The year is coming to a close and what a year it has been - difficult, stressful, challenging and hard going both professionally and personally - but I have learnt a lot and I still have a smile on my face (well, most of the time!).
Thank heavens for the natural world though, it has been an excellent year for wildlife watching and has kept me sane and kept me going. The highlight has been 6 (or 7 or 8) British lifers - excellent views of Franklins gull, lesser grey shrike, desert wheatear and Hudsonian whimbrel and not so good views of great shearwater and yellow legged gull; misty views of Dalmation pelican which may or may not been deemed a wild bird but which did the decent thing and disappeared in the late autumn; and Eastern black redstart, a sub species of black redstart but which may become a full species.
Other bird highlights include cattle egret, glossy ibis, lesser scaup, great white egret, green winged teal, yellow browed warbler, woodlark, Jack snipe, great grey shrike, red backed shrike, Balearic shearwater, twite and snow bunting.
My year list is on 192, quite a surprise as I haven't been chasing a year list this year - this includes the potentially wild Dalmation pelican but not barnacle goose (I have such a block with this species, a common feral bird but I have never knowingly seen a genuine wildbird) and not long tailed duck (99.9% sure I saw one at Dawlish Warren but distant and heat hazy views and I couldn't refind it). It also includes grasshopper warbler and nightjar, birds I heard but did not see, but not sub-species - pale bellied brent goose, Eastern black redstart and white wagtail.
Despite the poor weather at times and noticeably low numbers of common species it was a good year for butterflies with more species seen this year than last year. Four new species were seen - Adonis blue, small blue, Glanville fritillary and wood white - and good views were had of some scarce species - marsh fritillary, small pearl bordered fritillary, high brown fritillary, grayling, brown argus, clouded yellow and silver studded blue.
Mothing was not so good due to the often poor weather and working mostly early shifts but I managed to see most of my favourite moths with an eyed hawkmoth being a nice find in the back yard.
Lesser butterfly orchid, common dolphin, harbour porpoise, hare, my first ever live badger in the New Forest and harbour seal were also highlights as was the trip to Lundy and the Penzance pelagic. Trips to the USA and Canada and Croatia and Slovenia provided some interesting wildlife sightings too.
And so to 2017 - what will it bring? I hope work and family issues will improve but I think that is unlikely, hopefully after this years difficulties I will be better able to deal with what life will throw at me. I still have my wildlife though and I have plans for pelagic trips, butterfly trips and bird life ticks along with saving up to buy a Swarovski telescope - Happy New Year!