2017 highlights of a wilder Devon life

2017 was when I embarked upon my quest with gusto. Which quest? To find all the animals, plants and fungi I wrote about in my childhood nature notebooks and photograph them and blog about them. It’s been a fabulous journey as I find what’s changed in childhood, in technology, in nature and in me in the last 40 years. Here’s my nature notebook entry for the Jay and my photograph of one from 40 years later:

Jay - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) 2016 David Bailey (not the)

Jay – forty years ago in my nature notebooks

2017 was the year I finally learned to appreciate the common birds around me, including Mallard Ducks at the local country park. I love the drops of water like… well, you know what the water’s like:

Male Mallard Duck - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

One of the most beautiful birds in the world also lives here; the Mandarin Duck. It’s one I didn’t see forty years ago:

Male Mandarin Duck - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey

I know that the male gets all the attention, but just look at that female:

Mandarin Duck - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Here’s the full story:

Mandarin Duck

I saw Blue Tits 40 years ago and drew them in pencil. In 2017 I finally took some digital photographs of them:

Blue Tit - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Here’s my favourite:

Blue Tit - The Hall fo Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

And here’s my full blog post with my drawing and photographs:

Blue Tits – forty years ago in my nature notebooks

I was lucky enough to see a Treecreeper very close up in 2017 only a few weeks after I had bought my telephoto lens. What a stunning bird:

Treecreeper - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Here are plenty more photographs:

Treecreeper

Grey Squirrels are one of my favourite animals. There were plenty of opportunities to portray their character:

Grey Squirrel - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Grey Squirrel - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

One of the occasional visitors to my local country park are Long-Tailed Bushtits:

Long-Tailed Bushtits - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

On the estuary of the River Exe I was lucky to see a Red Breasted Merganser close-up. What a wonderful bird:

Red-Breasted Merganser - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It really was that close.

This Buzzard only appears close with the aid of a large telephoto lens:

Buzzard - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

Here’s the full story:

Buzzards – forty years ago in my nature notebooks

The Buzzards here are famous for eating frogs. There’s one which regularly makes people squirm as it sits in a tree and pulls their legs off. In 2018 I’m planning to get photographs of that.

2017 was the year I took up bird photography properly as I’d previously not had a telephoto lens. I was thrilled when I managed to get a close-up of a male Bullfinch after several attempts:

Bullfinch - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It was one of several species I had good luck with including the local Great Spotted Woodpeckers, although I must say they were a little suspicious:

Spotted! A brief walk in the woods

I saw Chaffinches:

Chaffinch - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

And even had a Goldfinch build a nest in the large palm tree in my tiny back garden:

Goldfinch - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

One of the most delightful visitors to my back garden was this Wren:

Wren - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It’s a terrible shame that it met a rather tragic end at the paws of my neighbour’s cat.

Little King

In 2017 I found a local field with Barn Owls (no photographs – I don’t want to disturb them) and the very rare Cirl Bunting:

Cirl Bunting - The Hall of Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

It’s shortly to become 1,275 homes:

Hazel and Vanessa

2017 wasn’t all about birds:

Four-Spotted Chaser - The Hall fo Einar - photograph (c) David Bailey (not the)

2017 wasn’t all about things that fly either: there were plenty of fungi too. Here are some of my favourite mushroom finds from this year:

Mushrooms are truly extraordinary. Just look at those colours.

At the end of 2017 I took a walk on Dartmoor and thought about the state of nature in the UK and what we can all do to restore a wilder life:

The Tree: An afternoon on Dartmoor and a wild idea

Here’s wishing everyone who’s been kind enough to read my blog, follow me on social media, like my photographs and leave interesting and encouraging comments a very Happy and Healthy New Year for 2018. Thank you all. It’s been a pleasure to have your company.

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