So here are the five - there are probably separate blog posts on all of them so I'll just put a summary here.
Great White Egret
Long overdue, especially how frequently birds seem to wander around London, but nonetheless very exciting. So exciting in fact that when Tim found it I immediately twitched it from Canary Wharf. Naturally I then saw it the next day, and several days after that. And then later on in the year one flew over me on the Flats. Rarely has an Uber fare seemed less worthwhile.
This was the start of the autumn of dreams. The Egret had been in January, and it wasn't until August that I got my next patch tick, and one that was the most satisfying of all. I very nearly lost the plot when I found this bird on Alex, to the point of barely being able to type. A standout moment in over a decade of birding here, and fittingly this was my 150th.
As is frequently the case I was away when this superstar of a bird was found by Nick. I was having a lovely time in the Swiss Alps with some friends, and constant messages from Wanstead Flats unfortunately did nothing for my inner calm. London birder after London birder went to my patch as I was taking a train to Geneva.....It all worked out though, and I got it the next morning once I was home. Long awaited, we all chose this bird every year as the next patch rarity, in fact I am surprised that we had to wait as long as we did.
I was in Venice for this one, disbelieving of what I was reading. Like the Shrike though I was basically on my way home and was able to snaffle it straight from Gatwick. Tense times, but I wouldn't have it any other way. Incredible, seriously rare on a national level, and up there with Nick's best finds, and as you know there have been more than a few. I should go away more often....
I don't this was on anyone's radar despite being a common UK bird. Whilst the patch was overrun with Rustic Bunting twitchers, the locals were doing what they usually do, bird and chat. I was with Tony, and as we were chewing the fat movement caught his eye over towards the western end of Long Wood. He proposed a possible "Owl", but of course meant Shortie, so we headed over for a look. It was an extremely misty morning and all of sudden the bird exploded out of the wood pursued by Crows. Getting bins on it briefly it shone bright white! Barn Owl! There were some fraught moments until James and Nick has seen it, but luckily they did too.