Saturday, 27 December 2014

My Birding Review of 2014

2014 was one of the best years birding i have had in a very long time , i was lucky enough to have seen some fabulous birds and go on many great birding trips including  my first visit to Spurn ,  plus many other fantastic destinations .

 My Year list finished on : 240 and i added 11 Lifers with 2  more pending onto my British List plus 2 new Sub Species .

Here is a review of 2014 and i have added a photo of  " My bird of the month " for each month plus i have also added my  " Top 10 Birds of the Year " at the end of the review .

This is quite a long read , i hope you enjoy it .



                                                 JANUARY     YEAR  LIST    :  29


After surviving a massive heart attack at the end of December 2013 i was unable to do any birding this month other than a trip out near the end of the month just to get some fresh air and i managed to clock up 29 species including this quite glamorous Ring Necked Parakeet.



Ring Necked Parakeet.


FEBRUARY         YEAR  LIST  :  88   Inc.  1 Lifer  plus  1 Pending Lifer


I added 59 year ticks this month with my first official days birding of the year  on the 3rd  at Dungeness . many highlights including 3 Great White Egrets , 2 Black T Divers and a 1st w Glaucous Gull.

However a trip to Durham on the 10th  produced my first Lifer of the year in the form of a stunning Myrtle Warbler which was residing on an housing estate , i got some decent views of this bird in the end plus there were 3 Waxwings as added extras , we also took in the nearby Asian Lesser Whitethroat which was also a new sub species for me ( Maybe future arm chair tick ? ) .

Asian Lesser Whitethroat.

On the 14th  i teamed up with Chidders to check out Dover Harbour and Ramsgate Cemetery and on route we got diverted with the news of the Chinese Pond Heron being on view in Hythe , distant scope and then flight views of this bird was all i got ,  a DNA profile has proved this bird to be a Chinese Pond Heron and further tests will hopefully prove it's origin , so for now it goes on the " List Pending ".

My bird of the month goes to the Myrtle Warbler  that i saw in Durham.

Myrtle Warbler : Yellow rump with white tipped tail.



MARCH  YEAR LIST   :  134   Inc.  1 Lifer   plus 1 Pending Lifer


I added 46 year ticks this month taking my total up to 134 including 1 Lifer plus 1 Pending Lifer ,  i started of with brief views of a Hume's Warbler in Ramsgate Cemetery on the 1st then a trip to Dungeness on the 2nd saw me adding Glossy Ibis to my Dunge list , the photo below is of it eating a big fat juicy worm and was shown on the RBA weekly news bulletin .


Glossy Ibis with juicy worm for dinner.  

 On the 10th and 11th i had a 2 day trip to Scotland which resulted in a disappointing dip of the AHG , however other good birds were seen such as , Black Duck , Bonaparte's Gull , 1600+ Greenland White Fronted Geese , 2 Iceland Gulls plus my 2nd Lifer of the year :  white and blue morph Snow Geese .                                                                    
                                                                       
Black Duck.

Snow Geese among Greenland White Fronted Geese.

                                                       On the 15th i added my second new sub species of the year in the form of a Kumlien's Gull in Littlehampton ,   i also saw  a  Hoopoe  on the 27th at Snodland although a tad to distant for photo's.

                                                  My bird of the month :  Baikal Teal 

                                                                          
Baikal Teal at Fen Drayton.

On the 30th i teamed up with Chidders and we headed to Fen Drayton for the stunning male Baikal Teal and if accepted by the BBRC will be a welcome addition to my life list .


APRIL   YEAR LIST  ; 156

22 more year ticks added to the total this month taking it to 156 , started the month with a single   Long Tailed Duck at Scotney plus my 1st spring migrant a Sandwich Tern from the beach at Dungeness . On the 15th Sedge Warbler and Swallow were newly arrived migrants seen at Oare

Spring migrant Swallow.


On the 22nd i added a female Blue Winged Teal to my Sandwich Bay list with cracking views from the Restharrow scrape hide , there was also several Yellow Wagtails in the flooded field opposite including a stunning " Blue Headed Bird".


Blue Headed Wagtail.

My final trip out of the month was on the 28th to Dungeness where i added 2 Black Winged Stilts to my Dungeness list plus several more spring migrants were seen .

However my bird of the month goes to the female Blue Winged Teal that i saw in Sandwich.

Blue Winged Teal in flight with a Shoveler.



MAY  YEAR LIST  :  167

I only added 11 new birds to my year list this month taking my total up to 167 , one of the main events in Kent birding in May is the Pomarine Skua  passage and i saw 23 of these excellent birds on the 5th at Dungeness  .

Pomarine Skua.


On the 19th i saw a single Turtle Dove at Grove Ferry , sadly a species in great decline these days , i also saw several Hobby hawking over the reserve.

However my highlight and undoubted bird of the month was seen at Oare on the 22nd , a quite simply stunning Baillon's  Crake  in full view.


Bird of the month : Baillon's Crake.



JUNE  YEAR LIST   :  174  Inc.   1 Lifer 

Another 7 new birds added to the year list this month and the first trip out took me to Dorset on the 1st and getting great views of my 3rd Lifer of the year , Short Toed Eagle , i  have seen numerous STE abroad however this is only the 3rd ever recorded in the UK so a very welcome addition to my British list .

This is a really great site for birding with several Nightjars heard and seen plus Tree Pipit , Dartford Warbler and several Med Gulls seen.

I also self found a Black Kite on the 6th whilst driving along the M2 near Faversham.


My  bird of the month if you haven't already guessed is the Short Toed Eagle.

Short Toed Eagle in Dorset.



JULY   YEAR LIST  :     183  Inc.      2 Lifers

Once again i didn't add many year ticks this month , i only added 9 birds however 2 of these were Lifers and bringing my year list up to 183.


On the 12th i saw 3 Wood Sandpipers at Oare , these are one of my Favourite waders , the 15th saw me rushing up to Breydon Water in Norfolk and seeing my 4th Lifer of the year in the very rare Great Knot distant but decent enough scope views was all i could manage of this bird .

Record shot of the Great Knot.

A real bonus bird from this trip was the quite stunning adult Long Tailed Skua which was on Winterton beach and the real star of the show.

A trip to Oare Marshes on the 19th resulted in seeing the returning Bonaprte's Gull now in full adult plumage.

On the 27th i added my 2nd Lifer of the month and my 5th of the year with a trip to Drayton Basset in the midlands and the bird i saw was an adult summer plumage Pacific Golden Plover , once again only distant but desent scope views were obtained.

Record shot of Pacific Golden Plover.

My last birding trip of the month was at Oare and I was delighted to have self found a Spoonbill .

Spoonbill at Oare Marshes.

However my " Bird of the Month " goes to the adult Long Tailed Skua i saw in Norfolk even though it was not a lifer it's the first adult bird i have seen.

Bird of the Month : Long Tailed Skua.


AUGUST   YEAR LIST    : 191 

I added 8 more year ticks this month and was now up to 191 on my year list , on the 2nd i went to the Isle of Wight and saw the incredible breeding Bee-eaters seeing 3 adult birds in total , their breeding attempt was a complete success.


Bee-Eater .

I also saw the breeding Black Winged Stilts  on the same day in Sussex , 2 adults producing 3 youngsters .

One of three young Black Winged Stilts.

A local twitch on the 16th at Swalecliffe saw me adding a distant Terek Sandpiper onto my year list , this being only my 3rd Terek Sandpiper  ever and my 2nd in Kent.

My last birding trip of the month was on the 29th at Dungeness where i had excellent views of Red Necked Phalarope and a Melodious Warbler  which is only the 2nd one i have seen in the UK and both birds have been at Dungeness.

Melodious Warbler at Dungeness.

However my " Bird of the Month " is the Bee eaters i saw on the Isle of Wight.

Bird of the month : European Bee-eater.


SEPTEMBER   YEAR LIST :  203 Inc.  1 Lifer.

I added 12 year ticks this month including 1 Lifer taking my year list past the 200 mark and up to 203.

I started the month at the Spurn Migration Festival from the 5th to the 7th and what an incredible weekend it was , fantastic birding , Great Company with Mark and Ellis   and a weekend i will never forget , i had fantastic views of one of  my favourite birds , a Wryneck plus other highlights such as  Barred Warbler , Spotted and Pied Flycatchers , possible Sib Lesser Whitethroat ,Whinchat , Curlew Sandpiper , Little Stint and Common Redstart  ,  it's a place i have always wanted to visit and i will take away memories from that weekend that i will always remember.

Stunning Wryneck.

I saw this Devil Goat in the same field as Spot and Pied Fly.

On the 11th i saw a 1st winter Red Breasted Flycatcher at Reculver . Incredibly on the 20th i was heading to Spurn again in the hope of seeing a 1st winter Masked Shrike which i had great scope views of and was very happy to add  to my British list , also a close Jack Snipe from the Canal scrape hide was a bonus as was a Great Grey Shrike in the same hedgerow as the Masked Shrike .

1st winter Masked Shrike .

On the 23rd i saw my 3rd Shrike species in three days with a very close Red Backed Shrike at Seasalter .

Red Backed Shrike at Seasalter.

An early Snow Bunting was added to my year list on the 27th giving great close views at times.


However for  my " Bird of the Month "  i have chosen 2 birds , Wryneck and Masked Shrike as both birds fill me with great memories .


Wryneck from Spurn Mig Fest.

Masked Shrike from Spurn twitch.



OCTOBER  YEAR LIST  :  218  Inc.  2 Lifers.


16 new birds added to the year list this month including 2 Lifers , on the 12th a trip to Norfolk produced my first Lifer of the month and incredibly my 2nd new Shrike species of the year , a quite awesome Steppe Grey Shrike which showed fantastically well .

Steppe Grey Shrike in Norfolk.

I also saw a very obliging Tawny Pipit near Newhaven in  Sussex on the same day.

Tawny Pipit in Sussex.

In what has proven to be the Year of the Shrike for me i added my 5th Shrike species of the year on the 16th at Worth marshes in Kent in the form of an Isabelline Shrike .

Isabelline Shrike . My 5th Shrike species of the Year.


I added both Long Eared and Barn Owl's on the 18th on Sheppy , on the 24th i was heading to Cornwall and was soon adding a stunning Yellow Billed Cuckoo to my Life list plus great views of an American Golden Plover was seen on the same day.

On the 25th i had fantastic views of a adult  Red Breasted Flycatcher near Beachy head in Sussex.

Red Breasted Flycatcher in Sussex.

On the 28th i added a Siberian Stonechat to my year list at Titchfield Haven , good scope views however to far away for photo's .

My " Bird of the Month " goes to the Yellow Billed Cuckoo that i saw in Cornwall.

Record shot of Yellow Billed Cuckoo.


NOVEMBER YEAR LIST :  234 Inc. 2 Lifers .


Another 16 new birds added to my Year list this month including 2 Lifers . On the 1st i travelled up to Brotton in Cleveland and saw the stunning Eastern Crowned Warbler a truly great bird to see and was a very welcome addition to my life list , i also saw 2 Rough Legged Buzzards and several Red Grouse over the nearby moorland .

Lapland Bunting at Swalecliffe.


On the 3rd and 4th  i saw a very confiding Lapland Bunting at Swalecliffe . On the 6th and the  8th Reculver hit a purple patch with great views of a male Desert Wheatear , Shorelark and Little Auk all being seen .

Male Desert Wheatear.

On the 9th i added another great bird to my life list at Blashford lake in Hampshire when i saw the Franklin's Gull as well as seeing the returning Ring Billed Gull in Gosport on the same day.

Franklin's Gull.

Short eared Owl and Hen Harrier were seen on the 15th on Sheppy and a Great Grey Shrike wintering in Chilham performed very well on several dates , a Green winged Teal showed distantly from the ramp at Grove Ferry on the 23rd.

My " Bird of the Month " was very easy to chose this month and goes to the fantastic Eastern Crowned Warbler that i saw in Cleveland.

Eastern Crowned Warbler.


DECEMBER  YEAR LIST :    240 Inc. 1 Lifer .


I added 6 more Year ticks this month bringing my end total to 240 , i also added 1 more Lifer to my life list .

A really enjoyable winters day birding on the 7th at Dungeness produced lots of decent birds including 2 Cattle Egrets , 3 Great White Egrets , Smew , Goosander , Tree Sparrows and 21 Bewick's Swans to name but a few .


1 of 2 Cattle Egrets at Dungeness .

On the 9th i headed to West Yorkshire to see Yorkshire's first ever record of Blyth's Pipit which was also a Lifer for me , only flight views and the crucial call were seen and heard of this very rare Pipit , sadly i never managed any photos of this bird as i had left my camera at home by mistake.

On the 14th i joined the regular birders at Stodmarsh in the early hours to see the Harriers coming out of their roost and was fortunate to see 2  male Hen Harriers , 25+ Marsh Harriers plus other highlights through the morning such as , 2 Kingfishers , Bittern , several Water Rail and 5 Water Pipits.

Kingfisher at Stodmarsh.


My " Bird of the Month " is the Blyth's Pipit that i saw in West Yorkshire , sadly no photo of the bird to show you.

Thanks for reading and i hope you have enjoyed my journey back through 2014 and that some of the birds i have seen and places i have visited bring back some great memories for you to.



Finally here are my " Top 10 Birds of the Year ". i wonder how many would be in your top 10 ?


TOP 10 BIRDS OF 2014

1. EASTERN CROWNED WARBLER

2. YELLOW BILLED CUCKOO

3. SHORT TOED EAGLE 

4. MASKED SHRIKE 

5. MYRTLE WARBLER

6. STEPPE GREY SHRIKE

7. BLYTH'S PIPIT

8.  GREAT KNOT

9.  LONG TAILED SKUA

10.  WRYNECK


 I hope everyone has a Great Birding Year in 2015.