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Top 10 Birds of 2020 (1 Viewer)

pbjosh

missing the neotropics
Switzerland
Cannot underrate my recommendation for Anchicaya road, where tanager flocks also commonly include Scarlet and white, Emerald and lower down Blue-whiskered (seen) while also commonly recorded are Lemon-spectacled/Scarlet-browed (dipped). Must see!

Indeed Anchicaya is amazing, as is all of Colombia. I had the fortune to travel and bird for 6 months in Colombia, but only spent a few days on Anchicaya as well. I've been back once since (not really a birding trip) and would love to have another couple months to see more of Nariño (security was still touchy when I was there), to go to Bahia Solano, to go to Isla Escondido and the lowlands of Putumayo, to go to Leticia and Inirida, to see the new Antpitta in Cali, go up to Uruba and Turbo for the Dacnis, Jacamar, and Puffbird, and to do the trek up to the top of Santa Marta :)
 

AlexC

Aves en Los Ángeles
Opus Editor
Supporter
Top 10 of 2020... Hmm. Waking up January 1st in the desert majesty of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India made it easy to start the year with some great birds. By the 2nd we were bouncing around a jeep on desert roads, scouring for bustards. Never did find any, but along the way we scared up multiple groups of beautiful Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse - my first ever Pteroclid sighting. A matter of days later, on the shores of the Ganga in the holy city of Varanasi was an old favorite; nothing unexpected, but this was a particularly meaningful year for the White-throated Kingfisher. Its silhouetted image now graces my partner's ankle in tattoo form - a tribute both to India and our relationship.

The journey home from India was bittersweet, but a layover in Shanghai came with the benefit of an obligatory morning stroll through Century Park of the Pudong District. Yellow-billed Grosbeaks peppered the trees at the entrance, a real stunner of a lifer. They brought back memories of grosbeaks at feeders in the summers in Maine 13, 14 years ago. Who knew I was only a couple weeks away from those same memories flooding back - this time in the mountains of Los Angeles, where Evening Grosbeaks themselves abounded, along with hoards of Red Crossbills in an irruption year for some winter finches. What a treat - and both new for my California list.

I attended two group day trips early in the year - the last before pandemic pandemonium set in. Certainly helped tide me over for the impending birding drought of quarantine. On an annual pelagic, my lifer Short-tailed Shearwater graced us with its presence. I first picked out the bird flying in near our boat and noted a variance from Sooty pretty quickly; the vindication was sweet when resident experts declared it a Short-tailed. Didn't hurt that it stuck around for popcorn handouts and an hour long photo shoot. As a habitat counterpoint showing off SoCal's wide variety, the next trip was desert and mountains. This finally yielded my nemesis lifer LeConte's Thrasher, as well as the largest concentration of California Condors I've ever seen - 16 at once! Truly spectacular.

Trapped in the house for quarantine, we concluded to walk the local parks for exercise, leisure, and of course birding. Without this stay-at-home style birding, I never would have known that the endangered subspecies, Least Bell's Vireo, was so attainable within walking distance of my house. Gave me a new appreciation for the neighborhood. But by September, we had to escape the LA heat. Our Ventura stay came with nightly views and calls of a local Barn Owl - really the first time I could consistently study its habits, flying style, and voice. Quite special.

Christmas Bird Count season started with December 14th at the North Salton Sea - first birds of the day upon arrival were none other than five Sandhill Cranes flying over - quite rare on the north side, not reported (to eBird, anyway) for a number of years in that area. Now with the year coming to a close, six CBC count circles in the books so far, yesterday between counts I went for a hike in Ojai. Not expecting anything special, an out-of-range Zone-tailed Hawk took me completely by surprise! After checking other reports, it turns out one has been sporadically reported the last couple months in the area. Always a pleasure to see, but even more so when it's self-found.

Okay so that was 12. Oh well. Still a few more days left to see something special. Every day counts - get out there and bird, folks! Happy New Year.
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
Top 10 of 2020... Hmm. Waking up January 1st in the desert majesty of Jaisalmer, Rajasthan, India made it easy to start the year with some great birds. By the 2nd we were bouncing around a jeep on desert roads, scouring for bustards. Never did find any, but along the way we scared up multiple groups of beautiful Chestnut-bellied Sandgrouse - my first ever Pteroclid sighting. A matter of days later, on the shores of the Ganga in the holy city of Varanasi was an old favorite; nothing unexpected, but this was a particularly meaningful year for the White-throated Kingfisher. Its silhouetted image now graces my partner's ankle in tattoo form - a tribute both to India and our relationship.

The journey home from India was bittersweet, but a layover in Shanghai came with the benefit of an obligatory morning stroll through Century Park of the Pudong District. Yellow-billed Grosbeaks peppered the trees at the entrance, a real stunner of a lifer. They brought back memories of grosbeaks at feeders in the summers in Maine 13, 14 years ago. Who knew I was only a couple weeks away from those same memories flooding back - this time in the mountains of Los Angeles, where Evening Grosbeaks themselves abounded, along with hoards of Red Crossbills in an irruption year for some winter finches. What a treat - and both new for my California list.

I attended two group day trips early in the year - the last before pandemic pandemonium set in. Certainly helped tide me over for the impending birding drought of quarantine. On an annual pelagic, my lifer Short-tailed Shearwater graced us with its presence. I first picked out the bird flying in near our boat and noted a variance from Sooty pretty quickly; the vindication was sweet when resident experts declared it a Short-tailed. Didn't hurt that it stuck around for popcorn handouts and an hour long photo shoot. As a habitat counterpoint showing off SoCal's wide variety, the next trip was desert and mountains. This finally yielded my nemesis lifer LeConte's Thrasher, as well as the largest concentration of California Condors I've ever seen - 16 at once! Truly spectacular.

Trapped in the house for quarantine, we concluded to walk the local parks for exercise, leisure, and of course birding. Without this stay-at-home style birding, I never would have known that the endangered subspecies, Least Bell's Vireo, was so attainable within walking distance of my house. Gave me a new appreciation for the neighborhood. But by September, we had to escape the LA heat. Our Ventura stay came with nightly views and calls of a local Barn Owl - really the first time I could consistently study its habits, flying style, and voice. Quite special.

Christmas Bird Count season started with December 14th at the North Salton Sea - first birds of the day upon arrival were none other than five Sandhill Cranes flying over - quite rare on the north side, not reported (to eBird, anyway) for a number of years in that area. Now with the year coming to a close, six CBC count circles in the books so far, yesterday between counts I went for a hike in Ojai. Not expecting anything special, an out-of-range Zone-tailed Hawk took me completely by surprise! After checking other reports, it turns out one has been sporadically reported the last couple months in the area. Always a pleasure to see, but even more so when it's self-found.

Okay so that was 12. Oh well. Still a few more days left to see something special. Every day counts - get out there and bird, folks! Happy New Year.
As always, California seems to one up the rest of the US in great birds (looking mostly at that Condor), but still great birding all around. I understand the feeling of seeing what other surprise will come, my CBCs gave me a lifer Common Loon and many great photos of established exotics, so maybe if I held off a bit more, my list would be a bit different for sure.
 

mjh73

Well-known member
Oh jeez. Where to start.

Bizzarely this year I have seen more species (713) and more lifers (435) in one year than I ever have..... most of those prior to the 18 March when we finally abandoned our trip in Colombia and started making early tracks home :(

Number 1 though not a lifer, but a little road trip with my two youngest kids to see a bird rarely seen in my home state, spending the night sleeping in my 4WD

1. Australian Pratincoles, Patho Plains, Victoria, Australia

Then early in March I met up with Pash another Birdforum-er in Peru for the start of a supposed 1 month trip starting with a couple of days around Lima district before heading to Colombia.

I could probably fill the next 9 birds from this 2 days in Peru easily but I will allow myself a 'bird of the day' from each of the 2 hardcore birding days we did.

In the Andes
2. White-Cheeked Cotinga in the polylepis high up on Santa Eulalia pass. Brief but satisfying views as a bird came into sight, perched in the clear briefly then disappeared into the trees again.
Down the coast
3. Inca Tern. Easily the coolest tern on the planet. Pucasana Habour

Then on to Colombia. 437 species, many of which were new to me, in just 11 days of what was supposed to be a 23 day trip. The last few days in particular being disrupted as places like Rio Blanco, Hacienda de la Bosque, Hotel Termales del Ruiz etc closed in front of us ultimately leading to the decision to pull the pin and start heading home before it was too late. Going to be tricky to choose just seven.....

4. Sword-billed Hummingbird Observatorio de Colibries, Cundinamarca. We saw so many hummers this first day it was tricky to pick a stand out - trainbearers (green-tailed and black-tailed) were a close second, as was sapphirewing, but Sword-billed is just so....bonkers.....

By the second day we had relocated to Valle del Cauca , starting at a couple of spots near KM18 on Route 19 before heading on the Beneventura road to KM55 Doña Dora. Another cracking day, hard to pick a favourite from many cool birds but can't overlook....
5. Toucan Barbet, Doña Dora.

Then we were on to San Cipriano..... and again, I could pick 10 birds from here alone. Just the experience of going to the place without seeing any birds would have been amazing in it's own right. Getting up early to have a Choco Poorwill flying around us (and a Choco Screech Owl in the same area!), Barred Forest-falcon, several antbirds and tanagers, furnarids....but if I had to pick one
6. Sapayoa, that quietly popped up alongside us while we were walking the trails

On to Tatama / Montezuma and an easy favourite pick:
7. Buffy Tuftedcheek - I don't think any of the illustrations I have seen of these do their boofy whiskers justice.
Then Otun Quimbaya and another easy favourite pick amongst many cool birds seen:
8. Hooded Antpitta - got very lucky and had great views of this small Antpitta calling near one of the less well trodden tracks

Struggling for number 9. We went up into the high Andes in Tatama and did a little birding before the park rangers told us the National Park were closing, drove the road to Hotel Termales to be told the same, but still managed some great birds as we travelled. Had a great morning at Hotel Tinamu (complete with Little Tinamou and Scaled Antpitta finally seen after only hearing earlier in the trip) but I think I'm going to go with...
9. Golden-headed Manakin - we found a small group of males practicing display on Rio Claro

10. The last birds seen before we pulled the pin, and one of my most surreal birding experiences listening to the unworldly clicks and screeches of Oilbirds also at Rio Claro

On another day I'd easily come up with a different top 10 from the aborted South America trip. It was that good, even with only half the trip completed!
 
Last edited:

mjh73

Well-known member
Cannot underrate my recommendation for Anchicaya road, where tanager flocks also commonly include Scarlet and white, Emerald and lower down Blue-whiskered (seen) while also commonly recorded are Lemon-spectacled/Scarlet-browed (dipped). Must see!
Yes! Although we only saw Scarlet-browed of these tanager species here (we did see Blue-whiskered at San Cipriano though).

Anchicaya was a place we could have easily spent a couple of days rather than just an afternoon and the following morning.

In a way this was both a flaw and a saviour of our trip in March - we covered a lot of ground, and many spots we arrived late afternoon for some brief birding before an early start and birding to lunch time the next day before travelling to the next spot.

That meant we accumulated a lot of species in a short space of time but also meant that we left much undiscovered at many places. Anchicaya, San Cipriano, Montezuma, Otun all places that deserved 2-3 days really. But given our trip stopped short after just 11 days it was good in hindsight that we had travelled into a broad range of habitats.
I expect it will be a few years before I get back :(
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
Oh jeez. Where to start.

Bizzarely this year I have seen more species (713) and more lifers (435) in one year than I ever have..... most of those prior to the 18 March when we finally abandoned our trip in Colombia and started making early tracks home :(

Number 1 though not a lifer, but a little road trip with my two youngest kids to see a bird rarely seen in my home state, spending the night sleeping in my 4WD

1. Australian Pratincoles, Patho Plains, Victoria, Australia

Then early in March I met up with Pash another Birdforum-er in Peru for the start of a supposed 1 month trip starting with a couple of days around Lima district before heading to Colombia.

I could probably fill the next 9 birds from this 2 days in Peru easily but I will allow myself a 'bird of the day' from each of the 2 hardcore birding days we did.

In the Andes
2. White-Cheeked Cotinga in the polylepis high up on Santa Eulalia pass. Brief but satisfying views as a bird came into sight, perched in the clear briefly then disappeared into the trees again.
Down the coast
3. Inca Tern. Easily the coolest tern on the planet. Pucasana Habour

Then on to Colombia. 437 species, many of which were new to me, in just 11 days of what was supposed to be a 23 day trip. The last few days in particular being disrupted as places like Rio Blanco, Hacienda de la Bosque, Hotel Termales del Ruiz etc closed in front of us ultimately leading to the decision to pull the pin and start heading home before it was too late. Going to be tricky to choose just seven.....

4. Sword-billed Hummingbird Observatorio de Colibries, Cundinamarca. We saw so many hummers this first day it was tricky to pick a stand out - trainbearers (green-tailed and black-tailed) were a close second, as was sapphirewing, but Sword-billed is just so....bonkers.....

By the second day we had relocated to Valle del Cauca , starting at a couple of spots near KM18 on Route 19 before heading on the Beneventura road to KM55 Doña Dora. Another cracking day, hard to pick a favourite from many cool birds but can't overlook....
5. Toucan Barbet, Doña Dora.

Then we were on to San Cipriano..... and again, I could pick 10 birds from here alone. Just the experience of going to the place without seeing any birds would have been amazing in it's own right. Getting up early to have a Choco Poorwill flying around us (and a Choco Screech Owl in the same area!), Barred Forest-falcon, several antbirds and tanagers, furnarids....but if I had to pick one
6. Sapayoa, that quietly popped up alongside us while we were walking the trails

On to Tatama / Montezuma and an easy favourite pick:
7. Buffy Tuftedcheek - I don't think any of the illustrations I have seen of these do there boofy whiskers justice.
Then Otun Quimbaya and another easy favourite pick amongst many cool birds seen:
8. Hooded Antpitta - got very lucky and had great views of this small Antpitta calling near one of the less well trodden tracks

Struggling for number 9. We went up into the high Andes in Tatama and did a little birding before the park rangers told us the National Park were closing, drove the road to Hotel Termales to be told the same, but still managed some great birds as we travelled. Had a great morning at Hotel Tinamu (complete with Little Tinamou and Scaled Antpitta finally seen after only hearing earlier in the trip) but I think I'm going to go with...
9. Golden-headed Manakin - we found a small group of males practicing display on Rio Claro

10. The last birds seen before we pulled the pin, and one of my most surreal birding experiences listening to the unworldly clicks and screeches of Oilbirds also at Rio Claro

On another day I'd easily come up with a different top 10 from the aborted South America trip. It was that good, even with only half the trip completed!
Having to cancel a 20+ day trip to Colombia of all places is something I'm sure everyone here would wince at the lost. Still you got a few nice Choco endemics, which normally people catch up with in Ecuador, although you were unable to make it there, I would have loved to hear your list if you had made it to Santa Marta where the endemics abound or maybe the Guianan rainforest region where birds like Guianan Cock-of-the-Rock and Capuchinbird have been the dreams of birders even when they weren't aware they were birderds (I am in this group).
 

lammergeier05

Daniele Mitchell
Yes! Although we only saw Scarlet-browed of these tanager species here (we did see Blue-whiskered at San Cipriano though).

Anchicaya was a place we could have easily spent a couple of days rather than just an afternoon and the following morning.

In a way this was both a flaw and a saviour of our trip in March - we covered a lot of ground, and many spots we arrived late afternoon for some brief birding before an early start and birding to lunch time the next day before travelling to the next spot.

That meant we accumulated a lot of species in a short space of time but also meant that we left much undiscovered at many places. Anchicaya, San Cipriano, Montezuma, Otun all places that deserved 2-3 days really. But given our trip stopped short after just 11 days it was good in hindsight that we had travelled into a broad range of habitats.
I expect it will be a few years before I get back :(
Glad you got a taste of Colombia, but I can only imagine your frustration at having to cut your trip short. Your trip count is fantastic for so short a time though! Had three weeks but could easily spend months in Colombia. For my first visit, I modelled my route after the classic endemic focused trip reports, with truly innumerable highlight spots to visit in the Medellin-Bogotá region alone, where the richness of endemics is really striking compared to Ecuador. Some top memories were the hike up to get Chestnut-capped Piha, the horseback ride to the station at Urrao and the early morning Antpitta (and Starfrontlet), the newly rediscovered Antioquia Brushfinch just above Medellin, Bogotá Rail in Parque Florida, Stygian Owl and Masked Saltator at Rio Blanco, the Rufous-fronted Parakeet and Helmetcrest at the páramo at Nevada San Ruiz, Northern Screamer on a boat ride at Guarinocita lagoon, and of course the beautiful windswept vista of the Indigo-winged Parrot in Finca Cortaderal. Montezuma I was rained out for most of three days but caught up with Black Solitaire and Tanager Finch which were both fantastic. So much left to see for next time, nonetheless.

Hope things settle down sooner than expected but I fear 2019 style travel will be a long way off sadly.
 

BryanP

Little known member
Canada
Great thread!
Just Costa Rican birds for 2020 due to the lock down on travel as of last February which meant Columbia was out this year, sniff!
We’ve been nomads for the past 10 years and thanks to covid got caught here in Costa Rica last February. The authorities have very kindly extended our visas till March 2021 bless em!

The list is nothing fancy for specialty birds (except perhaps for 1. 5. and 9) but we had fun chasing them all anyway. We don’t have a car so most of our birding is within 5 kilometres of the apt. We’re pretty sure we landed on our feet in a spectacular way


1. Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, a family of them living up the road
2. Smoky-brown Woodpecker, an occasional visitor up the road as well.
3. White-ruffed Manakin, ditto these guys
4. Thick-billed Euphonia, a regular at the feeder
5. Barred Forest Falcon, a lifer this year up at our local biological reserve
6. White-crested Coquette, occasional visitor up the road.
7. Shining Honeycreeper, an occasional visitor at the feeder
8. Fasciated Tiger-Heron, a regular visitor on the little river at the bottom of the garden.
9. Zeledon’s Antbird, A lifer up at the local reserve.
10. White-throated Thrush, occasional views up at the local reserve.
Cheers,
Bryan
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
Great thread!
Just Costa Rican birds for 2020 due to the lock down on travel as of last February which meant Columbia was out this year, sniff!
We’ve been nomads for the past 10 years and thanks to covid got caught here in Costa Rica last February. The authorities have very kindly extended our visas till March 2021 bless em!

The list is nothing fancy for specialty birds (except perhaps for 1. 5. and 9) but we had fun chasing them all anyway. We don’t have a car so most of our birding is within 5 kilometres of the apt. We’re pretty sure we landed on our feet in a spectacular way


1. Red-crowned Ant-Tanager, a family of them living up the road
2. Smoky-brown Woodpecker, an occasional visitor up the road as well.
3. White-ruffed Manakin, ditto these guys
4. Thick-billed Euphonia, a regular at the feeder
5. Barred Forest Falcon, a lifer this year up at our local biological reserve
6. White-crested Coquette, occasional visitor up the road.
7. Shining Honeycreeper, an occasional visitor at the feeder
8. Fasciated Tiger-Heron, a regular visitor on the little river at the bottom of the garden.
9. Zeledon’s Antbird, A lifer up at the local reserve.
10. White-throated Thrush, occasional views up at the local reserve.
Cheers,
Bryan
Coming from someone that needs to travel by card to get anywhere with good birds, I can only say that getting Barred Forest Falcon in your local forest patch and having Manakins and Honeycreepers as feeder birds is enough to make the year great, even if most travel was canceled. My local patch only suburban birds like mockingbirds, egrets and the feral ducks, so I'd trade my patch with yours!
 

mtn

... winging it ....
Great thread.

In the spirit of 2020 all of the birds on my top 10 list are from my home in SW Virginia, USA.

In no particular order:

Golden-crowned Kinglet (only seen one, this Winter)
Hooded Merganser (two pair in Spring, five individuals recently)
Pied-billed Grebe (solitary)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (solitary female this Fall/Winter)
Eastern Screech Owl (individual, recently)
Great Horned Owl (killed one of my chickens and plucked a fair bit of another - she survived and is recovered)
Green Heron (nesting pair)
Belted Kingfisher (nesting pair)
Pileated Woodpecker (nesting pair)
Great Blue Heron (we watch them nest every year... Sadly the one nest that was established this year produced four chicks but was abandoned due to some logging/construction nearby)

Saw many other great birds this year, including some firsts, but these (and maybe the swallows & bluebirds) have produced the most memories and always captivate me.

Cheers

PS, I love all of the photos in this thread; I don't have many photos of my bird sightings, but I did receive this painting from my 7 year-old son for Christmas. My oldest daughter gave me a watercolor of a House Finch. :)
IMG_20201225_094747.jpg
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
Great thread.

In the spirit of 2020 all of the birds on my top 10 list are from my home in SW Virginia, USA.

In no particular order:

Golden-crowned Kinglet (only seen one, this Winter)
Hooded Merganser (two pair in Spring, five individuals recently)
Pied-billed Grebe (solitary)
Yellow-bellied Sapsucker (solitary female this Fall/Winter)
Eastern Screech Owl (individual, recently)
Great Horned Owl (killed one of my chickens and plucked a fair bit of another - she survived and is recovered)
Green Heron (nesting pair)
Belted Kingfisher (nesting pair)
Pileated Woodpecker (nesting pair)
Great Blue Heron (we watch them nest every year... Sadly the one nest that was established this year produced four chicks but was abandoned due to some logging/construction nearby)

Saw many other great birds this year, including some firsts, but these (and maybe the swallows & bluebirds) have produced the most memories and always captivate me.

Cheers

PS, I love all of the photos in this thread; I don't have many photos of my bird sightings, but I did receive this painting from my 7 year-old son for Christmas. My oldest daughter gave me a watercolor of a House Finch. :)
View attachment 1361189
Great year birds and lovely painting, not the best experience to have a GH Owl eat your chickens, but still an amazing bird to see and ear at night.
 

BryanP

Little known member
Canada
Coming from someone that needs to travel by card to get anywhere with good birds, I can only say that getting Barred Forest Falcon in your local forest patch and having Manakins and Honeycreepers as feeder birds is enough to make the year great, even if most travel was canceled. My local patch only suburban birds like mockingbirds, egrets and the feral ducks, so I'd trade my patch with yours!
I’ll admit we have a nice patch here but I’m guessing there’s nice patches everywhere. I loved birding the south eastern coast of the US for the 6 months we traveled there but I also enjoyed birding the Sea of Cortez or Central Park in NYC. Each place I’ve parked myself for a few months (which is the way we travel) no matter how unpromising has turned out to have some kind of interesting birding. I’ll bet I could have made top ten lists for any of those places.
We once spent 4 months living in a marina near downtown Jacksonville, Florida where the Publix supermarket and marine stores were 3 tree lined blocks away. That short walk sometimes took us hours. I even got an unexpected lifer in the Publix parking lot, a Tri-coloured Heron! Squeezing the best out of a patch can be a lot of fun.
Cheers,
Bryan
 

lgonz1008

Well-known member
United States
I’ll admit we have a nice patch here but I’m guessing there’s nice patches everywhere. I loved birding the south eastern coast of the US for the 6 months we traveled there but I also enjoyed birding the Sea of Cortez or Central Park in NYC. Each place I’ve parked myself for a few months (which is the way we travel) no matter how unpromising has turned out to have some kind of interesting birding. I’ll bet I could have made top ten lists for any of those places.
We once spent 4 months living in a marina near downtown Jacksonville, Florida where the Publix supermarket and marine stores were 3 tree lined blocks away. That short walk sometimes took us hours. I even got an unexpected lifer in the Publix parking lot, a Tri-coloured Heron! Squeezing the best out of a patch can be a lot of fun.
Cheers,
Bryan
Florida parking lots having given me some amazing lifers like Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Sandhill Crane, Wilson's Snipe and Common Myna, so I understand the feeling very well!
 

BryanP

Little known member
Canada
Florida parking lots having given me some amazing lifers like Black-bellied Whistling Duck, Sandhill Crane, Wilson's Snipe and Common Myna, so I understand the feeling very well!
Thats a remarkable list! ! I wonder if we can start a new thread titled “Top ten parking lot birds” 😉😄
Cheers,
Bryan
 
As I moved to Spain in late 2019, last year was full of firsts and highlights.

We had a very strict initial lockdown in Spain and in seven weeks I left the apartment (not even my own!) just three times to go to the supermarket. Finally we were allowed out to walk around within a small radius (literally a mile or two) of our homes for a couple of hours a day. On one of those first mornings of relative freedom, and after hearing nothing but a very local black redstart and a few swifts for the best part of two months, I heard my very first nightingale song. It took my breath away. I remember those couple of weeks after confinement for the sounds in particular - everything was so quiet and still and the birds seemed emboldened by the absence of humans. The bizarre calls of the scops owl and red-necked nightjar also featured - again, firsts for me. To have these experiences within the usually very busy and very noisy city of Madrid especially means they definitely feature in my top 10 for 2020. And I think it's fair to say those experiences are what properly rekindled my love for birds after being a casual observer for many years.

Other highlights include enjoying the crossbills almost daily by my new place of work from September, grey phalarope (not something I was expecting to see in Madrid), a few encounters with eagle owls, a lovely view of a Spanish eagle, a blue rock thrush's song, and a pair of short-eared owls and a Bonelli's eagle right at the end of the year.

I think that makes 10!
 

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