Sunday 30 December 2012

The Year in Birds 2012

It's been a good year for birds! I've seen 116 species this year - almost all of them in Edinburgh and the surrounding Lothians and all of them in Scotland.

Six of the species I've seen this year have been lifers (ie I've never seen them before!) these are: snow bunting, velvet scoter (a duck with a wonderfully weird face), purple sandpiper and gadwall (all seen for the first time on the one day on 18 January at Musselburgh) Slavonian grebe (in winter plumage), grey plover and long tailed duck (also seen at Musselburgh, which is definitely the best birdwatching place near Edinburgh and very accessible by public transport too, unlike many of the other excellent sites along the East Lothian coast)

The most amazing bird encounter of the year was seeing a short eared owl fly out of a bush right in front of me in the woodlands at Musselburgh Lagoons.

Equally amazing was being surrounded by waxwings! I'd spotted some near the centre of town and knowing their favourite places in previous years worked out where they'd be and found them in some rowan trees on Fountainbridge and then realised they were flying between these trees and some on Dalry Road so that's where I headed to find myself caught up in the flock. That's the only time I've seen them this year, they're elusive birds but apparently it's a particularly good winter for them in the UK and there are good chances of seeing them even away from the east coast.

I saw my first nuthatch in Edinburgh (I've seen them before in England and in Peebles in the Scottish Borders but they've only recently arrived in Scotland and are still not really established in Edinburgh apart from at the Hermitage of Braid where they seem to have made themselves very much at home on the bird feeders outside the Ranger's Centre.)

My bird of the year in many ways is the goldcrest - I've seen more of these adorable tiny little birds this year than I've seen in the whole of my life before, they just seem to have been everywhere and very obliging in coming very close to me and bowing their heads so I've been able to have a clear look at their gold crest.

My non-bird of the year was the Musselburgh hooded crow. I thought I'd seen a full hooded crow (which would have been a local rarity), but in retrospect, and having seem probably the same bird again since, it was almost certainly the famous Musselburgh 80% hooded crow. You can read more about it here.

As ever red text contains hyperlinks that take you to other webpages where you can find out more, mostly to the RSPB website, which has been recently updated so that the bird ID pages are even better than before!


The Weaver of Grass said...

I have friends who are keen birders Juliet, so I have sent her details of your blog so that she can read of your sightings and compare them with hers. Happy new year to you.

bunnits said...

A wonderful year in birds. My bird identification has declined with my eyesight. Even with corrective lenses and binoculars, it is difficult to identify the small, active species. However, the recent flock of waxwings visiting my backyard made up for it.

Ms Sparrow said...

Your waxwings are seen here in the US but we call them Bohemian Waxwings. They're most common on the the west coast so I think they came here by way of Siberia to Alaska. The more common Cedar Waxwings are found almost all over the country and sometimes they will mix together in flocks. I love them because they were the first bird to really excite my interest in birdwatching.

Hannah Stephenson said...

Wishing you continued observation and flight in 2013!

Optimistic Existentialist said...

I really want to get back into bird watching. I used to get such joy from it when I was a little boy!

Titus said...

i'm really good at waxwings! they must like it over this side.

eileeninmd said...

Sounds like a great year for birding. Congrats on your lifers. I love the Snow Buntings. Your experience with the Waxwings sounds wonderful. Great post. Happy New Years!

RG said...

116 species - my word. Some sharp eyes and keen id skills! (I learned to tell a Northern Harrier this year.)

I wonder if the Goldcrest is what we call a golden crowned kinglet? Is the Goldcrest really 6 or 7"? A kinglet is small like a chickadee.

Draffin Bears said...

Hi Juliet,

That is a lot of lovely birds you have seen over the year. Thank you for sharing your wonderful knowledge with us.
Happy new Year and best wishes for 2013.


Anonymous said...

Juliet - we want to nominate you for the Blog of the Year Award! The rules and more are here:

Crafty Green Poet said...

Thanks Weaver, it's always fun to compare observations!

bunnits - glad you had waxwings in your garden!

Ms Sparrow, we should call them Bohemian waxwings too but because we only have the one species we just call them waxwings. Lovely birds and i can totally understand why they'd be the species to get you excited about birdwatching!
Hannah - thanks!

Optimistic - why not make it a new year's resolution!

Titus - they like it wherever there are berries!

eileen - thanks!

Rabbit's Guy - very closely related species, but not quite the same.

Draffin bears - thanks!

Kaye - wow, thanks! I'm honoured!

Gillena Cox said...

Always love when you gives us the hyperlinks; enjoyed this bird sharing

All the best for 2013 Juliet

much love...