I was pleasantly surprised by my species count for the year, considering my UK travels had been limited—103 species seen and two heard. As always, I have some happy bird-memories.
The year started with a kingfisher on the River Colne at Denham on 2 January. Five days later there was a male blackcap in the garden at Turville, I have seen them here in winter before but it is unusual.
I made four visits to nearby Otmoor in Oxfordshire—in February where from a distance I saw a murmuration of starlings over the marshes; twice in May for warblers, cuckoos, hobbies, turtle dove and a snow goose among the greylags; and again in September when I saw a marsh harrier.
I heard my first chiffchaff on a joyous spring day, 22 March (and my last in Hambleden on 29 September). I saw my first swallow on 15 April and last on 19 October.
I visited the Peak District in April to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of the Pennine Way, and stayed with Peter and Anne Robinson at the top of the Alport valley below Alport Castles landslip. We climbed to the top and had a glimpse of a peregrine, hen harrier and raven.
The following morning I went out early in the frost and saw my first redstart, willow warbler and siskin of the year.
A creature of habit, I try to visit White Wood above the Dart valley on Dartmoor every May in search of wood warblers. This year I only heard one and didn’t see any, nor were there any pied flycatchers about. However I was rewarded on a walk up Tavy Cleave with the sight of ring ouzels and whinchat.
I joined fellow birdwatchers on the annual nightjar count at Barossa, on the Surrey heaths near Camberley in June, and had a glimpse of a nightjar and a woodcock.
In August I was delighted to see sand martins on the River Vyrnwy at Meifod: I thought I had missed them this year.
In September I joined the Vanguard Ramblers on the final leg of the Vanguard Way, from Berwick Station to Newhaven, East Sussex. As we puffed up the hill to Seaford Head, we heard then saw a peregrine perched on the cliff.
And in October I saw turnstones at Sheringham, Norfolk, at 7am on clock-change day, scuttling around the sea wall.
And so to the first fieldfares of the autumn, chattering away in the woods near Howberrywood, Nuffield, Oxfordshire, when Chris and I visited on 23 October to check out a proposed path-diversion (which we shall fight).
Once again, I am sad about the lack of flycatchers, I always used to see them flitting on the telegraph wires, in 2015 I saw none.
While listing birds, I should mention those I saw on a visit to the USA in June (not included in the above totals).
Boston Esplanade: red-winged blackbird, starling, house sparrow, American robin, rough-winged swallow.
Lake Placid: chipping sparrow, Carolina wren
Lake George and Upyonder Farm: tree swallow, broad-winged buzzard, house wren, blue heron, great northern loon.
Cataumet, Cape Cod: American goldfinch, cardinal, blue jay, cat bird, hummingbird, sapsucker, osprey.
And while in Edmonton, Canada, in May I spotted, among other things, a white-breasted nuthatch in the woods by the North Saskatchewan River.
So not a bad bird-year.