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Top 5 of 2019

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Old Tuesday 24th December 2019, 15:28   #1
ClarkWGriswold
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Top 5 of 2019

I know it’s not over yet, and Nick has covered a lot of this, but what’s your top 5 of 2019?

2019 has thrown up some very decent birds. Arguably my #1 was nailed on very early in the year. As usual I’ve included birding experiences. So here goes:

1. Capercaillie - after a lifetime of trying I finally connected with a female Caper in Abernethy Forest. Big thanks for the advice on this species.

2. Golden Eagle - watched a family of 3 over the hills of Wester Ross. On the same Scottish trip as the Caper so pretty successful.

3. A trip to the dry side of the bridge in April was very productive. Kev and I had 2 lifers in the forms of Citrine Wagtail and Dark Eyed Junco.

4. Fantastic trip to Skomer with my youngest in June. Great to see how enthusiastic he is. Amazing views of Puffins, Chough, Razorbills etc.

5. Spotted Redshank. Don’t often see these in summer plumage but there was a beauty at Goldcliff. Red-necked Phalarope also present on the same day.

A massive bonus has been how well the pup has behaved on our birding trips. If it’s just the two of us he will tolerate me scanning for a good period of time. Not too bad considering he’s not 2 yet. He’s also brilliant company.
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Old Tuesday 24th December 2019, 15:29   #2
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And here’s a pic of my youngest taking photos on Skomer.
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Old Tuesday 24th December 2019, 17:37   #3
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Steller's Eider in Vadso, Norway;
Western Olivaceous Warbler & Red-necked Nightjar in south west Spain;
The whole experience of some brief city park birding in Bangkok;
Little Auk at Abberton Reservoir, Essex.
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Old Tuesday 24th December 2019, 18:31   #4
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Tricky, had to leave some good stuff out, but here they are, in date order -

1) The only non tick of the bunch, makes the cut because it showed just brilliantly, and was a star turn on a great trip - the Strontian Black Duck.

2) I wouldn't necessarily describe myself as a massive fan of wildfowl, but here we are with another duck in the top five (no more after this though) - Baikal Teal at Hornsea.

3) Oh my God, Christchurch new year's day back in '88, nightmare dip, Bustard & chips in-a-basket advertised on a blackboard outside one enterprising pub we passed as we criss-crossed the country roads in vain. Little Bustard near Leeds in August, get in!

4) Wheatears are such charismatic little things, and the one up at Fluke Hall provided that most valuable of lessons: you don't know as much as you thought you did! Eastern Black-eared Wheatear, even wound up being a world tick courtesy of IOC.

5) After a return trip to Cornwall after incomprehensibly stuffing it up while down there on a family autumn half tern holiday - Paddyfield Pipit, seriously?! Nice to bump into Tringbirder while down there too, been a while.

Honourable mentions to Savi's Warbler on Anglesey, local patch Terek Sand and my first Western Bonelli's since the eighties.
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Old Tuesday 24th December 2019, 19:42   #5
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1. Philippine Eagle - easily #1 for the year.

The other 4 in no particular order are:

Whiskered Pitta
Sri Lanka Bay Owl
White-spotted Fantail - my 5000th world bird.
Evening Grosbeak - Finally got one for Pennsylvania.

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Old Tuesday 24th December 2019, 20:12   #6
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Unfortunately no photos. Perhaps that is the leap I make in 2020.

1) Zone-tailed hawk- Lifer in Colorado Bend SP in the Texas hill country, about 3 hours from home. Also notched a lifer black-capped vireo on the same day.

2) Golden-cheeked warbler- Only bird to breed exclusively in Texas. A lifer found on an earlier trip down to the Texas hill country.

3) Black-backed woodpecker- Found on an overnight backpacking trip in Lassen Volcanic NP in California. Great bird that was not very high on my list of expected birds on that trip.

4) American three-toed woodpecker- Seen on a short hike near the continental divide in Colorado. My fourth new woodpecker of the year.

5) Prothonotary warbler- The only bird on the list found close to home at the Fort Worth Nature Center and an absolutely beautiful bird.
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Old Wednesday 25th December 2019, 16:58   #7
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1. White winged black tern. Performing at point blank range after a day of appearing and disappearing at slimbridge. Headed there from ham wall. Got told it had gone. Went home to positive news and headed straight back out. I love terns and the views were unbeatable.

2 also for the unbeatable views. Snow bunting on the blorenge. Twenty minute drive after work. Didn’t even need bins. Just watched it coming right up to us and at one point under my car.

3 collared pratincole at llanelli. The day after everyone else got to see it sat on the mud for ages. Got there for opening. No sign. The hide slowly filled up. Spent a lot of time watching spoonbills and a smew and trying to make the most of that when someone spotted a glimpse of the edge of a head Behind some grass on a ditch. Then it suddenly flew and got to see it in the air at its best before it went from view again.

4 spotted crake at grey lake. Got there for first light. Half 9 or so it shows right in front of the hide. Gorgeous bird.

5. Rough legged buzzard at Wells . Twitching at its easiest. Sat just where people said it would be. Regularly flew around the field. First new bird of prey for me in a few years and a really impressive bird
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Old Thursday 26th December 2019, 02:30   #8
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I don't think any of these are particularly rare in my area but I'm pretty new so I thought they were exciting.

1. Red-breasted Merganser (my former nemesis)
2. Bald Eagle (same day as the mergansers)
3. Cedar Waxwing
4. Double Crested Cormorant
5. Killdeer
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Old Thursday 26th December 2019, 07:56   #9
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I really enjoyed 2019, it had a lot of highlights spread throughout the year and picking a shortlist meant checking through the lot, so I've enjoyed them all over again - well done to the OP! Not all of the highlights were ticks - some were just amazing views: I didn't photograph all of them but seeing the ones I couldn't get pictures of at all was pretty amazing. With a wide range of wildlife interests I'm afraid I have to inflict more than one top 5 on readers.

Birds

1. Brown Booby. After a week of dithering and flat out bad decision making I bit the bullet on the Kynance Cove bird and had fantastic views in sunshine of this brilliant seabird.

2. 115 Northern Bald Ibises. After a long morning of difficulty getting to the right bit of beach views of this massive flock of a very rare bird flying round us were very much appreciated!

3. Pharaoh Eagle Owl. Sitting on a bush close to the road while we were out spotlighting for nocturnal mammals and even allowed photos!

4. Black-throated Thrush. Close views of this stunning adult male at Whipsnade on my second visit were a real joy.

5. Moussier's Redstart. Always wanted to see one of these stunning birds and we had close views of several adult males.


Mammals

1. Fennec Fox. Spotlight views of this fabulous-looking animal were a total delight, it has to be one of the most charismatic beasts in the world. After a week of being beaten to the draw by the rest of the crew I even found the last one myself - yaay!

2. Lesser Egyptian Jerboa. Not rare but another charismatic animal, like a tiny kangaroo - and of course it is the model of the "Desert Rat".

3. African Golden Wolf. I've always liked dogs in general and wolves in particular, so this cryptic species was something I was keen to see having had Golden Jackal in Israel. Facially they seem quite different to me so I can understand why the debate started before the genetics were available. Cracking animal on another of our night-drives.

4. European Beaver. I have seen the Scottish and Devon ones quite a few times but this particular sighting at Loch of the Lowes, a first for Roy, not only did the business by turning up at all but then swam round the loch to feed right in front of the hide we were sitting in - perfect!

5. Orca. Again something I've seen a few times but always distantly. This year a pod of eight in Shetland finally gave me the real close-up Orca experience, absolutely thrilling.


Invertebrates

1. Dark Crimson Underwing. An excellent moth to find in my own garden trap and very much appreciated!

2. Scarlet Tiger. Loads in a quarry at Portland made up a bit for missing the Large Tortoiseshell we were looking for, at least it was a tick of a good-looking moth.

3. Swallowtail. Seen several times before but the first time taking digital photos and they put on a great show at Strumpshaw RSPB while we were there.

4. Southern Migrant Hawker. Fantastic views of about 20 at Oare Marshes including pairs in cop indicate that this attractive dragonfly is consolidating its invasion of the East coast and very nice too!

5. Found my own Vagrant Emperor at Longham Lakes (which is an excellent Odonata site by any standards) in the autumn on a hunch that sightings earlier in the season (including one I dipped when it was seen flying over my head) might mean some late emergence. Didn't quite manage a photo but very satisfying nonetheless.
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Old Thursday 26th December 2019, 10:50   #10
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1. Shoebill
2. Shoebill
3. Shoebill
4. Shoebill
5. Shoebill

With a mention in despatches for Red-chested Owlet and Red-collared Mountain Babbler.
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Old Thursday 26th December 2019, 11:40   #11
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Top 5 2019

Some good stuff their Rich ,my best 5 below

1) Merlin eating it's kill in the Cuckmere
2) Squacco Heron at Pagham
3) Holiday in Uist Eagles, Hen Harriers, Short-eared Owls, Otters etc etc (Fantastic 2 weeks)
4) Pom Skuas going Through Splash point Seaford in the spring
5)All 5 UK Grebes on the same bit of water (Alpha Pool ,Cliffe Pools)

Cheers
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Old Thursday 26th December 2019, 13:14   #12
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Originally Posted by Jeff hopkins View Post
1. Philippine Eagle - easily #1 for the year.

The other 4 in no particular order are:

Whiskered Pitta
Sri Lanka Bay Owl
White-spotted Fantail - my 5000th world bird.
Evening Grosbeak - Finally got one for Pennsylvania.
Where do they go for this now Jeff, presumably more accessible than the three day in and out TAB to the pig hunters camp at Hamut?
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Old Thursday 26th December 2019, 15:17   #13
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Two top 5's

My top 5 are

Javan Banded Pitta - great views in Bali
Green Aracari - seen well in Guyana
Yellow-breasted Antpitta - at Angel Paz's place in Mindo
Laysan Albatross - saw them at colony on Oahu
African Crimson-winged Finch - Atlas mountain in Morocco



Sarah's are

Guianan Cock of the Rock - brightest bird of the year ?
Flame-faced Tanager - a beauty seen at a garden in Mindo
Blood Coloured Woodpecker - near Georgetown in Guyana
Plate-billed Mountain Toucan - near Mindo
Cerulean Kingfisher - a pair displaying on a pool near the hotel on Bali
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Old Thursday 26th December 2019, 15:43   #14
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Originally Posted by dandsblair View Post
My top 5 are

Javan Banded Pitta - great views in Bali
Green Aracari - seen well in Guyana
Yellow-breasted Antpitta - at Angel Paz's place in Mindo
Laysan Albatross - saw them at colony on Oahu
African Crimson-winged Finch - Atlas mountain in Morocco



Sarah's are

Guianan Cock of the Rock - brightest bird of the year ?
Flame-faced Tanager - a beauty seen at a garden in Mindo
Blood Coloured Woodpecker - near Georgetown in Guyana
Plate-billed Mountain Toucan - near Mindo
Cerulean Kingfisher - a pair displaying on a pool near the hotel on Bali
Sarah has photo 4 labelled wrongly David, Tanager instead of Toucan, nice shots.
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Old Thursday 26th December 2019, 19:49   #15
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In the immortal words of Mr Grace «You’ve all done very well»

Best 5 birds of 2019 for me are (in no particular order): 1. Red-backed Shrike. 3 pairs nested within one km of the house this year, surely one of the smartest-looking species in Europe.

2. Rock Partridge. After several years hiking in the local mountains I finally got to hear one calling this June (still haven’t seen one yet though!).

3. Radde’s Accentor. My third visit to Armenia yielded three WP ticks but this handsome passerine gave me most pleasure as I had to work hard to find it, always more rewarding I reckon.

4. Red Kite. I timed it right to make one of my rare visits to the migration watch point by the Rhône south of Geneva on 25 October, seeing over 400 of this graceful raptor flopping slowly and silently south in flocks, nearly 2000 Common Buzzards went through on the same day!

5. Pine Bunting. A real rarity for France and a first for Haute-Savoie, a male graced our garden for three days in November, local twitchers used our house as a hide and nearly caused us to run out of coffee (and bubbly!).
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Old Thursday 26th December 2019, 21:11   #16
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Not sure I have a top 5 from a bird point of view, been a little less than fully motivated this year. Anyway here goes:

1. Little Bustard at Slimbridge - yes, I did see more than just the head.

2. Displaying Black Grouse in Wales - eerie bubbling almost smothered by early morning fog.

3. Finding a Caspian Gull on my local patch, Upton Warren.

4. Seeing two Choughs on the Malverns, albeit sadly not on the Worcestershire side

5. Point blank views of Bittern at Slimbridge.
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Old Friday 27th December 2019, 07:01   #17
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The whole experience of some brief city park birding in Bangkok;

Just back late last night from three weeks of doing just that. Hoping to get round to writing a report before I disappear to Gambia on 7 Jan. Finished off on Christmas Day with a young male Sibe Blue Robin at point blank range for fifteen minutes as I was coming down from the Golden Mountain. Other highlights during the trip were a fantastic Orange-headed Ground Thrush for 2 days in a tiny park just across the road from the Grand Palace, a PG Tips out in the open for 40 mins there too. Finally got to re-acquaint with Pale-legged Leaf for the first time since the dead 'un on St Agnes.

Other top five candidates this year included seeing in New Year 2019 with a fantastic male Desert Wheatear on St Agnes and a first trip to North American soil for seventeen years in May providing a bountiful bonanza of jazzy warblers - though American Bittern got the oiseaux d'or award on that particular trip.

Hermit Thrush on Scilly can't be excluded from any personal top five countdowns, either.
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Old Friday 27th December 2019, 18:08   #18
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Where do they go for this now Jeff, presumably more accessible than the three day in and out TAB to the pig hunters camp at Hamut?
Hi Andy,

There's a population of them in the forest between Manila and Infante. We saw one, and heard two more.

I was asked by the local guide not to be any more specific than that, to protect the birds, since the area is so close to Manila.

JH
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Old Friday 27th December 2019, 21:49   #19
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Always hard to pick just five, but here goes:

1. Rosy Thrush-tanager: In February I went on my first trip to Panama. The trip yielded 210 species, of which 38 were lifers. Bird of the trip was the thrush-tanager, a notorious skulker. I had decent views of two males and was blown away by their fluorescent-pink throats and breasts. Hard to believe that that color exists in nature, excluding flowers.

2. Whimbrel: In May I found one on one of my local patches. This species is extremely rare in the state and represented the first record for Preston County in 20 years.

3. Yellow-crowned Night Heron: Another self-found bird on another of my local patches. The first confirmed record for the state in ten years.

4. Painted Bunting: I had to travel to the eastern panhandle of West Virginia to see this one. Only my third ever male (I saw dozens of females in Texas a few years ago but only one male, and one male in Panama), and I’m still amazed at the crazy combination of bright colors.

5. Mute Swan: Not a particularly rare bird, even in West Virginia, but I found the long-overdue first record of the species for Preston County.

Dave
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Old Saturday 28th December 2019, 14:22   #20
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Well spotted

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Sarah has photo 4 labelled wrongly David, Tanager instead of Toucan, nice shots.
Thanks Andy. Here is the Tanager mentioned and the Albatross
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Old Saturday 28th December 2019, 15:25   #21
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I don't know if I have specific species as highlights, more general birding highlights

#1: Two Snowy Owls, one at close range, at Terrell Island. Not a lifer, but I have struggled to get good lucks at one since my initial lifer almost 20 years ago, either dipping completely or just getting very distant owl lump sightings. Their have been a handful of what I would consider truly magical birding moments in my life, and this was one of them.

#2: Spring Migration at High Cliff State Park. My first spring visit here at this local hotspot was truly phenomenal, while I didn't get the diversity at some more famous spots, I certainly got the experience you would find at Point Pelee or Crane Creek.

#3: Whitefish Point: Even though I am from Michigan, I never managed to hit this hotspot. Birding was super slow most of the time I was there, but a couple of good days resulted in me adding Pacific Loon and Franklin's Gull to my State Checklist, both pretty good birds.

#4: Just generally becoming more active in the local birding clubs

#5: My sole lifers of the year, a Southern Red-backed Vole at Heckrodt, and a Sedge Wren at Shady Lane. The latter was especially nice, as it was the last "regularly occurring" Wren I needed for the ABA area.
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Old Saturday 28th December 2019, 16:34   #22
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Hi Andy,

There's a population of them in the forest between Manila and Infante. We saw one, and heard two more.

I was asked by the local guide not to be any more specific than that, to protect the birds, since the area is so close to Manila.

JH
All much easier these days then I assume, could be a horrible hike in to Hamut when it's wet!
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Old Saturday 28th December 2019, 17:43   #23
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Actually turns out not to be my rarities!

Hi all

I saw some rarities this year, e.g. the long-billed dowitcher at Frampton, but it turns out my favourites were:

1. Regular sightings of barn owls hunting at Upton Warren.
2. Spoonbills at Frampton Marshes.
3. Female Marsh Harrier feeding in the middle of a pool at Ham Walls.
4. Pair of juvenile water rails at Upton Warren.
5. Bitterns booming at Ham Walls.

A great year :)

PS. Sorry the photos came out backwards order!
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Old Saturday 28th December 2019, 17:51   #24
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All much easier these days then I assume, could be a horrible hike in to Hamut when it's wet!
I suppose easy is a relative thing.

The first attempt was a mad climb down boulders in a rocky gully, and after trying for an hour, we only heard the bird. The second bird was so far away we couldn't even attempt to go after it. The third was a muddy scramble in the rain up a hillside into the forest.

The local guide took a picture of us actually looking at the bird. That's me on the right in the pale green shirt. It's hard to see, but I was soaked to the skin - partially with sweat and partially with rain. The thumbnail photo (copyright David Hoddinott) is the actual bird we saw.

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Last edited by Jeff hopkins : Saturday 28th December 2019 at 18:10.
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Old Saturday 28th December 2019, 19:07   #25
andyadcock
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Jeff hopkins View Post
I suppose easy is a relative thing.

The first attempt was a mad climb down boulders in a rocky gully, and after trying for an hour, we only heard the bird. The second bird was so far away we couldn't even attempt to go after it. The third was a muddy scramble in the rain up a hillside into the forest.

The local guide took a picture of us actually looking at the bird. That's me on the right in the pale green shirt. It's hard to see, but I was soaked to the skin - partially with sweat and partially with rain. The thumbnail photo (copyright David Hoddinott) is the actual bird we saw.

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Nice, still nice when you have to work for em a bit eh, no worm bait!
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