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I am a keen birder living in Glasgow. I am fascinated by all things avian, and watch birds wherever I happen to be, whether it is my garden, in the borders of which I have seen 31 species, or in the midst of the glorious scenery of the Scottish Highlands. There are always spectacular birds to be seen. And, just when you think you have seen it all, something incredible jumps out at you. That is one of the great joys of birdwatching: there is always something more to be seen.
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2016: A Year to Remember

Posted Saturday 31st December 2016 at 19:46 by Jonathan Mitchell
As the sun sets on another year, one inevitably reflects on the events of the past twelve months. For me, at least, they have been quite remarkable.

I have been a birdwatcher for about five years, but I only really got going just two years ago. 2016 was the year in which I did many of the great things that before I had only read about. Targets and milestones were reached and then smashed again and again and again until I lost count. At the start of the year, I could not even have dreamed how good it was going to be. None of it was planned far in advance, everything just fell into place, one after another.

It was also far easier than I could have anticipated. Less than 12 hours of my year were spent outside of Scotland (and nothing special happened during them). Nowhere I visited was much more than two hours from Glasgow. But, as it turned out, no amount of time could possibly have exhausted the wonders to be found in this small region.

Breeding Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls on Inchcolm, beautiful Puffins in the Firth of Forth, sneaky Cuckoos and majestic Golden Eagles on the Isle of Arran, the incredible spectacle of Bass Rock, and and a graceful Osprey on Loch Lomond; just the very greatest of the great experiences of 2016. No amount of reading could be adequate preparation: each of these natural wonders was jaw-dropping, breathtaking, heart-stopping. After a successful day, I always returned with a particular thought: I must do that again.

The brilliance of this year is clearly revealed by the statistics. At the beginning of 2015, my life list was less than 100 birds. I saw more species than this during 2016 alone! The number of records I compiled absolutely exploded.

It was not even just with the birds that I was remarkably successful. I discovered that I had an interest in plants, from grasses to trees, and derived endless pleasure from the same. On the insect front, a trip to Flanders Moss to see Green Hairstroke resulted in a closer encounter with one than I had imagined. I discovered several species of moth in the garden, including Silver Y, Small Magpie, and the spectacular Poplar Hawkmoth. I also began to identify dragonflies and damselflies. As for fungi, I will never forget finding Gyrodon lividus on Inchcailloch.

As it turns out, 2016 was also an incredible year for the entire country. There was a magnificent flow of rarities, and the year will surely forever be remembered by the words Siberian Accentor.

So, as you look forward to 2017 and the inevitable delights that it will bring, don't forget the year that has just passed. For me, at least, there will never be another quite like it. No matter what the future holds, I will always have the unerasable memories of 2016: A Year Like No Other.
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