30 Dec 2014

Well, that's 2014 done & dusted!

Well. What a year both ornithologically and domestically. Milestones were reached in both. Our son, Joe, is getting married to Danielle next year and we couldn’t be more pleased. That’ll be both our kids married and starting new chapters of their lives.

Ornithologically it was a year of amazing birds and some great moments. A Chimney Swift on Lewis at the end of October was my 500th BOU species!

 Earlier the same month I actually saw two of my bogey birds on Shetland - a really showy White’s Thrush and our very own self found Lanceolated Warbler!

See here for last years review.

With the amount of time I spend on Shetland it’s only fitting that I’ve joined the Shetland Bird Club.
Shetland really produced the goods this year with my second Siberian Rubythroat and second Myrtle Warbler as well as the afore mentioned White’s Thrush & Lanceolated Warbler. Two in a year – I’d only seen my first back at the beginning of the year when one was found coming to feeders in County Durham.

  Another welcome addition was the long staying American Coot at Loch Flemington. Although classed by some as an uninspiring bird it’s still a real rarity with less than 10 UK records. Cretzchmars Bunting, Short-toed Eagle & Spectacled Warbler were also excellent birds to catch up with.

Another god bird was the Eastern Black Redstart at Scalby Mills. Although currently just a race there is some talk of it being a future potential split and becoming a full species in its own right.
I managed to see another major bird missing from my BOU British list in December in the salubrious surroundings of an industrial estate near Wakefield. Avid patch watcher Jonny Holliday found a Blyth’s Pipit! This uber birders bird was one I’ve really wanted to see and with three being found this year I hoped one would stick around long enough for me to catch up with. It did & I did along with Steve Williams. So I end the year on 501 BOU.
I also managed to see my 300th species in Cheshire – a Barred Warbler present for one day in a private garden on the Wirral. Night Heron and Little Bunting were also new Cheshire birds for me.

My twitching career goes all the way back to my teenage years spent in Suffolk during the 1970’s whilst my Cheshire list started in 1979 when I went to Manchester University. I can’t claim that Desert Warbler was my 1st Cheshire tick but it was certainly near the top of the list!

During the intervening times I’ve seen some amazing birds and been to some of the most beautiful places in the British Isles. Places some people only dream of visiting. I’ve also spent time at some of the worst places you can imagine!
To me the numbers are unimportant. What matters is the memories. The people and places. I’ve made some great friends over the years and shared some fantastic experiences. The roll call is too long to mention everyone but they’ll know who they are. When I’m incapable of getting out and about as much as I do now I’ll have these memories and all my notebooks with sketches, photos and notes to refer back to.
Having got my A ringing permit brings a new dimension to my hobby. Time spent on Hilbre is always precious and through my connection with the SCAN ringing group I’ve been lucky enough to be involved with seabird ringing on Puffin Island and canon netting waders. I’m learning something new every time I go out…….
As well as the ringing and general birding I’ve enjoyed my second year of the ‘Patch Challenge’ and spent a lot of time on foot around the house recording as many species as I can. Some good records this year with a number of ‘first’ for the area. I finished up with 106 species – not bad for an inland area consiting mainly of farmland a few ponds and a large wood!
I’ve also enjoyed carrying out survey work on a local farm for Cheshire Wildlife Trust and had the added bonus of being able to ring Swallow nestlings in the farm buildings.
 So what will 2015 bring? A wedding for a start! We’ve also managed to book on to Fair Isle for the 1st week in October so will spend the week here rather than on Shetland mainland. Possibly a risky strategy if something big turns up elsewhere on Shetland but I’ve always wanted to stay at Fair Isle Bird Observatory and I’ll hopefully be able to help with the ringing. Hopefully we’ll be lucky enough to banish the other Shetland bogey birds – Pallas’s Grasshopper Warbler and Yellow-breasted Bunting

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