To round up my posts of 2014 I’ve been through the blog and picked out my ten favourite birds of the year. The ten selected are certainly not the rarest but those I enjoyed watching most of all and I’ve had to factor in how long I’d wanted to see a particular species.
As with any restricted list a couple just missed out including the rare American Buff-bellied Pipit in Cheshire, King Eider in Scotland, Black-winged Stilts at Summer Leys, Ross’s Gull at Topsham and the Bonapartes Gull at Marsh Lane.
I would like to thank in particular Vern Wright and Pete Walkden who have both kindly helped the blog out with photographs when I haven't been able to get a digiscoped image myself.
10) The Hopwood Great Grey Shrike
This long stayer was a superb bird to have located within a few miles from home. It was a species I’d struggled to connect with so it was great to get some stunning views from the road side. Fingers crossed he fancies a return visit this winter.
9) Black Restart
Remained a very much a bogey species throughout the year then suddenly they were dropping out the sky all around Worcestershire. The best views however were obtained at Sharpness, Gloucestershire just a few miles from Slimbridge. Great bird, great weather.
8) Sooty Shearwater – Perhaps a strange choice but I managed to get some amazing views of these sea birds when at Spurn. The rough sea had forced two birds to fly very close to the point and I picked them up through my scope and watched them closely are they headed north. Their silvery white underwing coverts really caught the eye in the autumn sunshine.
7) Grey Phalarope
I had a wonderful couple of hours in Northamptonshire watch this beauty at very close quarters. I’d missed one in Birmingham when I away in Scotland however as luck would have it this bird was really confiding and didn’t take any notice of the attention it was receiving.
6) Great Reed Warbler
Probably the most distinctive call I’d heard this year and a great deal of patience was needed staying at a reed bed. Patience was rewarded with a few minutes of superb viewing at one of my favourite locations, Slimbridge.
5) Red-flanked Bluetail
Most definitely one bird that created a major twitch down in Somerset. The local lanes were jammed on arrival and a muddy walk down hill walk was rewarded with some stonking views as the bird fed on a selection of meal worms put down by the photographers.
4) Masked Shrike
I’d always wanted to go to Spurn and this little beauty gave me the perfect reason to. A cracking day out with Sauntering Phil and Vern resulted in some great views and in addition we also saw Red-breasted Flycatcher, Barred Warbler and a host of great sea birds.
3) Montagu Harrier – To watch a male Monty flying around in Norfolk was an amazing sight. Its flight was a scene of pure beauty and was almost tern like. With less than ten pairs in the UK I will deem myself very lucky to see this bird of prey.
2) Bridled Tern
I simply adore Terns so you can only imagine my delight when I saw on RBA a Bridled Tern had returned to Inner Farne on the day I arrived in Northumbria! The next day couldn’t come quick enough as we headed out to Staple Island followed by Inner Farne. By 2pm the Bridled Tern had not been seen however after a good search and many attacks by the Arctic Terns the bird was seen in flight and then landed fairly close to the jetty area.
1) Golden Eagle
This warrior of the sky was a bird I’ve wanted to see since I bought my first bird book as a youngster. To see Golden Eagle hunting through the valleys of the Findhorn Valley was a memorable experience that will always stay with me. Just amazing……………