So I bode my time, whilst establishing myself within a very clique orientated Kent birding scene. I had myself a superb local patch, out on the Ash Levels. Just a mile, or so, up the road was Sandwich Bay Obs - still a ringing centre, not a community coffee club, at this time and what a crazy place? Full of characters and extraordinarily talented birders; my introduction to Kent birding was a very pleasurable period and that county year list was a goal to which I became drawn as the years passed.
|I took this from a light aircraft that Dad had booked as a surprise for Mum.|
We flew from Manston over Sandwich, Deal & Dover before heading across to Sheppey, Oare Marshes and back
over Ramsgate Harbour before returning to land at Manston
The target was 242 and I smashed it! I finished the year on 263 species, which didn't include Yellow-legged or Caspian Gull, as they'd not been split, nor the Pratincole sp. that I'd found over Grove Ferry whilst the Baillon's Crake was still in residence. I missed Iceland Gull and Stone Curlew, both of which were at Dungeness, but still ended up finding 233 species for myself during the year. My total was registered, all sightings accepted by the KOS and associated birding authorities. I have no idea as to whether this still remains a record? To be honest I don't really care. It was a fantastic year, huge enjoyment, camaraderie, adrenaline and umpteen other experiences which made for lasting memories and friendships. On the flip side, it cost me my first marriage - so how clever is that? Under no circumstances can any sane individual think that this is a price worth paying? However, without this event I'd never have married Bev and be in the very comfortable position I now find myself. Clouds and silver linings? It was the discovery of one of my old note books, not a diary as such, but more of a highlights collection of birds seen that I've been moved to write this blog entry. There are very poor record images, via the medium of paper and pencil, which just demonstrates how far we've come since the advent of the digital era and exactly why the mobile phone/camera has so revolutionised bird recording.