Friday, 1 January 2016

Happy New Year

Well, 2015 draws to a close. The first two thirds of the year were fantastic. I got all over the country seeing all kinds of incredible birds and other wildlife, giving my life list a good kick. Sadly the Autumn was incredibly lacking as my days in the field became days in the lab and all the joys of a fantastic Autumn went flying by. The being said, my resolution at the end of last year was to focus on my life list and go for more serious twitches, and I think its fair to say I have done that, having twitched as far north as Aberdeen and as far south as Hampshire. Its also worht mentioning that I got myself a Swaro scope this year, and the difference that has made to my birding has been incredible. Seawatching is now so different to what it once was. Its all been a good do I would say...

I had hoped to get more Megas than I did, but 6 is not a bad haul. 3 of those were waders, 2 were ducks and the final one was the late Crag Martin in Chesterfield. The standout of those? Easily the Harlequin Duck, which is to date the best bird I have ever seen, not just because its an awesome bird, but it performed outstandingly and I had to put so much into getting there to see it. Also shout out to the Black Scoter, which I refound and then sold a photo of, and the Hudsonian Godwit after I ran out of lectures to see it.
-Harlequin Duck, Aberdeen (17.01.2015)
-Black Scoter, Cheswick Sands (21.02.2015)
-Hudsonian Godwit, Meare Heath (30.04.2015)
Some cracking birds have been added to the life list this year. Obviously its not just been Megas that I've gone after but a host of scarce and rarer species too. 32 species have been added onto the life list. Highlights are hard to choose, but first shoutout must go to the Lady Amherst Pheasant, a bird with impending extinction in this country. 6 hours wait for 10 seconds of bird was hardly worth it but I've seen it now. A few tarts have fallen too, like Long-Tailed Duck and Woodlark. I also got a self found lifer, which are few and far between these days, when I stumbled across that Caspian Gull at Spurn. Not only that, but its my first ever description species, so that was very exciting. A few scarcer species really tarted themselves out allowing me to get some cracking shots. Red-footed Falcon, Sabines Gull, Laughing Gull and Bee Eater the real stars. And a final mention to the Feas Petrel, what a bird to have seen.
-Caspian Gull, Kilnsea Wetlands (09.09.2015)
-Laughing Gull, New Brighton (06.02.2015)
-European Bee-Eater, Kilnsea (13.06.2015)
-Red-Footed Falcon, Chatterley Whitfield Colliery (28.07.2015)
Soil Hill
Despite all the Megas and the twitching, I think the place where I really got to grips with my birding was Soil Hill. Learning to drive over the summer meant I had plenty of time to check the hill for any birds, and I was rewarded with some real goodies. My site list got a tremendous boost picking up 16 patch ticks, most of which were unusual records. The best bird I found up there was undoubtedly the Nuthatch (Patch first), but special mention to Common Tern (1st North Halifax Record for 2 Years), Red Kite, Grasshopper Warbler, Tree Pipit, Spotted Flycatcher and Twite. Additional patch ticks included: Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Oystercatcher, Greenfinch, Willow Warbler, Little Owl, Sand Martin, Canada Goose, Siskin, 
-Spotted Flycatcher
So a full breakdown of the yearlist
I clocked out this year on 227 species, but only one additional species after September, leaving me to wonder just how many I could have got if I had time in the Autumn. Still, its an improvement on last years total and thats what I was going for really. A full list of lifers now:

Harlequin Duck, Great Grey Shrike, Laughing Gull, Surf Scoter, Long-Tailed Duck, Black Scoter, American Wigeon, Bean Goose, Lady Amherst's Pheasant, Black Winged Stilt, Black-crowned Night Heron, Hudsonian Godwit, Montagu's Harrier, Red-throated Pipit, Lesser Scaup, Wood Warbler, Greater Yellowlegs, Red-necked Phalarope, Alpine Swift, European Bee-eater, Grasshopper Warbler, Marsh Warbler, White-winged Black Tern, Woodlark, Hudsonian Whimbrel, Red-footed Falcon, Sabines Gull, Ring-billed Gull, Black Stork, Mealy Redpoll, Feas Petrel, Caspian Gull, Crag Martin, 

And the complete yearlist: 

Dunnock, Blue Tit, Black-Headed Gull, Blackbird, Robin, Common Gull, Carrion Crow, House Sparrow, Great Tit, Starling, Woodpigeon, Magpie, Jackdaw, Great Northern Diver, Treecreeper, Feral Pigeon, Lesser Black-Backed Gull, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Great Crested Grebe, Goldcrest, Coal Tit, Long-Tailed Tit, Kestrel, Herring Gull, Nuthatch, Greater Spotted Woodpecker, Grey Wagtail, Wren, Little Grebe, Redwing, Mistle Thrush, Pied Wagtail, Mallard, Rook, Yellowhammer, Fieldfare, Lapwing, Grey Heron, Collard Dove, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk, Greater Black-Backed Gull, Mute Swan, Hooded Crow, Graylag Goose, Pheasant, Common Buzzard, Curlew, Goosander, Greenfinch, Oystercatcher, Redshank, Dipper, Goldeneye, Moorhen, Harlequin Duck, Pink-Footed Goose, Meadow Pipit, Gadwall, Wigeon, Coot, Tufted Duck, Cormorant, Skylark, Reed Bunting, Golden Plover, Pochard, Stonechat, Linnet, Snow Bunting, Water Rail, Common Snipe, Bullfinch, Song Thrush, Willow Tit, Tree Sparrow, Brambling, Canada Goose, Shoveler, Barn Owl, Sanderling, Turnstone, Mediterranean Gull, Purple Sandpiper, Knot, Dunlin, Red Grouse, Great Grey Shrike, Jay, Laughing Gull, Kingfisher, Smew, Shelduck, Surf Scoter, Fulmar, Rock Pipit, Gannet, Common Scoter, Eider, Guillemot, Stock Dove, Red-Throated Diver, Mandarin, Red Kite, Slavonian Grebe, Long-Tailed Duck, Black Scoter, Black-Throated Diver, Ringed Plover, Red-Breasted Merganser, American Wigeon, Tawny Owl, Little Egret, Kittiwake, Pintail, Bean Goose, Whimbrel, Glaucous Gull, Little Ringed Plover, Chiffchaff, Whooper Swan, Little Owl, Barnacle Goose, Woodcock, Red-Legged Partridge, Lady Amherst's Pheasant, Green Woodpecker, Firecrest, Swallow, Siskin, Osprey, Egyptian Goose, Northern Wheatear, Willow Warbler, Blackcap, Ring Ouzel, House Martin, Sand Martin, Common Sandpiper, Yellow Wagtail, Black Winged Stilt, Avocet, Green Sandpiper, Marsh Harrier, Common Tern, Garganey, Whitethroat, Red Crested Pochard, Black-Crowned Night Heron, Cettis Warbler, Black-Tailed Godwit, Hudsonian Godwit, Sedge Warbler, Swift, Montagu's Harrier, Raven, Red-throated Pipit, Black Tern, Curlew Sandpiper, Grey Plover, Lesser Scaup, Black-Necked Grebe, Wood Warbler, Whinchat, Cuckoo, Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Grey Partridge, Spotted Flycatcher, Hobby, Brent Goose, Little Tern, Reed Warbler, Ring-Necked Parakeet, Greater Yellowlegs, Sandwich Tern, Red-Necked Phalarope, Lesser Whitethroat, Common Crossbill, Bar-Tailed Godwit, Lesser Redpoll, Alpine Swift, European Bee Eater, Puffin, Tree Pipit, Grasshopper Warbler, Corn Bunting, Marsh Warbler, Razorbill, Arctic Tern, Merlin, Spotted Redshank, Bearded Tit, Short-Eared Owl, Long-Eared Owl, Bittern, Twite, White-Winged Black Tern, Great White Egret, Greenshank, Woodlark, Dartford Warbler, Arctic Skua, Shag, Hudsonian Whimbrel, Balearic Shearwater, Manx Shearwater, Nightjar, Yellow-legged Gull, Red-footed Falcon, Sabines Gull, Ring-Billed Gull, Great Skua, Little Gull, Sooty Shearwater, Pomarine Skua, Barred Warbler, Red-backed Shrike, Black Stork, Garden Warbler, Hen Harrier, Ruff, Mealy Redpoll, Feas Petrel, Caspian Gull, Crag Martin

Even if the final total was less than I would have liked, without driving its still a pretty reasonable total. It gives me something to aim for in 2016.

None Birds
The number of invertebrates has increased since last year, largely as a result of the holiday down in Dorset. That being said, I only managed to get one butterfly lifer, although it is probably the most local butterfly species in the UK in Lulworth Skipper. A much needed addition to my butterfly list. Despite seeing plenty of dragonfly species there were no new additions to my dragonfly list. Moths had a great year, with 2 new Hawkmoth ticks, and a host of other nice species from down in Dorset. They were the real invert winners. 
Reptiles had a massive boost this year from Dorset, seeing all British species except adder. Mammals dropped off with nothing major to report there, although Otter and Sika Deer were obviously fantastic to see. 
-Lulworth Skipper
-Convolvulus Hawkmoth
-Yellow-legged Clearwing Moth
-Smooth Snake

2015 has been quite a year, and hopefully 2016 will also be awesome


  1. Very well done Daniel - some hard work there - especially the travelling. Do it now while you can and get lots of experience under your belt. When does job hunting start - is it next year ?

    1. Its at the moment really, just keeping an eye open. I graduate this summer so by then I'll hopefully have something sorted