2014 was not an easy year for me. In February, my father passed away after 13 years of having prostate cancer. In September I was diagnosed with prostate cancer myself. Luckily I was on time and it was a mild form. On December 2 they have removed my prostate in a private clinic in Germany. I'm still working on recovery but that is going strong. The birds in contrast did extremely well and I had my best year's list ever. Here is a summary.

Lately regular pictures appear on the Internet of Northern Goshawks photographed from a hut near Oss. Willie de Vries had a share in the construction of the hut and asked me if I wanted to have a go.

Easter weekend with an east wind forecasts so expectations were high. Alwin, Pieter and Maartje agreed that we would go every day. Saturday morning we were already standing on the dike at the migration site at 5.45 am. The wind came from the northeast and was moderate to hard. For the Yellow Wagtails this did not matter and they flew in groups over the migration site.

The predictions for the weekend are very good, an east wind combined with real spring weather. Reasons enough to visit the migration site. Alwin, Pieter and Maartje thought the same and Saturday morning at 5.30 am was agreed at a carpool place in Huizen.

It has been a year of great contrasts. The loss of my wife in May, of course, plays the leading role. After I tried to pick up life as well as possible and did a lot of birding. This has helped me and the birds have exceptionally contributed. 2013 was what birds concerned for me the best year ever. This retrospective will therefore mainly be about the birds and the record attempt of Pieter will not be forgotten.

The year went fast and our annual Big Day on January 1 was back on the program. The team this year consists of Alwin, Pieter and Maartje and myself of course. With Pieter and Maartje I celebrated New Years and they stayed over in Uden. Alwin would pick us up at a quarter to seven in the morning. A little drowsy because of the necessary drinks I was outside around quarter past six to put some tuff in the car when I heard 2 Robin's singing in full, the first specie of the year was in the pocket.

Boxing Day I spent with Pieter and Maartje. During the day birding was followed by a dinner in Huizen. Target species were a Little Stint at the Putten, Red Phalarope in Andijk and an, at Christmas Day reported, American Wigeon in Elburg.

The end of the year is fast approaching and there were a few species that we had to do for the monthly list. The Two-barred Crossbill and Lesser Yellowlegs in the north of the country were the targets this weekend. Pieter also needed a Parrot Crossbill and we were able to combine this nicely. Saturday morning at 7 am I picked up Pieter and Maartje in Huizen.