I managed to go out birding nearly every day in one capacity or another, even if it was through work, I realise that this makes me a very fortunate person and I hope that my blog posts have reflected the enthusiasm I have towards birding. As I do a quick rundown of my highlights from 2010, I would also like to wish everyone who reads this a Happy and successful 2011!!
Bird of the month – Black-throated Thrush at Newholm, North Yorkshire on the 16th
Birding moment of the month – Well the best moment of the month was by far on the 2nd when together with my day list team mate Will Salmon, we managed to get to Dawlish Warren in time to get great views of a Bittern in the fading light. Having drunk far too much on News Year eve this was the first real day of both of our year lists and Bittern was a real bonus!
Bird of the month – Little Bunting at Polbathic, Cornwall on the 24th
Birding moment of the month – A 24 hour raid into Norfolk and various other counties with Joe Ray which included highlights such as, Rough-legged Buzzard, Red-necked Grebe, Ring-necked Duck, Waxwing and a Dusky Warbler in London!
Bird of the month – Bufflehead at Langton Herring, Dorset on the 8th
Birding moment of the month – Watching a female Goshawk at stupidly close quarters in good light again with Mr Salmon, somewhere in the Devon countryside!
Bird of the month – Hoopoe at Sandown farm, Soar, Devon on the 13th
Birding moment of the month – Doing a crazy 30 hour raid of Scotland with my Dad and Mike Hunter in which time we managed to see everything! Crested Tit, Black and Red Grouse, Capercaillie, Ptarmigan, Parrotbill, Osprey, Golden Eagle, White-tailed Eagle and all the other more common species.
Bird of the month – Belted Kingfisher in Murcia, Spain
Birding moment of the month – Without doubt the best moment of the month also concerned bird of the month. Having not been seen for nearly 3 weeks me and my Dad drove to the area the Belted Kingfisher had last been seen, after an hour of fruitless searching Dad screamed "I've got it"!!! There it was sat in all its glory fishing from a power line, what a bird and a welcome West Pal grip back!
Bird of the month – Marmora's Warbler at Blorenge, Wales
Birding moment of the month – I would usual have said that seeing a Marmora's Warbler singing in the UK would be moment of the month, if not one of the year. However £150 car decided to give up on me about 4 miles away, changing an enjoyable day into a pain in the arse day, therefore I will opt for something much more relaxing. Watching Hobby at a distance of less than 20 metres on Cannock Chase, shortly followed by Nightjar views in the company of my Dad and Mike Hunter. I doubt I will ever get such nice views of Hobby again, a great evening out!
Bird of the month – White-tailed Plover at Rainham Marshes RSPB on the 7th
Birding moment of the month – Waiting silently in a crowd of over 150 people for the Norfolk River Warbler to start singing, it kept us waiting and you could cut the atmosphere with a knife! The bird started singing and it was certainly worth the wait, so loud and impressive but with the light fading would it show? Again the atmosphere was thick and with about ten minutes of light left I found the bird everyone was looking for – what a feeling, the 4 hour journey home seemed like 5 minutes after such a brilliant experience.
Bird of the month – Sykes's Warbler at Druridge Bay Northumberland on the 16th
Birding moment of the month – Although I managed to see a few good birds in August, the Sykes's Warbler was by far the best moment. Leaving the house at 3am with Dad and knowing this species track record with not sticking, we made our way north hopeful but fearing it may well have moved on. Within 20 minutes of arriving we had been treated to great views, sharing it with only a handful of other birders – many people had waited on news but fortune favours the brave!!
SeptemberEastern Olivaceous Warbler
Bird of the month – Eastern Olivaceous Warbler at Flamborough Head, East Yorkshire on the 1st
Birding moment of the month – Well September was full of great birding moments, not to mention the mad dash to the east coast with Dan Pointon for the Eastern Ollie, so without a clear favourite I will list my top three. 1 – Watching a White's Thrush that Dan Pointon re-located on Shetland after everybody else had given up. Thank god he called his fellow team members (me, Al Orton and Malc Curtin) back from the pub just in time to see it. 2 – Red-flanked Bluetail in the hand on Fair Isle which was amazing! 3 – Standing at North light on Fair Isle with Malc and watching migrants literally fall from the sky, including a minimum of 6 Yellow-browed Warblers, a very special moment that I will remember for a long time.
Bird of the month – Solitary Sandpiper at Seaton Marsh, Devon on the 11th
Birding moment of the month – Despite the other Rare's seen in October such as Green Heron, the best moment was easily seeing a Pallas's Warbler in Norfolk at Winterton Dunes on the 19th which took my UK year list to 300!!!!!
Bird of the month – Dotterel in Murcia, Spain on the 9th
Birding moment of the month – Again the bird of the month coincides with the moment of the month. Finding a flock of 36 Dotterel in a ploughed field with Dad after a full and particularly slow day in the field was possibly the best moment of the year. The birds gave us superbly close views and this record represents the largest over flock recorded in Murcia and the first record of this species for quite a few years.
Bird of the month – Red-footed Booby at l'Estartit, Girona, Spain on the 7th
Birding moment of the month – Although the Alpine Accentor that we had great views of only a few days ago were good, the epic twitch to see the Red-footed Booby was an experience I will always remember! A 1423km round trip with Dad was well worth it to see this special species that represented only the 2nd European record ever, the 1st was also in Spain earlier this year and both records could in all likelihood concern the same individual. Unfortunately the bird was taken into care after swallowing fishing hooks and despite the great effort of many individuals the bird died on the 23rd