Sunday, 4 January 2009

2008 A Summary

2008 will go down as my best UK year list to date, though I've only ever really done one or two year lists, both finishing around 220ish. I finished the end of the year on 263 species, (excluding things like Feral Pigeon, Black Swan etc etc...). I was particularly happy with this, my target had been 250 and I had totally got washed out on my only Scottish highlands trip which resulted in none of the specialities! I also missed some very embarrassing migrants that I either ran out of time for, or, in the majority of cases something more 'important' turned up!
Everyone will have had many special birds during 2008, I added a decent amount to my UK list and had some wonderful birds, my top 5 were:
  1. Brown Shrike: I was present at more-or-less first light (what happened to work that day?) so had great views of the bird. I stayed up on the road as all the numpties ran off into the field (not sure if they had been given permission), they flushed the bird from the bottom of Old Fall right up to me! Cheers for that!! It then flew over the road and vanished for a while before being relocated several hundred metres away. I'd always wanted to see a Brown Shrike in the UK (after disappointingly brief views in Borneo) so was happy to get one so close to home! Other good birds seen that morning included Red-backed Shrike, 7 Yellow-browed Warblers, Red-breasted Flycatcher and a self-found Richard's Pipit.
  2. Bluethroat: Not here because it is rare, as it isn't particularly but here as it is one of my favourite birds and the first one that I have actually found myself, plus it was on the Northumberland mainland, so not particularly common up there either. Was twitched by quite a few birders which was cool. The story of this is strange to say the least! I was out surveying a stretch of beach when some of the local chavs had set light to some tyres, the plume of smoke was bellowing out to sea over the dunes and areas of scrub and forced down a group of migrating birds. On checking out these birds nothing but glimpses, then a pish and bamm it was sat in the top of some scrub, Bluethroat!!! Awesome! I had a feeling something good would be around, I'd already found a Wryneck the day before (and one later that day too) and a Black Redstart and the area was humping with common and scarce migrants.
  3. Red-footed Falcon: Again not particularly rare but it was the fact that i saw 5 different birds in a week as I was shooting all around the country with work at the time, and these birds were very close to where i was working. Birds in all kinds of plumages were observed. In a way this was quite a sour point as because I'd seen so many Red-foots in the spring I didn't bother with the bird at Tophill that turned out to be an Amur Falcon, even though my good friend Rich kept asking me to come and see it! I should have made the effort!!
  4. Lesser Grey Shrike: A bird a had always wanted to see, and probably should have/could have if it wasn't for those damn Sparrowhawks!!! This bird showed really well and was even singing and even made it onto my pissing list...
  5. Black Stork: A good addition to my list, this had become a bit of a bogey bird for me and i almost missed it again somewhere in deepest Yorkshire after having dipped it up somewhere near Newcastle. I was about to leave the site when someone found it - about 2km from where it had last been seen, it must have walked as it certainly wasn't seen in flight.

Other birds I was pleased to see during 2008 were Red-flanked Bluetail, Steppe Grey Shrike, Canavsback, Two-barred Crossbill, Desert Wheatear, Pied Wheatear, White-crowned Sparrow, Stilit Sandpiper, Wilson's Phalarope, Snow Goose, Blue-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, King Eider, Tawny Pipit, Hume's Warbler (2), Hooded Merganser, Cattle Egret (2), Marsh Warbler (7), Icterine Warbler (2), Sub-alpine Warbler, Wryneck (2), Hoopoe, Red-rumped Swallow, Pallas's Warbler, Radde's Warbler, Siberian Chiffchaff, Yellow-browed Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher (2), Black Redstart, Red-backed Shrike (2), Great Grey Shrike, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White Stork, European Storm-Petrel, Black-winged Stilit, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper (2), Glossy Ibis (2), Common Quail, Rough-legged Buzzard, European Golden Oriole (3), Common Crane, 'Black-bellied' Dipper, Tavener's and Cackling Canada Geese and lots and lots of self-found Waxwing.

Lets hope 2009 lives up to 2008!!!

Some phone-scoped pictures from 2008 (sorry for the poor quality for most of these):

(Great Grey Shrike, Desert Wheatear, Cattle Egret, Canvasback, Blue-winged Teal, Hooded Merganser, Hoopoe, Iceland Gull, Lesser Grey Shrike, Snow Bunting, Pied Wheatear, Red-rumped Swallow, Steppe Shrike, Tawny Pipit, Waxwing).

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