2016 in review

I thought I would do a blog about my 2016 birding / photography year, my initial thought was to select a maximum of 3 images from each month through 2016 to use as a reminder of some of my highlights and favourite times. Sounds simple that, doesn’t it?

Well it wasn’t it is only when you start to look back through all the image folders which for me area saved on hard drives by location and date that it dawned on me I could not show all I would have first liked to as the blog would take a week to read and look through!

So, I ended up selecting 3 photos from each month to then recap a little story about the images chosen as a way of summing up 2016 for me, so here we go.

A visit to a now much quieter Stainby landfill site lead to distant views of an handful of Red Kites and a small group of Common Buzzards feeding on worms in the fields where this taking off bird was captured.

I did not get out much in January but to compensate the garden at this time was full of finches including the regular Goldfinch and winter visitor over the last few years’ the delightful Lesser Redpoll although 2016 numbers of Redpolls was less than previous years.

Early this month Cleethorpes was the destination for one of many lifers for me this year a pair of Slavonian Grebes was doing their bit to appease birders from near and far.

A couple of days later after a tip of from my mate Steve about a Little Owl seen regularly on a certain stretch of road near Brandon, it didn’t take long to find the bird and do some ‘in car’ birding – good as hides sometimes cars eh?

Home was good place for me to see Siskin with up to 3 true pairs coming into the garden in with the Lesser Redpolls.

Mexico was the big event for me in March a holiday there for the first time and so the potential for many a lifer, well I reckon I ended up with about 80 by the end of the holiday! Deciding what photo’s to use for March was obviously very hard to do if sticking with the 3 images per month and having used the Siskin image above this now leaves 2!

First is of a Cinnamon Hummingbird taken at a bar / restaurant in Bucerias where nectar feeders were up for birds so a beer (or two) could be imbibed while trying to take some of my first ever Hummingbird images.

One of my target birds to see was the wonderful San Blas Jay and I was lucky to seem them in two different areas and managed a handful of pleasing shots.

The garden at home was still throwing up interesting sightings and this time a lovely female Brambling.

A couple of days later a walk around Queen Elizabeth II park in Grantham lead me to see 3 different Chiffchaff among other birds.

Whisby NR was a prime target to see if I could see rather than just hear Nightingale as had happened on my previous visits there. This time I managed it and what a wonderful looking and sounding bird it is! So, no apologies of 2 images I managed of a couple of birds in this month.

Now my work sometimes mean a stopover or two and so in the down time a little birding can sometimes be fitted in while away from home and while working in Caister, North Lincolnshire I saw this Pink Footed Goose on the boating lake. Have never had the chance to photograph this species so close so took the opportunity.

Again, a little work related but had often seen south of Peterborough while driving up and down the A1 a group of Red Kites always in the same general spot, so a little delving about and I found that place the birds were using with regularity near Stilton. So I called in one day and found the spot to watch around 12 birds and managed a few pics 1 of which below, I just love the majesty of these birds and cannot resist trying to get ‘that perfect image’ if such a thing exists.

Same weekend saw me go to Padley Gorge in Derbyshire to see if I could see Spotted Flycatcher, Redstart, Wood Warbler and Pied Flycatcher. Well, all species were seen apart from Wood Warbler which was heard in the atmospheric green moss laden woods, my favourite image from this day out is below.

A few days in Bath with my wife in our Motorhome was next on the agenda, now campsites are generally pretty good for a little impromptu birding and hence my camera goes along most of the time. This site on the outskirts of Bath was no exception with Blackcap, Long Tailed Tit, Song Thrush being some of the birds seen and photographed while wandering around the campsite.

This month saw me having a close encounter with a cracking Whitethroat on Hunstanton cliff tops, this bird had no fear and actually followed me as I walked towards the centre of Hunstanton along the cliff tops. I had a lovely half an hour or so watching this bird belt out his distinctive song.

A visit to Haconby again after some insider information from my mate Steve lead to a bit of time with Barn Owls out there.

Karen and I had a few days down in Weymouth and this time the campsite we stayed at was on the edge of Fleet Lagoon which runs close to Chesil Beach, Portland and Abbotsbury. We saw Swallow, Swift, House and Sand Martin plus a group of Mediterranean Gulls as well as the usual commons on and around the campsite. While sat in the van one day a juvenile Pied Wagtail came up close to the van enabling me to snap a few close images using the van as a hide.

Another couple of days away touring took us to Scarborough this time and on this occasion a rung Turnstone was found, love these birds personally think they are under-rated.

More work in the area of Mansfield meant a little more after work birding could be done, this time a wander around Kingsmill reservoir was done before the light went, not so much seen this time but saw Pochard and Canada Goose close up.

More travelling this month, this time to stay with friends in Surrey, friends who get each day Ring Necked Parakeets in their garden, so the camera had to come to just in case. The group of up to 30 parakeets spent the time on my friends garden in the early morning and late afternoon using it as a stop off on their way to and from their roost site.

More work in the Mansfield area let me have my lunch break around Kingsmill reservoir again and although not much seen again it was nice to catch a Little Grebe with a couple of its young teaching them how to feed.

A single visit to Marston took place near the end of this month too but as it can be sometimes this time was one of those ‘nothing about’ visits only birds of any not were about 6 pairs of Gadwall.

Was a trip to my favourite destination, Thailand, this time 3 nights in Bangkok then onto Chiang Mai in the north, a first for us this far up this wonderful country.

In brief another impressive list of lifers for me was achieved here, some in Bangkok after targeting some of the urban but expansive park areas and then in Chiang Mai itself both within the city and a little further afield at a close by temple area called Doi Suthep and a vast mountainous national park called Doi Inthanon, now I could fill this post with the birds seen and managed to see in Thailand but I will post the 3 images per month as part of the review as promised at the start.

The Doi Suthep temple complex gave up views of Red Crested Bulbul, this holiday was the first time I had seen this species in the wild and not just in a cage being kept as a Thai favourite songbird.

Again the Doi Suthep temple complex gave me a fantastic thrill when we were waiting the lift down from the high level temple and I spotted, for only a few seconds this Grey Breasted Spiderhunter, I was very pleased with myself control when in a small corridor seeing this bird for the first time along with about 20 tourists – how I did not yell for joy I don’t know!

Top bird though has to be the Green Tailed Sunbird, this was a target from the time of researching my trip, looking for a guide and where to see birds in the area and to see that this species could only be seen in a few locations in this region excited me and then when you go to the known area the birds inhabit and the male flies within 3 feet of you as a greeting to the area how could I choose another species as top bird no matter how spectacular they may be.

I had a great time with the most species of bird seen while on holiday in Thailand, 84 species in total with 39 being lifers!

A quiet month for me as I only took the camera out for an outing once and this has been blogged on lincsbirders.org previously in a little more detail on 19/11/16. It was interesting watching the Fox being ignored by all the Greylags, interesting seeing the Lake Wyndemere tagged bird previously seen and reported by Dave R and I always find it good to see Curlews but prefer them in the air as I feel they make a good BIF subject if caught close enough and in good light.

Was a good month with a wonderful lone Purple Sandpiper being seen on the beach at Hunstanton at high tide, what a terrific looking little wader eh?

A visit to Hawthorpe was a ‘dip out’ with regard to seeing SEO’s but in the gloomy day a pair of Stonechats did their best to brighten my day.

Finishing work enabled me to catch the Beeley, Derbyshire Dusky Thrush, lovely bird albeit distant on this occasion.

Over the festive break a day out with Karen to Great Yarmouth enabled me to spend a little time with the Mediterranean Gulls that are known to be between the 2 piers on the beach there.

So a brief snap shot of a year that before I started writing was going to be short as I felt I had not been out enough during 2016 but in fact I saw more both in the UK and beyond than first anticipated and ending the year with a UK lifer (Dusky Thrush) isn’t bad either now is it. Over 120 lifers seen in 2016, can’t tell you exact number as am not a list keeper, perhaps I should become one what do you think?

(Header image SEO from Lincoln common 24th February 2016)

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