|Bridled Tern: Bird of the Year? Read on...|
|Eastern Crowned Warbler, Cleveland, October. 3rd record for Britain.|
With the onset of high summer it was always going to be difficult to keep up the rate of a tick-a-month, and sure enough when my August pelagics failed to turn up the hoped for Fea's Petrel (there was one on the Monday before I arrived on the Friday) it was back to the listing doldrums. September added nought and October looked like doing likewise until an Eastern Crowned Warbler rocked up at its fag end to provide a timely reminder that despite the pressures of work and duties of family, there will still be times when the stars align to grant me time off for a monster twitch. One more lifer this year to bring up 444 would have been nice, but unless the dull thud I just heard outside was not a firework but a wandering Little Bustard hitting the French windows I think we can safely say that's going to have to wait for 2015.
|Oh go on then, for Auld Lang Syne: Northern Harrier/Marsh Hawk, Portland, April.|
|Painted Lady, aberrant form rogeri, Purbeck, July|
|Short-toed Eagle, Morden Bog: bird of the year for many, and not just in Dorset.|
|Kumlien's Gull, Littlehampton, February|
Month-by-month highlights as follows - including a new feature for 2014 befitting of my general demeanour, 'Moan of the month':
Bird of the month - Parrot Crossbill, gripped back after being out of action with broken collarbone thus missing the initial invasion of late 2013.
Photo(s) of the month - Purple Sandpiper at Sandbanks, just pipping the Kimmeridge Grey Phalaropes.
Moan of the month - flooding.
|January: Purple Sandpiper, Sandbanks|
Bird of the month - Myrtle Warbler, my second longest twitch of 2014, edging out Kumlien's Gull, the first I have seen in Britain.
Photo(s) of the month - Little Gulls at Cogden.
Moan of the month - silent Siberian Chiffchaffs.
|February: Little Gull at Cogden|
Bird of the month - American Coot. Under-rated, IMHO.
Photo of the month - probably the American Coot, though mainly due to absence of alternatives.
Moan of the month - shrinkflation.
|March: American Coot. A Coot, but American, making it, well, cool.|
Bird of the month: the Marsh Hawk, surely, especially as I haven't mentioned it much yet. But Great Spotted Cuckoo and Baikal Teal also deserve a mention.
Photo of the month - Glaucous Gull in Cornwall, snapped when I should have been at Swineham enjoying the Black-winged Stilts.
Moan of the month - apart from being in Cornwall when the Black-winged Stilts were at Swineham, it has to be acquisition of pets without consultation.
|April: Glaucous Gull, Cornwall|
Bird of the month - easy: Short-toed Eagle, just 3 miles from home.
Photo of the month - also easy: migrant Wood Warbler at Portland Castle.
Moan of the month - I was obviously having a bad month so take your pick from sporting disappointment, dipping Bee-eaters, or going to the beach. Let's face it, Jesus isn't going to want me for a sunbeam, is he?
|May: Wood Warbler, Portland|
Bird of the month - Spectacled Warbler. It was freezing for June but who's complaining?
Photo of the month - Bitterns at Ham Wall.
Moan of the month - camping. Notable mainly because it took until June for me to moan about it. Bad backs also featured, not entirely unrelated to camping.
|June: Bittern, Ham Wall|
Bird of the month - Bridled Tern. No contest.
Photo of the month - Arctic Tern chicks on the Farne Islands. To quote Gru's adopted daughter in Despicable Me: 'It's so fluffy I'm gonna die!'. If this high cultural reference passes you by, check out the Youtube clip here.
Moan of the month - difficult questions.
|July: Arctic Tern, Farne Islands|
Bird of the month - adult Sabine's Gull from a pelagic out of St Mary's.
Photo of the month - Great Shearwaters on a Scilly pelagic.
Moan of the month - new job cramping birding style.
|August: Great Shearwater, off St Mary's.|
Bird of the month - Masked Shrike. My second, but who's counting? A good day out with Steve.
Photo of the month - probably the Masked Shrike, again mainly through absence of alternatives.
Moan of the month - patch neglect. More a confession than a moan, but close enough.
|September: Masked Shrike, Spurn.|
Bird of the month - the Eastern Crowned Warbler: head and shoulders above the not very stiff competition provided by the rest of October.
Photo of the month - AGP in Cornwall. A classic drive-by shooting.
Moan of the month - dipping.
|October: American Golden Plover, Cornwall.|
Bird of the month - toss-up between Portland Dusky Warbler and Hengistbury Issy Shrike.
Photo of the month - probably the Dusky Warbler, on the basis that any photo of a Dusky Warbler is a good one.
Moan of the month - opulent coastal defences.
|November: Dusky Warbler, Portland.|
Bird of the month - not sure, either the Portland Barred Warbler or the Swineham Bean Geese. The former definitely more obliging though.
Photo of the month - again, spoilt for choice, but probably between the Portland Barred Warbler and the Swineham Beardies. To the uninitiated, the latter are birds, not Morris dancers or ramblers.
Moan of the month - Swineham. A harsh and unjustified critique really which, in retrospect, says far more about me than it does about Swineham. Take no notice of me, Swineham, I'm just a miserable old git. New Year resolution is to be a bit more positive about you and life in general. Just a bit though.
|December: Bearded Tit, Swineham|