This year proved to be a memorable one for birding in Britain and Ireland, stepping up a notch from 2014 and producing one of the most outlandish finds of the decade in the process. Assuming it is not bettered in the last few days of December, then September's Acadian Flycatcher on the beach at Dungeness, Kent, on 22nd will live long in the memory of all those who connected with it.
Bird of the year it may have been, but there were many other highlights too. News of the first mega of 2015 broke as early as 4 January, and involved a first-winter drake Harlequin Duck in Aberdeen which went on to stay into late May. Thereafter, megas were reported in every month of the year; while some remain to be confirmed, were brief or in very remote locations, more attainable star birds such as Great Blue Heron, American Bittern, Hudsonian Godwit, Hudsonian Whimbrel, Eurasian Crag Martin, Citril Finch and Cretzschmar's Bunting were enjoyed by the crowds, and for the second year running European Bee-eaters also bred in Britain. We'll be looking back in more detail at all the year's best birds very shortly.
Bird news takes up a considerable amount of our time, but it's only part of what we do at BirdGuides. We have reported on hundreds of stories during 2015, among which the continued persecution of birds of prey in general, and Hen Harriers in particular, stands out as one of the most prominent — and troubling — of the year. For the second consecutive spring a joint BirdGuides/Birdwatch team travelled to Eilat to take part in the Champions of the Flyway event, and came away with the Guardians of the Flyway Award for the most funds raised for bird conservation — almost £4,700, thanks to the generosity of so many of you. We also continue our association with the Birders' Choice Awards, the results of which will be announced imminently.
The Birdwatch-BirdGuides team collects the Guardians of the Flyway Award, having raised £4,700 for BirdLife Cyprus.
Importantly, we would like to extend our thanks to all of you for your continued support in 2015, and for being such a big part of BirdGuides. Your bird news, your photos — now more than a third of a million on the site — and your feedback all play a key part in the services we are able to provide. We will continue to work on refining these, as well as on some exciting new ideas, in the coming 12 months. In the meantime, Dominic, Josh and all at BirdGuides wish you all a Merry Christmas and a relaxing, enjoyable and bird-filled festive break — keep an eye on our bird news, which as always will run uninterrupted over Christmas and New Year as it does every day of the year, and the webzine will also continue to bring you the latest news, views and information during that time. Fingers crossed for one final mega to bring down the curtain on 2015!
The BirdGuides office will be closed from 17:00 on Wednesday 23 December 2015 and will reopen on Monday 4 January 2016.