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Top 5 of 2023 (1 Viewer)

I've had a reasonable 2023, top 5 is tricky and I too have a couple of Gulls!!

1) Scopoli's Shearwater seen on a memorable day trip to the Isles of Scilly
2) Great Shearwater another lifer seen on the same trip, which also featured large amounts of Cory's and Manx Shearwaters
3) Red-back Shrike seen well at Mill Hill, Also Great Grey Shrike at Black Down earlier in the year!
4) White-tailed Eagle fantastic views on Mull, Golden Eagle seen well too!
5) Sabine's Gull, not the Hampshire one, which was fantastic but the Norman's Bay one which showed even better, along with several Little Gulls which swung it for me

Special mention for great views of an Otter on Mull as well!!

Pretty good year considering!

Scipoli's Shearwater (3).JPG559A3458.JPG559A3779.JPG559A1835.JPG559A9575.JPG559A2831.JPG
 
I've had a reasonable 2023, top 5 is tricky and I too have a couple of Gulls!!

1) Scopoli's Shearwater seen on a memorable day trip to the Isles of Scilly
2) Great Shearwater another lifer seen on the same trip, which also featured large amounts of Cory's and Manx Shearwaters
3) Red-back Shrike seen well at Mill Hill, Also Great Grey Shrike at Black Down earlier in the year!
4) White-tailed Eagle fantastic views on Mull, Golden Eagle seen well too!
5) Sabine's Gull, not the Hampshire one, which was fantastic but the Norman's Bay one which showed even better, along with several Little Gulls which swung it for me

Special mention for great views of an Otter on Mull as well!!

Pretty good year considering!

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Beautiful photos Paul
 
I've had a reasonable 2023, top 5 is tricky and I too have a couple of Gulls!!

1) Scopoli's Shearwater seen on a memorable day trip to the Isles of Scilly
2) Great Shearwater another lifer seen on the same trip, which also featured large amounts of Cory's and Manx Shearwaters
3) Red-back Shrike seen well at Mill Hill, Also Great Grey Shrike at Black Down earlier in the year!
4) White-tailed Eagle fantastic views on Mull, Golden Eagle seen well too!
5) Sabine's Gull, not the Hampshire one, which was fantastic but the Norman's Bay one which showed even better, along with several Little Gulls which swung it for me

Special mention for great views of an Otter on Mull as well!!

Pretty good year considering!

View attachment 1548181View attachment 1548182View attachment 1548183View attachment 1548184View attachment 1548185View attachment 1548186
Lovely photos
 
Have had a great 2023 so far bird watching wise, managed to recently surpass 200 birds seen this year and have had 35 lifers (15 in France and 20 in the UK). Here's my favourite birding moments of 2023 (picked up photography this year so apologies for the quality)-

1- Griffon vulture French Pyrenees, over my 5 days in the area I managed a few lifers. Though I managed all three species of vultures that breed in the pyrenees, views of the Egyptian and bearded were distanced and the photos of both species were not the best. However, the griffon vulture, the most common of the three species in the area, showed amazingly- having a group of 5 griffons accompanied by a booted eagle soaring only a couple of meters above us. (Photo was taken by my brother)
Screenshot 2023-12-10 at 18.32.59.png
2- My most highly sought species of the last two years (apart from Bohemian waxwing) was the Red-backed shrike, after having done over 15 Km's a day surveying my French patch during my last two trips to France- I managed to finally find my Red-backed shrike only a mile from the house in a small meadow- an area that I had never checked before and an area that would end up getting me a second lifer only a couple of days later (black winged kite). The only reason I had been there that specific day was because I had been abandoned by my siblings while on a walk... slightly pissed off I decided to bird the area as it looked decent and while looking at a flock of corn buntings, in the corner of my eye I spotted medium sized passerine hawking over some tall grass. I lifted my binoculars and immediately recognised the red backed shrike. I slowly stalked it and managed to get close enough to snap some pics. Luckily, the juvenile was rather tame and gave me a lot of time to observer it from a relatively close distance.
Screenshot 2023-12-10 at 18.47.34.png
3- My favourite diving duck for a long time has been the Greater scaup. Managing to finally get my lifer female Greater scaup earlier in the year, however I still wanted to see a full male drake- so when a few grebes and a greater scaup were reported at a local reservoir me and my dad decided to attempt the twitch. It started well enough, a late transitional phase Slavonian grebe was showing relatively well in far left handcorner of the reservoir. However, it was soon evident that the gradually worsening weather was going to make finding the scaup extremely difficult. Though I still wanted to attempt to find it and through strong winds and lashing rains I started the trek around the raised reservoir while my dad walked the lower more sheltered path. I managed to eventually sight it and would gradually close the distance between myself and the scaup, taking a few decent photos of the bird.
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4- This species was one that I've seen on quite a few occasions, however having a pair nesting under the roof was great. While sitting on the porch I saw the pair tirelessly work to keep their young healthy and safe. Not much to expand on, just a cool experience.
Screenshot 2023-12-10 at 19.09.18.png
5- My last one has not happened yet- Bohemian waxwings is a species that is important to both me and my dad. Since I started birdwatching almost a decade ago me and my dad made a promise that we would see this species together. Hopefully, the current irruption will persist through the Christmas period and we will finally be able to see this magnificent species.
 
Chequered skipper. One of two British butterflies i needed to complete the set. Based a family holiday around it but only really had one day on site. Luckily it was a beautiful sunny one and despite getting a bit stressed soon found the butterflies. Even had one land on my daughter. Perfect wildlife experience that was cool to share
Now you got me started! I am an absolute sucker for skippers and when it turned out that Oberthür's Grizzled Skipper (a rare species in Belgium) was having some reliable sites, I went for it. I also saw some other good skippers like Red-underwing Skipper, Chequered Skipper and Grizzled Skipper. Unfortunately, that last one could well be one of the very last I (and any other person) will have seen flying in my own region.
Internationally, I saw some of the usual suspects in the Alps but one that I will remember (or better: 4) were some very photogenic Plain Tigers in Senegal. A very common species but such posers.
 

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Now you got me started! I am an absolute sucker for skippers and when it turned out that Oberthür's Grizzled Skipper (a rare species in Belgium) was having some reliable sites, I went for it. I also saw some other good skippers like Red-underwing Skipper, Chequered Skipper and Grizzled Skipper. Unfortunately, that last one could well be one of the very last I (and any other person) will have seen flying in my own region.
Internationally, I saw some of the usual suspects in the Alps but one that I will remember (or better: 4) were some very photogenic Plain Tigers in Senegal. A very common species but such posers.
Oberthür's (P. armoricanus) is actually expanding rapidly. I have as yet failed to find both Large Grizzled (P. alveus) and Olive (P. serratulae) in Northrhine-Westphalia (and its border areas), but I found Oberthür's instead. I probably started searching just a few years too late...
My best butterflies this year were skippers as well.
Pyrgus maculatus: https://observation.org/media/photo/77229762.jpg
Protelbella alburna: https://observation.org/media/photo/76393257.jpg
Mimoniades versicolor: https://observation.org/media/photo/76644405.jpg
 
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I had one of my slowest years locally in 2023, as I was caring for a baby and not doing much birding outside of my immediate area. However, a trip to the Yucatan in January helped make 2023 really stand out. I could easily list all Mexican birds, but for a top 5, I'll go with...

5) Brewer's sparrow- I got my lifer Brewer's sparrow in August on a trip to Colorado, but the more meaningful find was my Texas first at my neighborhood park. Not a common bird in central Texas, with only a half-dozen or so records in my county and very few any farther east.
4) Yellow-green vireo- This was one of my few chase birds of the year. When a singing bird was seen repeatedly 90 minutes from my house, I was compelled to chase it. I got an early start with my 1 year-old accomplice and pulled up to the spot, where another birder from my home county was already on it. Since I knew a long stake-out was not in the cards, this was the perfect chase of a really cool rarity.
3) Turquoise-browed motmot- It was hard to choose from the 50+ lifers on my Mexico trip, but motmots are the kind of bird I imagine when I think of tropical birding, and this individual perched in clear view for an extended period of time. Absolutely stunning bird.
2) Yellow-lored parrot, AKA Yucatan parrot- This was one of the first great Yucatan specialties I encountered on my guided tour in Chunyaxche. A pair of these Yucatan endemics provided fantastic, prolonged looks and kickstarted one of my best birding days ever.
1) Black-billed cuckoo- One of my all-time favorite self-found birds. I considered this a nemesis bird, although they don't tend to hang around my area of Texas for long as they migrate through, so I never technically dipped on them. I just failed to connect with one migration season after migration season. A candidate bird escaped definitive ID a couple years ago on High Island, and they are far less common where I live in central Texas.
At the very end of spring migration this year, I wasn't expecting much as I walked my baby and hyperactive doberman through the neighborhood park that has been my go-to spot. While trying to get on a probable red-eyed vireo, this bird flew into my field of vision. I quickly realized that I may be dealing with a black-billed cuckoo, as opposed to the far more common yellow-billed variety. It then flew toward me and perched no more than 15 feet away for a couple of minutes, giving me unbelievable and confirmatory views. One of my last remaining "expected" migrants in the eastern half of the state seen at last!
 
Oberthür's (P. armoricanus) is actually expanding rapidly. I have as yet failed to find both Large Grizzled (P. alveus) and Olive (P. serratulae) in Northrhine-Westphalia (and its border areas), but I found Oberthür's instead. I probably started searching just a few years too late...
My best butterflies this year were skippers as well.
Pyrgus maculatus: https://observation.org/media/photo/77229762.jpg
Protelbella alburna: https://observation.org/media/photo/76393257.jpg
Minoniades versicolor: https://observation.org/media/photo/76644405.jpg
all of those are specactular, especially the 2 you saw in Peru (ps: it's Mimoniades and not Minoniades :))

ps:

if you are able to ID this one, let me know!
 
Heavy geographical bias for mine, due to the very limited birding in the UK this year.

In no particular order:

1) Hooded Pitta - arguably my favourite species, so great to reconnect again this year and was very fortunate to observe a range of behaviours at close quarters
2) Philippine Pitta - Although brief (total sighting less than 3 minutes) playing hide and seek with this beautiful bird whilst hiding (in a pitta-like fashion) on the forest floor was an unforgettable experience, and at the risk of sounding a bit arrogant, testament to many hours learning the correct fieldcraft in order to observe this group.
3) Blue-winged Pitta - the trifecta! Huge relief when this stunner finally put on a show on my last day in Singapore, another unforgettable experience being in the middle of two/three territorial birds.
4) Mantanani Scops Owl - This species wasn't on the cards for this trip, so to pick one up during a party one evening was unexpected. It is a terrible recording of a bird responding to my very poor imitation, but one of only two field recordings of the cuyensis subspecies available.
5) Red-vented Cockatoo - A key target for my time on Palawan, and a strong candidate for one of the rarest species I've seen in the wild.
 
1. Eastern Black Eared Wheatear, Corsica - Found on my local patch, a beautiful male in full breeding plumage. It's always nice to find a rarity but it's even better when it's on your own local patch :)
Lifer.

2. Eastern Rock Nuthatch, Armenia - One of the first birds I saw in Armenia, arriving at dawn in Vedi Gorges and what a bird ! I was not used to see Nuthatches in such habitats, on the ground and on rocky outcrops. For the second year in a row there's a Nuthatch in my top 5 :)
Lifer

3.Great Snipe, Corsica - It's a regular species on Corsica in spring but it's extremely difficult to see...On May 1st I woke up early and saw on the local rarity Whatsapp group that one had just been spotted 15 minutes from my house. I jumped in the car and after a while we managed to relocate the bird...actually, there were at least 3, maybe 4 ! It had been raining a lot during the night and it was still raining the morning, there were huge number of migrant passerines too this day, including Great Reed Warblers foraging on the ground, right on the beach !
Lifer.

4.Blue-cheeked Bee Eater, Armenia - When I arrived at the fishponds in Masis, I quickly spotted Bee Eaters on wires, I really hoped it was this species as I had seen only European BE so far...and yes, there were about 15 of them, adults and 1cy birds on those wires. Later on, I picked up another individual flying over Khor Virap Monastery by its distinctive call.
Lifer.

5.White-Winged Tern, Corsica - Not a common bird at all in Corsica and it was a nice ending to the spring migration season. I first saw it flying over the mouth of a river and as I got closer to get better looks, it perched on the bank not too far from me. So nice to get such amazing views of this elegant species in full breeding plumage ! Unfortunately I didn't have my camera and could only get pics with my phone and the binoculars...

340525827_502109495306631_3287136512163957315_n.jpg385931592_7093154667370913_383942760977115052_n.jpg387171796_7115023591850687_3308085523088708561_n.jpg20230517_104157.jpg
 
Restricted to East Lothian:

Storm Babet: This storm caused an precedented wreck of seabirds along the southern shore of the Firth of Forth. Including huge numbers of European Storm Petrels and Leach’s Storm Petrels. In the aftermath there were multiple records of White-billed Diver too.

Pacific Golden Plover at Musselburgh: a long desired British bird, so a summer plumaged individual at close range from the hide at Musselburgh was most welcome.

Great White Egret: Not even an East Lothian tick but a patch tick. I moved to my current location 3 years ago and this was the 97th species on my new patch, beating Hobby to the rarest species seen.

Red-breasted Flycatcher at Torness: Again not even an East Lothian tick but the first one I’ve seen with red on the throat.

Alpine Swift: I think East Lothian had some of the further north of the March influx. The three at White Sands put on quite a show as they zoomed about at low level over the trees.

Other highlights include my lifer Large Skipper at Musselburgh, my second ever Broad-billed Sandpiper, my first Common Crane in a decade and my first British Pallid Harrier.

The first Red Kite and Teal on the patch were also enjoyed. The Holly Blue was also, for the first time, one of the common butterflies on the patch with good numbers of both broods, a similar story with Small Skipper.

David
 
Now you got me started! I am an absolute sucker for skippers and when it turned out that Oberthür's Grizzled Skipper (a rare species in Belgium) was having some reliable sites, I went for it. I also saw some other good skippers like Red-underwing Skipper, Chequered Skipper and Grizzled Skipper. Unfortunately, that last one could well be one of the very last I (and any other person) will have seen flying in my own region.
Internationally, I saw some of the usual suspects in the Alps but one that I will remember (or better: 4) were some very photogenic Plain Tigers in Senegal. A very common species but such posers.
Some lovely ones there. I am a fan of a skipper. Never seen plain tiger but hopefully next year
 
2023 has indeed been a tremendous year for most British twitchers, I’ve enjoyed an incredible 14 lifers. It’s hard to prioritise the best ones but the ones I enjoyed most were the following…….

1. Magnolia Warbler - St Govan’s Head, Pembs - just a beautiful bird and arguably the best Yank.

2. Grey-headed Lapwing - Northumberland - another stunning bird with its shiny yellow bill.

3. Great-tailed Grackle - Nolton Haven, Pembs - such a charismatic individual that allowed incredible views even if it won't count/.

4. Brown Booby - South Gare - another great bird that showed very nicely.

5. Can’t chose between the St Govan’s Head Canada Warbler and the St Mary’s Bobolink - both crackers.

Honourable mention to the Essex drake Canvasback, and a juvenile Grey Phalarope that showed down to one metre as it fed on a boating lake in the West Midlands. The Hickling Broad Black-winged Kite was excellent too though distant and I’ve enjoyed far better views abroad in the past. Two-barred Greenish Warbler at Flamborough also put on a nice show.

Abroad I’ve only been to Morocco this year…..top 5……..

1. Desert Sparrow - Erg Chebbi - undoubtedly the highlight with 2 stunning males seen closely, as well as 2 females.

2. Marsh Owl - Moulay Bousselham - seeing 3 of these birds was a joy.

3. Moussier’s Redstart - seeing a pair down to ten metres was a real highlight.

4. Several Blue-cheeked Bee-eaters near Rissani - not a lifer but one of my favourite species.

5. 3-4 Hoopoe Larks in same area - again not a lifer but just fantastic birds.

Honourable mention to Thick-Billed and Temminck's Horned Larks that also offered tremendous views in a rubbish dump on the Tagdilt track.
 
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My top 5 Australian bird sightings (in no particular order):
1. Red-browed finch - Saw these very cute birds emerge from the bushes in a nature reserve, hopping around and pecking for seeds. This species was a lifer.
2. Little corella - I enjoyed watching these parrots play-fight on the grass and swing/hang from tree branches in a park.
3. Great egret - A bird found alone and a rare visitor to my local patch. It did a little fishing in the pond before noisy miners began swooping it.
4. Willie wagtail - It was a pleasure to see one bird flying among rocks and foraging, since this species is not as common as it used to be in my area.
5. Tree martin - Another lifer. It was cool to notice these birds for the 1st time and distinguish them from the swallows flying nearby.
 
Has been a good year for me too
1. Seeing my first Dotterel in The Outer Hebrides. I’ve been up there for years it never seen one and one happened to be at Balranald Nature Reserve in North Uist .
2. Seeing a Nuthatch twice this year in my local patch.
3. Male Great Spotted Woodpecker being a regular on my feeders though haven’t seen it for awhile.
4. Seeing a Mistle Thrush for the first time in my garden.
5. Seeing a Slavonian Grebe last month.
 
It's been a good year in spite of the fact that opportunities have been fewer due to parenting and work responsibilities. Never grow up...

Caspian tern

A huge surprise on a late July seawatch that was intended to be a record puffin count… Needless to say, in spite of high numbers of puffins, the sight of the tern worlds version of the Incredible Hulk ambling south at a range of about 300 m stole the show! A very rare bird in Scotland, a huge surprise and a great looking beast. The rest of the day really delivered too - with only my second ever patch wood sandpiper, and then the bizarre sight of 30 or so pilot whales lingering offshore - a really rare species in shallow water and in the North Sea. A day to remember!

Middle-spotted woodpecker

I’ve been visiting the same little corner of France for over 20 years now. On Jan 2nd, I finally took the chance to ‘explore’ a local forest that I had been told was out of bounds to the public - only to find there is a public right of way right through the middle! Anyway, here I discovered middle-spotted woodpeckers - not an easy bird in SW France, and had stunning prolonged close views as they fed around me. All this on a beautiful calm sunny morning, with marsh tits and short-toed treecreepers singing nearby, and bramblings overhead.

American wigeon

The Sanday Ladyboy team had a great week, with several better finds than American wigeon, but this bird, an eclipse drake, was a real team effort. It was great to cement some of the structural differences and just generally work out a potentially tricky bird, and the cheer that went up when it flapped its wings, revealing snow white axilliaries, says it all!

Seabirds on the Ouessant ferry

I don’t get to do much birding with my dad, and he doesn’t see many ‘proper’ seabirds. After a week on Ouessant with distant, bins only views of shearwaters, the return ferry journey, getting close views of sooty and Cory’s shears, and then capping it off with great views of a juvenile Sabine’s gull (a tick for Dad) was great fun.

Hoopoe

There are a few contenders for the final place - finding a white-rumped sandpiper on Sanday, finding Icterine warbler and Kumliens gull at Girdle Ness, and having brown shrike and Blyths pipit within 20 minutes on Ouessant were all memorable! Likewise, finding a 'todd's-like' canada goose was a really interesting ID conundrum. However, the bizarre sight of a late April hoopoe bounding over Aberdeen harbour and landing on the footpath in front of me, before vanishing over the golf course towards the south will be hard to beat.
 

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