26th May 2018 - Dubai

The trip to Dubai was a relaxing bank holiday break, but I managed to get a half day of birding in with Mark Smiles, who was a great guide.  Whilst by the end of the time it was getting a bit too hot for me, I was very happy I went out as I hadn't birded in the Middle East area before and so added 22 lifers to my list.

Mark picked me up from my hotel at 5am and we drove out of the city towards the south to start looking for birds.  We stopped on a piece of land that has seed regularly put out and within minutes we saw my first lifer, the Black-crowned Sparrow-lark.  It was followed by a flock of Greater Flamingo rising up above the treeline and a lone Cream-coloured Courser doing its funny run across the sand.  Back on the main road and we saw White-eared Bulbul, Brown-necked Raven, the noisy Red-wattled Lapwing and skittish Grey Francolin at the side, all lifers for me!

Cream-coloured Courser
We then drove off the road in search of Greater Hoopoe-lark and luckily Mark's sharp eyes managed to find one hopping around amongst the low shrubs.  The next stop was a walk to a small lake, where I added Clamorous Reed Warbler and Purple Sunbird (such an awesome little bird) to my quickly expanding life list.

Greater Hoopoe-lark
Yellow Wagtail
Purple Sunbird
Waders were the target then, with Kentish Plover and Black-winged Stilt being seen in large numbers, with White-tailed Lapwing a lifer.  It was starting to get a little too hot for me at this point, but a Streaked Weaver and Green Bee-eater cheered me right up!

Black-winged Stilt and White-tailed Lapwing
One last quick stop at the Ras Al Khor Sanctuary provided amazing views of Striated Heron and Western Reef Heron and was an excellent finish to the birding. 

Trip list: 62
World list: 946
Lifers this year: 24

Arabian Oryx
Graceful Prinia
House Sparrow and White-earred Bulbul
These guys are from a night walk the following night
These guys are from a night walk the following night

3rd & 6th May 2018 - Maryland

I've been a bit lacking in the birding department this year, constant flare-ups of the illness put a stop to it temporarily.  I did manage to drag my boyfriend out for a birding walk when I was in the States though (apologies to him!) and it was such a delight to see birds again.  As you'll know if you've read my blog before, I'm terrible at IDing things - I may need to make a birdforum post for assistance... However, I did get a definite lifer, a beautiful Eastern Bluebird.

I feel like I should definitely know what this is...but I don't.  Help?

Black-capped Chickadee

Northern Rough-winged Swallow (?)

2017 Recap

How on *earth* did I get through an entire year without posting a blog post?!  I saw some pretty cool birds (and other animals!) so I'm not very impressed with myself.  I shall try to do better this year.

A quick run down of the birds of 2017 then...

UK birding wasn't really paid attention to too much, but I did get to see my first White-winged Black Tern, which was awesome.

The main trip of the year was to Honduras and the second I left I wanted to go back.  Part of the trip was at the gorgeous Pico Bonito which I can highly recommend for a relaxing bird watching base.  We had two superb guides, Elmer and Esdras, both great guys with amazing bird knowledge.  Here's basically a photo dump from the trip.

















I did a bit of birding in Central Park on my first trip to New York on an organised bird walk.  Great fun!

August was the time of the other big trip of the year - not a birding one but obviously some took place!  A couple of days in Singapore produced some very cool birds, birding in Australia for the first time was amazing (and I found an echidna!) and on the way home a stop off in the Maldives produced tropicbirds, a resident heron and a couple of waders.





Echidna!
Towards the end of the year was the annual trip to Las Vegas and I especially enjoyed my walk around the Springs Preserve.  I thought I'd left plenty of time to visit but it was so interesting that I ended up not having enough time - will allocate a lot more time this year!

27th to 31st December 2016 - Madeira

There were a couple of other days out birding and a trip to Gran Canaria before the end of the year but none of these produced much so I've skipped them in favour of a great trip had between Christmas and New Year to Madeira.  It was the first time we'd been to the island and it was even better than I had hoped.  We got a cheap last minute deal through BA Holidays, leaving on Boxing Day and coming back on NYE.
Madeira Firecrest (if you think this photo is bad then be happy
I didn't subject you to the one of the Trocaz Pigeon)

Chaffinch
We relaxed in our hotel for the afternoon of Boxing Day and then headed out for our first experience of the birding on the 27th to Ribeiro Frio.  This was to prove ridiculously fruitful as we saw the 2 endemic species we had been hoping for within about 15 minutes of arriving.  Nice!  The Madeiran Firecrest were flitting around in the trees on the path up to the viewpoint and at times came very close (but being me, I didn't get any decent photos.  Of course).  Next, we scanned the forest down below the viewpoint and saw numerous Trocaz Pigeon flying around, eventually managing to get the scope on a perched one, which we watched for a good while.  After this successful first day we rather eased off on the birding, exploring the rest of the island and the Madeira wine lodges instead!

Speckled Wood (Madeiran or not?)

Kestrel

Monarch
A visit to the lava tunnels added Sparrowhawk (a species we've since heard is fairly uncommon on Madeira?) and Whimbrel to the list and a quick trip to Ponta do Pargo before we left saw Bertholet's Pipit, Spectacled Warbler and White Wagtail added to the list, among others.  A very relaxing yet productive birding holiday we felt!

Blackcap

18th November 2016 - Henderson Bird Viewing Preserve, Las Vegas

I was in Las Vegas for work for a week and wanted to get some birding in.  I had arranged a trip to the Preserve early in the week but was, unfortunately, unable to attend, so the only other time I had was 2 hours on the Friday morning to pop over and have a wander around.

White-crowned Sparrow
The second I got out of the taxi I was in a happy place!  The Preserve is beautiful, the people there very helpful and there are so many birds!  I failed miserably in the first instance though - I had completely forgotten to charge my camera and despite trying to learn the birds I might see before I went to the US, 70% of the birds I was seeing I couldn't ID and I only had a small amount of battery to take photos of said birds.  Doh!

First Bufflehead!
The first bird I saw was actually one I could ID - a Verdin.  Super pretty (and tiny!) bird and the only one of my visit.  There were lots and lots of Yellow-rumped Warbler, a bird I luckily already knew from my trips to Florida.  I had been hoping to see Gambel's Quail and there were plenty around, very quirky little characters.  A Northern Harrier spent most of the time I was there seemingly following me around and over that period of time it had a kerfuffle with both a smaller falcon type bird and a larger raptor, neither of which I could ID.

Northern Flicker
A few of the other birds had stuck in my mind as they were a bit more obvious - so I instantly recognised the White-crowned Sparrow as it hopped around on the ground near me, a White-faced Ibis that flew past and the Bufflehead swimming everywhere.  The speedy trip was finished with a pair of White Pelican sat in one of the pools.

I say finished, but whilst out in the car park waiting for my taxi I was suddenly surrounded by the tiny whirring wings of 6 or so hummingbirds (not sure if Anna's or Costa's - probably Anna's?).  I was so happy when I got in the taxi I completely bored the poor driver talking about them for the duration of the ride back to the hotel!

Not at the preserve but a quick bird of note actually in Vegas - two Nighthawk flying down the Strip, which was a bit cool!  I wouldn't have had a clue what they were if I hadn't seen my first ones in Florida a month or so before.

I'll be back in both November of this year and Februrary of next, so I look forward to a few more trips to the Preserve where I can hopefully take a charged camera and also try to ID a few more!

I've stuck on a few awful photos of the ones I couldn't ID either at all or for sure - if anyone feels like assisting me, that would be excellent, thanks!

House Finch?

Yellow-rumped Warbler?

Suggestions for this on social media have been both Nashville Warbler and
Orange-crowned Warbler, but no idea how common they'd be around Vegas in November?

Some sort of flycatcher?  

This was rustling round in the undergrowth for a long time, quite chunky.

Also no idea.  Some sort of sparrow?

Yellow-rumped Warbler?

Say's Phoebe?  Was more orange in real life

4th to 6th November 2016 - Scotland

Our weekend trip up to Scotland wasn't specifically for birding, but we did manage to fit a couple of little bits in.  We started with a trip to a small bit of water in Pitlochry where a Ring-necked Duck apparently was.  We saw him before we ever got out of the car, happily bobbing around.  We then headed up to Glenshee in yet another futile attempt to see Ptarmigan.  Plenty of Red Grouse, but no Ptarmigan to be seen.  However, we arrived in the blazing sun and 15 minutes later were engulfed by an incredible blizzard which instantly took the visibility right down - that was pretty interesting!  Half an hour later and we were back to blazing sun.  Crazy.

Ring-necked Duck
View from Glenshee ski centre before blizzard
Fieldfare
On the way back to the airport we had a hunt around Kinross for Waxwing (no takers) and also a stop off in Musselburgh.  This proved quite productive, with Red-breasted Merganser, Eider and Long-tailed Duck amongst hundreds of Oystercatcher, as well as Stonechat, Twite and a Bar-tailed Godwit. We hadn't brought the scope, so whilst we could see a raft of black ducks that looked as though they could have held the Surf Scoter, we weren't actually able to check unfortunately.

Jackdaw

Stonechat

Lots of Oystercatcher