My Birding Year
260 species seen this year 188 of them in Sussex added 22 lifers to my list taking me to 322
A good start to the year with a trip to Dungeness,the first lifer was a Hume’s Leaf Warbler,other highlights were Great White Egret, Smew, Bittern,Tree Sparrow and Long-tailed Duck.The Glaucous Gull at Shoreham and the fabulous Grey phalarope at Worthing and a trip to Cliff Pools.
A trip to Staines Reservoir which produced Great Northern Diver, Black-necked and Slav Grebe and Scaup finished the month nicely.
The Month started well, a trip to Suffolk,the highlight of which was the raptor roost at Lakenheath Fen with 20+ Marsh Harriers and 4 Hen Harriers (including 3 Males) coming into roost other highlights included extended views of a Bittern,Common Cranes and Barn Owls.
A trip to Littlehampton saw us having great views of the long staying Kumelins Gull and another Glauc.Trips to Waltham Brooks for the Great Grey Shrike and my only Waxwings of the year in Ipswich and some Snow Buntings at Landguard followed.Another trip to Dungeness meant I eventually caught up with the Penduline Tits but they gave me the runaround!The month was rounded of nicely with trips to the Burgh and Rye Harbour.
Was a Month of little trips, Brooklands in Worthing for lovely views of Little Gulls, Tidemills for Black Redstart,Balcombe for Little Owl ,Pagham for Iceland Gull The best trip though on my third visit was to finally connect with the Hoopoe at Snodland a species I have dipped numerous times before, I wasn’t even annoyed that on the same day one arrive at Climping and sat in the open for hours on end my several quick glimpses were enough!!!Other birds of note for the month were Lesser Spotted Woodpecker, Dartford Warbler, Short-earred Owl in various places!
Started well Seawatching at Seaford a nice flock of 3 male Velvet Scoters through as well as Arctic and Great Skua.A short break in Wales produced some great birds including Osprey,Chough,Black Grouse,Pied Flycatcher,Goshawk,Dipper,Black Guillimot,Tree Pipit and Mealy Redpoll.The rest of the month was largely Seawatching with varying degrees of success, a late phone call from Suffolk on the 27th saw me racing down(within in the Speed limit and obeying all of the rules of the road naturally) to Steyning Sewage Works where a Red-rumped Swallow performed fantastically another bogie bird ticked!!
Great views of Nightingales at Pulborough Brooks started May off well,Pom Day on the 5th of May was largely missed by me though managed to get down to Splash Point Seaford at about 5 o’clock and had 12 Poms through in an hour and a quarter and could only marvel of the talk of 135 through in the Day.As would be expected in May was a busy month with a lot of seawatching,top birds seen were Manx Shearwater,Arctic,Great and Pom Skuas Fulmars,Kittiwakes,Whimbrel Wheatear, and various Waders.
Was a fairly quiet month the main highlight was of course the Short-toed Eagle which I saw on my second attempt,then dipped twice more!!! Though was nice to wander Ashdown Forest seeing plenty of forest birds though didn’t manage a Honey Buzzard!
Involved a couple of fruitless trips to Bough Beech reservoir in search of a Night Heron but Great White Egrets galore made up for it,The highlight of the month though was a trip to Minsmere when I connected with me first ever Collared Pratincole an ordinary looking critter til it flew then WOW stunning aerial manoeuvres looping the loop at high speed twisting and turning all over the place! Brilliant!
Started with a trip to the Oare Marshes the highlights the Bonapartes Gull, Curlew Sandpipers , a large flock of Yellow Wagtails and hundreds of waders, however the undoubted highlight of the month was a day trip to the Isle of Wight to see the breeding Beeaters brilliant views of cracking birds,The good times continued with great views,on the 2nd attempt of the Long-tailed Skua that hung around Selsey for a while,the month finished well with a trip to Dungeness which included Melodious Warbler,2 Wrynecks and Red-necked Phalarope
Was notable for a trip to Hamphire which got me Lesser Yellowlegs and a Red-backed Shrike on the way back at Hayling Island. Several trips to Migration Hotspots were successful, Wryneck, Whinchats, Yellow Wagtails, Groppers and Spot flys featuring well.Of course the best part of September was our awesome trip to Scotland most notable the Isle of Lewis and Harris Whales and Eagles and an awesome ferry trip among the highlights, full story here
Another awesome month Cattle Egret, Merlin,Pom Skua,Tawny Pipit,Barred Warbler,Ring Ouzel,Great Grey Shrike White Winged Black Tern,Red-breasted Flycatcher amongst the Highlights. A great twitch up to East Anglia missing the Little Crake but fantastic views of the Steppe Grey Shrike and Red-necked Grebe made up for that.!
Started with a Gullfest in Hampshire,Franklyns,Yellow-legged and Ring-billed Gull the best. A lovely Firecrest at Pulborogh Brooks,then a trip to North Kent, Desert Wheatear, Snow Bunting,Shorelark and Short-earred Owl the reward.Another raid on East Anglia got me my first Surf Scoter and 2 lovely Male Velvets.The month finished with a trip to Jevington to see the Rough-legged Buzzard.
Didn’t get out much in December but my first trip to Medmerry was productive a cracking Male Hen Harrier, the Black Brant and having 2500 brents flying low over my head made the walk worthwhile a cold evening at Burpham was eventually rewarded with 5 Short-earred Owls flying round our heads.Finally had 2 separate trips to the Pevensy Levels in fruitless attempts to see the Richard's Pipit though the supporting cast of Hen Harriers,Ravens, Short-earred Owls and Marshies eased the Pain.
All in All an awesome birding year the above are the highlights many more good trips and Seawatching sessions that weren’t quite so productive.Big thanks to Gary Mowles, Alastair Gray and Lee Beadell for being good company on some of the trips. Thanks to Bob Self and others of the Seaford Seawatching Crew for their identification skills and sharp eyes and patience.Thanks to the mighty Toj for getting me from A to B so well.Thanks to me better half Margie for putting up with me dragging her all over the countryside to various sewage works,desolate windswept wildernesses, nature reserves,and remote Scottish Islands and remaining cheerful throughout.
Difficult to pick bird of the year though i think Minsmere's Collared Pratincole just nicked it from the Beeaters,Hoopoe,Storm Petrel and various Eagles!
Some Photos from the year mainly poor record shots can be found here
Here's looking forward to 2015