Birdgirl’s best birds and animals of 2015

This year has been a fantastic year for me. It started with a new UK bird on the 1st January, Little Bustard. Then a February trip to survey Spoon-billed Sandpiper in Bangladesh, 6 weeks over the summer in Uganda, Rwanda and Kenya ending the year in Chile and Antarctica.

I saw my 4000th bird in the world, my 450th bird species in Britain and visited my 7th continent.

My best birds of 2015

Emperor Penguin
Seeing Emperor Penguin away from their breeding site is a once in a lifetime event even for those who travel there through lots of times each season. To jam in on that in my first Antarctica trip is beyond unbelievable. As well to that they are 130 cm tall, stunning and iconic. We saw it twice.

Emperor Penguin, Antarctica

King Penguin
These Penguins are 90 cm tall and are beautiful with their colourful orange patches. We visited a colony of 130 birds and I loved the spectacle of seeing so many as well.

King Penguin, Chile

Spoon-billed Sandpiper
Lots of reasons for being number 3; a wader, cute, extremely rare, my connection to Bangladesh where they winter, my connection to WWT Slimbridge near my home, recording 19 birds almost 10% of the remaining population and the connection to my role as World Shorebird Day Ambassador. Gave a talk about them in Dhaka and at the OBC AGM in September.

Spoon-billed Sandpiper, Bangladesh
Photograph copyright Bangladesh Spoon-billed Sandpiper Conservation Project

A crazy looking bird with an amazing and evil clog shaped bill and in its own family.

Shoebill, Uganda

Green-breasted Pitta
Always great to see a Pitta but especially watching it do its mating dance.

Green-breasted Pitta, Uganda

Red-throated Tit
Special as my 4000th bird seen in the world.

Red-throated Tit, Kenya

Black Stork
This was one of the most common birds that I hadn’t seen in the UK. It had turned up whilst I was away over the summer and dipped it the first weekend we were home. The following weekend, despite the odds, I managed to see this bird just before dusk. It was especially important, as it was the 450th bird I’ve seen in the UK.

Black Stork, UK

Hudsonian Godwit
A new bird for me but very special as it was on the Somerset Levels, my local patch. I missed it the first weekend but then caught up with it after school midweek after it was re-found.

Hudsonian Godwit, UK

Snow Petrel
Before I left for Antarctica, this was top of my list of birds I wanted to see. Normally you would expect to see them close to the boat. Dad saw one early one day before I was up for breakfast, but I had to wait 4 more days before I got really close views of two above our Zodiac, in stunning ice-covered location.

Snow Petrel, Antarctica

Little Bustard
I really thought that this bird would have gone and so a fantastic start to 2015.

Little Bustard, UK
Photograph taken by and copyright Mark Rayment

My Best Animals of 2015:

1. Mountain Gorilla – Uganda

Mountain Gorilla, Uganda

2. Leopard – Kenya

Leopard, Kenya

3. Puma – Chile

Puma, Chile

4. Elephant – Uganda & Kenya

Elephant, Kenya

5. Orca – Antarctica

Orca, Antarcica

6. Black Rhino – Kenya

Black Rhino, Kenya

7. Chimpanzees – Uganda

Chimpanzee, Kibale, UgandaCopyright notes from

8. Big Hairy Armadillo – Chile

Big Hairy Armadillo

9. Lion – Uganda & Kenya

Lion, Kenya

10. Tarantula – Chile

Tarantula, Chile

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