2017 TOP TEN: #2

Crikey! We're close. For a reminder of previous entries, click on the links. 

#10. Best plant: "Roding Orchid"

#9. Garden Hawfinch

#8. Best twitch: White-winged Scoter

#7. Best place: Picos de Europa, northern Spain

#6. Best birding experience: Firecrest Day on Portland
#5. Top voyeuring: mating Hornet Moths

#4. Top cat(s). One week, two Lynx

#3. Best detective work: Bedstraw Hawk-moth

... and now...

#2. Best self-find: Olive-backed Pipit in Wells Woods

It has hardly been an epic year for finding my own scarce birds. In spring, a team-found Cattle Egret in Dorset and a (county rarity) Wood Warbler in Norfolk were as good as it got. A Grey Phalarope on an October seawatch with Rich Moores didn't really cut it either. I could (should) have gone out with Stuart White one September Sunday, but elected to take Maya to a party instead: he found the Burnham Overy Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler. But despite unpromising conditions (not a schniff of easterly for the whole of October), I did manage to find two decent scarce. The second was Radde's Warbler at Portland Bill, which Phil Saunders and I found on call and – nervously – claimed without ever seeing it in the field. (Fortunately it turned up in the Observatory net two hours later, which pleased and relieved us in equal measure.) 



James Lowen 

However, the best find – if judged in terms of the "high" it provoked (and finding rare birds is all about that euphoric rush) – occurred earlier that week. Two friends were in Norfolk and wanted to see Yellow-browed Warbler and Firecrest. I duly provided both their targets in a quiet area east of The Dell at Wells Woods."Now", I said, "Let's go to the drinking pool and find an Olive-backed Pipit." For more than 25 years, I'd wanted to find an "OBP" at the drinking pool. I'd managed a team-find of this Siberian pipit on Fair Isle in 2014, but – brilliant though this was – it did not shed me of my need to encounter my own, in Norfolk, in Wells Woods, at the drinking pool. Half-an-hour, as we walked up to the drinking pool, a dark passerine flew up from in front of me and landed on a sapling… an OBP! It gave decent views to three incredulous, adrenalin-fired observers for 45 minutes before melting away into the wood. It was never seen again. Pure fabulousness. Prophesy come true