31 Dec 2016

Review of the year.

I'm siting here writing this on New Years Eve in sweltering heat in Wodonga, Australia where we've spent the Christmas with my daughter Amy, her husband Lachlan & granddaughter Lizzie. I'm surrounded by the calls of Galahs, Crested Pigeons, Eastern Rosella's and Rainbow Lorikeets. The only familiar sound are the House Sparrows cheeping in the yard!

2016 has been a momentous year for many good reasons but many bad. From a personal point of view Jan & I have moved house and now, hopefully, will have a home and garden that the family will get as much enjoyment from as we will when they all come and stay - once we finish renovating it hat is! Any house where you get Little Owls on the roof and Pinkfeet flying over daily has got to be good in my opinion.

One real sad event was the death and funeral of our good friend Pete Antrobus at an indecently early age. He will be sorely missed by all of his family and mates.

From a birding perspective one of the undoubted highlights has been the trip to Australia and the opportunity to band (ring) once  I was here. More locally I found the first Nightingale for Flintshire a couple of hundred metres from my office and on the same day saw the 1st Nightjar on Hilbre for over 40 years! Surprisingly I've seen no new birds for Cheshire this year although there was a retrospective tick when the peep found by Al Conlin several years ago was finally accepted as a Western Sandpiper. All credit to Al for his perseverance!

Our now annual trip to Shetland saw Chris, Fred, Mark and me once again on Fair Isle and we plan to  return again in 2017. Just prior to that trip Fred and I travelled to Shetland for a long anticipated first for Britain - a Siberian Accentor. Who'd have thought when we sat on the plane home that this was the start of an unprecedented influx of 12 birds with over 200 being seen in western Europe this autumn.

This year has also seen the arrival of a few birds I never thought I'd see in my lifetime in Britain - the first of these was a Black-billed Cuckoo on the Western Isles .

This bird has decreased massively in the USA and the last two UK records haven't been twitchable. This bird stayed for nearly a month.

Next up was what could be the UK's first accepted Purple Swamphen that turned up at Minsmere before moving north to Lincolnshire.

The Dalmation Pelican that turned up in Cornwall didn't inspire much enthusiasm but I caught up with it on a trip to Somerset to visit mum & dad. Time will tell whether this will be accepted as a truly wild bird but I don't hold out much hope.

I had to wait a few months until the next new bird but a trip to Scilly to catch up with a Cliff (cheers Fred!) Swallow was well worth the effort. Another major grip back! As was the Dusky Thrush that was found in a Derbyshire orchard. Another bird on my most wanted list. The Chestnut Bunting we saw on Papa Westray last year has been accepted as the 1st record for the UK and was a retrospective British tick.

Hopefully the Blue Rock Thrush currently entertaining the masses in Gloucestershire will hand around until I get back!

Heres to 2017. Time for another beer and check the beef thats slowly cooking n the barbeque!


Fred Fearn said...

Wood swallow on Scilly?!? Too much time down under :)

Happy New Year mate, hope the Cotswolds blue boy sticks for you,

Anthony Cook said...

Just seen a couple of Waxwings from my garden in the port.