2017 TOP TEN: #8

The countdown continues. 

10. Best plant: "Roding Orchid"

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9. Garden Hawfinch

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8. Best twitch: White-winged Scoter

It's hardly been a vintage year for bird-twitching, particularly when compared with the brilliant 2015 and 2016. I've had some bad luck too: dipping Yellow Warbler, being abroad for Amur Falcon, and having to decline lifts for American Redstart and Cedar Waxwing due to parental responsibilities. Indeed, I think I only managed three UK bird ticks in 2017. The first was Elegant Tern, a bird whose existence in the Old World I had long pooh-poohed but have been forced to eat my hat in the face of evidence from DNA analysis. I was on my way to (yet) a(nother) Wedding Present gig in London when the well-known colour-ringed male appeared in East Sussex. A swift diversion was needed. Probably the best day's twitching overall was for the Dorset Two-barred Warbler. Not only did we time our arrival perfectly – just as the bird started showing well – but we also managed to jam two brilliant Hawkmoths as well (Striped and Death's Head) courtesy of Portland Bird Observatory. My choice for the year's best twitch is a surprising one, but it gets the vote because of the previous year's painful, exhausting dip. In July 2016, Graham Clarke, Nick Watmough and I failed to locate the drake White-winged Scoter in the scoter flock off Murcar Golf Course, north of Aberdeen. In complete contrast, Ian Robinson, Will Soar and I arrived at the site at dawn on 1 August 2017 and had located the bird by 05h45. This was a brilliant start to what proved to be an incredibly successful pan-species Scotland trip: one of my best-ever short breaks.  

James Lowen