Sunday, 30 December 2012

Review of 2012 and my BIRD OF THE YEAR

Took what will most probably be my last trip of 2012 today.
We headed down to Wallasea Island Essex with the hope of catching up with a male Hen Harrier.
We had views of Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard, Peregrine, Kestrel and Sprawk along with Barn Owl and Short Eared Owl so a bit of a raptor fest but no sign of any Hen Harriers let alone the desired male bird.
Lot's of Corn Bunting about with a couple of Stonechat along with Brent Geese and Redshank.

So the finish line is in site for 2012 and here's my summary.

It's been a great birding year.
I smashed my self imposed year target of 250 birds with 279 recorded for the year following the 238 in 2010 and 242 in 2011.
I saw 37 Lifers this year and visited Scotland for the first time in my life where I ticked both Golden and Sea Eagle along with Black Guillemot, Black Grouse, Crested Tit and Hooded Crow.

The quest took me to Wales too and I have visited over forty different reserves in my search for ticks.

I finally connected with a Hoopoe after three years of dipping when one stayed at Horsey long enough for me to find it.

My life list has been nudged to 312 in my third year of listing.

I witnessed such delights as three different breeds of Redpoll in a single tree at Titchwell
(Lesser, Mealy and Coues's Arctic) and then connected with Suffolk's bird of the year (Hornemann's) to make it four Redpolls this year. (Accepting the Arctic as one on my year count)
Megas included the Short Billed Dowitcher at Lodmoor, The Buff Bellied Pipit in Berkshire , the Dark Eyed Junco in the New Forest with the Spanish Sparrow (Also had LB Dowitcher , YB Warbler and Rose Coloured Starling down here), Pagham's Paddyfield and the Common Yellowthroat in Wales.
Nearer to home I connected with Rainham's Baillon's Crake (How did we all fit in that hide?) and the Desert Wheatear at Abberton.
East Anglia delivered Barred and Booted Warbler along with Red Flanked Bluetail, Red Breasted Flycatcher, LT Skua Nightjar and a Richardson's Canada Goose.
Essex gave up Marsh Warbler and Olive Backed Pipit.
A trip down the Thames gave me a Bonaparte's Gull while Herts was the county for my First White Storks.

I spend a lot of time in Kent and found my first Caspian Gull and Pallas's Warbler there this year along with many other year ticks.

Cambridgeshire was the venue for White Rumped Sandpiper and I travelled to Leicester, Glamorgan and Yorkshire for Ring Necked Duck, Lesser Scaup and American Wigeon.

I picked up good views of Red Tailed and Harris's Hawk escapees along with the Sacred Ibis at Cley.

So with all that said how do you pick the bird of the year?
Do I go with the rarest or maybe the bird that showed best or closest or travelled the most for me to connect with it...or is it the bird I travelled most to see?

No my personal bird of the year is the Montagu's Harrier at Boyton Marsh. My first and a bird I have wanted to see since I can remember. Couple this with the fact that I had a couple of hours alone with the bird as it hunted close to me and it was one of those experiences with nature that doesn't come along that often and it's a BOP and I always like to see them.

As for other wildlife well along with Fox, Rabbit, Red Squirrel,  Stoat, Weasel, Mink, Water Vole, Fallow Deer, Roe Deer, Red Deer, Chinese Water Deer, Muntjac Deer, Dolphin, Porpoise, Seals and Snakes the highlight would have to be the Basking Shark up in Scotland.

The dips this year have included Black Kite, Capercaillie, Leyton's Melodious Warbler, Pacific Golden Plover, Parrot Crossbill, Savi's Warbler, a Two Barred Crossbill reported the same day I was at Lynford, Barking's Tawny Pipit and White Billed Diver.

Best trip would have to be  the three days I enjoyed in Scotland and this will be a place I return to in 2013 for longer.

Targets for 2013 include Dotterel ( another Tarts tick) Ptarmigan and Capercaillie along with Cirl Bunting. All are birds I should see if I put myself in the right place at the right time.
I'd like to think I can add another twenty to my life list in 2013 but don't plan on setting a year list target so I can concentrate on my life list via the odd twitch whilst enjoying some good days out in some new places.

Happy new year to anybody that takes the time to read my scribble on here and here's to a cracking 2013 for all birders.

You might also like to read my thoughts on the chase and the sanity of setting the target in the first place.

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