Thursday, 22 December 2011

The Year's Best Two Dozen + 4

The plan was to end a great year of 'Dorset Birding' with a flourish, but on the final day it just didn't happen. Regular readers will doubtless recognise these images of Lyme Regis, in my home county of Dorset, a place I have very much rediscovered and enjoyed this year. The word on the street is that the Spotted Sandpiper has shown itself again here, and as an absentee from my Dorset December List (yes I know) it was something of a priority.

A search was made of all the likely places including the Harbour,

all Harbour Walls and Sea Defences

up to and including The Cob and Rocks beyond. There was no sign of any Black Redstart, Grey Wagtail or Dippers up on a huge up side I did meet a group of 3 people, one from Bulgaria and the others from Poland, which was a great kick. There was time to stop and chat and once again, if you are reading this, a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

The year may still end with a flurry of bird-life, and while there are still 10 days to go, these will not be spent at home. On the strength of all of that I think we can happily sub the year up with what for me have been the 28 best photographs of the year. It is hoped to publish a look-back at the year overall on New Years Eve.

A great start to the year as this Long-billed Dowitcher stayed over from 2010, and although ranging far and wide it was remarkably confiding particularly in Poole Park.

Later in January we were blessed with an influx of Waxwing sticking around long enough for most people to see them.

During the second month there were a good number of Bewick's Swan at their traditional wintering quarters at Ibsley, Hampshire always worth the drive, and

by this time a Ring-billed Gull had also arrived in Poole Park where it stayed for a number of days.

The first good bird for March, a Rufous (Oriental) Turtle Dove, (archive photo from South Korea) required a 'twitch' to Oxfordshire and was well worth the drive for a GB first for me.

Red-throated Diver was at last photographed in Dorset during the same month,

and before March was over a Hoopoe at Portland was added to the Year List.

On the 2nd of April the counties second Red-flanked Bluetail arrived to the delight of many, but for Dave Tissington and I this was followed by a flight to Aberdeen, Scotland.

Red Grouse are usually easy enough to see, but given what they describe as the Glorious First (August when the shooting season starts) it's no wonder they are a little difficult to approach.

Before April was over, it was a case of 'right time, right place' as this Sub-Alpine Warbler obligingly got tangled in an Observatory mist net.

On the 20th May I was also close at hand for the Radipole Black-winged Stilt, coinciding with my own urge to migrate.

It was California Baja, Mexico for Yellow-footed Gull one of the final 3 Gulls in the world I had not yet seen.

Hawaii was next and very successful seeing for the first time, Fairy Tern, then

Laysan Albatross plus the endemic

Hawaiian Duck. Other favorites included

Tufted Puffin

Red-legged Kittiwake (my 'Bird of the Year').

Rock Sandpiper

Australian King Parrot

Bald Eagle

Long-tailed Skua

Pigeon Guillemot

Red-necked Phalarope

Scrub Jay

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