18/12/2013
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Merry Christmas from BirdGuides

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And so another year passes — and what a year it's been! Though it started relatively quietly, 2013 blossomed into one of the most exciting years we've ever seen in British and Irish birding. The first winter period brought a long-awaited Pine Grosbeak to Shetland and then, once we'd struggled through one of the coldest springs for many years, we basked in a heatwave summer that delivered the now infamous Harris Needletail saga, a frigatebird to Islay and welcome success stories for our insects, flowers and birds. Then, of course, there was an autumn stuffed with the likes of Cape May, Thick-billed and Wilson's Warblers. And, even now, as we wind down towards Christmas, we're being treated to an influx of Ivory Gulls and crossbills that should ensure a fruitful festive break for birders nationwide.

Ivory Gull
An almost angelic apparition from the far north, the Patrington Ivory Gull was an early Christmas present for many birders (Photo: Paul Rowe)

In new hands...

Dominic Mitchell, Managing Editor of BirdGuides, commented: "2013 has been a tremendously exciting year, and not just for its birds. After 17 years establishing itself as one of the most popular and respected birding websites, BirdGuides said goodbye to its old management team and became part of Warners Group Publications plc, the company that publishes Birdwatch. These two leading birding brands complement each other perfectly, and present new opportunities which will bring many benefits to birders in Britain and beyond."

"For me, it's been a fascinating experience getting to know BirdGuides properly and working with the highly experienced team of Josh Jones, News Manager, and Dave Dunford, Webmaster. The hard work and dedication of the BirdGuides news operators should not be under-estimated, either, and it's a pleasure to be working with such a knowledgeable and professional birding team. 2014 promises to be every bit as busy as 2013, with some exciting plans on the table — let's hope the birds perform too!"

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Highlights of the year

News Manager Josh Jones reflected: "There can't be any denying that 2013 has been a remarkable year. We've seen big changes here at BirdGuides, and are currently putting big plans into practice for 2014 and beyond. The news team has, as always, worked their socks off throughout the year and broken the news of many a big rarity — their efforts are massively appreciated. I'd also like to say a huge thank you to all our loyal subscribers and contributors for your support: your news, photos, videos and local advice have all been greatly appreciated by the team, and we look forward to strengthening that co-operation in 2014."

"This has undoubtedly been my most prolific 'wildlife' year so far. I don't think I'll ever forget the Hebridean Needletail swooping within inches of the assembled crowds' heads during the morning of 26th June — it has to be one of the most exhilarating experiences of my life. Further afield, I was fortunate enough to discover the Western Palearctic's first-ever Yellow-throated Warbler on Corvo in October, and observing Grey Whales off the Californian coast in February, a Striped Hyena in the Negev in March and three critically endangered Marsican Brown Bears in Central Italy in May fuelled my burgeoning interest in mammals. All that before I even mention swimming with Basking Sharks off the Isle of Coll in August — if 2014 comes anywhere near as close, it's going to be another brilliant year!"

White-throated Needletail
White-throated Needletail, Tarbert, Harris, Outer Hebrides (Photo: Josh Jones)

Looking to the future

Webmaster Dave Dunford reports: "Much of my work this year has been concerned with the smooth transition of the website to its new ownership, ensuring continuity of our sales operations and bringing the site into line with Warners' other websites, as well as paving the way for some major innovations in 2014. Bird-wise, the highlight of my year was a week-long trip to the Dordogne valley in October, staying with BirdGuides collaborator David Simpson, during which I added Wallcreeper to my world list."

"After more than 13 years at BirdGuides, I'll be leaving my full-time employment with the company in February 2014, though I'll doubtless be keeping a proprietorial eye on future developments and will continue to be involved for some time yet on a part-time basis. I'm confident that BirdGuides is in good hands: Warners have some big ideas for the website in future but are determined to maintain the site's position as one of the most popular online destinations for UK birders. I'm looking forward to helping my successor take over the reins and ultimately to seeing BirdGuides go from strength to strength. Thank you to all our loyal visitors for all your contributions and co-operation during my tenure as webmaster."

Merry Christmas and best wishes for 2014

From all of the team here at BirdGuides, we'd like to wish all of our readers the happiest and most bird-filled of Christmases. Our ever-reliable news team will be on hand to ensure that bird news will continue to be updated throughout the festive period, and the webzine will be updated with the latest news from the birding scene. Our next newsletter will be a double edition on Thursday 2nd January — in the meantime, we'll be busy compiling two of our most popular annual fixtures: Photo of the Year 2013 and the Review of the Year. Until then, Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year to all!

The BirdGuides office will be closed from 17:00 on Monday 23rd December 2013, re-opening on Thursday 2nd January 2014.
Any technical queries should be emailed to support@birdguides.com, with more general queries emailed to contact@birdguides.com. You can continue to shop online at www.birdguides.com/estore. Orders for online products will be fulfilled automatically; orders for shippable products will be dispatched in the New Year.

Written by: BirdGuides