Wednesday, 7 February 2018

2017 A Big Work Year!

Working for Birding Ecotours I get the opportunity to travel around the world and show people some amazing birds, and for that I am very lucky, and truly grateful. During 2017 it was clear I’d got a busy calendar to a wide variety of locations around the world, and a few gaps where I was free to go and fit some ‘extra’ birding in. Early on I thought I had a good chance to get 2,000 species from my tours, and then with a few personal trips I set myself the target of getting 3,000. A substantial proportion of my Life List!

The year was a huge success and by the end of it I finished up on 3,080 species! Target achieved. So how did I get there…. read on...

January 2017

Vietnam – a city break with my first bird of 2017 being Black Drongo
Thailand – a city stop in Bangkok
Sri Lanka – a two-week trip, main highlight was Serendib Scops Owl and loads of endemics
UK – my first visit home of the year coincided with a UK mega close to home – Pine Bunting
Dubai – an airport layover with that highly sought Laughing Dove!  

At the end of January I was at 415 species

Serendib Scops Owl - Sri Lankan Endemic

February 2017

Thailand -  a tour giving excellent views of numerous highly sought species such as Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Nordmann's Greenshank, Chinese Egret etc...

At the end of February I was at 694 species

Spoon-billed Sandpiper - mega wader

March 2017

Thailand – more great birds like Siberian Rubythroat and Blue Pitta
UK and USA – a very brief stop with a handful of not-so-exciting year ticks
Costa Rica – a mega-filled tour taking me into early-April, Resplendent Quetzal was a memorable species, as were the several species of Antpitta. Here I hit 1,000 for the year (18th March 2017) with Dull-mantled Antbird.

At the end of March I was at 1,202 species

Dull-mantled Antbird - #1,000

April 2017

Costa Rica – finishing the above and enjoying some exciting spring visible migration
Panama – a brief layover
Colombia – my first trip to this incredible country – Andean Cock-of-the-rock was a huge highlight and 1,500th year tick on 28th April 2017 (Black-fronted Wood Quail)

At the end of April I was at 1,531 species

Andean Cock-of-the-rock

May 2017

USA – a brief stop in Florida, then a couple of weeks in Ohio at the brilliant Biggest Week in American Birding, a time packed full of migrating warblers and numerous other birds.
Colombia – a couple of days birding in Baranquilla on my way to Peru
Peru – 10 days sampling the high Andes and the Amazon – found a mega rarity and saw Diademed Sandpiper-plover, Giant Hummingbird, Inca Tern, Andean Condor, the list goes on and on!
USA – a flight delay gave me an expensive two year ticks in New Jersey (dipped on The Boss)!

At the end of May I was at 1,828 species

Diademed Sandpiper-plover

June 2017

Effectively a ‘month off’ with time in the UK and a trip to Iceland (amazing Harlequin Ducks and Gyr Falcon)

At the end of June I was at 1,891 species

Harlequin Duck

July 2017

Thailand – a brief trip to the south - some nice Pittas and Trogons
Uganda – my first trip there for 20 years (Shoebill in the bag!) Forest Robin became number 2,000 for the year (27th July 2017)

At the end of July I was at 2,166 species

Shoebill - had been my 'most-wanted' bird to see for about the last 20 years, since the last time I was in Uganda! I think this becomes my #1 bird... 

August 2017

Uganda - continuation of above tour with Green-breasted Pitta NESTING!!
UK – a brief trip home for the Bird Fair

At the end of August I was at 2,383 species

Andy and John representing Birding Ecotours at the British Bird Fair

September 2017

Australia – spent the month in South Australia and Queensland got my 4,000th Life Bird (Thick-billed Grasswren) and 2,500th year tick (Dusky Woodswallow) lots of amazing Outback birds too. Also was present when Dave and Sue smashed the South Australia year list record (details here)!

At the end of August I was at 2,383 species

Letter-winged Kite is one of the best-looking birds of prey in the world

October 2017

UK – got some Autumn birding in at home for the first time in year, Arctic Warbler was nice here
India – Cheer Pheasant and so many other great India birds
Java – a 24hr layover and scored Javan Banded Pitta, Javan Trogon and Javan Cochoa!

At the end of October I was at 2,755 species

Javan Banded Pitta - WOW!

November 2017

West Papua – a month of Birds-of-paradise, Paradise Kingfishers, Fruit Doves and generally spectacular birds and I got number 3,000 for the year, Hook-billed Kingfisher (24th November 2017)

At the end of November I was at 3,020 species

Hook-billed Kingfisher - #3,000 for 2017! Made it...

(Birds-of-paradise photos and report coming soon.....)

December 2017

Australia – A trip around the Southwest, and Sydney, lots of SW Endemics
New Caledonia – my final tour of the year with Kagu the star bird
UK – Christmas in Belfast gave me my final year tick of the year, Hooded Crow. Exciting way to finish I know….

At the end of December, and therefore at the end of 2017 I was at 3,080 species

Kagu - a nice way to round off 2017! 

It wasn’t all about the birds, though they were the main targets at most places I went. I also came across some of the world’s best mammals such as Lion, Leopard, Mountain Gorilla, Bengal Tiger, Jungle Cat, Asian Elephant, African Elephant, Hippopotamus, Koala, Red Kangaroo, and a huge number of monkeys, squirrels and 'small mammals' etc etc… not to mention all of the incredible reptiles, amphibians, and insects….  

Male Bengal Tiger

Summary.... 2017 rocked! Now bring on 2018...!!! (My year list at the end of January 2018 is higher than it was at the same time in 2017... shall I go for another 3K???)..... 

I can't thank everyone enough who helped me along the way to make all of the above possible and generally a lot of fun! I met a lot of new people along the way and have made a lot of great friends old and new over the last year and I look forward to meeting you all again in the future. 

Check out the Birding Ecotours website or blog for trip reports as most of the above were all enjoyed on our excellent range of birding tours.