonderful to see birds like Barn Owl and Grey Partridge returning due to changing farming practice.
But I also I missed some species I have seen before, birds such as Brambling, Cuckoo, Little Egret, Mute Swan, and Golden Plover, plus there are those that I consider are around such as Woodcock, and Nightjar, and frustratingly the the ones that could not be confirmed, a kite species in May and mystery grey raptor that I am almost sure was a male Hen Harrier
There have been many different flowers and fungi seen, and through the year I have extended my knowledge of these, as well as learning more about the insects and smaller creatures that call this place home.
The butterfly count was a credible 21 with the highlights there being the Silver-washed and Dark green Fritilaries in Old Down Wood, and the incredible numbers of Red Admirals in the autumn.
Of the mammals there was the regular sightings of Roe Deer, along with a few Muntjac Deer. The camera trap revealed the prescence of Badgers and Foxes, the latter did then show up in daylight. The odd Stoat was also seen in Old Down. The highlight for me though was the number of Hare, another testament to improved farming practice around the area.
I have had many favourite moments, and lots of surprises, the thousands of Swallows and House Martins flying over the fields in September, the emergence of Grey Partridges at Plain Farm, but of them all, the evening we were able to watch and photograph the Barn Owl flying around the field in August was the highlight for me. We were so lucky it decided to hunt as we arrived, I hope that we get the chance to watch this magical bird again some time soon
Looking back it is amazing how much things have changed through the year. Life moves on, events occur, and people we love come and unfortunately go, but nature is always there around us. This video captures for me the changes, but also shows that things remain the same as we continue on this cycle of life. The music comes from Elbow, and fits wonderfully to the scenes and message. I hope you all enjoy it.
Finally, despite the fact the year has ended, and the birds have been counted, I will continue this blog, in the hope of finding those missing birds, and with the objective of recording the events that will start to unfold all over again, giving us the opportunity to compare and begin to understand how our small patch of natural history develops.
A very Happy New Year to everyone!