It's time for the annual reflection on natural highlights across the preceding 12 months. This blog will count down, from 10th place to 1st, each day for the remaining 10 days of the year. An excess of work, increasing parenting demands and generally poor period for rare birds and moths meant that 2017 was not a vintage year for me. My return of three UK bird ticks (White-winged Scoter,Elegant Tern and Two-barred Warbler) was poor, and I barely had more Norfolk bird ticks. Among other taxa, I had just one new UK mammal (Eurasian Beaver), two new butterflies (Queen of Spain Fritillary and Scotch Argus), one new orchid specie (Greater Tongue Orchid, if you can tick it...), one new dragonfly (Northern Emerald, with Northern Damselfly effectively new as well) but plenty of new moths (including the amazing Clifdon Non-pareil and no less than four quality species of Hawk-moth: Striped, Death's Head, BedstrawandSpurge). I had some great photographic experiences, including with Reeve's Muntjac,Eurasian Otter, Parrot Crossbilland Lesser Kestrel. I had plenty of foreign travel, largely thanks to research trips for my forthcoming book 52 European Wildlife Weekends, with several trips to Spain, Estonia and Portugal producing plenty of wildlife excitement. Most of the species mentioned so far, however, do not feature in the 2017 TOP TEN... so what does? Let's find out...
In 2016, author and naturalist Jon Dunn completed some sterling detective work in tracking down the location of rumoured Fly x Woodcock Orchid in Dorset. A friend in that county told me the site so as soon as we heard they were flowering in 2017, two of my regular partners in crime this year (Ian Robinson and Will Soar) and I went down there in late April. Hybrid orchids are always exciting - but for one of the parents to be a species never previously recorded in the UK makes these particularly plants quite exhilarating. And they are gorgeous to boot!