Best birding moments of 2013

Hello birdwatchers

January 1st marks the start of a birder’s year list and many of my birding colleagues will be out “listing” today. This is the only day in the birding calendar when a bird as common as the great tit ranks as highly as a waxwing!
Great tit – as sought after on January 1st as any scarce bird
Many years ago I created my own tradition (mainly so that I could fully enjoy the festivities on new year’s eve). I watch my garden on new year’s day and I supplement my garden list on 2nd January by travelling around Leeds looking for as many birds as possible. 
My last bird of 2013 was an adult glaucous gull at Fairburn Ings (at 4:25pm on Dec 31st, hence the dark photograph) and my first bird of 2014 as I opened my curtains was a blackbird.
Adult glaucous gull – the last bird on my 2013 list

Blackbird – my first bird of 2014


As I look back at a year filled with wonderful birding moments, it is a struggle to highlight my top 5 for 2013. There have been so many to choose from. Instead, I’ve come up with 10.

  1. watching a drake smew at Fairburn racing towards some displaying goldeneye and joining in.
  2. watching swifts using new nest boxes for the first time at a house in Leeds
  3. finding a singing dipper on the River Aire at Bramley Falls and seeing a nesting pair in Leeds.
  4. watching red-footed falcon and hobby hunting at RSPB Lakenheath
  5. finding a firecrest in Meanwood Valley
  6. watching Dalmatian pelican in Albania
  7. watching my clients watching kingfishers for the first time at Fairburn
  8. witnessing a hobby taking a sand martin at close quarters at Bolton Abbey
  9. finding a spoonbill at Denaby Ings
  10. watching bittern and black-necked grebe at St Aidan’s.

A drake smew
(this was sent to me and I don’t know the name of the photographer but congratulations on such a stunning photo)

Taking photographs of the birds I see each month, and the places I’ve visited, has made me realise just how fantastic it is to spend your life watching wildlife. It really helps you to cope with all the difficult situations that life throws at you. Taking people out to watch wildlife enhances this further and I’d like to thank everyone for accompanying me over the last 12 months.

As the days lengthen, listen out for more and more birds singing. My next blog will be about an amazing ornithological phenomenon that has already started to happen.

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