Since lockdown over the weekend from the 20th March this year, little did we know how the birding would pan out locally. As birders we all hope for big things at the start of the year, some on their local patches, some all over the UK for their British List. 2016 was a classic that we thought may not be beaten for some time, but maybe 2020 has pipped it to the post? It depends on where you go birding I suppose.
Northumberland has had a real cracker of a year, I think, rivalling those top hot spots like Spurn, Gibraltar Point, Flamborough etc for quality.
In my own area, Howick to Boulmer a distance that could easily be walked there and back, it has been the best year I can remember since calling them local patches back in 2005 and in all probability the best year they have ever had. Boulmer and Howick are now places that many birders have visited, some on multiple occasions, when previously it has been somewhere to drive past on the way up the coast. I don't think it will ever be an area that many birders will come to routinely, it is too out of the way and like many patches, 90% of the time has no birds worth the gamble, but they are sites worth remembering now.
Here are the noteworthy species seen since March...
White-billed Diver, Storm and Leach's Petrel, Great Shearwater, White-tailed Eagle, Hen Harrier, Quail, Spoonbills, American and Pacific Golden Plovers, Buff breasted Sandpiper, multiple Long-tailed and Pomarine Skuas, Sabine's Gull, Med Gull, Caspian and Yellow legged Gull, 8 species of Tern inc Sooty Tern and White Winged Black Tern, Black Guillemot, Little Auk, Water Pipit, Bluethroat, Black Redstart, Desert Wheatear, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Wood Warbler, Yellow-browed Warblers, Siberian Chiffchaff, Willow Tit, Golden Oriole, Great Grey Shrike, Hooded Crow, Raven, Mealy Redpoll, Lapland and Snow Buntings.
I can't believe that lot is all within a 3 miles radius of my back door! I may not have seen them all, but I am very pleased with my lot so far.
If you could be bothered to drive another 20 miles you can add Two-barred Greenish, Desert, Barred, Arctic, Pallas's and Dusky Warblers, multiple Red flanked Bluetails, Brown and Lesser Grey Shrikes, Little Buntings, Red breasted Flycatchers, Hoopoe, Short toed Lark etc.
As the nights close in and the trees and shrubs take on a skeletal winter appearance, are we done? November can be a decent month if the conditions are right, but if we get nothing else, 2020 will have been a birding year that others in future are measured by.
Reading this back, I might have to re-post an updated version as a year ending piece...