Thursday 30 December 2021

Missed in 2021

 As mentioned in my review of 2021 time in the field has been limited meaning my year list is quite low at 241 (as at 27th December). But when I look back at the missing ticks on my year list it has some massive gaps as listed below.

              NB added Dipper after putting this list together whilst twitching the Pacific Diver

I mean what happened? No Whooper Swan! No Black Tern! No Manx Shearwater! No RCP! Very limited coastal trips and no Scotland again.

You get the idea was a bad year!

In terms of rares I have listed what I think are all the reported Life ticks I need (strange word because I don't really need any of them but I'd like them) 

I already regret not going for the Red-necked Stint the Green Warbler and the Two-barred Warbler.

I dipped Tawny Pipit and Eastern sub-alpine Warbler but there wasn't much else I could have chased due to how fast it moved on or how far away it was.

Bufflehead, Sociable Plover and maybe the Kent Eyebrowed Thrush would be on my list if we weren't restricted by Covid lockdowns. I'm pretty sure I'd have had a go at all three anyway and the Varied Thrush got me as close as I've been to twitching off mainland but I managed to hold strong much to the relief of my wallet.

I struggle each year to chase down Cackling and Snow Goose and the Black Scoter is just a bit too far but I'd chase them all if I found myself in the general area for sure.

The above doesn't include the Belted Kingfisher that I still have an eye on....maybe I'll find the time and the motivation before the bird departs.

Wednesday 29 December 2021

Best images of 2021

So I've done a review of the best (or rarest) birds seen in 2021 but this post is about the best birds of 2021 and as always some will be because they are just great to see like Rollers and Bee-eaters and others will be because they showed well and let me get some good images.

Had a wonderful six months with these local Owls

A Water Rail gave me good views in the Valley during lockdown

I enjoyed watching these Wrens set up territory in the valley

The American Herring Gull was by far the most camera pleasing bird of all my new birds

A nice day watching Little Gulls in the spring in Hertfordshire

A proper poser of a Rock Pipit

Two days at Bempton to enjoy the sea birds again

A showy Gropper at Titchwell was a delight

watching a flock of Bee-eaters in Norfolk was a fabulous day out

Had another cracking day out to watch this beautiful Roller in Suffolk

Had some fun in the garden too at times with the Robins always happy to entertain

Another year where we connected with Napolean at Oare

Oare also gave me this encounter with a Cuckoo which was memorable

Had a couple of days where the Sparrowhawks visited the garden again

Not very often the male stays long enough for a picture

This Purple Sandpiper at Titchwell was probably the most obliging bird I saw in 2021

My personal "bird of the year"

Pacific Diver at Port Talbot

I've been itching to try for the Pacific Diver at Port Talbot for a while but circumstances prevented the twitch until yesterday when I collected the Jims and headed down the M4 into Wales. We covered the 200 miles in darkness and it rained for most of the journey as we arrived at first light. We got some advice from another birder on site about where to go to best view the reservoir and a after a short walk we were scoping the water and found the Pacific Diver within seconds as it was in the closest corner to us and showed really well allowing for some images although they are still quite heavily cropped.

I picked up a bonus year tick too when I found a Dipper along the edge of the reservoir but despite seeing the bird several times I was unable to get the Jims on it to their frustration.

So with these two birds I now find my life list has jumped to 426 and my year list to 241.

Still got one eye on the Belted Kingfisher but hoping it settles into a nicer routine than the current muddy walk to line the farmers pocket only to see the bird at great distance. I notice today it's moved further south so hopefully it'll relocate to a place where viewing is easier and closer.

Monday 27 December 2021

Review of the year 2021

Well if I thought 2020 was a strange year then 2021 was every bit as challenging. My wifes care needs are taking more of my time and limiting my options for getting out birding to a point where 2021 saw me lucky if I got more than a day or two a month in the field but having said that we started the year intent on not letting that or Covid prevent us from at least trying to chase a reasonable year list. We started the year still in a national lockdown and remained in a stay local requirement until the end of March so the first three months were really difficult. I started my year list at Lee Valley park and visited a couple of other local areas to try to keep the numbers ticking over but in truth I really missed the coastal outings we'd usually be undertaking at this time of year and of course variety was well down on previous years. The Short-eared Owls that wintered in the local park departed in March but gave me a very welcome distraction through the stay local months.

Short-eared Owl at Gunpowder park Lee Valley 

April came and with it a nervous relaxation of lockdown so we could now travel but whilst many birders had already broken lockdown and seemed to be sharing cars again we kept to the guidelines which meant I was still birding alone but on the very first day the rules were relaxed I set off in search of some excitement which came in the shape of the Devon Mockingbird and the Cornwall American Herring Gull. Two big fat life ticks that I'd been watching and hoping would still be present when the rules allowed me to travel and by mid April I'd bagged another life tick in the form of the White-throated Sparrow in Sussex but at this point I was still travelling alone which was both expensive and less rewarding than sharing the days with the Jims.

Northern Mockingbird in Devon my first lifer of the year after three months of local lockdown

American Herring Gull at Newlyn in Cornwall

White-throated Sparrow in Balcombe for my third new bird of 2021

We nervously shared a car again for the first time in months on 29th April where we enjoyed a trip to Titchwell which was just a joy to be out birding together again and of course Titchwell is a favourite of ours too. Now we had our mojo back and May saw us travelling again with days out at Frampton and Bempton along with dipping Tawny Pipit in Dorset and Eastern Subalpine Warbler at Spurn but the year list was moving again and we were at least out enjoying the hobby together again.

June saw me grabbing another life tick with the River Warbler down in Somerset a bird I saw twice as I returned to take the Jims a few days later. I also picked up three Collared Pratincoles, eight Bee-eaters and a Roller in June in what was a very rewarding month although people were still very nervous with many still wearing masks even outdoors and most keeping a good distant from each other although the site of the bird would usually test peoples resolve to remain distanced. At the end of June we made another long distance twitch back to Bempton hoping that yesterdays Black-browed Albatross would stay for us and it did giving us great views after a long cold and damp wait but has to be my bird of the year and one I never expected I'd see in the UK.

River Warbler in Somerset

My personal bird of the year Black-browed Albatross at Bempton

I almost missed July save twitching the Western Sandpiper at Snettisham I didn't leave the house for one reason or another with my wifes health issues the primary reason keeping me at home.

August saw us make just four trips including getting the Jims a lifer at Frampton with the Black Stork along with a day out at Minsmere and a couple of trips to Oare but the month was otherwise difficult as was September which only saw me make it to Wanstead for a Wryneck otherwise it was just garden birding that kept me going.  September had us twitching again as we headed north for the Long-toed Stint but was otherwise quite dull and uneventful. 

Twitching the Long-toed Stint 

In October I took the Jims to Norfolk to grip back Short-toed Lark on me which was Jims 400th BOU tick and this was followed by a trip to Yorkshire where Jim and I managed to tick the Taiga Flycatcher just before my car died on the return leg and with it any chance of much birding to end the year. The year came to a disappointing close with just a couple of trips with the Jims to Abberton and Wallasea and with the new Omicron variant of Covid 19 running fast through the population it remains to be seen how the new year will pan out but here's hoping and praying we have a better 2022.

Taiga Flycatcher in Yorkshire 

Year list just levelled my worst ever of 239 (my worst ever was 2010 with 239)

Life list now 426 with seven new birds this year

In non birding news 2021 saw us celebrate my parents 60th Wedding anniversary although Covid lockdown prevented a party we made up for it for Dads 80th outside of lockdown later in the year.

Mum and Dad married in 1961

In 2022 I'd like to think there'll be a few new bird opportunities within a reasonable distance and on a personal note I'm expecting my second and third grandchild in the spring with both my daughters in law growing them at the moment. I have my 40th Wedding anniversary around the corner and Mrs A has a big birthday towards the year end too. 

Onwards and upwards and may the new year bring you health and happiness.

NB: I'm posting this on 27th December and still have an eye on the Pacific Diver and Belted Kingfisher but with both being 200 miles away the time getting there and back may not be available to me given my commitments at home but I remain hopeful that a) the birds will stay and b) I will find time.

In addendum: I did manage a trip to Port Talbot for the Pacific Diver and bagged a year tick with Dipper too so the year list has ended on 241. See seperate post for details of the trip.
Pacific Diver at Port Talbot

Wednesday 22 December 2021

Twitching the Walthamstow Dusky Warbler

This morning when the Jims asked me to go and see if we could find the Dusky Warbler at Walthamstow marshes I accepted the challenge. We arrived just after 10am and searched the area the bird was reported to be around yesterday and whilst Jim steaked out the favoured area I walked the whole area finding just a couple of Stonechats of any note. After a couple of hours our enthusiasm was slipping and we decided to head back to the car park. I thought it was worth a look along the hedge line on the car park side of the railway before we left and a short way in I bumped into another birder who said he'd heard the bird in this area so I called the Jims and we sat it out for another hour hearing the bird regularly but it didn't show for a good hour and then gave great views in the bins for all of us. Glad we made the effort in the end as the views were very good. I did have the camera with me but chose to watch the bird and not focus on trying to get any record shots.

This is my 239th bird species of the year so 2021 surprisingly won't go down as my worst year list total (which is 238 in 2010)

A goshawk on a house in Coppermill Lane

Area we found the warbler in 

more wall art

Still got one eye on the Pacific Diver (Port Talbot) and one eye on the Belted Kingfisher (Lancs) but with the car being out of use both may pass me by unfortunately.

Wednesday 15 December 2021

More Essex birds

Dad picked me up this morning and we headed down the A127 to Wallasea Island arriving at 7.30am to find the reserve already open. Scanning from the car park we saw a few Marsh Harriers and a very distant Hen Harrier before starting to walk out to the hide at about 8am. On route we found some very confiding Corn Buntings on the sluice fence and picked up the three Twite as they flushed and flew out onto the marsh. At the hide we found three Spoonbill and watched as a male and two female Marsh Harriers put the vast numbers of waders and wildfowl up time and time again. We'd picked up several Common Buzzard and Kestrels sitting around on the marsh before a male Merlin was found sitting on top of a small bush in the distance.  As we exited the hide I picked up another ringtail Hen Harrier and as it was closer and brighter we managed to get great scope views as it hunted low over the river wall. Surprised not to see any Shorties today but I suppose you can't have everything can you.

The Black Guillemot had been reported again at Gunners Park so we made the short diversion and picked up the bird straight away as we walked up to the sea wall left of the barge pier. This I believe is my first Essex Black Guillemot and I do find the winter plumage quite special too. Lot's of Sanderling and Turnstone entertained on the shore below us and we headed home with the four ticks bagged that take me level with my worst ever year at just 238. Home in time to sort lunch for Suzanne but I did need the small fix of birding for my own well being.

Now can I find a way of getting to Port Talbot whilst that Pacific Diver is still there or will the Belted Kingfisher get pinned down anytime soon? There's also a Snow Goose and a Cackling Goose around that are all life ticks if I could find the time and motivation to go.

Onwards and upwards.

record shot of my first Essex Black Guillemot (12th record for Essex)

Wish the Twite had posed like the Corn Buntings

Sunday 12 December 2021

At last another year tick

At last I managed a few hours away to catch a year tick. I haven't been out since the trip to Abberton a few weeks ago but when the Jim's asked if I fancied a couple of hours at KGV I found the motivation to agree and within an hour we were on the banks of the reservoir with a small group of nine others looking for yesterdays Red-necked Grebe.

The large crowd ...12 of us in all and that's a large crowd for KGV

We scoped the south basin finding three Great Crested Grebes and three Little Grebes before a smart looking Slav Grebe popped up close to the dabchicks. With no joy looking for the Red-neck we walked on and eventually found the Great-northern Diver the Jims needed for a late year tick. Next we ticked Harry, Neville and Stuart along with a few other locals. As we got back to the towers we scoped again and found a Black-necked Grebe in the distance before getting the scope on a sleeping Grebe that at first I had put down as just another Great-crested Grebe until a Coot swam by and made me rethink as it looked small next to the Coot. I put the Jims on it and eventually it lifted its head and revealed itself to be the fifth Grebe of the morning as a Red-necked Grebe and at last my year list was on the move again.

I must admit I had an eye on the Pacific Diver in Port Talbot but being 200 miles away and reports saying No access I decided to wait on further news of access. A few birders got into the reservoir this morning before security arrived to police the area and escort visitors off site so I was pleased I hadn't made the long trip. Hopefully the bird will stay and access arrangements can be made at which time I'll rethink the twitch.

Year list 234 and four short of my worst listing year of 238.

I'm still hoping I can get a day or two out before the year end and chase down another four ticks with the likes of Whooper Swan, Bewick's Swan, Hen Harrier, Merlin, Tundra and Taiga Bean Geese, Red-crested Pochard and even a wintering Barred Warbler in Norfolk giving me a little hope.

Sunday 14 November 2021

Year list top targets

Having looked at what Bubo listing thinks of my top life tick targets I thought I'd run a year list target report too.

Having run the report it highlights some relatively easy targets I should still connect with like Whooper Swan, Merlin, Hen Harrier etc but also several summer migrants that I have clearly missed now like Wood Warbler, Black Tern and Roseate Tern.

It also names a few residents that I have failed to see mainly due to lack of travel in this strange post lockdown year. These misses include Dipper, Manx Shearwater, Red Grouse, Black Guillemot, Hooded Crow and Willow Tit.

My car died on the return leg from the Taiga Flycatcher so I'm in the process of sourcing new wheels which is holding me back a bit but I hope to be able to get out and about and close the year by adding a few of these targets to take my year list above that lowest ever of 238.

Some of these missing birds require some travel which I hope to still enjoy if possible.

Abberton alone currently holds Bewick's Swan, Red Crested Pochard and Red-necked Grebe which I failed to find on my last visit but haven't ruled out another go.

Whooper Swan, Hen Harrier and Merlin are all birds I usually stumble upon during my winter days out with visits to Stiffkey, Wallasea and Capel Fleet all on the cards before Xmas.

So the above six are my main targets to get me above that pointless 238 lowest year target and anything else I stumble on between now and the year end will help.

Onwards and upwards.

Wednesday 10 November 2021

Year list targets at Abberton

We had considered a trip to Abberton yesterday but circumstance meant we left it to this morning and arrived in wet grey overcast conditions with very poor visibility which is far from ideal when scoping the vast reservoirs.

We started at Layer Breton and scanned the hundreds of ducks there to reveal that most were Tufted with lot's of Shoveler and Pochard in the mix plus small numbers of Goldeneye. We found the Teal/Baikal hybrid and a few Teal too. Greylags and Egyptian Geese continue to increase in numbers and a Great Egret flew low across the reservoir before we moved off towards Layer de le Haye causeway. On the way we noticed eight Catte Egrets feeding in the cow field by Garr farm and at the causeway we scanned through the murk and mist to find more Tufted and Teal plus lots of Great-crested Grebes and a possible Red-necked Grebe but it remained too far out in the murk to ID for sure. Two Great Egrets, Goosander, Grey Wagtail, Lapwing, Redshank and several Blackwits made up the best of the rest before we left for Wigborough bay.

Cattle Egret

Baikal/Teal Hybrid at Abberton

At the hide we were at least covered from the drizzle but it remained difficult to scan through the mist. We failed to see any Bewick's Swan or Red-crested Pochard which I had hoped would give me year ticks today but the bay held lots of Pintail and Mute Swans. On the banks were a flock of Lapwing which also held a couple of Dunlin and on the far bank our third Great Egret of the day. We heard that yesterdays Long-tailed Duck was now showing close to the causeway so set off to look for it only to find it had now flown to the far side of the reservoir near the pumping station. This was now looking like a washout in terms of year ticks but we soldiered on walking round to island hide. Thankfully Paul W was in the hide and had picked up the Long-tailed Duck by the pump house with several Goldeneye and with his help we managed to finally connect with a year tick. I then spotted four Slav Grebes which were again quite distant and another three Great White Egrets before we set off hoping to get home to see England beat New Zealand but I guess when it's not your day.......It's really not your day.

Year list now 233 and only five away from that worst ever total I'm now chasing down.

Sunday 7 November 2021

Taiga Flycatcher at Flamborough

I missed last years Taiga Flycatcher that spent four days in Durham due to Covid travel restrictions so was excited to see another turn up at Flamborough on 16th October but sadly the bird was missing the next day so the twitch was called off but then the bird was refound on 4th November at South Landings Flamborough and when it was still there on the Friday I called Jim and arranged to go first thing Saturday. We stopped at North Caves on the way up and year ticked Green-winged Teal and as we left North caves the news from Flamborough was negative so we changed plans and decided to finally visit the long staying White-tailed Plover at Blacktoft Sands. On arrival we parked up and walked down to Xerox hide where the Plover was busy feeding in full view with some Redshank and Dunlin. Whilst admiring our second White-tailed Plover (1st at Rainham in 2010) Jim got news that the Taiga Flycatcher had been refound at Flamborough so we returned to the car and made haste arriving at South Landings car park at about 11am. A walk of about 50 yards followed before we found a small group of birders admiring a Red-flanked Bluetail so with some directions from the crowd we too were soon admiring the little cracker.

Green-winged Teal at North Caves

White-tailed Plover at Balcktoft Sands

Further along the path another group where searching for the mega that we'd made the trip to see and itwasn't long before I'd got my eyes on it in the canopy. It performed quite well but remained busy and high in the canopy all the time we were there but was heard calling several times. A true mega with just three previous accepted records. The first in 2003 was also at Flamborough with another on Shetland that year too. The last accepted record was on Shetland in 2009 and of course the Durham bird last year should be accepted making this years bird Britains fifth.

Taiga Flycatcher at South Landings Flamborough

On the journey home we had car trouble requiring a Greenflag rescue that saw us get home at 2.30am almost 22 hours after leaving home. The car will need attention, maybe even replacement but the tick will live long in the memory for sure.

BOU (mainland only) list is now 425 (includes Black-eared Wheatear that's still pending)

Year list now 232 and just six short of that worst year ever that I'm trying to avoid if possible. 

Tuesday 2 November 2021

Larking about in Norfolk for Jims 400

At the start of this year I made a commitment to help my brother Jim get through the 400 BOU tick barrier and although on paper he got there with the Long-toed Stint he has one bird on that list which is yet to be official accepted (the Black-eared Wheatear). so when a Greater Short-toed Lark was reported in Norfolk I watched it with intent until yesterday when my first opportunity to travel came along. A call to notify the Jims of my intent had them ready to go at 5.30am and we set off hoping the bird had stayed overnight.

The journey north was horrendous with a closure to the M11 diverting us across the A120 we were forced to travel up the much slower A12 to West Runton and what should have taken just over two hours took almost four hours but on route we had atleast had the birds continued presence confirmed. Arriving at the small car park and eventually sorting the confusing daily parking fee we walked the short distance to a small gathering of birders. I saw the Short-toed Lark straight away but it flew before I could get the Jims on it. The bird returned and this time we all managed to get good scope views and Jim had finally got his 400th UK mainland tick. A quick high five and we were back enjoying the bird as it ran around feeding with a few Skylarks and some Linnets.

The Greater Short-toed Lark was always a little too far for anything other than a record shot

Moving on we decided to head for Holkham and see if we could find the Shorelarks there for another year tick stopping on route for a short sea watch at Cley. We ticked Bonxie at Cley as three flew by in the 40minutes on site. Also noted Gannets, Razorbill, Guillemot, Knot, Brent Geese, Teal and Wigeon during our stay. At Holkham we again added to the estates profit pot with our parking fee and walked out to the roped off area of beach to search for the four Shorelarks reported to be there. It didn't take long to find them and although they remained quite distance the scope views were good and they're always a great bird to see and they nudged the pointless year list to 228 leaving me just ten short of my worst year totals.

Shorelark hiding at Holkham

Pinks at Holkham

Onwards and upwards and congratulations Jim on the first target reached let's get  to 450.

Sunday 31 October 2021

Life ticks: Top targets

I thought I'd run a list of my top targets (life ticks) according to Bubo listing and it produced the following results in order of what is considered the easiest tick based on the fact that more listers on Bubo have seen this species. I've added a little data to each to make for a more interesting blog post.


44% of people that keep a British list on Bubo have reported that they've seen Snow Geese but only around a third have added any detail with regards to date and place of their sightings. I too have seen Snow Geese but nothing considered or indeed accepted as of truly wild origin.

Snow Geese are reported annually and nothing but a winter visitor would be expected yet some have ticks listed in June/July and August. Some listers even put "escape" or "feral" next to their listing which I have no problem with as each list is the listers own record and I suppose better to list it as escaped or feral if that's what it is but for me I try to list only BBRC accepted records. The bird sits in category AC2E* with the BOU meaning it is recorded as A: OF TRULY WILD ORIGIN  C2: Species with established populations resulting from introduction by man. E*: Basically escapees but the E for escaped and the E* for those that have been known to breed in the wild from these escaped birds that are still not considered self sustaining. 

People on Bubo have listed birds as local to me as Lee Valley and Abberton and I guess with the bird being accepted as category C2 these could be listed in the same way many list Greylag Geese in this category whilst I'm lucky enough to have seen genuine migratory birds in the highlands. Ticking a genuine cat A Snow Goose is not as easy as the "my targets" would have me believe.


This according to Bubo is my next easiest tick. I've dipped a couple, one in my home county of Essex and one this year down in Dorset so I'm trying but again it's a more difficult tick than the stats suggest.

Only 31% or 673 of the 2040 listers on Bubo have ticked Tawny Pipit so I'm in good company with the other 69% of listers that use the site. In the last decade which is the timeline that interests me most Tawny Pipit has been ticked by no fewer than 119 people with most as expected spring vagrants in April and May and again as autumn vagrants in Sept/Oct with the odd ticks in Nov/Dec and a single tick for January. So I can say that my best chance is in the four main migratory months and that the best areas to encounter a Tawny Pipit would appear to be on the south or east coasts. BBRC records show Tawny pipit to be annual vagrants to the UK with c6 records per year in the last decade. Records between 2009/2019 show the islands have a good share: Scilly 8 Shetland 2 Fair Isle 2 Orkney 4 South Uist 1. Also a record on the Isle of Wight. As for the mainland no fewer than fourteen counties have accepted records including my dipped bird at Barking Creekmouth. The best county for records is East Yorkshire followed closely by Norfolk, Cornwall and Suffolk although Kent and Dorset aren't far behind and Beachy Head in East Sussex has three records that I can see in this period. Birds seem to move on quickly which adds to the difficulty catching up with one but I should get one or two chances a year for a  mainland twitch so look forward to adding this to "the list|" in the near future.


Listed by 29% of all Bubo listers. The first dated tick is 1997 in a West Yorkshire gravel pit followed by another two listers ticking in Yorkshire in 2000.(these three before the first accepted record) The first UK twitchable bird arrived in 2007 when the first record was accepted in Yorkshire along with other birds in Pembrokeshire and Cornwall. 276 listers connected in 2007 which means 45% of all listers had their first in 2007. 2008  saw 37 other ticks in Yorkshire and Pembs. In terms of accepted records since and including 2007 we have a total of 18 accepted records 10 of which are from Cornwall with Pembrokeshire holding three records from 2007/08/09. and Yorkshire, Northumberland, Gloucestershire, Devon and Shetland all holding one record each. The Cornwall bird seems to be a returning bird but reported much less and as such makes connecting with it harder as it's six hours from home. Maybe I'll get lucky one year holidaying in an area one gets reported but I can't see me making a long drive to scan the sea for a distant diver any time soon. (but never say never)


Another bird I've dipped as I tried for the Rye harbour bird of 2018. Only 27% of listers have seen a Tereks Sandpiper so again I'm in good company having not seen one of these. The first recorded tick on Bubo is at Minsmere in 1972.  A two day bird at Pagham in 2015 was an obvious missed opportunity to connect and a two day bird in Lincs during 2014 another miss. Rye saw another one day bird in 2013 and Yorkshire had a three day bird in 2011.  The first accepted record dates back to 1951. In the last decade we've seen no fewer than 23 accepted records with most being one or two day stayers with the longest stayer a bird in 2015 that was seen over six days in Norfolk but the bird was in an area with no public access so not twitchable. Terek Sandpiper is a bird that gives you less than one chance a year to see and stays for just a day or two so remains high on my wanted list way higher than Snow Goose and Pacific Diver for sure despite the data from Bubo target lists. 


Seen by 558 listers on Bubo (27%) with 32 feeling they don't need to provide dates and places for their sighting which is fine as it's their list but frustrating when looking at this data. First recorded in 1822 there have been many records since but I'll focus here again on the last decade as that's where my most realistic chances of connecting have been as that's when I really started thinking of building a life list. As for bubo the first dated tick is 1990 in Inverness. The only twitchable bird in the last decade was the one that was being supplied with fresh fish encouraging it to stay in Yorkshire throughout December of 2013 and this bird accounts for around 8% of all ticks for the species on bubo in a year that saw no fewer than nine records but all bar two in Scotland and the islands. I still kick myself today that I didn't make the effort to see the Yorkshire bird but hope that another will turn up in the next few years maybe even closer to home like the 1999 bird that spent almost all of December in Suffolk. 


Listed on bubo by 541 people. Despite listers on Bubo having records dated 1900/1950 and 1967 there is no official record for any of these dates. The first record accepted in the UK dates back to 1891. The first true dated record I can find that relates to Bubo listers is the bird on Scilly of 1976 with five people ticking that bird. Another lister has a Yorkshire bird ticked that hasn't been accepted from 1982 and another lister has a Grampian bird from 1986 that wasn't submitted/accepted. Another seems to have the wrong date of 1987 on a bird seen by 31 other listers and accepted by BBRC. Three listers have a 1994 bird/birds that are not accepted records and another has an unaccepted record from 1996.  A bird spent two days on Scilly in 1998 and this allowed 16 people to tick it. Ten people then list unaccepted records until the next accepted record in 2003 when 23% of all listers connected. Even in 2003 a couple of people have northern birds ticked that were never accepted whilst only one lister managed to get the Bardsey Island bird of the same year. A bird in Grimsby in 2004 was a long staying crowd pleaser until a Sparrowhawk took it but not before 56 Bubo listers had ticked it and another in Cornwall was also ticked by 11 listers. Five listers have ticked 2005 birds which I suppose could be them getting dates mixed up. Fourteen people listed the Scilly bird of 2006 which spent two weeks on the island and nobody has listed the two other accepted records of 2006 from London and the Highlands.49 listers saw the 2007 Bingley bird and somebody ticked an unaccepted bird on Scilly. 2008/09 sees another six unaccepted ticks before the Exminster bird of 2010 allowed another 41 listers to finally connect although again a couple of listers have birds from 2011 and 2012 that show no accepted records.  Four listers got the 2014 Scilly bird and there's only been one other record since then which was on Lundy in 2018 which nobody ticked. Since 2014 ten listers have ticked birds that don't relate to any accepted records making American Robin one of the most overclaimed ticks I can find and I find it hard to work out why but I'll do a bit more work on it and try to understand the issue better. In the last decade since my real listing days started there have been no twitchable birds which explains why I haven't connected to date. I am also well aware that many people will have seen the accepted records and aren't using Bubo to keep their records.


Like the American Robin 541 listers have ticked Bufflehead with a few more happy to include date and place details (only 24 haven't). Again I noted many Bubo listers with ticks against unaccepted records. First accepted in 1920 there have been 20 records accepted since but only four in the last decade. The 2010 Dorset bird allowed 81 listers to tick it and in 2011 Fourteen listers connected with a bird in Cornwall. The Cornwall bird lingered into 2012 and another was seen in Lincolnshire also giving a few new listers a chance to tick the species. From 2013 onwards there is just one record on Orkney which nobody has ticked but 49 listers have since ticked the bird with the majority hoping their 2020/21 records will be accepted. (20 listers have ticked birds from 2013 to 2019 that have not been accepted)


First recorded in the UK in 1864 there have been 22 records in total although only seven of these records are mainland birds and only five in the last decade with just one mainland record being a bird being found dead in Devon. The most recent twitchable mainland bird was in Lincs in 2006. As for listing stats on Bubo, 37 chose not to share their dates but luckily 492 have provided that detail for me to look at. Although most sightings are on Scilly or the northern Isles the few mainland records account for a majority of the ticks. With nothing twitchable in the last decade I haven't yet had a real chance to connect with a Sora.


First seen in the UK  in 1955 and with over eighty records since this bird doesn't appear too rare and yet it's ticked by only 509 of Bubo's 2014 life listers. In the last decade records have been limited with just six records accepted and three being twitchable although distant (Scotland/Cornwall and Devon) at a time my birding was self limited to two hours drive for the most part, a rule I've had to relax in the search for life ticks and I guess may have to be relaxed further if I am to finally connect with this target.


First accepted record dates back to c1860 and the last accepted record is from 2008 although I'm sure last years Cornwall bird will be accepted and would be on my list if not for Covid travel restrictions. In all the UK boasts 50 accepted records (51 with last years bird) and although none have occurred in the last decade there are a couple of noteables for me with one at Rainham in 2005 and another at Old Hall Marsh in Essex in 2001 with the Rainham bird being present for most of December its a missed opportunity for sure along with the Covid restricted bird.

So these are my top targets according to Bubo listing and it's made for an interesting (for me anyway) reflection which highlighted how diluted the list totals are in general and that a look behind the top end stats was worthwhile.

If this was a question of most wanted then that would be a different list for sure with such treasures as Varied Thrush and Siberian Rubythroat topping that list but that's perhaps for another rainy day.


I had a decent visit to Abberton on Friday. As winter approaches the duck numbers increase and there's always the chance of finding something odd among them. 

I found four Cattle Egret in the cow field before getting to the causeway and with the scope up I scanned the ducks which are mostly Tufted and Pochard with smaller numbers of Gadwall, Teal, Mallard and Shoveler. There's lot's of Great Crested Grebes, Geese and Swans too along with the odd escapee or strange looking hybrid.
Nothing stood out despite reports of some Red-crested Pochard being present which I still need for a pointless year tick. From the main causeway at LDLH I picked out lots of Pintail and six Goosander before moving my attention to waders. A move to Wigborough bay added to the wader count which now included Lapwings, Golden Plover, Blackwits, Dunlin, Redshank and several Ruff. A Fox was a strange site as it walked through the Lapwings without putting them up.

Two of the four Cattle Egrets

Fox walking through Lapwings at Wigborough bay


Great White Egret

Great White

Great Egret.....We dropped the white when we adopted IOU names 

Great Egret

An enjoyable visit and a nice little fix to take my mind off all the images coming through of the Varied Thrush on Papa Westray which is unfortunately way out of my twitching zone and budget.

I'm still looking for those elusive year ticks to prevent me setting a new low to my year listing totals.