Norfolk Birders

Norfolk Birdwatching and beyond!

1st December

Whooper Swan

John and I planned to join the regular 'Titchwell Gang' of Chris, Trevor and Tim at Titchwell early this morning. As I got out of the car I could hear the Yellow-browed Warbler calling that has been present for a couple of weeks now. I watched it for a short while as it flitted in the tree before a Robin decided otherwise and chased it off. I walked down the West Bank Path and was concerned for the Whooper Swan as it looked decidedly poorly as did one of the Lesser Black-backed Gulls. 

Down on the beach we watched a Black-necked Grebe but cursed as a fishing trawler was close inshore and had cleared everything off. A Merlin flew low across the beach and sat on some debris some distance away. As we walked back up the West Bank path we all watched a Bittern flying from the reedbed towards Thornham Marsh where it went down. A Red Kite and Marsh Harrier flew over as Bearded Tits and Cetti's Warblers called from the reeds. After some dispute as to how many Avocets that were present on the Fresh Marsh I saw a Kingfisher fly across the path after missing the one that Tim had seen earlier over the reedbed.

John and I drove to Brancaster where we joined Mark and Tracey and watched the Hume's Warber. It was very mobile and vocal and proved extremely challenging to get a photograph of in the poor light and deep in the willows. Goodness knows how many out of focus and empty photos I have, as it flitted very quickly through the vegetation.

                                        Hume's Warbler

                                            Hume's Warbler

2nd December

So my suitcase is packed and I haven't left the house today. Birding isn't all about being out in the field. I have spent the afternoon talking with friends about future (and past) trips. It's amazing how we can all help one another and offer advice. I have a wide variety of short and long trips sorted for next year that friends have offered their help with. Goodness knows how I am going to cram it all in!

I have also had time today to read the 2021 NarVOS Annual report which Nicola and the team have put together. Well done Nicola but am feeling quite guilty now about the big flock of Hawfinch that myself and a few locals saw at West Newton that we were asked not to put out at the time, (mainly due to lockdown rules) especially as they were around for quite a long time. Never mind. At least others and myself have some nice photos of them!

3rd December

My intended local walk this morning was delayed due to the rain so after posting all my Christmas cards I drove some of the little lanes around Flitcham and West Newton that we used to drive around on bird race days years ago. The diversity has fallen drastically as I was mainly seeing Red-legged Partridges and Woodpigeons. Up at Happy Valley there was a huge covey of Red-legged Partridges but sadly no Tree Sparrows that used to be in the hedgelines. However I did see two Red Kites and they would not have been present back then. A Common Buzzard was also circling over the woods. I checked several barns along my route, not a single Barn Owl was present or Little Owl. Very sad. More Red Kites were seen as I stopped at Abbey Farm. I was surprised to see that there was no water in the lake at Abbey Farm that the hide looks out on which meant that there were no ducks present or snipe either.

By now the rain had stopped and I went for a walk at West Newton. The pool at the side of the road also has low water levels. I only saw a couple of Moorhens here. Down at the other pool along the public footpath 16 Mallard and 10 Teal were present and a Grey Heron was stood in the field. Over on the barn 4 Stock Doves were sat as another Red Kite flew over along with 44 Pink-footed Geese. I returned to my car and watched a Great Spotted Woodpecker and a small party of Long-tailed Tits in the trees.

At 3pm I was stood shivering on Roydon Common. I returned to my car to get a thicker coat as the temperature had plummeted. The sun was now out and throwing wonderful colours across the common as the sun set. A Red Kite flew over along with 5 Meadow Pipits. Many corvids flew across the common on their way to roost. I waited for half an hour when I saw the male Hen Harrier over the other side of the common. It flew around for a short while before going to roost up on the bank. Another harrier also flew in but I lost it because I was concentrating on watching the magical male Hen Harrier go down to roost. What a wonderful bird this is!

4th December

After my final packing and clearing up I had a couple of hours to spare before the drive to Heathrow. As I was going to spend the rest of the day sitting down, I decided that I needed some exercise and walked down the little lane to Congham. As I approached the bridge a flock of 24 Curlew flew over. I turned down the old railway track which was lined with many Hips and Haws. There were many Blackbirds feeding on the berries. Two dogs off their leads frightened a group of Redwings feeding on the berries further down the hedgeline and when the owner appraoched me he told me that they had also disturbed a Woodcock which sadly I did not see. Further on there were more Redwings but time was pressing and I turned around. More Redwings appeared and a few Goldfinch. Back along the lane a Robin came and sat beside me as I made my way back home. 

John and I then drove to Heathrow

5th December

John and I boarded a flight to Brussels and then onto Dakar and then onto Banjul where we spent the night in the Senegambia Hotel along with Dylan who had picked us up at the airport.

6th December

What a way to spend 6th December! We were in the heat of an African hotel watching the birds outside as we sat down to breakfast. Fantastic! 

We started our day in the Senegambia Hotel where we watched Green Wood-hoopoes from our breakfast table in the African sun and heat. We loaded up the minibus and drove to the Gambia River where after a bit of a wait we boarded the ferry and sailed across the river watching West African Crested Terns and Pomarine Skuas. We soon headed for the Senegal border where Dylan had a visa problem. In African style this was sorted and we headed for Toubakouta where we had a cruise on the river, the Saloum Delta. As the sun set and the moon rose we finally found the White-crested Tiger Heron. A lifer for all of us!

My diaries will be brief as I shall write up a full trip report later.


                                        Little Bee-eater
                                                  White-crested Tiger Heron

7th December

We had a pre-breakfast walk around our lodge at Toubakouta where Dylan and I had an excellent view of a pair of Stone Partridges running down a small woodland track. It was already very warm as we watched six Broad-billed Rollers displaying above our heads whilst an Abyssinian Roller sat on a tree above us.  We had been advised to wear long trousers and shoes or boots so that we could walk through scrub and sharp grass. After breakfast we drove for a short while and birded a scrubby wooded area. Here we watched Bruce’s Green Pigeon and two pairs of Yellow-crowned Gonoleks. It was now nearing 38 degrees in the sun! The birds came thick and fast as I took a photo of a pair of Western Plantain-eaters sat on the top of a tree in wonderful light. We continued birding and then returned to the lodge for a swim in the pool to cool down.

After a delightful lunch we had a couple of hours off during the heat of the day and then had a wander from the lodge down to the estuary which was bordered by mangroves. Western warblers were dominating some of the trees as we watched many birds.  I added the life tick of Lesser Blue-eared Starling and enjoyed several rollers. I managed a photo of a Purple Roller that sat and watched us. We returned to the lodge for a few beers and a very tasty evening meal before venturing out in the warmth of the night to watch an African Scops Owl.

Western Plantaineater

8th December

We had a pre-breakfast walk watching Double-spurred Francolin and Greater Honeyguide before driving to Kaolack stopping several times before getting caught in traffic at Kaolack. After checking in at the riverside hotel we drove to Ndiaffate where the birding was excellent. You cannot have too many Abyssinian Rollers and African Green Bee-eaters. We walked out on the mud until we got to the canoe where the boatman took us 3 at a time across to Kousamar Island. It was now 97 degrees! We walked into the vegetation and were met with an amazing sight as 15 000 Scissor-tailed Kites flew into roost. What an amazing sight!

                                                  African Green Bee-eater
Sue Keppa Dylan at Ndiaffate on the canoe to see 15000 Swallow-tailed Kites

                                   Scissor-tailed Kite
                         Some of 15000 Scissor-tailed Kites

9th December

After yesterday’s phenomenal sighting we were up before first light and motored north for a couple of hours for a remote spot near the village of Tip on the R60. Here we walked up and down the scrubby area for several hours looking for Quail Plover until it reached 40 degrees and we returned back to the van without a sniff of one. There were a few claims and John thought he saw a Common Quail at one stage but we enjoyed Chestnut-backed Sparrow Lark, Crested Lark, Great Grey Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Sudan Golden Sparrow, Subalpine Warbler, White-backed Vulture , Singing Bush-lark, Cut-throat Finch and an Orphean Warbler. I then spotted a couple of Temminck’s Coursers which pleased the rest of the group. As it was so hot I only took my small bridge camera hence only a few photos today!

After returning to the hotel I had a swim in the pool before watching many Slender-billed Gulls out on the riverside as well and Pink-backed Pelicans and Western Reef Herons.

                                  Chestnut-backed Sparrow-lark

10th December

After a hotel breakfast we drove once again to the village of Tip where we walked in an organized fashion through the scrub once again in 40 degree heat. All of a sudden Dylan shouted that he had a Quail Plover in front of him which ran straight for cover into a bush. We surrounded the bush and at last we all managed to have a view of the bird before it flew out and promptly disappeared. One of target birds seen at last! We were all relieved after spending 5 hours yesterday searching for one! On our way back to the van we watched a Common Buttonquail, Great Grey Shrike, Abyssinian Roller, Sudan Sparrow and a Wryneck to name but a few.

We motored on for several more hours northwards and arrived in the city of St Louis where I had a delightful swim in the hotel’s pool by the sea. It was good to enjoy a sea breeze in the heat.

       Linda, Alessio, Dylan, Kebba and Sue on the hunt for the elusive Quail Plover
                                             Abyssinian Roller

11th December

After leaving our hotel we birded the Marigot’s area where we failed miserably to find Savile’s Bustard. However we did see some good birds including Senegal Batis and Orange-breasted Waxbill. We motored on in the searing heat of 40 degrees stopping off at places and added Black-winged Kite, Gabar Goshawk and Little Weaver to our trip lists. After some confusion over our hotel booking we ended up in an unexpected camp and had to double back to the Golden Nightjar site which had been absolutely trashed by road construction. However our local guide suggested that we try his location and Dylan soon had us watching a Golden Nightjar at dusk. We had excellent views as well as views of two Long-tailed Nightjars.

                                       Chestnut-bellied Starling
                                                 Senegal Batis

12th December

We had an early morning walk around the cabins at Mbantou (a 2km drive off the main road to Podar from Richard Toll) after breakfast and discovered some sunken concrete bird hides at the lodge. Here we saw many Sudan Golden Sparrows as food had been put down. A Senegal Thick-knee was also seen well as Red-cheeked Cordon-bleus also joined in the scene. One of our group also saw a Golden Nightjar before first light here. We drove onto Mourkadie where we soon found Cricket Warbler, Little Grey Woodpecker and Black Scimitarbill. It was now 40 degrees!

We had a short stop to watch Sennar Penduline Tit before stopping for lunch at Richard Toll where I managed to get the soles of my desert boots stuck on and sewn by a street cobbler who made an excellent job of them as one sole had fallen off!

After a two hour drive we arrived at Djoudj National Park where we watched many water birds on the lake, including Greater and Lesser Flamingoes, White-faced Whistling Ducks in their thousands as well as Painted Snipe, Black Crakes and Several Squacco Herons. We stopped for the night in some small cabins where we were fed, eating out in the wonderfully warm night listening to a Barn Owl calling.

                                                Horus Swift
                                       Northern White-faced-Owl

13th December

After breakfast, since we were staying in the park we drove to the wetlands of Djoudj where we searched in vain for the Arabian Bustard. However we all enjoyed the Greater and Lesser Flamingoes as well as Great White Pelicans and dozens of Spoonbills amongst the White-faced Whistling Ducks. A Fulvous Whistling Duck flew over as Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters flew all around us. It was soon very hot again but there was quite a strong breeze blowing which made the air fill with sand making all today’s photos a bit hazy. We stopped at some pools where we watched Painted Snipe, Squacco Heron, Reed and Sedge Warblers as well as a Greater Swamp Warbler. We drove up onto a bank and watched River Prinias and Malachite Kingfishers darting around before we saw several Golden Jackals and Warthogs. At the bird hides we saw thousands of Garganey, Shoveler and Pintail ducks before we inadvertently disturbed a Barn Owl sitting on to two eggs which was using the bird hide as a nest box!

Black-crowned Cranes flew over us along with a Purple Heron as we watched Kentish Plover, Kittlitz’s Plover, Curlew Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper and Little Stint along with Yellow Wagtails.

                                               Malachite Kingfisher
                                                 River Prinia

14th December

The thermometer is still hitting 40 degrees out here in Senegal. This morning after watching Long-tailed Nightjars flying over us as we were eating breakfast outside in the warmth of the early morning darkness we packed up the van and started heading back south after our adventures near the Mauritanian border. We had a long way to travel today and only stopped once again at Marigot to have another try for Savile’s Bustard. Once again we failed dismally. We watched 7 Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse and added Spotted Thick-knee to our trip list though.

We continued on our way and arrived at Kaolack where I dived into the hotel’s swimming pool as soon as we arrived to cool down over-looking the river where Pied Kingfishers were diving for fish. It is now all decorated with Christmas trees all lit up in the hot evening darkness!

                                                        Pied Kingfisher
                                            African Fish Eagle

15th December


It was going to be a long day of travel as we left our wonderful hotel with its swimming pool over-looking the river at Kaolack early this morning. It was already hot and I was due to be in the front of the minibus with its scorching floor. Linda and I settled in and left the men (or rather John) talking about their various adventures across the globe as the miles rolled on by. After several hours we had a short comfort stop and stretched our legs watching Sahel Paradise Whydahs and Abyssinian Rollers. More endless miles followed when all of a sudden we were aware that the vehicle tax had run out and we needed some kind of a stamp from some authority that was not going to be open for several more hours before we got to the next police check point. Our local guide explained that we could go no further without the correct paperwork and made arrangements for a safari vehicle to take us to the national park. Our luggage was unloaded and loaded on to the safari vehicle and we sped at full speed along the main road in 40 degree heat being blasted at us sitting out on top.

We turned into the park at Niokolo-Koba and motored down the track for the next two hours through the forest, stopping to take a photo of a perched Bateleur. Once at the camp at Simenti we made our beds and found some supplies for our room before Kebba told me about the river and that there was an Egyptian Plover present on one of the banks. I grabbed my scope and there was the awesome bird. An Egyptian Plover on my list at long last!

16th December

After breakfast we drove around Niokolo-Koba National Park and stopped at Gue-de-Damantan camp. Here on the river were another two Egyptian Plovers but they were difficult to take photos of without getting wet feet. I tried the best that I could, balancing on various stones and twisting to avoid infringing vegetation getting in the way. Oh the joys of the photographer! I managed to take a few photos before we drove onto Lion camp, where after a brief stop, adding a few trip ticks, we stopped at the river again for a few more bird photos, including African Paradise Flycatcher.

We returned to camp for lunch and a snooze in the now very hot middle of the day but there was a knock on my cabin door by one of the camp staff who was in an agitated state and beckoned me out. John had gone for a walk and was nowhere in sight. I followed the member of staff who said that there was a Lion roaming around the camp and he wanted to show me! Aghast I wasn’t too sure what to do but Allessio was ahead of me and so was Dylan. I followed them to the river and we could hear a lion roaring. After a while I spotted another Lioness on the other side of the river to the delight of all the camp staff who looked through my scope at it. However the member of staff was insistent that one Lion was still around the camp which we could still hear, as well as watching a Hippo in the river.It left us all on high alert as we walked back to our cabins. We had a late afternoon walk around the camp birding and keeping an eye out for the Lion.   

Later on in the open-sided restaurant we had to be on high-alert as we ate our meal. This all makes life interesting to say the least! After dark we had another wander to the riverside and spotted a Genet by one of the buildings in the spotlight. Magical!

                                              Egyptian Plover

17th December

We were up early and had a wander around the camp grounds before breakfast where we admired two Violet Turacos and a Northern Cuckoo-shrike. A Northern Puffback was not keen to have its photo taken but the many Long-tailed Glossy Starlings were. As we sat down to breakfast, a Green Vervet Monkey made off with one of our guide’s breakfast and scampered away with it.

We packed up the safari truck with our luggage and drove the long bumpy track back for several hours back to the main road watching several Abyssinian Ground Hornbills also using the track. We eventually reunited with our driver Baba and main vehicle swopped our luggage over and drove to Wassadou camp where we had a delightful lunch over-looking the river in the hot sun.

The afternoon was spent on an amazing river trip, one of the best that I have ever done in my life. Sitting on the Gambian River in the hot sun watching Egyptian Plovers on the sand bank, whilst Northern Carmine Bee-eaters, Red-throated Bee-eaters, Pied Kingfishers, Giant Kingfishers, Blue-breasted Kingfishers, Woodland Kingfishers, Grey-headed Kingfishers and Malachite Kingfishers pose for photographs is just stunning. The supporting cast of White-backed Night-heron, Senegal Thick-knee, Osprey, African Harrier Hawk, Adamawa Turtle Dove, Wahlberg’s Eagle flying around is just wonderful. How lucky we were to be in this wonderful country at this time of year.

                                             Abyssinian Ground Hornbill
                                                         Egyptian Plover

18th December

This morning we had a post-breakfast walk for a short while, including looking over the river and down a short trail. Luckily we found a White-crowned Robin-chat which posed for a short while. We were soon on our way for our journey back into The Gambia. We had some issues at the border and it took quite a while to resolve them all. En-route we watched a Dark Chanting Goshawk, Shikra, Grasshopper Buzzard and also stopped at a small litter-strewn pool where we watched more Red-throated Bee-eaters and a Bearded Barbet. We continued on our way and stopped at Basse for a few minutes before arriving at our lodge for the night at Jangjangbureh.

After dinner we walked for a couple of miles along a track at the back of the village in the warm darkness. Gosh it was dark. The stars were amazing. We took torches and saw 7 Long-tailed Nightjars sitting on the edge of the track. Two of them took to flight which we watched through our binoculars.

                                                 Bearded Barbet
                                                 Grasshopper Buzzard

19th December

We had a long drive today back to Banjul but stopped off at various birding spots. Raptors were the order of the day and we saw Martial Eagle, Brown Snake Eagle, Western Banded Snake Eagle, African Hawk-Eagle, Grasshopper Buzzard, Gabar Goshawk (dark morph), African Harrier-Hawk and Lanner. We also admired lots of water birds on the various lily ponds as well as Wire-tailed Swallows perching on various sticks in front of us.

We eventually arrived at our hotel in Banjul where we had a cold swim to cool ourselves down and said goodbye to Linda who was heading back to the U.S.A.

                                               Martial Eagle
                                        Wire-tailed Swallow

20th December

Our driver Baba took us along to Abuko Nature Reserve at Lamin near Banjul, The Gambia, after breakfast where Dylan, Alessio, John Kebba and I enjoyed watching Western Bluebills and Red-billed Firefinches along with Beautiful Sunbirds as Yellow-billed Kites and Hooded Vultures wheeled overhead in the hot African sun. It has been 25 years since I was here last and not a lot has changed. How lovely it was to enjoy some good Gambian birds as we wandered along taking photographs as we went.

                                                    Grey Kestrel

                                           Red-billed Firefinch

I always find it very sad when wonderful foreign birding holidays come to an end: the friends you make, the wonderul guides that get you through thick and thin, despite all the unexpected problems encountered, the wonderful people from all sorts of cultures and backgrounds who drive, cook, attend to your every need as you travel along ,in often very remote areas frequently poverty-striken, who enrich your life, all helping you see the fantastic birds and wildlife. It is this that keeps me going. I want to live; see the world and push the boundaries and not just exist staying in the UK with the same routine, day in and day out. If my birding can help the less fortunate than myself by bringing valuable income to them by ecotourism, I hope my enthusiasm for adventure will continue. Afterall there are the other half of the world's birds still to see!

This evening John and I boarded a plane bound for Brussels at Banjul after thanking Dylan, Alessio, Kebba and Baba for all their help and company. What a wonderful trip it was!

21st December

After an overnight flight John and I arrived in Brussels and boarded a flight back to Heathrow which was cold and grey. Not at all like the hot sunny weather with temperatures nearing 40 degrees Celsius that we had been used to in Senegal. We saw a Red Kite and a Common Buzzard on the way home but no vultures!

Pin Badge of the Blackburnian Warbler that I saw on Bryher on 10th October 2022

I arrived back home to a pile of Christmas cards and a little box. Inside the box was a pin badge of a Blackburnian Warbler. For one reason or another this was a twitch to Bryher, Scilly Isles, that eventually took place against everything that was stacked against us seeing it. We luckily saw it on the last day that transport, flights, boats and transfers were easily available. Thank you Blackburnian for staying for us! It will be worn on my RSPB uniform along with the many other pin badges that I have, which provide a talking point for our many visitors and also helps promote raising money for the RSPB via the pin badge scheme, although this one is not one of the RSPBs pin badges.

Today I received a lovely email from Tony, one of our former volunteers thanking me for my website and my recent photos and diary from Senegal. Thank you so much Tony for your kind words, they meant so much! I'm glad that you enjoy reading my website.

22nd December

Gosh it was grim weather today! I now know why I hate being in the UK at this time of year. Unlike many people I have yet to start Christmas preparations so it was all a bit frantic today as I tried to find a space in the supermarket car park. It was grey, cold, wet and miserable as I watched a few gulls wheel overhead before joining the other shoppers filling their baskets. As my family will be descending on me my basket was soon full to the brim. I saw a few Woodpigeons as I drove back home but not a single colourful bird. Thank goodness it's only a few weeks before my next winter break and I can find some sun once again!

23rd December

It was another wet day as I made my way down to the local butchers to collect the turkey. I had not anticipated the long queue and waiting time. By the time I got back home my feeders were busy with Blue Tits and Great Tits also all queuing up to raid the feeder. I had another busy day of preparations but needed a break and so started my logging in of my observations of The Gambia and Senegal into my computer data base; Wildlife Recorder. As is usual I am always one out in my notebook compared to my database which involves hours of frustration of finding the miscreant record. After 2 hours of recounting several ways it all resolved itself, I had missed out logging in one site with 2 separate visits. One good thing is that it bring backs memories of such fantastic birds. I so wish we had some more colourful birds and lovely blue skies to appreciate them more.

After lunch John rang me and I went to make a cup of tea. Whilst the kettle was boiling I watched a Red Kite out of the kitchen window gliding through the air. I felt sorry for it getting different from the Scissor-tailed Kites, Yellow-billed Kites and Black Kites in Senegal all in the hot sun!

25th December


                                     Isla, Sue, Brodie and Finlay

            Mark, Brodie, Suzy, Isla and Finlay

Happy Christmas everyone! 

Surrounded by my family and the usual excitement of young children, we did not have time for any birdwatching today and the only bird that I saw was a Turkey! By the end of the day my son Mark, Daughter-in-Law Suzy and myself were shattered!

26th December

Suzy, Mark, Finlay, Brodie, Isla and Sue at Sndringham

            Mark, Isla, Sue, Brodie, Sue and Finlay

Whilst my family and I were playing in the wonderful children's play area at Sandringham we could hear a Nuthatch calling. In the afternoon I treated us all to a pantomime in King' s Lynn where Snow White was banished to the forest with seven dwarfs. However despite yelling 'look behind you' we did not see any birds in the woods!

27th December

Mark, Isla and Finlay

It was another cold but sunny morning back in the U.K. so Mark and I took Isla and Finlay for a short play in the local park and then walked along the old railwayline at Roydon Common. We watched a Blackbird and a Robin as well as a Buzzard that was calling. Down at the Cliff-en-Howe end we saw a party of 60+ Goldfinches alight in one of the trees. Sadly I did not have my binoculars with me to check for anything else in the flock.

28th December

                           Sue and Sarah

                                   George, Teddy and Jonathan

My Christmas continues with my second son, Jonathan and family in Gloucestershire. I drove across from Norfolk to Gloucestershire in pouring rain all the way over meaning that very little bird life was seen except for a few Red Kites.

29th December

          George, Jonathan, Ted, Sarah and Sue at Cotswold Farm Park

                                                Sue and George

At last it was a beautiul day, if a little bit chilly. As the twins, George and Teddy are very active little boys we thought it would be a good idea to give them a run around at the Cotswold Farm Park as they both like riding on tractors and playing in the big sand park here. I also bought a bag of feed and George and Ted enjoyed feeding the goats, sheep and cows too. During our walk I watched a Raven, which was doing its raucous call ovehead as Red Kites were enjoying the tumbling of the many corvids around flying over the sheep fields. It was an excellent day out enjoyed by us all. 

30th December

Having arrived in Oxfordshire last night at my daughter's, the day dawned a very wet one. I was chief in charge of helping to look after my two Granddaughters, Hannah and Lucy. The only birds we saw were Red Kites that are very common here as they fly over the fields that surround my daughter's house.

31st December

                       Hannah, Kathryn, Chris and Lucy

                       Sue, Kathryn and Lucy

It was another wet day in Oxfordshire but we were suffering from cabin fever and so donned our wet-weather gear and went for a walk around the village. Luckily the rain eased off and we had a bit of a respite as Hannah scooted her little bike in front of us as we walked off some of the extra calories that we have consumed over the last week. We watched Red Kites and heard a Great Spotted Woodpecker call as we watched the river burst its bank and flooded some of the gardens in the village. 

Christmas has now come to an end for me and I said goodbye to my daughter and family and drove back to Norfolk. What a wonderful Christmas it has been but I am exhausted! Seven small grandchilden, full of energy means I need a rest!

I arrived back home to find 3 parcels awaiting for me, all bird-realated. One contained suet pellets for the birds, a new pair of desert boots that will replace my worn-out ones that will be put to good use on on forth-coming trips next year and the long-awaited book on Twitching that all the birders who have been twitching over the last 24 years have been waiting to read. However it has attracted much controversy but as I knew I got a mention in it and I know it will be discussed in birding circles, it will be an interesting read. I shall reserve comment and opinion on it until I have read it!

What a year it has been! With trips to Tanzania, Zanzibar, Croatia, Mongolia, The Gambia and Senegal the highlight has to be watching a Snow Leopard so close, shortly after making a kill and to be able to take a phtograph that now adorns my lounge wall. My bird highlights were the wonderful Crab Plover in Zanzibar and Egyptian Plover in Senegal. A big thanks must go to all those who have helped to make our trips possible and to John who has accompanied and put up with me, making it all happen. The birds have been amazing, passing the magical 500 species seen in the UK and seeing over half the world's birds. Just the other half to go then!

My family will always come first but what a wonderful hobby birding is. I never did just want to exist; there is a big world out there and you only live once. Boundaries are to be explored and I intend to live life and see as much as I can whilst I have the health to do so. A big thank you to those of you that share my passion and make life interesting by emailing me or coming in to Titchwell to say how much you enjoy the website. I thank you all. 

All that now remains is for me to wish you a very Happy New Year and good birding wherever you are.