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How's your 2019 gone? (1 Viewer)

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
... a whopping 1 to my Buenos Aires list... I could probably get out to the local spots more, there have been at least 10 or so possible ticks reported over the year that I know of and I've not gone after any of them.

Having read through this thread, then written the above, I became newly motivated for local listing/birding. I started paying more attention to bird reports. I have visited a couple of parks and stakeouts that I'd never gotten around to. I've been target birding at the main reserves more. And most importantly I have just gotten out a lot more.

The result thus far is 9 new birds for my Buenos Aires list in 3 weeks, quite a bit of bicycling to get around, and a couple new neighborhoods seen!

Unfortunately I've now gotten through the handful of stakeouts and the lowest hanging fruit, and it's going to be harder going from here.
 

Xenospiza

Distracted
Supporter
"Home"
In February, Tengmalm's Owl was only my second lifer in Germany ever.
Also one lifer in the Netherlands this year (Upcher's Warbler) and some nice vagrants. Can't really complain with my Dutch ticks: Puffin, Grey-headed Lapwing, Western Sandpiper and White-throated Sparrow. Honorable mention goes to my 2nd Dusky Thrush.
My local patch was OK: Avocet (11 birds 200 km inland – on a foggy day with lots of waders moving through), Tawny Pipit, Lapland Bunting and White-headed Long-tailed Tit were new. But autumn had a way of being better during the week and I missed out completely on the usual Wood Pigeons.

"Away"
Started the year in Oman which was an excellent trip for owls, but all in 2018: only Crab Plover in 2019.
In April-May I revisited Northeast India, with Blyth's Tragopan as the highlight and quite a few other great birds (Gould's Shortwing probably best of the rest).
September-October in the Tanzanian Eastern Arc brought lots of new stuff, with another chicken topping the bill: Udzungwa Forest Partridge. Seeing two immature Uluguru Bushshrikes was fun if only because hardly anyone knows what they look like (not in any book)!
 

opisska

Jan Ebr
Czech Republic
I have a good data source to respond to this kind of a question with one caveat: we define, out of sheer convenience in collecting the data, the year as the set of trips that ended within it, so all our regular Christmas/New Year trips count to the next year, even if the majority of trip happened in the previous one. Just think of me as of someone who has a calendar in which the year starts on December 20, would ya? As a benefit, I can summarize this year already now, as the upcoming trip to Oman counts as 2020.

In this approach, we have kept records since we started birding at the end of 2011. Strictly speaking, these records are of birds photographed by either of us, but we have only 16 more species on "not photographed but seen/heard" and only 3 birds have been seen by my wife and not me, so these are rounding errors. In this metric, 2019 has been the 3rd best year ever with 248 new species. Ahead of it are only 2012 with 265 - our first year of real birding when we were discovering the common birds of our country (in all years before we collected only 133 species together, so we were lacking things like yellowhammers!) - and 2018 with 486, which is however caused singularly by the Africa trip, which in itself would make for the best year ever at 303!

So 248 lifers in a year is not that much, why aren't we getting "better"? Well first of all we still suck as much as we have ever :) Secondly, we have focused quite a bit on WP birding recently, which does not contribute that much to worldwide lifers, since you are looking for a small amount of species - this year we made trips to Israel, Georgia/Armenia, Canary Islands and Spain, collecting only 32 lifers over almost five weeks of birding total ... but also reaching the 1st and the 3rd place in the Czech WP listing competition, so there is that.

Another thing is that the number of places where we can "open as a box of chocolates" - that is areas where we never birded and thus most species are new to us - is dwindling and we have also somehow ended up really visiting mostly destinations where we already new a lot of the species from before this year. Thus our trip to SW USA had 192 species but only lifers and the one to Ecuador had 126 lifers out of 208 species total. My short pre-conference jaunt into Minnesota brought me only 22 lifers - and only 85 species total, as July was kinda dead in these corners and while I have spent most of September in Chile, I only had two days off and during those met just one new species, as I have been to this part of the Earth countless times before. I also got pneumonia while I was there which knocked me off for almost a month and precluded a mildly planned autumn UK rarity trip.
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
Tengmalm’s, Upcher’s, GH Lapwing and and Western Sand + Western Tragopan, Gould ‘s Shortwing and an unillustrated shrike. That’s a white hot set!
 

mjh73

Well-known member
Australia
My birding year got off to a good start with a lifer - a twitchable Eastern Yellow Wagtail not too far from home on 1st of January (it had been around for a few days, this was my first chance to see it).

In March I tagged along with Pash, another birdforum member, for 1 week of his 3 week birding trip in Vietnam, my first 'proper' Asia trip having only done a few days in Singapore (with a side trip to Panti) previously last year.

Joining from the start in Hanoi by the time I left the group at Da Nang I'd added 166 species to my newly minted Vietnam list, 124 of these being lifers. Hard to pick a bird highlight. Great views of a tiny Mountain Scops Owl flexing every muscle in it's body to projects it's call across Bach Ma NP is up there, as is great and prolonged views of Sooty Babbler, connecting with Grey Laughingthrush in Tam Dao, seeing Red-collared Woodpecker and a pair of Pied Falconet (Cuc Phuong), seeing my first Forktail (Slaty-backed)..... I could go on, but I'll end up listing most of what we saw :-O

Vietnam itself was an amazing place (so long as someone else is driving you around!) Great food, friendly people, stunning scenery, insane traffic in Hanoi, and amazing birds in the parks we visited. I travelled on the sleeper train from Da Nang back to Hanoi on the way home, which was interesting too. Cheap, clean and comfortable enough and a cool way to enter Hanoi, rattling past the outside of shops down a laneway barely the trains width.

After that a relatively quiet year back in Oz.

Took advantage of the Southern Fulmar influx.
Finally connected with Lewin's Rail.
Picked up another 4 lifers (Green Catbird, Aus Longrunner, Regent Bowerbird and Albert's Lyrebird) in Lamington NP, not long before bushfires came through :(

Last two lifers for the year were paid for by my employer! My day job is as a technical manager for a multinational consultancy, but I occasionally help our ecology team out with bird stuff as I have dual qualifications. I got two 1 week desert fieldwork gigs in different parts of South Australia and picked up Slender-billed Thornbill and Thick-billed Grasswren. And paid overtime to boot!

133 world lifers all up, and 9 additions for my Australian list.
Unless something radical happens between now and the end of the year that puts me on World List of 1314, 525 on my Australia list.
 

Nutcracker

Stop Brexit!
My birding year got off to a good start with a lifer - a twitchable Eastern Yellow Wagtail not too far from home
Pretty incredible that that's exactly how my birding year has ended . . . same species, on the opposite side of the world! :eek!: :-O
 

Britseye

Well-known member
Ordered it, second hand copy £7.12. Bargain!

Thanks John, and Britseye, it looks a great read actually.

Hi Nick

Delayed response from me due to the fact I don't follow Birdforum while I'm out the country. Did you find the story about Wilfred Thesiger? Mark's first book Loneliness and Time - a History of British Travel Writing in the Twentieth Century contains a full chapter on this larger than life character who invited Cocker to his Norfolk mansion to reminisce about his travels in Africa and Iraq. In Tales of a Tribe he recounts how he was sat in the drawing room with his notebook and pencil while this imposing figure gushed forth on all manner of subjects, including a series of adventures he'd had while travelling with a tribe of African pygmies. "And you know, young man, what was remarkable about these people was that they could talk about the exact same subject continuously for THREE WHOLE DAYS...three whole days, imagine that, young man." Feeling he ought to show some deference to what was presented to him as a fact that he ought jolly well to be impressed by, Mark looks up and nods agreement 'Yes, sir. Amazing.'

At the same time he's thinking to himself; 'three days talking about one subject...JUST three days! I went to Nepal with my mate last winter and we talked birds for THREE WHOLE MONTHS non stop!
 

Jonny721

Well-known member
After a fairly quiet 2018 I decided to make a more concerted effort to target lifers in 2019, starting the year on 345, as well as setting myself a rough yearlisting target of 250 (previous highest being 238). Well in terms of lifers the year has been a big success with 19 in total, bumping my British list up to 364. I even managed to get at least one tick in every month of the year:

January - Dusky Warbler (Kingsbury Water Park)
February - Arctic Redpoll (Sculthorpe Moor)
March - Great Spotted Cuckoo (Ventnor)
April - Savi's Warbler (Attenborough NR)
May - Red-rumped Swallow (Grimsbury Reservoir), Stilt Sandpiper (Lunt Meadows)
June - Black-headed Bunting (Flamborough), Black Duck (Strontian), Black-winged Pratincole (Frampton)
July - Gull-billed Tern (Thurstaton)
August - Little Bustard (Mickletown Ings)
September - Eastern Black-eared Wheatear (Fluke Hall)
October - Red-eyed Vireo (Spurn), Arctic Warbler (Spurn), Little Auk (Flamborough)
November - Stejneger's Stonechat (Spurn), Hume's Warbler (Spurn), Cackling Goose (Mersehead)
December - Eastern Yellow Wagtail (Prestwick Carr)

The yearlist also exceed expectations and currently stands on 274, I will have to try and find 1 more in this last week to round it up nicely! On a more local level I had 5 Fylde lifers which is a good haul nowadays - Egyptian Goose, Hobby, Pectoral Sandpiper and Purple Heron in addition to the aforementioned EBE-Wheatear, leaving me on 247.

Away from birds it was a slightly more sedate year for my other main interests, although I still added 2 of my most wanted butterflies with Chequered Skipper in Scotland and Swallowtail in Norfolk, the latter definitely one of the year's highlights! Three mammal lifers were headlined by Beaver in Tayside along with Whiskered and Serotine Bats from work.
 

MKinHK

Mike Kilburn
Hong Kong
2019 has been a monster year - and a major contender for my best ever year of birding since I started in the mid 1980s! As its all written up elsewhere on BirdForum I'll try to add links for easy navigation. where there is no link the write up will be on my San Tin patch thread

Stealing Opisska's technique of including trips that started in one year and finished in the next I have a nice excuse to start with my trip to Japan for Steller's Sea Eagles and a range of other great winter and Japanese endemic birds plus the wonderful Japanese Serow at the famous snow monkey valley near Nagano. Special mention to my dip of the year - Solitary Snipe - of which I managed untickable views in Hokkaido in late Dec 2018 AND at Karuizawa in early January 2019.

An outstanding weekend on my patch in late January produced an astonishing record of a Barred Cuckoo Dove at San Tin fishponds, a species that absolutely should not be on fishponds, and of which there are less than ten Hong Kong records. This was followed by an even rarer Blunt-winged Warbler the day after, which I was delighted to finally pin down with my first ever use of call recording and sonograms, and my first non-trapped Manchurian Reed Warbler the day after that! I also received an extra bonus from 2018 when I discovered from reviewing photos that I'd actually had two Pallas's Reed Buntings at San Tin rather than one!

In February I twitched Hong Kong's first Fire-capped Tit at Kadoorie Farm - thereby adding to my old patch list, and for the first time in more than a decade my ageing team won the 2019 Hong Kong Big Bird Race - with a great total of 158 species - and a margin of ten species over our nearest rivals!

A flying visit to Beijing in March included a wonderful interlude in one of the urban parks with Dusky, Naumann's and Red-throated Thrushes all coming so close that I didn't need the binoculars I hadn't packed! My other highlight - and the video moment of the year was capturing an oversexed and stunningly plumaged male Siberian Rubythroat singing itself into a frenzy before chasing off after its rival.

I then had an amazing period between 27th March and 4th April when I added two Hong Kong firsts - a leucocephalus Western Yellow Wagtail and a singing Wood Warbler - and a major blocker in the shape of two Glossy Ibises - the first in HK for 25 years!

The end of April found me in Helsinki for my first "Conference Birding" of the year. At long last I nailed my lifer Barnacle Geese and my first Redwings and Redpolls for decades at Viiki nature reserve on the edge of Helsinki, but it was the stunning scenery both at Viiki and Porkkala, plus the Northern Goshawks that flew over my downtown hotel room that I will also remember.

May took me to Lima for more Conference Birding, with honours split between a fantastic morning at Villa marshes to the south of the city, where I was blown away by the Many-coloured Rush Tyrants and the flocks of Black Skimmers and breeding plumage Franklin's Gulls sharing a sandbar, and fulfilling a lifetime's ambition to see Diademed Sandpiper Plover in a one-day dash up to 5,000 metres and down again, which also delivered Andean Condor, my first ever Seedsnipe (Grey-bellied), and a host of other high bog specialists.

June was quiet, but a holiday trip to Darwin, Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands in July certainly had its moments, although I was disappointed to miss Cassowary. Great views of Platypus was a highlight, as was staying up through the night to watch England win the cricket World Cup. Birding highlights included boat trips on the Daintree River and Yellow Waters in Kakadu. Images of a Comb-crested Jacana shielding its chick under its wing and a Lewin's Honeyeater in the gloom were among my favourite photos of the year.

August to October was a good time on the patch, with patch gold in the form of Hong Kong's earliest Yellow-breasted Bunting, a second Manchurian Reed Warbler, first Daurian Starling, Black-shouldered Kite, and a trio of Common Terns plus a Rosy Starling and my lost wallet, the latter two both found by Chris Campion. A nicely approachable Red-backed Shrike at Long Valley allowed me to finally tick a bird I've dipped more than once in the last decade.

More conference birding brought me to Bogota, where I managed to squeeze two and a half days of birding into a three day visit without compromising my work objectives. Highlights included falls of north american migrants which included my lifer Yellow-billed Cuckoo, Scarlet Tanager, Canada Warbler, and an incandescently glowing male Blackburnian Warbler, plus great views of Swainson's Thrushes, Northern Waterthrush, and Black-and-white Warbler, a fistful of forest and mountain tanagers and my first puffbird (Moustached), tapaculo (Ash-coloured), cotinga (Red-crested), manakin (White-bearded), honeycreeper (Green), and even an antpitta (Rusty-breasted) so invariably skulking that it was even a lifer for my guide!

One weary week later I was in Chicago for another conference, where my schedule allowed for a morning on a cold but thankfully windless day at Montrose Point. I enjoyed a nice range of sparrows and finches and a lifer Tennessee Warbler, but the real stars were a pair of Snow Buntings, my first since the 1980s, and iPhone video footage of an astonishingly tame juvenile Cooper's Hawk that literally dropped at my feet in search of prey amongst the leaf litter.

November also delivered Hong Kong's first Chinese Grey Shrike which thankfully stayed a few days after being discovered while I was in Chicago, and showed well on the Mai Po Access Road, and I especially enjoyed getting close to a lovely pale female Citrine Wagtail - another San Tin patch tick, while a week later I got a new personal patch record of 95 species in a day, which I pushed to 97 a week later. Other top patch birds included a Black-necked Grebe - they seem to occur in HK about once every decade, and a freak record of Eurasian Jay which appears only marginally less regularly.

My 50th birthday took me Japan for a long weekend that included the excitement of my first new scope for 15 years (a Kowa TSN 883) and a wonderful stay in Karuizawa that allowed me to christen the scope with extended views of a usually super-shy Copper Pheasant sunning itself on an open path for an astonishing 30 minutes, and to add a twice airborne Japanese Flying Squirrel to my mammal list.

There was no let up in December with the spectacular unblocking of Japanese Night Heron as a juvenile found while I was ironically in Japan stayed long enough to give astonishingly close views, and indeed remains in residence, hunting earthworms at its favoured picnic site, apparently regardless of all other users, at the time of writing. Add to these the opportunity to host BF legend Jos Stratford at San Tin during a layover on the way down under, an amazingly tame male Plumbeous Redstart a few hundred metres from home and a self-found male White-tailed Robin on my first visit to Ng Tung Chai since January, and December has truly put the cap on what has been a simply outstanding year for consistently exciting high quality birding.

And we still have a week to go . . .

Cheers
Mike
 

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wolfbirder

Well-known member
Hi Nick

Delayed response from me due to the fact I don't follow Birdforum while I'm out the country. Did you find the story about Wilfred Thesiger? Mark's first book Loneliness and Time - a History of British Travel Writing in the Twentieth Century contains a full chapter on this larger than life character who invited Cocker to his Norfolk mansion to reminisce about his travels in Africa and Iraq. In Tales of a Tribe he recounts how he was sat in the drawing room with his notebook and pencil while this imposing figure gushed forth on all manner of subjects, including a series of adventures he'd had while travelling with a tribe of African pygmies. "And you know, young man, what was remarkable about these people was that they could talk about the exact same subject continuously for THREE WHOLE DAYS...three whole days, imagine that, young man." Feeling he ought to show some deference to what was presented to him as a fact that he ought jolly well to be impressed by, Mark looks up and nods agreement 'Yes, sir. Amazing.'

At the same time he's thinking to himself; 'three days talking about one subject...JUST three days! I went to Nepal with my mate last winter and we talked birds for THREE WHOLE MONTHS non stop!

I've just started reading it, that chapter looks intriguing I must admit. :t:
 

Steve Lister

Senior Birder, ex County Recorder, Garden Moths.
United Kingdom
Some good trips that produced a fair few world lifers - Cape Verde and southern Ecuador stand out.

No UK lifers at all, and a very low year list unless I get my finger out in the next six weeks (unlikely)

No county lifers either, and one of my lowest county year lists ever, currently 173 out of 205 species recorded.

Too much time spent watching from my garden - year list of 74 though, which accounts for the above I suppose.

Managed to forget Brown Booby - my one and only UK tick of the year.
 

dandsblair

David and Sarah
Supporter
Pretty mad year

After some bad news (death and illness of a few friends in a short period), I decided to make my career break a full retirement and Sarah also took early retirement, so we did loads of travelling (28 countries).

Most trip reports that were bird focused are on Birdforum.

Highlights were possibly

January - Morocco - Atlas Horned Lark and Crimson-winged finch

Feb - Vietnam, Laos, Cambodia - included Grey Laughing Thrush and Red-capped Babbler

March through May round the world trip, highlights were Mindo, Plate-billed Toucan, Flame-faced Tanager.
Bali, the Myna and Javan Banded Pitta,
Myanmar - Ayerwaddy Bulbul,
Japan finally caught up with Copper Pheasant,
Hawaii - Laysan Albatross etc

Oct - Guyana and Trinidad - great Cotingas. Parrots and Blood-coloured Woodpecker.

We also did quite a bit round Europe, including Poland, Czech Republic, Slovakia, Hungary, Austria, Belgium no new lifers though and finished in Cape Verde added a few life birds in December.

In UK our only first was local Eastern Black-eared Wheatear but we did enjoy some time in the Farne Islands and Scotland.

Added over 200 lifers but it wasn't really about birds this year more about seeing the world and enjoying ourselves.

We did plant lots of trees but not sure we fully offset our miles.
 

Swindon Addick

Registered User
Supporter
Wales
I generally aim to get at least one UK lifer for each of birds, butterflies and dragonflies, plus a non-bird vertebrate if I can. In recent years the dragonflies have got tricky and I've usually had to include non-UK species as I've pretty much run out of tickable species.
Just the one new UK bird this year, which was pomerine skua, one of the species I'd resigned myself to never seeing due to lack of patience to spend days on end staring out to sea. My fourth trip to Migfest at Spurn kept up my record of a lifer on every trip.
The year revolved around a week in Northern Ireland, during which I got precisely one day of moderate sunshine but that was enough - cryptic wood white and Irish damselfly, the latter completing the set of long-established UK breeding species. Still need to see southern emerald damsel, plus dainty if it ever emerges from inaccessible private land again.
No UK mammal or reptile, but Italian wall lizard in Rome while gawping at the local dragonflies was a lifer.
In 2020 I need to get out more...
 
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