Happy Christmas

gorgeted sunangelAs Christmas is just around the corner, I thought I’d take a moment to reflect on the past year. It’s been a brilliant one for me where wildlife-watching’s concerned, with a phenomenal 10 days of hummingbirds in Ecuador closely followed by a terrific few days exploring the wilds of Colorado – a trip notable for rosy-finches, lekking grouse and a wide array of mammals new to me.

Greater Sage GrouseAnd then of course there were the usual highlights that come with living in Shetland – seeing all the orchid species known to occur in the islands (though I like to think Small White Orchid Pseudorchis albida exists somewhere here, for all it’s not been seen for many a long year); finding Whalsay’s first records of Autumn Gentian and Small Adder’s-tongue; watching Otters and cetaceans from the house… and not least adding Hoopoe to the house list! I don’t keep many lists nowadays – all a bit too nerdy for my liking – but the house list remains a habit that’s hard to kick. Currently languishing on 174 species of bird seen from the croft, I wonder if 2015 will deliver the 175th species. And what it will be.

Sparkly lightsIt’s been great to lead some tours for Shetland Wildlife and share these beautiful things with enthusiastic and friendly visitors to the isles, and I’m looking forward to more of that in the new year. And of course, it’s been good to see my pieces published in Bird Watching and 60 North magazines, and online for Rare Bird Alert – the latest of the latter pieces out only today. Here’s to more writing, photography and shared encounters in the coming months.

So for now, all that remains to do is to wish you a very happy Christmas, and a new year full of all the wildlife you could wish for.

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