A fond look back at NGB activity over January 2014 (that felt more like an apocalyptic April/waterpark that someone pee'd in: warm, wet and wild...)
*Note: the rankings show the totals of NGB members who have signed up to these competitions.*
NGB combined 2014 yearlist
All NGB members from around the world have clubbed together to record every species to make up a 2014 WORLD YEARLIST (*manic evil laughter*).
As of January, NGB members have travelled to/lived in/visited 8 countries in 4 continents (UK, USA, Austria, Australia, the Gambia, Germany, Senegal and Sweden), and have recorded 401 bird species, though this figure is much higher in reality, as we have not heard from the Australian NGB contingent or the species list of one member's Gambia trip. World highlights: Black Heron, Magnificent Frigatebird, Lappet-faced Vulture, Black Crake, Kittilitz's Plover, Sooty Tern, Long-tailed Nightjar, Boat-tailed Grackle.
...Meanwhile in the grey UK, we are also holding a joint NGB 2014 BRITISH YEARLIST, with the species total at 207 as of the end January. Highlights include: Buff-bellied Pipit, Hume's Warbler, Lesser Yellowlegs and American Coot.
Psychic Jack's predictions ANALYSED
For January, Jack foretold: "...good arrival of Arctic divers and ducks, plenty more Great Northern Divers and the odd White-billed Diver claimed... I also see a hazy rare duck on an inland reservoir – a Bufflehead or Barrow’s Goldeneye? Don't forget to feed the cat before that dentist appointment, woman with the green tilley and swaros..."
Did he come good? Well, GNDs have been apparent, and White-billed Divers haven't been hard to come by, especially that Brixham Harbour crowd-pleaser on top of birds at Berry Head (also Devon), Aberdeenshire and Orkney.
No exceptional ducks were found on inland reservoirs, but Northern Ireland did bag its first Pacific Diver on (inland) Lough Fea, which matches oddly with Jack's prediction for February 2014: "it looks like a Pacific Diver may be claimed but dismissed immediately, my advice is to not dismiss it so quickly, give it a second look…" second looks were definitely on the cards for this show-stopper, who was chinning its strap down to 4 metres to some observers.
Another exceptional floater (though not a duck) was the British mainland's 4th American Coot and to this day, the purple frontal-shielded little black number has been entertaining visiting birders who have made the long trip up to see it. Could this have been the "hazy rare duck on an inland res" that the great Northern warlock had a vision of?
ps. I hope the cats were fed and that your teeth are fine, tilley-swaro lady.
January blues and Hooternanny hangovers (for those over 18, of course) were blown away by the start of new yearlists, new year's resolutions (to go gulling more, gen up on pipit/wader/bunting calls and to stop at McDonald's less after twitches) and new friendships as many of the British members met up for winter birding trips.
After the wrenching loss of Hampshire NGB Cameron Bespolka, we were very proud of the few NGB members who attended his funeral in Winchester. Fellow Hampshire birder Josie Hewitt told us "It was a lovely service" and Sussex NGB Luke Dray remarked "There was such a bird related theme to it".
Cameron's parents have set up a trust fund to support young birders; the Cameron Bespolka Trust website explains: "The Trust plans to make grants to teenagers to enable them to work with bird, nature and wildlife organisations".
Our friends at Patchwork Challenge have dedicated the under 25s minileague -in which many NGBs were participating- to Cameron, with the minileague winner receiving the Cameron Bespolka prize.
We enjoyed the news from our Australian NGB members that they twitched Australia's 8th Buff-breasted Sandpiper which involved wading through a swamp "without pants*", a phrase that did not translate well into English English...
(*pants = Aussie trousers.)
Other NGB Facebook group discussion included Orange Bullfinches (don't Google them if you're allergic to adorable), keeping notebooks, your 'perfect birding day', swimming waders, waders in swimming pools and the new BTO president.
Did you see?
- Belarus celebrated its 2nd Grey Wagtail, on the Neman River on the 6th.
-The Netherlands enjoyed its first Brown Shrike.
- Holland became Hogwarts with the presence of Hawk, Pygmy and Snowy Owls.
- 2 birding films are set to be released. One looks good, the other not so much...
- An American Woodcock in Maryland choreographed its own take of The Champs famous song named after that killer Latin American drink:
- YLGull and Hooded Crow engaged in a bit of Papal Columbidae-hating in the Vatican.
- Dodo/crow/dinosaur-baby lookalike, the Tooth-billed Pigeon was firmly sighted for the first time in over a decade by a man doing his laundry.
- The amazing photographs coming out of the USA Snowy Owl invasion, with these incredible birds perched on window ledges in the middle of cities!
Snowy Owls in Washington DC
©Darryl Fears ©Brandon Funkhouser
...and finally, my NGB Facebook post of the month goes to Ben Porter, genius:
Good birding to all for February!