That is how I would sum up 2016 really. After getting off to a very slow start, an uneventful Spring and Summer and then the unprecedented influx of birds during the Autumn all of my wildlife photography was overshadowed by the passing of my dear dad-someone who has inspired me all of my life, fuelled my passion for the great outdoors, supported me in everything I have ever done and still inspires me to go out and try to be the best at whatever I do.
january got of to a fairly slow start with a Richard's pipit at Flamborough and Slavonian grebe at Kilnsea Wetlands and the return of Barmston's Kumliens Gull. The day was particularly cold with a near gale force North-Westerly and temperatures barely above freezing.
February saw me heading up to Filey Brigg (one of my favourite winter venues). I like to arrive for sunrise and aim for some dramatic shots as the light can be at its best at this time and once the sun has risen scan aroound for whatever else is on offer. On this particular occasion I was rewarded with some what distant views of a surf scoter and closer views of a long-tailed duck.
An American Wigeon at Scarborough was the highlight of March. Associating with the regular wigeon it proved quite showy from the promenade at the sea-life centre. A showy firecrest enabled me to get some nice shots in a very limited timescale at the end of March.
April was very slow for me with a busy schedule at work opportunities were at a premium. Fortunately early Spring was pretty forgettable for migrant birds so didn't really miss much.
Some information on cettis warblers at Tophill Low had me (unusually) heading inland in early May. It proved to be good information and enabled me to get some lovely photos of what is usually a very elusive bird. The arrival of yellow wagtails in Spring is always a highlight for me and they gave me a nice opportunity early one fine morning at Sammy's Point.
With a distinct lack of opportunities in June my efforts turned to what was on offer locally. A very welcome visitor to our garden was a hedgehog at times coming right up to the back of the patio -he (or she) carried on visiting well into September.The kingfishers at Tophill Low were irresistible however my pursuit of the perfect flight shot goes on.
One of the highlights of the year for me was the superb white-winged black tern in Sheffield. A drive through after work allowed me about 3 hours in lovely light to see a near perfect adult. it was in a regular feeding pattern which meant it was travelling up and down the lake feeding as it went. Just a tad distant for really stunning photos but nonetheless a fantastic bird.
As usually happens in August, waders take prime focus and this year was no exception. A nice trip down to Patrington Haven enabled me to get some nice shots of a little stint and on the same morning a wood sandpiper was very showy from the hide at canal scrape. A long staying spotted crake at North Cave Wetlands provided some nice photo opportunities.August was also the launch of the much acclaimed 'Birds of Spurn' written by the legend that is Andy Roadhouse-I was very proud to have been asked by Andy to provide some photos to be printed in his wonderful book.
My first really rare bird of the year was the Purple Swamphen that took up residence at Alkborough Flats in Lincolnshire. Always distant I was able to get no more than a record shot of what appeared to be the re-located bird from Minsmere a potential first for Britain.September saw the Migfest festival at Spurn and on the first day a fantastic kentish plover was found enabling me to see my first lifer of 2016. It showed very well from the hide at Kilnsea Welands having initially being found on the mud off Chalky Point.
October will be remembered for the phenomenal amount of rare and scarce birds brought into the Uk by continuous easterly winds. for me it will be remembered as the month that my dear old dad passed away.
Most of my free time in November was spent trying to get a shot of the pallid harrier at Welwick, without a great deal of success. The year went out on somewhat of a high as I managed some reasonable shots of the pallid harrier plus a nice one of a pair of sparring short eared owls. the raptors on display at Welwick were superb.
Wishing everyone a Happy Christmas and a very peaceful and wildlife filled New year.