In July I posted my half time analysis of my birding year so far. I’d seen or heard 171 species by this point, with some crackers including black-necked and red-necked grebe, dotterel, chough, black guillemot and great grey shrike.
July continued slowly, as July does, with only a debatable Cat C tick of red-crested pochard at Attenborough to show for it, and not a single new species seen in August. Things had slowed down considerably… I was starting to fear my year goal of 200 may not be as obtainable as I’d thought…
September started more promisingly with whinchat finally found after several attempts at Redmires on the 2nd, and little stint picked up at Potteric Carr the following day. The RSPB skua cruise at Brid brought up the usual bounty in the shape of arctic and great skua, manx shearwater and common scoter, with the addition of knot in the harbour. A tour of Flamborough with the BirdForum guys afterwards turned up two lifers in the form of a flyover osprey and an uncharacteristically showy barred warbler at Bay Brambles.
A small flurry of passage excitement in the Dearne Valley area saw me pick up goodies in the form of spotted crake, pectoral sandpiper and curlew sandpiper, and the first of two autumn trips to Spurn yielded snow bunting and red-throated diver. It seemed I was back in the game…
A small trickle came in with another trip to Spurn at the start of October, with brambling, yellow-browed warbler got easily, and bird of the day being split between a Pallas’s warbler, which happened to be discovered as I was passing the churchyard, and a nice showy merlin which finally mopped up my biggest bogey bird.
Just one more was added in October, with a cattle egret at Carr Vale being a quick and dirty twitch at the end of the month.
With only two significant birding trips in November, it nethertheless proved to be a monster month with 8 new species added, 7 of which being lifers. First a trip to Carsington Water led to yellow-legged gull, great northern diver and barnacle goose (sadly ring-billed gull was dipped), and the SBSG twitchers trip round Lincolnshire and East Yorkshire turned up some amazing birds including red-necked phalarope, shore lark, water pipit, twite and whooper swan.
December started well with a journey to West Yorkshire, picking up the ferruginous duck and a brief but just-about-tickable view of Cetti’s warbler at Pugney’s, and finally tracking down scaup and much better views of great northern diver at Angler’s.
The final tick of the year came closer to home, as the Broomhead Res crossbills finally showed themsleves after a whole year without finding any.
And so a grand total of 202 for the year (203 counting heard-onlies…), with some great birds seen and fantastic new places visited. Some surprising ones missed too – I didn’t expect to end the year without short-eared owl, little gull or grasshopper warbler.
But what for 2010? Well there’s still a few easy lifers to mop up (Med gull, jack snipe and Slav grebe spring immediately to mind), and two easy heard-onlies to finally pin down properly (grasshopper warbler and turtle dove) but it’s generally going to be harder. Next year’s target – somewhat less importance on the year list (although another 200+ would be nice), and to get the life list up from 212 to 250. Wish me luck!