The Year In Review

Jack Snipe on Skerries, October

As I meander between classic bird blog territory and other stuff today it’s back to the former. It was a memorable year for me and I’m certainly not complaining. Here’s my top ten chronologically:

February half-term

With lockdowns and work there wasn’t much chance to get out in earnest before this. Some nice birding Over Wyre with annual leave included some self-found Bewick’s Swans at Sand Villa as well as welcome Snow Buntings and Twite at Cockersands Abbey.

Skippool Glauc

During a period of local travel only I experimented with watching the Skippool gull post during the winter. It didn’t deliver until very late in the day, but a brief first winter Glaucous Gull was the only one in the Fylde all year and more than enough reward. It looked better than the grabbed record shot suggests.

Glaucous Gull (right)

Myerscough Garganey

I continue to persist with Myerscough Quarry as it feels like it has another rare duck in it at some point following the drake Lesser Scaup. The pair of Garganey I found weren’t in that league, but welcome nevertheless.

Foula

I finally took the plunge and went to Foula in the spring. It was a great experience, nice weather helped and then some birds at the end of the trip showed how good it could be. Geoff and Donna Atherton the resident birders were very friendly and the service at my digs at Ristie was first rate. Birds seen included Rustic Bunting, Bluethroat, Yellow Wagtail and Common Rosefinch.

I did some writing about skuas whilst I was on Foula I will put up on here at some point.

Road block Foula style

Skerries Spring

I got the rub of the green with my dates both spring and autumn on Shetland, which I count my blessings for. Blyth’s Reed Warbler, Temminck’s Stint and multiple Icterine Warblers, Marsh Warblers and Red-backed Shrikes kept me occupied. Even dipping Nick Addey’s Golden Oriole (second Skerries record) wasn’t the sickener it might have been.

Also on this trip I spent an hour watching Orcas, presumably the local ’27s’ pod. They could have been closer but it was still magical.

The showy Bluethroat I found on Skerries – stunning

Elegant Tern, Knott End

Well I was in Fleetwood, but the bird was in Knott End. Thanks to Chris Batty’s tenacity this was completely unexpected as a local bird earlier in the year even if hopes increasingly rose as it wandered further and further north from Cemlyn.

Autumn Gulls

I was up in Barrow a lot in the summer and got into a groove of checking the Leven Estuary gulls and the better known sites on the Furness Coast Road at Newbiggin and Roosebeck. As well as several ringed Herring Gulls including one from Scotland this Yellow-legged Gull seen a couple of times was a Cumbria description bird.

The Yellow-legged Gull from the Birding Cumbria Facebook site taken by Jamie Green – a real brute of a bird

Skerries in autumn

I’ve already written about the White’s Thrush on here. The only migrants to interest those who aren’t Skerries regulars were basically that and a Red-breasted Flycatcher but who cares.

It’s always great to have an island to yourself when the thrushes are dropping out of the sky. Plus the great hospitality of the Skerries folk – when it’s great on there it’s really great.

Geese

Finding the only Bean Goose in Lancs (I think) in the second half of the year was a bonus, and I keep bumping into a Greenland Whitefront too. The Bean Goose appears to be the bird that summered at Martin Mere due to issues with its wing.

Bean Goose with injured wing Blackpool with Pinkfeet – it can clearly fly though

Belted Kingfisher

As with the Elegant Tern, a stunning bird to see fairly locally and within Lancashire. I probably didn’t deserve a chance with it as I wasn’t up for the Brockholes ‘slope of death’. Nevertheless I saw it and it was a fitting end to what has for me been a great birding year.

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