01 January, 2012

You Were Warned...

So, here we go, the [slightly shorter and sweeter than I intended due to technical issues] Top Ten Birding Moments of 2011!

10. Firecrests, The Patch

Two Firecrests, two amazing encounters. Both on my Patch. Joy.

9. Red-flanked Bluetail, Durlston CP

One of the most-coveted birds going, imho. Not exactly the most forthcoming, but when she showed she did so so well and so close, yet so unbothered by us. Plus, did I mention - what a bird!! A true stunner.

8. Pallid Harrier vs Pied Wagtails, Mendips

Waiting 8 hours, yomping over hill and dale, enduring blazing sun and howling wind [well, sort of]. Getting a brief barely tickable view. Waiting more, finally getting the view desired, then heading back... The Pallid comes casually into sight right in front of me and 2 lucky others, only to be chased off by Pied Wagtails! I'm still sniggering.

7. Red Kite Out The Window!

The Gull Alarm works and how.

6. Wheatears on Rooftops, Gloucestershire and Mansands

Two rare wheatears, two roofs by the sea [well estuary], two crippling views. Its wonderful when a bird not only reads the script, but outdoes it.

5. The Day of The Skuas, Berry Head

233 skuas in a little over 8 hours, 88 of them Pomarine. Ho-ly Shiiiiiit. Much seawatching is just that. Ticking over 'ordinary' birds like Gannets and auks at best. [Though that's pretty unfair on them, but this isn't the place for that]. You sit and wait, sit and sit, sit and start singing..[[Ahem.]] But sometimes, just sometimes, something extraordinary happens, something that makes all the cold and wet and stiff necks and dead legs and pneumonia worth it. This was one of those somethings.

4. The Day of the Big Shears, Porthgwarra

Sometimes those somethings happen again. 23 large shearwaters, in frickin' sunshine! Having Great and Cory's flying side by side was one of those moments, you know? And they just kept on coming... There have been far bigger movements, but that day they came nicely spaced and in such good conditions.

3. Short-eared Owl, Hope's Nose

SEO on my Patch. Best views I've ever had. I can still see those eyes, looking right at me.

2. Pallas' Warbler, Prawle

At last. At long long last, after all those dips. Then to go there, look for it, work for it, find it, clinch it, and have it come down and perform so beautifully. Only reason this isn't number one is because now I want one on my

1. Patch Yearlist

Listing is a filthy habit. Its the birders' version of smoking. Does very little good and untold harm. But chasing a Patch List last year not only gave me something to concentrate on other than how unemployed I was, but it showed me how much is out there. I've been into birds since I was small, that's more than 3 decades of looking, but despite all that I should have seen around here, last year I actually beat my previous list total. It was hard [on my poor feet] yet rewarding, the satisfaction of every bird, the sheer joy of many of them, and yes the pride in how well I did. I thought 100 was acceptable and 120 a good target. I got 149. Boy dun good. :D

Just shows what a lot of effort can do. ;) The more you look, the more you see and so on. [Ok, I'm stopping with the cliches] I'm not going to be keeping up with quite so much effort, but there are things still to see - Spot Fly, Redstart and Marsh Tit for three - and one day I'll get that twitchable rarity. One day... ::Mutter mutter::

2011 was an interesting year, a very good one for birds - without trying I've seen more birds in Devon this year than ever before, and nearly matched my British record - and thankfully not ending with such a harsh early winter. What 2012 will herald {{Other than the End of the World, of course ;) }} we shall have to see.

Kentish fucking Plover, I hope.

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