Wednesday, 31 December 2014

The 'Cowboys' hottest 3 birds of 2014

I've just got enough time to squeeze in one final blogpost of 2014 before setting off for yet another liquid lunch and then onto New Years celebrations with friends - which doesn't bode well for being out on the patch New Years day to start the annual year list - maybe I'll start the list on the 2nd of Jan!

Anyway my top 3 birds for 2014 are as follows:

In third place and taking this years 'Bronzed Birds Eye Chilli' goes to the Short-toed Snake Eagle at Ashdown Forest, superb bird and great location and if my views had been better then this bird would have easily have taken 2nd spot, but as I had to tick and run on the day, the Snake Eagle just takes 3rd place.

3rd Place - If only my views had been this good
In second place and taking the 'Silver Scotch Bonnet Pepper' goes to another raptor and this time it's the juvenile Pallid Harrier at Tingwall airport on Shetland. Great views of this distinctly marked eastern European harrier. Watching this bird hunt over the moors surrounding the airport at close range was a real joy and a pleasure.

This years runner up
So to this years winner and picking up the much coveted award and top prize of the 'Golden Scorpion Trinidad Pepper' for 'The Cowboys hottest bird of the year 2014' goes to...the male Siberian Rubythroat at Levenwick, Shetland - no real surprises there then!

Top spot and the 2014 winner by a country mile
The Rubythroat was this years clear winner - I had the most amazing views of an absolutely stunning bird and I was lucky enough to share the experience with three good birding friends, this was one of those special birding moments that will live with me for a very long time.

Which just leaves me to wish you all a very happy new year and good birding in 2015, and I look forward to continuing to share my birding ups and downs with you all in the coming year.

Saturday, 27 December 2014

2014 patch list, limping until the end...

One last visit to the patch this year resulted in adding a much overdue Common Buzzard to the beleaguered list, with Wigeon also recently added this helped to bring my 2014 total up to its usual mediocre number which happens to be 94 this year.

In a year when free time became even more of a premium I added just three patch ticks in the form of Coal Tit, Lapland Bunting and Jack Snipe - It was somewhat disappointing not to personally add anything of new or of note to the general Wanstead totals but I shouldn't grumble as I just haven't had the time to give the patch my full attention. The undoubted highlight of the year though had to be the Spring Blyth's Reed Warbler singing in the brooms, this was a much overdue BB rarity for Wanstead and a great find for the ever present and persistent Mr Croft - I was frustratingly away at the time holidaying on the Isle of Skye with the family when I learnt of its appearance and had to live through the experience in a series of excited text messages, which only to added to my personal disappointment and agony!

Other minor personal highlights were seeing my first Spring migrants on the 15th March as a pair of Sand Martins flew over Alexandra Lake, and witnessing a good 'fall' of autumn migrants on the 31st August which included several Spotted Flycatchers, Northern Wheatears, Whinchats and Common Redstarts. The Lapland Bunting on the 16th October was a true gem, a quality patch tick made even better by the sight of three blokes (Jono, Dan & myself) dressed in smart work attire trampling through long grass in flat, polished shoes searching for it. Thankfully once found the bird was more than obliging and was seen down to just a few metres at times, which was a bonus as I had arrived straight from work without any optics.

Isle of Scillies, Penninis Head
A confiding Lapland Bunting on St Marys, Scillies - September 2013
This is what the Wanstead bird would have looked like if I had turned up with my camera.
What will 2015 bring? Most likely more grippage by my fellow patch workers but I'm used to that so nothing new there then. A Short-eared Owl or a Woodcock would be nice as both are overdue patch ticks, a large wader wouldn't go a miss either - Godwit, Whimbrel or Curlew - I'm not fussy anyone of those three I'd be happy with, and after a year off the return of an autumn Wryneck would be most welcome again, so would the return of a Lesser spotted Woodpecker although I fear these are fast becoming even more rarer than Wrynecks!

Whatever 2015 brings if i'm out there amongst it, then I'll be mostly happy...

Saturday, 20 December 2014