Saturday, 2 January 2016

Birding Highlights 2015!

In this post I will be going through the many highlights I have had this year. This is one of the best years I have had for birding.

The year started of with a bang, we went to Fraisthorpe on the 1st to see a LITTLE BUSTARD which is really rare in the UK and thankfully we got to see it. On the 4th we went to Wakefield to see the BLYTHS PIPIT which we previously saw back in 2014 but this time it showed really well also at Pugneys we saw a Caspian Gull and a Yellow Legged Gull. On the 16th I found an Iceland Gull in Knapton, Yorks. On the 18th we saw Black necked Grebes and Goosanders at Swillington. On the 31st we went to Nosterfield and saw a cracking drake American Wigeon, 2 Little Owl and a Dark Bellied Brent Goose.

Blyths Pipit

Little Bustard

On the 7th we saw one of my favourite birds, the Shorelark, a cracking bird, we saw this in Hartlepool. On the same day at Saltholme we saw 3 Red breasted Mergansers. On the 15th we went to Filey and saw a Surf Scoter and some Purple Sandpiper. We also saw on that day a Rough Legged Buzzard in Grindale, Greenland White Fronted Goose in Flamborough and some Snow Buntings in Wold Newton. On the 17th a group of 4 Waxwings turned up outside my house which was very nice and stayed to well within March.



On the 1st we saw a BLACK BELLIED DIPPER in a place called Harpham which showed very nicely. On the 11th we saw a Great Grey Shrike in Heslington. On the 22nd we again saw the Black Bellied Dipper in Harpham along with Scandi Rock Pipits at Flamborough plus Short Eared Owls and Corn Buntings at Buckton. On the 29th we saw a cracking LAUGHING GULL in Chesire.

Laughing Gull

Black Bellied Dipper
On the 5th we saw 4 stunning Black Necked Grebes in Swillington plus a Cettis Warbler at Fairburn. On the 7th we saw 4 Black Redstarts at Spurn plus a Sparrow Hawk in the hand also a very nice Short Eared Owl.
Black Necked Grebes
On the 2nd we went to see the breeding Montagus Harriers at Blacktoft Sands, we got to see both birds really well. There we also saw a pair of Garganey and our first Swift of the year. On the 17th we had a trip to Wintersett reservoir to see the LESSER SCAUP which showed very well just in front of the hide! On the 22nd of May we had a trip to Scotland, on the way up we had 2 Ospreys fly over the car!! On the 23rd we saw a many Black Grouse and a lesser redpoll. On the 24th we didn't see much other than Siskins plus we dipped on the Ospreys at Loch Garten! On the 25th we went to Loch Tarff and saw 2 cracking Black Throated Divers and also found a Song Thrush and a Common Sandpiper nest, also we saw a Dipper, Cuckoo and a Stonechat. After we headed to loch Ruthven and saw Slavonian Grebe and an Osprey. On the 26th we had a look round a few different sites and saw Whinchat, Cuckoo, Hooded Crows and a Grey Wagtail. On the 27th we checked some nests we had found (Common Sand, Oystercatcher) and also had very close views of a Common Sandpiper. On the 28th we headed to the Cairngorms and saw a Ptarmigan, 2 Ring Ouzel and in a little wood nearby we saw 2 Wood Warblers, 3 Tree Pipits, Spottted Flycatchers and a Peregrine. On the 29th we headed to Iona, Mull and saw one of my favourite birds, the Corncrake, we had great views of 2 and definitely one of my best ever highlights. On Mull we found 2 more Oystercatchers nests, 10 or so Black Guillemots, Wheatear, Raven and a Stonechat.

Ring Ouzel

Wood Warbler

Lesser Scaup
Only a couple of days after our Scotland trip, on the 2nd we went to Suffolk as I was doing a talk on Springwatch extra!! I was nervous but otherwise I really really enjoyed it! I did the talk at Minsmere where before and after the talk we had some time to look around, we saw 2 Hobby, 2 Little Gull, Green Woodpecker and a Bearded Tit. On the 22nd we went to Blacktoft again and had even better views of the male Montagus plus we saw a very nice Ring Necked Duck along with 2 Spotted Redshank.
Ring Necked Duck

Montagus Harrier
On the 4th we saw one of my favourite birds of the year, a LITTLE BITTERN! One showed well at RSPB Oldmoor flying over the reedbeds giving great views at times. We also saw a Black Necked Grebe and 2 Kingfisher. On the 21st we saw a Golden Oriole in Thirsk which gave very nice flight views across a small lake.
Little Bittern

Golden Oriole
On the 16th we headed to Spurn and saw a Little Stint, Pied and Spotted Flycatcher and a few Little Tern.

On the 5th and 6th we headed to the Spurn Migfest and saw tons of great species such as a cracking BLACK STORK, Red Backed Shrike, Pied and Spotted Fly, Whinchat, Sooty Shearwater, Arctic Skua, Med Gull. On the 6th I saw a Barred Warbler, Short Eared Owl, the same Red Backed Shrike, Wheatear, Willow Warbler and another Whichat. On the 13th we saw a Woodchat Shrike at Nosterfield.
Red Backed Shrike

Barred Warbler

Spotted Flycatcher
This was by far one of my best months, on the 4th we had a visit to Spurn and had incredible views of a cracking CITRINE WAGTAIL, showed only a couple of feet away! On that day we also saw 3 Yellow Browed Warblers, 2 Jack Snipe, Merlin, Redstart and a Lesser Redpoll. On the 10th we had another trip to Spurn which turned out to be another productive trip, we saw 2 American Golden Plover, Richards Pipit, Black Redstart, Short Eared Owl, Barn Owl, 2 Merlin, Med Gull, Wheatear and a Great Skua. On the 17th we had a trip to Flamborough where we saw some very nice species such as a SIBERIAN STONECHAT, Pallas Warbler, Great Grey Shrike, Firecrest and hundreds of Goldcrest.
Citrine Wagtail

Jack Snipe

American Golden Plover
On the 29th of October to the 1st of November we had a trip to Shetland, although we didn't really have any rarities we saw some very nice stuff including 5 Short Eared Owl including one which showed very well. We also saw Twite, Brambling, Great Skua, Whooper Swans, Great Northern Divers, Red breasted Mergansers and a few Black Guillemot. On the 8th we saw a really showy FERRUGINOUS DUCK at Washington which gave cracking views plus afterwards we headed to Mardsen and saw a very nice ARCTIC WARBLER, we had nice but brief views of this.

Short Eared Owl

Ferruginous Duck
Early in December I attended the BTO Conference in Swanwick, there was tons of amazing talks on various different subjects. I wasn't doing a talk this year so I felt a bit more relaxed while there. On the 31st we had a days birding around the Cleveland area where first we went to Hartlepool and saw a cracking Black Throated Diver which showed very nicely in the Marina along with brief views of a Great Northern Diver and Red Breasted Mergansers. Afterwards we went to Ward Jackson Park where I got my final lifer of the year, Ring Necked Parakeets, we had a flock of five which showed nicely in the car park. After we went to Saltholme and Charlton Pond where we saw a Smew, Scaup and some Goosander.
Black Throated Diver

Ring Necked Parakeets
I have really enjoyed this year and its probably one of the best years I have had for birding. I finished the year on 195 for the year list which isn't quite as good as last year so in the new year I hope to get higher than both. My life list stands at 281 species with at least 30 new additions from 2015. I will aim for 300 in the new year!
I have picked my top 5 birds of the year, it was quite hard to pick but here they are:
I would just like to say a huge thanks to everyone who reads my blog plus I would like to wish everyone an amazing 2016!!!!!!



  1. A brilliant year and it was great to catch up when you came over for the laughing Gull. Not sure how you are going to top 2015's birding :)

  2. Happy New Year to you too Ellis.
    I hope you manage to get over 300 and have some brilliant adventures getting there.

  3. So many beautiful birds captured them - the exotic Grebes that your photographed would be my highlight - captions much appreciated for the novice birder like myself! Keep blogging & birding in 2016 and who knows what gems you'll be spotting.

  4. Brilliant blog Ellis, good luck for the year ahead.