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Neither my age, nor my weight, nor my height (though that comes closest), one hundred and sixty-three is my birding total for 2017 – that is, the total number of species I managed to see in Britain.

171231 avocets

This was the first year I’ve kept a count, and it was just out of interest really but, as my more dedicated birding friends post their totals on our Facebook group page (one has 223, another a whopping 252) , I’ve decided to try for a 200-bird year in 2018. That doesn’t mean I’m going to become a mad twitcher or go haring off all over the country to see rare birds. I’m just going to make more of an effort to see as many as I can because I love them so!

171231 robin

And my favourite birding moments in 2017? There were too many to recount, from marvelling at an encounter between a Bittern and a Marsh harrier at RSPB Ham Wall to my frequent local conversations with Robins and chuckles at Tufted ducks, from the joy of watching Avocets with their chicks at Rye Harbour on my birthday to the thrill of seeing feeding Gannets crashing headfirst into the ocean off Dawlish beach, from the lovely little Turnstones than bumble along the embankment in Penarth Marina to the Sand martin that sat and chattered away to me on a railing at Cardiff Bay.

171231 Sand martin

Why just yesterday I had a Great tit land on my hand to grab itself a piece of the flapjack I was sharing with the hungry birds at Cosmeston! Every moment like that, every second spent watching and hearing my feathered friends is joyous!

171231 Great tit