Friday, 28 December 2012

My top 3 birds of 2012

Looking back over my birding year and trying to pick three personal favourite birds wasn't an easy task, not because there was so many to choose from, more because making my top three took more than just rarity value, other considerations had to be taken into account - location, views, and the whole birding experience on the day.

Before revealing my top three here are a few birds who made my shortlist but didn't quite make this years podium - a bit biased towards the south-east side of England but still not a bad collection!

  • Desert Wheatear: Worthing - a cracking confiding male along the promenade
  • Baillon's Crake: Rainham - it took me three attempts but great views in the end
  • Little Bittern: Rickmansworth - two attempts this time, but again stunning views
  • Buff-bellied Pipit: Queen Mother Reservoir - more amazingly close views 
  • Melodious Warbler: Leyton - a truly urban setting for this displaced Hippolais Warbler
  • Blyth's Reed Warbler: Warham Greens - not the best views or looking bird but an extraordinary song from this singing Spring male
  • Snow Buntings: Salthouse - a big single flock of over 100 birds in off the sea
  • Bonaparte's Gull: Barking Bay - this diminutive Gull was another first for London

In 3rd place and just pipping the Desert Wheatear into Bronze medal position was the Short-billed Dowitcher at Lodmoor. Having driven for over three hours to be on site for first light, this bird showed and performed amazingly well (despite hearing it could be difficult) in perfectly still conditions in the bright early morning light of Autumn.


In second place and picking up a well deserved if not slightly biased Silver was the Wryneck I found on Wanstead Flats - seeing other peoples birds is OK but finding your own is surely what it's all about! This bird stayed loyal to the small group of Hawthorn bushes in the SSSI area for six days - elusive at times but giving rewarding views to many who persevered and was joined by a Common Redstart and a Pied Flycatcher at one stage only adding to Wanstead's draw at the time.


In this years prime position and the 2012 Gold medallist just has to be the Spring adult Cream-coloured Courser - what a bird, what a setting! This near mythical bird was the perfect 5 out of 5 Chili's for me! There may well be one or two other records in the next decade but I doubt there will be another adult spring bird for a very long time and sharing that experience with Jono, Shaun and Tim in the evening sunshine on the hilltops of Herefordshire will live long in the memory - which is why the CCC earns its rightful place for me on top of this years podium.

Gold - pure, pure gold

You may have a differing opinion or have seen better birds but that's what makes birding the great hobby it is...experiences and opinions! 

Have a great bird-filled 2013 and if it's half as good as 2012 we are all in for a cracker!

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