28th December 2013 – 1st January 2014 – A Happy New Year to all readers of my blog   Leave a comment

After a quiet Boxing Day, Margaret and I drove up to my brother’s place in Duffield near Derby on the 27th. It was a dreadful journey, heavy traffic meant the normal three and a half hour drive took nearly six.


On the 28th we visited Carsington Water in the Peak District where we found two species that we never see in Dorset, Tree Sparrow and Willow Tit.


It was a longer drive than I anticipated across to Sherwood Forest in Nottinghamshire. We were searching for a group of Parrot Crossbills that are wintering in the area. They were not easy to locate, indeed one birder, with a strong Yorkshire accent, was heard to mutter ‘ if they could loose Robin ‘Ud in this lot, what chance have we got of crossbill’

ParrotCrossbill_from web

After a few false alarms we eventually we came across a group of birders who had located a group of three Parrot Crossbills. These scarce visitors from Scandinavia or Russia have bigger heads and more massive bills than Common Crossbills, an adaptation to feeding on the larger pine cones. A very small number of Parrot Crossbills breed in the Caledonian Forest of Scotland but I have never knowingly seen them there. Photo from the internet.


Sherwood Forest is famous for its ancient oaks. One, the Major Oak is thought to be a thousand years old and Robin Hood is said to have hidden within it, but it was now almost dark and we were very late for our next appointment, so we had to give the Major Oak a miss.


We had planned to visit Dave Murdon, a birder from Nottingham who I had met in Ethiopia and Uganda in recent years. We arrived at his place several hours later than planned but still had a nice chat and a chance to catch up. This photo of Dave was taken in Uganda in June.


The 29th was a day for socialising. My old school and university friend Nigel Mackie was in Derby from Christmas and together we visited Martin and Tricia Gadsby, more friends from our school days. It was great to see Martin (left in the photo) had recovered from the bout of ill health that has dogged him during much of the last year.


Later Margaret, Nigel and I drove to the little town of Breedon-on-the Hill to the south of Derby to meet up with Di, a friend from university days and her husband Steve.


During the evening we joined my brother Simon and his wife Viv in visiting her parents Dennis and Ida.


Viv with her daughters, Jenni (left) and Miriam (right) spent the evening watching a dancing video


… then Miriam decided to show off her moves …


… until grandparents Ida and Dennis (who are in their ’80’s) showed her how to do it properly!


We returned to Poole on the 30th and hearing that my friend Paul from Shetland was back visiting relatives, we quickly arranged a visit to the pub that evening       (L-R: Paul Harvey, Richard Webb, Ian Alexander, Shaun Robson, Trevor Warwick and Marcus Lawson.



On New Year’s Eve Paul, Ian and I went birding around Studland and Arne but it was late afternoon by the time we reached Shipstall Point at Arne.


Birding in Poole Harbour has changed a lot since Paul birded here in the seventies and early eighties. Med Gulls, Avocets, Spoonbills and Little Egrets are now common, or at least regular, whilst Pochard, Scaup and Hen Harrier among others have become much rarer or even absent.


We always look forward to the New Year’s Day boat trip around Poole Harbour, most generously provided by Mark and Mo Constantine. However the weather this year meant we were unable  to even leave Poole Quay. In spite of the conditions about 30 birders turned up and we spent about an hour chatting on the pleasure craft before retiring to the aptly named Storm’s restaurant for delicious soup. A great social event but at the end of the day my 2014 bird list stood at exactly six!

Posted January 3, 2014 by gryllosblog in Uncategorized

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