It seems to be an essential tradition among birders to produce a summary of their year, so here's a brief look back at my own, which has been pretty decent.
With 2021 being my first full year back in the Peterborough area, I decided to attempt a year list based on the Peterborough Bird Club (PBC) area, which is something that local birder Mike Weedon (and, less so, others) have been doing for years now. I must say I find the PBC area, which is cross shaped, centred on the city and extending in fingers to the north, south, east and west, a little odd, although it was defined many years ago and it seems a little churlish to consider shifting the boundaries when so many have sculpted their birding habits on it over the years.
Despite some enjoyable birding in the final weeks of 2021, no new birds worked their way on to my local year list, which meant that I finished up on 194. This was a really pleasing result given that I was out the area for two months of the year (including three weeks in Ireland in the autumn), falling one short of the all-time record for the area. Two additional species seen, Ruddy Shelduck and White-tailed Eagle, aren't included, even if the former looks an imminent addition to the British list (the latter was a released IoW bird).
Drilling a little deeper into the data finds I recorded 155 species at Baston Pits and 141 at Baston Fen, with a combined total of 166. Species such as Corn Bunting and Tree Sparrow just about cling on but become harder to find each year. Grasshopper Warbler didn't breed this year and last spring's Nightingale didn't return. The notable winners include Egyptian Goose (a big upturn in records this year), Bittern and Great Egret, while Garden Warbler had another strong showing.
It was a pretty interesting year across the area, with some real ebbs and flows. The first winter period was extremely wet and at times very cold, and February's cold snap was tough for birds yet superb for producing local rarities (more on that here). Spring was largely cold and tough, ranging from disappointing to downright frustrating (with some exceptions).
June was excellent, with the patch Caspian Tern definitely one of my birds of the year, as was a local Montagu's Harrier. Late summer was enjoyable for waders as water levels finally began to drop a little. However, persistent northerlies in late August rather spoilt what should have been peak time for passerine migrants, with the cool and blustery days making searching a challenge.
By mid-September my attention was increasingly becoming focused on the far west and I was desperate to get over to Ireland. Despite it turning out to be a largely disappointing autumn across these isles (declared the 'worst autumn ever' by more than a few), and Mayo some way off top form, we nonetheless did pretty well out on Achill with two Nearctic passerines and a few scarcities to boot.
The rest of the year was spent focusing on the PBC area once more in the vain hope that it might be possible to push the year list up to 200. With the addition of Eurasian Dotterel and Pacific Golden Plover (two of the latter, no less!), it seemed that the dream might be alive.
Alas it wasn't meant to be, with some nice finds (including my second and third Ring-necked Ducks of the year and the Deeping Fen PGP) not equating to additions to the year list, and my final year tick was the Thorney PGP on 2 November.
While there were some excellent species recorded across the area in 2021, notable absences (at least from a twitchable perspective) included Pied Flycatcher, Temminck's Stint, Waxwing, Hawfinch, Glaucous Gull, Tundra Bean Goose and Yellow-browed Warbler, all of which are seen in most years. Breaking the 200 barrier must be possible in the Peterborough area, but key to that is a productive spring as well as cold snaps in winter and the odd influx.
My intention for 2022 is to focus more fully on the wider patch between Tallington Lakes and Baston Fen, with an aim of recording as many species across this area as possible and focusing on doing so by 'green' means (i.e. bike) as part of the #LocalBigYear initiative. I can't anticipate hitting the heights I did this year in a PBC sense, but I should at least hopefully be a bit fitter ...
The musings of a wildlife enthusiast, usually armed with his camera.