2009 was all about the development of the main projects I am involved in- Beddington Farmlands, The Azores and a pro-environmental music project A good year overall with the usual disasters thrown into the mix.
As for the foreign patch it had to be the best year yet for American vagrants and also record numbers of birders present . A September pelagic exploration trip by Simon and I was another highlight. October was incredible but despite finding some okay yanks the French and Swedes whipped our sad arses in the 'Eurovision Rare Bird Contest'.
Some 2009 links:
Corvo Blog by Olof Jonnson
Azores Rarity Photo Exhibition by Vincent Legrand
Corvo Birders Photo Gallery
and as always the main source of info:
2010 Outlook: Further winter exploration, new spring seabird exploration, new publications and the overall continuing contribution to development of birding on the Azores.
Pretty much all good on this front. New community birding tours, the Beddington Book is in its final stages, a new improved Beddington Farm Bird Group, new promo material, visits from new groups, the odd TV personality, new bird group members and some great birds. On the other hand first year ever I haven't had a Beddington tick and haven't found anything really decent since 2005.
New promo stuff here:
2010 Outlook: Publishing of the 'Birds of Beddington Farmlands', Beddington Farmlands at the Carshalton Environmental Fair, more birding tours and of course the continuing development of what will become London's largest urban nature reserve.
Overall a roller coaster. This experimental pro-environmental music and art project is a rather chaotic little side line. However we got the album recorded, picked up a few fans (over 250 in total now) and by the end of the year got a new venue, new equipment and a Xmas track.
Promo stuff here:
2010 outlook: Who knows. Be warned more of this coming.
In addition to the projects also got some Middle East WP birding in. Soooooo.... the year started with my brother Paul and I on a soul searching road trip from Bulgaria to the Holy Land. We ended up falling out and he abandoned me in Southern Turkey . For the full story see this months Birdwatch supplement World of Birds 2010 from pg 11.
We spent some time in Syria including a visit to see the Arabian Oryx- looking wild in this photo but being fed like a cow in reality because its natural habitat is drying up.
We recieved a warm welcome where ever we went- this bunch of kids ended up stealing our car but in fairness to them they did bring it back- but stole our bird guide- which I didn't mind too much.
I made it back to Blighty in time for the spring. We finished stage 1 of our pro-environmental music project:
A good spring at Beddington with highlights including a Sandwich Tern, a Spoonbill and an impressive Buzzard migration. Highlight was the controversial 'white-winged Gull' which some experts believe is Beddington's second Glaucous-winged Gull.
Spent a couple of weeks of the summer back in the Middle East with Darryl. This time it was eastern Turkey on the border of Iran. Closest to death we came was not from terrorists but from the local kids, local dogs and electric storms. Photos below are Bald Ibis (more feral stuff on the verge of extinction) and Spur-winged Plover.
We started our community birding tours at Beddington during the autumn with the help of the Urban Birder- David Lindo:
In September I made the best 'move' of my life. I moved onto my local patch with a view of the northern lake and Irrigation bridge. I call it the Beddington Observatory.
Then came the autumn!! What an autumn. I spent nearly the whole of late September to October on the Azores. Highlights included the best year ever on Corvo for American vagrants and a pelagic trip where Simon and I discovered some rare seabirds including a new colony of Madeiran Petrels. Photos below are Fea's-type Petrel, Bottlenose Dolphin and Wilson's Petrel.
CORVO was mind blowing. Below are Dotterel, Yellow Warbler, Ovenbird by Rafa Armada and Bobolink and Black-throated Green Warbler by Vincent the Great.
Managed to get a main article in the Local Guardian about Beddington but failed in getting my photo in there. This is an old enemy after a friend of mine called Squeaky got his photo into our local paper after spending two months in our family home and I have still failed to achieve that- despite living here forever.
And the year ends with the beginning of stage 2 of our pro-environmental music project and a flop of our first track cyber-release.
And the plan for 2010- full steam ahead into the unknown.