My bird year 2014

It’s been a good year, thanks in particular to a May trip to Iona and Mull on the west coast of Scotland.  In 2014 I saw 125 species, and heard (but did not see) nightjars and a garden warbler.

At the end of a day’s work on my land at Common Wood on 10 February, I saw a woodcock flying down the valley.

Common Wood

Common Wood

The return of the warblers is always a big moment (though I realise some now overwinter here).  I head my first chiffchaff of the year by the River Irwell in Salford on 22 March, and saw my first blackcap in a garden in Eccles on the same day.

I went to Seaham, County Durham, to launch a section of new coastal access for the Ramblers on 15 April and was thrilled to see a mass of sand martins flitting around on the grassy clifftop.

The clifftop near Seaham

The clifftop near Seaham

Fortuitously I heard my first cuckoo while doing my breeding bird survey for the British Trust for Ornithology (BTO) at Prestwood, Bucks, on 4 May, and saw one the following day at Otmoor, Oxfordshire, where I also watched 11 hobbies flying like swifts over the reedbeds.

Where the hobbies were

Where the hobbies were

My walk in White Wood above the Double Dart on Dartmoor on 12 May was magic, I had hoped to hear wood warblers and I saw them too because the trees were not fully in leaf.  I also saw male pied flycatchers.

Where I saw the wood warbler

Where I saw the wood warbler

Then to Scotland, where I saw corncrakes on Iona in the early morning of 25 May.  I have a long list of species from that visit, seabirds on our trip to Staff—puffins, black guillemot, manx shearwater, great northern diver to name a few.  I saw many birds which I rarely see because of not being in the right place: ringed plover, dunlin, twite, rock pipit, tree pipit doing its flight song in a wood above Loch Bla, shortly before I saw both golden and white-tailed eagle.

White-tailed eagle near Loch Bla, Mull


Corncrake country below Iona abbey

Corncrake country below Iona abbey







It was a memorable trip with 71 species seen or heard.

Nightjar count
On 22 June I went on my annual nightjar count, run by Surrey Wildlife Trust, but unfortunately did not see any nightjars. I was rewarded with a tree pipit though.  On 26 June I saw a brown jackdaw at Luddesdown in Kent, and 19 October a peregrine on the cliffs by the River Wye opposite Chepstow.

Where I saw the peregrine, just above the Gloucestershire Hole and union flag, first painted in 1935 to mark the jubilee of George V

Where I saw the peregrine, on the Gloucestershire bank of the River Wye

Back in Turville, I have enjoyed seeing and hearing flocks of redwings and fieldfare this winter, more than usual.  It’s a shame that the BTO no longer wants us to do the winter thrushes survey, as I would have had plenty to report.  My final new siting of the year was on 26 December, when I saw my first treecreeper of 2014 at Ibstone.

And now it’s 2015, and who would have thought 25 years ago that the first bird I would see would be a red kite!

About campaignerkate

I am the general secretary of the Open Spaces Society and I campaign for public access, paths and open spaces in town and country.
This entry was posted in Birds, British Trust for Ornithology, My bird year, Scotland and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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