June and July were spent in Madagascar (see next blog post).
August began with a first for Britain, a Western Purple Swamphen at Minsmere (4th). A Pectoral Sandpiper was at Hickling Broad, Norfolk (13th). During my week in Guernsey I saw a pod of Bottle-nosed Dolphins at Jaonneuse (21st) and a migrating Osprey over Pleinmont where a Clouded Yellow was also present (26th).
A Yellow-browed Warbler I found at East Hills, Norfolk (14th) was the first for mainland Britain this year and was the beginning of a huge influx over the following weeks. The next day I found an Arctic Warbler also at East Hills (15th). A seawatch at Sheringham, Norfolk produced a Leach's Petrel (17th). Will found a Red-flanked Bluetail at East Hills which I duly twitched (18th). On the way up to Shetland we dropped in on the Brunnich's Guillemot at Anstruther, Fife (29th). On our first day in Shetland we found a ‘Greenland’ Redpoll at Sumburgh and twitched a Brown Shrike and a Greenish Warbler at Aith and a Blyth's Reed Warbler at Sandgarth (31st).
The month started on the second day of our Shetland birding holiday. We found our first Barred Warbler at Skeld (1st), a Lanceolated Warbler at Boddam (2nd) and an American Golden Plover at Eshaness (4th). A Red-breasted Flycatcher was at Maywick, a Rose-coloured Starling was at Scalloway and a Siberian Chiffchaff was at Sumburgh (4th). We twitched a Swainson’s Thrush at Aith, Fetlar and the first of several Little Buntings we found was at Gulberwick (5th). After dipping a White’s Thrush on Fetlar we went to Unst where Will found a Bluethroat at Norwick, a Common Rosefinch was at Haroldswick before we raced down to Uyeasound for a first year male Siberian Thrush (6th). Finally we twitched a new Brown Shrike at Voe before finding a Marsh Warbler at Levenwick (7th).
Most of the remainder of October was spent in Norfolk. After twitching a Radde’s Warbler at Holkham Pines, I found a Bunting at Burnham Overy Dunes (10th), which was not the most straightforward of identifications, it's probably an Ortolan but had features of Cretzshmars. East Hills produced a Little Bunting (11th). A memorable twitching day for the Siberian Accentor at Easington also produced a brief Olive-backed Pipit and an in-the-hand Dusky Warbler at Kilnsea (14th). I found a new Red-flanked Bluetail at East Hills and saw a Great Grey Shrike at UEA (21st). I followed up by finding an Isabelline Wheatear at Burnham Overy Dunes the next day, where a dead Fin Whale was on the beach and several Waxwings flew over (22nd). A Quail on Blakeney Point (24th) was no consolation for the fact I missed a Pine Bunting that was photographed there the same day. The month concluded with a Desert Wheatear on the shingle ridge at Cley.
With news of an Eye-browed Thrush in Northumberland and a Cliff Swallow at Minsmere, the decision to go north proved to be unwise as it was not present the next day when we arrived. We did however see a beautiful Eastern Black Redstart and a Glaucous Gull at Hartlepool Headland (5th). A great seawatch from Sheringham included big numbers of wildfowl, particularly Eider and Brent Geese, though the highlight was several Little Auks (7th). A Velvet Scoter at Whitlingham, Norwich was a good inland record (9th). We ringed Waxwings in Norwich at Jenny Lind Park (15th & 16th) and at Charles Watling Way (17th). A Todd’s Canada Goose was near Docking, Norfolk (18th). My final good British bird of the year in was the Forster’s Tern on the River Stour, Essex (20th). My wife and I flew out to Ecuador on the 28th until the end of the year.
December was spent in Ecuador - I'll do a separate post.