2015 has been a great year of birding, and general wildlife-ing. I started the year with 220 birds on my British list, and by the end of it I've managed to get 21 lifers or British ticks - not bad going! I'm not a year lister by any means, but my British year list for 2015 is my highest yet, at 186 species. I've also religiously used BirdTrack to record my sightings, keeping a detailed account of my birding this year. Here's a map of my BirdTrack sightings this year:
Here's a brief round up of my 2015 lifers and British ticks, but please have a read of my previous posts for more detailed accounts of my birding this year.
1. Short-eared Owl - 23/1/15, RSPB Nene Washes, Cambridgeshire
A trip to the Cambridgeshire fens in search of this beautiful owl was very successful, with 3 individuals seen. 12 Cranes were also a highlight of that day.
2. Dartford Warbler - 18/2/15, Hampshire
Back in February fellow young birder, Josie Hewitt, kindly invited me to stay with her in Hampshire, where she is lucky enough to have Dartford Warblers on patch. So we went out to ring them, which was a fabulous experience.
3. Ring Ouzel - 19/4/15, Peak District
Whilst on my Duke of Edinburgh Silver practice expedition in the Peaks, a flock of Rouzels flew over me and landed long enough for a reasonable view, needless to say I was ecstatic to get a lifer on DofE!
4. Night-heron (British tick) - 26/4/15, Attenborough NR, Notts
5. Grasshopper Warbler - 26/4/15, Attenborough NR, Notts
A brilliant day twitching the Night-Heron just half an hour from my house, and watching my first Gropper reeling away by the path.
6. Little Tern - 28/5/15, RSPB Titchwell Marsh, Norfolk
7. Black-winged Stilt (British tick) - 28/5/15, RSPB Frampton Marsh, Lincolnshire
Little Tern was quite a surprise at Titchwell on a great day's birding in Norfolk, and a slight detour to Frampton for the stilt pair delivered the goods. I only managed digiscoped record shots of them both though:
8. Stone Curlew - 11/6/15, Weeting Heath, Norfolk
In June I was invited down to Suffolk to be on Springwatch Extra (a brilliant experience), so I did some birding at RSPB Minsmere, and stopped at Weeting Heath on the way back for the Stone Curlews. Distant views, but a great tick.
9. Lesser Whitethroat - 15/6/15, Attenborough NR, Notts
I finally managed to see this species at my local Attenborough Nature Reserve after several failed attempts, and was treated to lovely views.
10. Black-necked Grebe - 1/7/15, East Midlands
11. Montagu's Harrier - 12/7/15, RSPB Blacktoft Sands, Yorkshire
Close views of Tree Sparrows were another highlight of a brilliant day at Blacktoft, getting great (if a tad distant) views of the male and female Monty's.
12. Red-footed Falcon - 16/7/15, Stoke
This stunning little falcon showed really well, hovering just above the crowd of birders, a great twitch.
13. Sabine's Gull - 11/8/15, Pennington Flash, Manchester
As I was staying with my granddad near Warrington, it was too good an opportunity to not twitch the Sab's, another lifer that showed brilliantly.
14. Manx Shearwater - 24/8/15, Bardsey Island
15. Storm Petrel - 25/8/15, Bardsey Island
16. Long-tailed Skua - 26/8/15, Bardsey Island
In August I went on the excellent Next Generation Birders trip to the magical Bardsey Island, off North Wales, where we stayed in the Bird Observatory. Thousands of Manxies were a daily spectacle, ringing Stormies one night was just amazing, and one day a juvenile Long-tailed Skua sauntered slowly past the west side of the island, giving great scope views. A brilliant week of birding with other people my age!
17. Red-flanked Bluetail - 19/10/15, Wells Woods, Norfolk
A twitchy day trip to Norfolk, stopping first at Wells Woods, produced one lifer, a juvenile Red-flanked Bluetail (my photos aren't great though). Unfortunately I missed out on the other 2 rarities in the woods that day (Blyth's Reed Warbler and Hume's Leaf Warbler), but a very pleasant day in Norfolk nonetheless!
18. Firecrest - 28/10/15, Portland
19. Pallas's Warbler - 28/10/15, Portland
Another NGB Bird Observatory trip, this time to Portland in Devon. There were always several Firecrests in the Obs garden, a few of which were ringed by the ringers on the trip. A Pallas's Warbler caused a lot of excitement when it was spotted down the road from the Obs, turning up in the nets in the Obs garden on our last day! (Please click on an image to view the whole photo).
20. Red-rumped Swallow - 23/12/15, Holkham, Norfolk
21. Iceland Gull - 23/12/15, Kings Lynn, Norfolk
Another day trip to Norfolk for some winter birding (and a bit of twitching). The Red-rumped Swallow showed very well, and I managed a couple of half-decent digiscoped record shots. Then we stopped in Kings Lynns on the way back home for the Iceland Gull, which posed for us just a few metres from the car. My last lifers of 2015.
So that's my 2015 lifers and British ticks, finishing the year with a British list of 241. This year I started learning a lot more about other forms of wildlife, like bees, butterflies and moths, getting a moth trap in October. I was only able to put the trap out once this year, but in 2016 I plan to put it out a lot more!
In October I also got some new Opticron kit - a pair of Verano HD 10x42 binoculars and an MM3 60 ED scope. My first time using them was on the Portland trip at the end of October, when the scope was particularly useful for sea watching. In December I also got a phonescoping adapter for my iPhone, which is really great, especially for trying to photograph moving birds, like the Red-rumped Swallow. My new bins focus a lot closer than my old ones, so I'm looking forward to using them for watching and identifying invertebrates in 2016.
I hope everyone had a great 2015, and I wish you all the best for the next year!
Since the end of October (after returning from Portland Bird Observatory) I haven't been able to get out birding at all, as this last half term has been full of A Level work. After Portland my British list stood at 239, having got 19 lifers or British ticks this year. So I was desperate to get out birding, and use my Opticron bins and scope, when the Christmas holidays came around!
I recently acquired an Opticron digiscoping adapter for my iPhone, and this was my first time using it. It soon proved very useful when trying to digiscope my first 20th lifer of the year...
On the 23rd of December, my grandparents and I went to Norfolk for the day. We first stopped at Choseley Barns, unfortunately dipping on the Rough-legged Buzzards. However twitching the Red-rumped Swallow at Holkham was much more successful! The bird showed very well, not particularly close though. But I was very pleased with the digiscoped records shots I managed to get with my new digiscoping adapter and iPhone:
We then moved on to RSPB Titchwell Marsh, where Siskins and Bramblings were flitting about in the trees and on the feeders by the visitors centre. Other good birds included Knot, Turnstone, Water Rail, Water Pipit (year tick), and plenty of wildfowl, including some smart male Teal, Wigeon, Pintail, Shoveler, Red-crested Pochard and Brent Geese. A Chinese Water Deer was also seen on the marsh opposite the pools.
On the journey back home, we stopped in Kings Lynn to twitch the Iceland Gull, which posed by the river just a few metres from the car! A fabulous last lifer of 2015!
I saw my first December moth at the end of the year as well, on my grandparents kitchen window.
I spent New Year's Eve in London, and on the drive down I counted over 60 Red Kites as we drove along the motorway, with lovely views of them in the sun.
I'm Sorrel, a young birder and wildlife artist based in the East Midlands - this is my blog all about my birding and wildlife adventures.