Many local wildlife blogs at the moment are full of the usual reviews of last year's exploits/tick lists and then this year's targets of both species numbers and resolutions. Can't say as I've ever been one that makes tick lists or make resolutions, except perhaps to drink less red wine, which rarely works.
Since I turned sixty, eight years ago, I guess my main target each year is to still be able to get out and about on the marsh just as much at the end of the year as at the beginning, physically I mean.
When I retired in 2006 I had completed thirty-four years employment in Sheerness Docks, nineteen as a stevedore unloading/loading ships and fifteen in management. Those first nineteen years involved, among many other things, working in frozen meat boats in temperatures as low as -15 degrees and chilled fruit boats which were damp and cold. Couple that with a lifetime of wandering around cold and wet marshes and it's no wonder that I've ended up with some arthritis, and joints that just ache anyway.
So as every winter gets physically more painful to experience, my yearly target is quite simple - to keep getting out on the reserve for as long as possible and to simply enjoy the wildlife I encounter by being there. Putting physicality aside, neither of those two targets see any lessening of my lifestyle because in reality I've never been a Ticker, a Twitcher or a Traveller.
ATicker - by that I mean that I have never set myself personal tick lists at the start of each year, lists that set out how many different types of birds that I have seen the previous year and which I would hope to add to in the current year. In the thirty years that I have been part of the team involved with The Swale NNR, I have always sent in lists of bird types and numbers seen on most visits, have recorded breeding bird numbers, have carried out WEBS and Harrier Roost counts and some national census's and yet I still couldn't tell you what my life-time species count is.
Twitching - well my dislike of that branch of ornithology has been documented by me on numerous blogs over the years, it and the people that pursue it have never appealed to me.
Travelling - well that partly goes hand in glove with twitching. I could say that Sheppey is my patch and that's as far as I travel to see a bird but really that would be inaccurate because there are parts of Sheppey that I rarely visit, despite it's small size. No, The Swale NNR has been my patch for the last thirty odd years, it's all I need and is normally as far as I travel to see birds. I won't even go as far as nearby Elmley to birdwatch, even when rare birds have turned up there, especially now that various restrictions are being applied.
So to summarise, my 2016 resolution is to carry on doing what I've been doing for the last thirty-odd years - enjoying the solitude of The Swale NNR with my two dogs and seeing what wildlife comes to me, rather than chasing my arse going looking for it elsewhere.