|None in 2015. How bad is that?|
But that's just nationally. On the patch a mixture of luck and periodic dedication has seen me reach my second highest total ever. I've got one hand on the famed Golden Mallard and have had a remarkably good year with loads of good birds seen locally. I might moan a bit, but we really punch above our weight in Wanstead, with birds that would make many people envious turning up with clockwork regularity. If you spend a moment to look a Firecrest you realise it's a jewel, the likes of which are rarely seen, and stand right up there with some of the American wood warblers. The same goes for the Redstarts and spring Whinchats, utterly splendid. And don't get me started on Wheatears!
And of course I've been fortunate to continue to travel fairly widely, which along with a little bit of apathy no doubt explains the paucity of my UK yearlist, which by the way in life terms increased by only nine this year - my first descent into single figures and probably a sign of things to come. Birding abroad is what really does it for me at the moment. That moment when I walked round a tree and came face to face with a Varied Thrush was one of the best birding moments I can remember. Swakane Canyon, filled with Bullock's Orioles and Lazuli Buntings an absolute delight. The UAE was superb, and as for the Gulf Coast beaches in Florida, well they were a photographer's dream.
So, 2016, what's the plan? Well more of the same I think, variety is what I need to sustain myself, albeit with more of what the UK has to offer. 2015 was the first year I've not been to Shetland for instance - it's already booked for next autumn. But where will I spend the first of January? On the patch? Out on the Essex marshes? The fishing boats at Dungeness? (joke...) Scotland? I have not yet decided. But I am going to see a lot more.