- Prior to 2015, I had only been birding in Norfolk once (and only visited one further time with family), so with friends, this year I visited East Anglia 6 times and got to know arguably the best county for birding a lot better.
- I did my first major day twitch by heading to Bryher on Scilly for the Great Blue Heron (plus the Tresco Black Duck for good measure) with Scott and Liam. This experience was manic, but fantastic all the same!
- I also went with Jonnie and Matt to Aberdeen to see the Harlequin Duck on the River Don, which was absolutely one of the best birds of the year just because of how tame it was and the most unlikely of locations.
- As a stand out day, just before Jonnie left to go to Norway, we woke up at Spurn and immediately went into panic stations as a Laughing Gull was found at Kilnsea Wetlands. Later a Marsh Warbler was found and then ringed and we enjoyed incredible views of a Bee-eater flying around catching insects at Church Field. That really was an awesome day!
- The avian highlight of the year was almost definitely the Hudsonian Godwit at Meare Heath next to Ham Wall, Somerset which is a bird I really never actually expected to see and I was amazed as how good it actually was in the flesh.
- I spent a week on the Scillies and did a pelagic every day of my stay. I didn't get my hoped for Wilson's Storm-petrel, but everything else was fantastic and I learnt an awful lot.
- For the first time I visited Asia as I went on holiday to Turkey and although it wasn't a birding holiday, I got some fantastic species and some superb lifers, just around the confines of the hotel.
- That brings me onto how this year was of course important for me because I met Danni. We first met at the Red-throated Pipit near Stockport, but this was all too brief. Pretty much the following weekend, Danni, Jake, Scragg,
Aidanand I visited the Cairngorms where Danni and I really hit it off and having a chat whilst sat in the sun on Mt Cairngorm watching a very tame pair of Ptarmigan will stay with us forever. Since then, we have been away on holiday to Turkey, moved into a house together in Lincolnshire and as of tomorrow, we are getting a dog called Tia! It's been fantastic and this beats all the other birding experiences without a doubt. There'll always be other birds, but I think I've got something much rarer.
I ended 2015 with a life list of 366 after seeing 25 lifers, including a few well overdue species I've always missed:
Hudsonian Godwit, Harlequin Duck, Hudsonian Whimbrel, Great Blue Heron, Black Duck, Pacific Diver, White-billed Diver, Red-footed Falcon, Gull-billed Tern, Ring-billed Gull, Melodious Warbler, Ortolan, Red-throated Pipit, Little Bunting, Golden Oriole, Cirl Bunting Serin, Wryneck, Red-flanked Bluetail, Ferruginous Duck, Black Stork, Greater Yellowlegs, Crag Martin, Lady Amherst's Pheasant, Marsh Warbler,
Whilst travelling the country a lot more, I was able to accumulate quite a decent yearlist and by July I had already beaten my previous best and got over 250, One of my main highlights for the year was being able to go back through my life list and revisit certain species I saw quite early on and not since, birds I had only ever seen once and poorly as well as different plumages of certain species. Certain species that stand out from this are:
Quail, Rose-coloured Starling, Wilson's Phalarope, Olive-backed Pipit, Short-toed Lark, Richard's Pipit, Sooty Shearwater, Bean Goose, Lapland Bunting, Crane, Green-winged Teal, King Eider, Pallid Harrier and Spoonbill
I ended the year on 302 species with my last 5 yearticks being: Golden Pheasant (Wolferton after about the 100th attempt!), Grey Phalarope (Cley) Long-eared Owl (Marton Mere), Green-winged Teal, Ring-necked Duck (Both Caerlaverock)
As a group, we finished the year in the Crown and Anchor pub at Spurn all dressed up nicely and reminisced in what was a fantastic year! Happy New Year everyone!