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The Midwinter merry-go-round

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Jody Bourton Jody Bourton | 09:54 UK time, Monday, 22 December 2008

I was laid low by the wretched flu again last week but being housebound afforded me an unexpected opportunity to do some wildlife watching.

Although winter can be a bit barren, it doesn't mean there aren't things going on out there in the wild. And with lemon and honey drink in one hand and binoculars in the other, I realised there was actually lots of activity happening just outside my window.

Among the garden birds feeding on the rotting apples on next door's trees, there were all the usual contenders such as blackbirds and a robin - but then I noticed a new addition with a gingery cap and pale breast.

It was in fact a blackcap, which by all rights should have left our shores and migrated by now.

However this female blackcap (actually identifiable by the gingery rather than black feathers on its head) had either decided to stick around or more probably was a visitor from colder climates in Europe.

There's a funny sort of merry-go-round in winter as some birds leave our shores for warmer weather while others arrive here through the wildlife revolving door from colder countries to the east.

This time of year also sees the papers doing their annual reviews, from lists of top albums and films to people and moments of 2008. This got me thinking about what would be among my moments of the year in wildlife terms.

Was it seeing a leatherback turtle in the Atlantic or experiencing the stunning beauty of the river Wye on a glorious spring evening. Seeing a badger in Bristol city centre recently was pretty strange while during Autumnwatch I developed a new found fondness of muntjac deer and ravens.

Let me know which wildlife moments made their mark on you in 2008.


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