As 2015 is now officially over and it's well and truly 2016, it's that time of year to reflect on the past 12 months, as well as looking forward to the next 12 and all that comes with it.
So as not to make it too long a post, I've split the year in two... this is the second half of the year and you can find Part 1 here so without further ado here's July - December:
July was a pretty awesome month, and one that saw me meet loads of brilliant people, see some cool wildlife, visit 2 extraordinary places & also have fun welcoming a new puppy into our household! I spent the 4-11th July on Skomer Island which is located off the south-west coast of Wales. I was there to primarily assist Ros Green with her bird ringing studies on the Lesser Black-backed Gulls, but I was lucky enough to help her ring some other species, such as Puffins, Razorbills & Manx Shearwaters. It was a superb week on a magnificent island where I met lots of lovely people. Hopefully I'll get to go back again one day!
|Skomer, July 2015|
|Icklesham, July 2015|
August was another busy month that saw me visiting not 1, not 2, but 3 Bird Observatories and having an awesome time at Birdfair! I spent just over a week (2-10th) on Skokholm Island (near Skomer, off the south-west coast of Wales) with my ringing trainer Martin. I thoroughly enjoyed my time on Skokholm as it is a fantastic island - it was great to explore as well as getting to ring 2 new species (Storm Petrel, which was also a lifer, and Rock Pipit) and meeting some other ringers from different parts of the country. We also enjoyed a number of windy, rainy nights out searching for Manx Shearwaters which was great fun despite the scratches they leave on your hands and arms! Oh, and we also got to set the gull trap which proved successful as we caught around 20 adult Lesser Black-back and Herring Gulls, so it was great to see them up close as well.
|Skokholm, August 2015|
For my next adventure I headed back to Portland Bird Observatory where I'd persuaded my parents that it was the perfect location for a family stay. We were only there from 14-18th but it's just such a lovely place to be that all of us enjoyed it and found things to occupy our time (surprise surprise, I was helping with the ringing)! For me, the highlights of the trip were the Pied Flycatchers that we caught (I'd only ever ringed 1 prior to the trip), Willow Warblers (we caught quite a lot) and all the moths I got to see (either in the traps or just around the place).
|Portland, August 2015|
On the Friday evening (21st), Georgia Locock and I were the comperes for the celebrity lecture with Chris Packham, Simon King & Nick Baker (sell out event!). Despite being incredibly nervous beforehand, I did manage to relax a bit and found that I actually enjoyed being sat on stage with everyone, listening to the anecdotes that the gents had to share, and so did the audience apparently (though I think some were dreading having to explain what some of it meant to their children at the interval)!
At Saturday lunchtime (22nd), Georgia and I were back up on the main stage with Chris Packham, along with another young naturalist, Connor, to talk about the different aspects of nature that we enjoy and what we love about it. Naturally, I talked about bird ringing, the different types of surveys within it and how they all link together to give us the bigger picture of what's going on with the bird populations in the UK. Unfortunately I was extremely nervous and didn't relax into it at all so I can only imagine how shaky my voice sounded throughout. Anyhow, we all managed to get through it and were treated to a round of applause at the end so I don't think it went too badly!
|Birdfair, August 2015|
|NGB does Bardsey, August 2015|
September was a month of local happenings, no trips as such, just some good old patching and a venture into the world of mothing.
|NGB does Portland, October 2015|
If you're still reading then congratulations for making it this far, and thank you! The 4th of the month saw me having an unusual Skype call to the crew of BBC Autumnwatch Extra to catch up and talk about ringing a bit more - it was good fun and thankfully all the technology involved worked perfectly! Then on the 16th I was on my patch and I was actually taking a panorama photo since the light was so lovely and while I was doing that I heard some Crossbill which was awesome since they were a new species for my patch! Not just 1 Crossbill either, a whole flock of them perched in the pines across the pools and called loads before flying off over the woods. It just shows that it pays to know your bird calls! On 28th I travelled down to Sandwich Bay Bird Observatory for the Southeast Ringers Conference which was really good - all the talks were very interesting and it was great to catch up with friends!
The beginning of December saw me travelling up to Swanwick in Derbyshire for the BTO Annual Conference. It was basically 3 days of thoroughly interesting talks, inspiring people, networking and chatting about birds and ringing...perfect! I wasn't speaking this year, unlike last year, so I was able to sit back and enjoy the conference to the max. I particularly enjoyed the talks about Honey Buzzards, Black-tailed Godwits and Nightjars. The rest of the month was pretty quiet, with only one ringing session due to the inclement weather and a few visits to patch.
Well that's it from me with regards to 2015...roll on 2016 and may it be everything you hope it to be! I already have a very exciting adventure planned for February, but until then I'd best get back to studying!