Wednesday, January 01, 2014

Species List review

There were some really memorable additions to my photographic species list in 2013. Highlights included watching Basking Sharks feeding off the isle of Coll, Pine martens in the Scottish Highlands, watching a Hummingbird hawk-moth feeding in Lancashire in early November (!), and finally photographing a Water Vole in Gloucestershire. Avian highlights have included watching White-tailed Eagles, Golden Eagles and Hen Harrier in the Hebrides, watching territorial cuckoos chasing each other around the Dorset heaths, and searching for Great Grey Shrike and Two-barred Crossbills closer to home.

The 'one that got away' was definitely the Scottish Wildcat. Having spent a few nights out in the middle of nowhere on the west coast of Scotland I was rewarded with a sighting which will stay with me forever, but which resulted in no photograph.  Notable 'did not shows' for me of the year included the rare Tree Sparrow, Common Dolphins, and Pearl-bordered Fritillary among many others.

Finding new mammals is becoming increasingly difficult, but there are obvious opportunities amongst bats, rodents and cetaceans, all of which are under-represented, as well as some of the mustelids. Birds are also becoming harder to find, but there are still some obvious omissions. The reptile list is pretty much complete, featuring all native species and all but one introduced species. Sub-aquatic species are an obvious challenge, not least due to my lack of suitable equipment and general aversion to swimming. And I must finally get a moth trap going this year!

I don't make things any easier by insisting on a photographic record rather than just a sighting, but it's fun. The list itself is undoubtedly a bit 'trainspottery', but behind the list there have been countless hours spent enjoying everything that British nature has to offer - the list is merely an easy way for me to remember the characters I've met and observed along the way.

Happy new year!

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