I'm not one for dwelling on the past, but right now it seems it is the time of year for some relaxed reflection on 2012 along the muddy banks of the Dee.
I have spent quite some time in the past few days reviewing the pictures I took and reliving the adventures had both at home and abroad.
What follows is my year distilled into 5 images.
After an enforced lay off from the Patch due to a tedious 8 weeks on jury service I wandered back into the action with a bang. Fair winds and stalling weather fronts conspired to produce a classic "fall" of migrants all over the Patch. I got really close to some Wheatear at Leasowe Lighthouse.
With so many in the country this winter I just had to get some photos. At the third attempt I managed to get some images that I was happy with. I also remembered to chill out and just watch them in the rush to get pictures. They remain one of my favourite birds.
3. Red Knot
In May I was fortunate enough to travel to Porsanger in north Norway to help in a research project on these classy waders. What an experience! Total daylight, amazing wildlife. The time I spent with 50,000 of these birds was inspiring and unexpectedly emotional. I left with memories ingrained on my brain forever, and even more respect for these long distance migrants.
4. Black-winged Stilt reflection
Another image taken away from the beloved Patch. This time on the muddy banks of the Tagus in Portugal. I was there to catch and colour ring Black-tailed Godwits but saw some brilliant waders besides the Blackwits. The peace and tranquility only broken by the boom of our cannon nets!
5. Black-tailed Godwits at sunset
A reminder, if I needed one, that I do not need to travel to the ends of the earth (well, Europe!) for a fantastic wildlife experience. The Patch is more than enough for me. 1,000 Blackwits feeding, bills spattering in wet mud that reflects them and glows with the final rays of winter sun. That'll do for me.
The natural world is dazzling in it's complexity and can be over-whelming in it's beauty. It can also be be cold, wet and muddy. I love it for all these things. It can lift my spirits while keeping my feet firmly on the ground - and of course it keeps my boots muddy.
2013 beckons and as we head into tomorrow I'd like to say thanks to everyone who has looked at my pictures and read these stories. I can't wait to share more....
Happy New Year.