Looking back on 2017, the year seems to have flown by, but when I try to pick up memories from January it seems a long time back. If you watch birds, the changes of the seasons are important moments that can lead to exciting observations. The spring and autumn migration play an important role in this.

2016 has been a year where I can look back with pleasure. It started with the traditional New Year's Big Day which as always took place in the province of Zeeland. With 108 species a good second place in comparison with other Big Days on January 1. Good species such as Pine Bunting, Black Guillemot, Western Cattle Egret and Common Loon were seen and the tone was set for 2016.

2015 this time did not begin as usual with a Big Day at the first of January. Because of the surgery I was still too weak and had a lot of pain. On January 3 I ventured for the first time outside and near Uden the first species of the year were credited. Being outdoors and the birds felt excellent and it was not long before I dared the first twitch of the year. On January 5, the Oriental Turtle Dove in Vlaardingen was visited and a tour threw the province of Zealand was added. This went well so a Red-breasted Flycatcher, which was found in Winterswijk, was a must for the month list. The birds gave me the distraction I needed and I was therefore often on the road. In late January the counter stood at 155 species with species as Lesser Scaup, Eurasian Hoopoe, Bufflehead, Long-legged Buzzard, Spotted Sandpiper and Little Bustard.

The weather forecast for the weekend seemed very good. Northeast wind, and it would be warm, a classic spring migration weekend. The expectations were high, how different would it be. Saturday morning at 5 am I drove toward the Kamperhoek where I agreed with Alwin.

Good weather was predicted and at the Lauwersmeer a Green-winged Teal was reported. No kind which you immediately have to do but there were some other nice species in the area so a day trip was planned. At 8 o'clock in the morning I picked up Harry Claasen and we drove first to a Rosy Starling in Kollum which is sitting there for a while.

Friday was scheduled to spend a day in the hut. With the whole week of rain and storm it prospects were not good. During our trip to Costa Rica we have met Joop van den Berg. Joop lives in Spain and Willie visited him there last year. Joop was now in the Netherlands and liked a day in the cabin. On Thursday evening we had a drink at Willie and memories were collected from Costa Rica. Joop stayed over at Willie's and we agreed that I would be there the next day at 9 o'clock.

A Red-breasted Flycatcher in January in the Netherlands, really special. The first ever of January which was obviously going to be visited. The bird also was photogenic thus reasons enough to drive towards Winterswijk where the bird sat. We also wanted to make an attempt for the Lesser Scaup that is present for a while now in Flevoland.

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.