So yes there were various rarities, including monster birds all over the country and a self-found on-patch Yellow-browed Warbler. These are all just numbers however, and when I look back at 2015 there are a small number of birds that make me smile, that make me remember the place and the time. My shortlist would contain the excellent and fearless Dotterel in Essex, the splendid and monumental Varied Thrush in Washington, the White-tailed Plover in lovely light from Dubai……and the Red-legged Partridge in Wanstead!
I know, how can I possibly choose an introduced bird of unknown provenance as my favourite bird of the year? Well, it’s actually very easy. Of all the birds I came across, when I think back to this one it is simply the one that makes me smile the most. Birding is supposed to be a pleasure and I can't think back at that bird and not grin, and that's why it's a no-brainer for my bird of the year - no other bird does that in quite the same way. The Varied Thrush was epic, and to this day I continue to high-five myself when I think back to that moment, but I still keep returning the Partridge. I had missed it in the morning due to needing to go to work, but had left early in the vain hope it might still have been around. Wanstead Flats is not the kind of place I could see a small game bird surviving more than a couple of hours, but against all the odds I refound it almost immediately, pottering around without a care in the world under some goalposts in the late afternoon sunshine. Most people probably don’t give Red-legs a second glance, neither would I probably, but when it’s on your patch you look a little closer, and it was a comically gorgeous little bird. What it was doing running around Wanstead Flats we will never know, but it was enjoyed very much by all the local birders. I jogged home to fetch a camera, and was just about able to nab a few shots of it in the last few minutes of light, and before it went and hid in the long grass again. What a stunner!