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.
January the first began in the tradition of the Big Day, we managed to score 109 species and booked a new record. There were many good species remaining from 2013 and were all done in the first week: Little Owl, Northern Hawk-Owl, Snowy Owl, Parrot Crossbill, Two-barred Crossbill, Lesser Yellowlegs, Long-legged Buzzard and Rumped Sandpiper. On January 11, a Caspian Plover was found in Zealand and we visited a Surf Scoter at Schiermonnikoog. On January 18, a Brown Shrike was discovered, a new specie for the Netherlands. The next day I saw the bird. A Yellow-billed Loon is another hard species that was recorded in January. At the end of January the counter stood at 185 species. All the signs were there for a good year.
February was marked by a trip to Costa Rica. A wonderful journey to an almost new continent for me as far as birds are concerned. In total I managed to add 459 species to my world list and I'm still working on the many photos that have been made. On the day I came home my father deceased. Because of that the rest of February not much happened and the counter stood at 190 species for the year list.
In early March I started traditionally with my spring migration counting at the Kamperhoek. And also this year a Red Kite was recorded at the first day. The counts were not wrong in March and on March 30 we could credit a passing Eurasian Hoopoe, a new kind for migration site. Furthermore, in March the next great species were seen: Crested Lark, Ring-necked Duck, Green-winged Teal, Pallas's Leaf Warbler and Arctic Redpoll. The count stood at 225 species.
April was a very good month with fun counts at the Kamperhoek and again a new species for the Netherlands. A Robin Thrush was discovered in the North Holland Dune Reserve near Heemskerk. I was at that time on the island of Texel but no time was doubted to drive. The bird was after several exciting hours searching in the pouring rain recovered. Other good varieties in April were Pallid Harrier, Griffon Vulture (my earliest ever), Iberian Chiffchaff, Red-rumped Swallow, White-tailed Lapwing, Subalpine Warbler and Steppe Grey Shrike. The year list had grown to 262 species.
Also in May, the birds continued to do well. A Black-eared Wheatear at Westkapelle was seen and this was a new species for me in the Netherlands. On the Kamperhoek was not much more to do early May so all kinds of day trips were made to all parts of the Netherlands. The best species were Little Crake, Baillon's Crake, River Warbler, Blyth's Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Citrine Wagtail and Squacco Heron. For the first time I ended at 300 species before June for the year list!!
June was relatively quiet and the best types were Black-winged Pratincole, Short-toed Eagle, Bonelli's Warbler, Greenish Warbler and Terek Sandpiper. A beautiful summer plumage Red Phalarope was seen in the neighborhood of Zwolle. The annual list did not grow hard but stood at 308 species.
July yielded another new species for me for the Netherlands, a Red-headed Bunting at Westkapelle was seen after a second attempt the same day. A Sociable Lapwing and Broad-billed Sandpiper are worth mentioning. Much time was spent at Camperduin but that did not yield much. The counter for the year list stood at 312.
In August, I could add a long-awaited King Eider to my Dutch list, the bird sat on Texel. A Pacific Golden Plover and Ross's Goose are worth mentioning but otherwise it remained quiet. The list had grown to 319 species.
September started well with an Eastern Pratincole which is still new for my Dutch list. A Great White Pelican was done in Hengelo and we have to wait and see if this is going to be accepted, if that is the case then this also counts for the Dutch list. Furthermore, a Semipalmated Sandpiper, Wilson's Phalarope and Isabelline Wheatear were added to the year list which stood at 326 species after September.
October was a very good month with again much fun days at the migration site and also new species for my Dutch list. On October 6, a White-crowned Wheatear was discovered, along with Dirk Eijkemans I drove to Oegstgeest where the bird was found. En route we have a flat tire, but luckily we were just in time to see the bird in the twilight. A Western Subalpine Warbler was seen at the Maasvlakte and Turkestan Shrike at Texel, also these two birds count for my Dutch list. A good north-westerly wind on October 15 supplied the missing marine species and at the end of October the score was 341 species.
November was also a nice month with a new species for the Dutch list. An African Desert Warbler was discovered in Alphen aan de Rijn and after a few hours this specie could also be credited. Furthermore, some nice species as Spanish Sparrow, Dusky Warbler, Pied Wheatear, Pallid Swift and Lesser Scaup were seen. At late November the year list stood at 348 species.
In December there was no birding. At December 1, I was hospitalized in Gronau, Germany. On December 2, my prostate was removed successfully. On December 10, I came home and started the recovery. Luckily I do not suffer from incontinence which almost always occurs after a removal of the prostate. However, the recovery is slow and I think I will be able to live normal like I used to in the course of January. The traditional Big Day on January 1 is therefore not held but we catch up as soon as possible.
For the coming year, I dare not to make any predictions but I want to try again to reach the 300 species. This would be the ninth time in a row, I have a running bet for 10 times. A trip abroad is not planned yet but will surely come. The obtained result of 348 species is a new personal record for me. The next month I focus on recovery and construction of the new website for Dutch Birding. I hope as soon as possible to be able to go back into the field. Below is a quick review of the new species this year:
- Brown Shrike
- Robin Thrush
- Subalpine Warbler
- Black-eared Wheatear (to be accepted)
- Red-headed Bunting
- King Eider
- Eastern Pratincole
- Great White Pelican (to be accepted)
- Western Subalpine Warbler
- White-crowned Wheatear (to be accepted)
- Turkestan Shrike (to be accepted)
- African Desert Warbler (to be accepted)
The lists that I keep tracking look as follows beyond 2014:
- My Dutch List 424 species
- My World List 1838 species
- Total eternal month list 3160
- Year List 2014 348 species