My 2021 Year List

Listing isn’t for everybody! But I do receive an extra motivation by trying to see as many bird species as I can. For me listing is both a means and an end.

As an end in itself, it is great to try to beat last year’s total or indeed see more in January than I did last year for example. One of the UK’s leading bird watching magazines supports people to try and see 200 birds in a year and this is an achievable but for most a stretching target (I saw 205 this year in UK). If you are going to start listing yourself I would recommend an app like Bird Track or for me I use, and thoroughly recommend, eBird.

But even for people who aren’t too motivated by listing I would argue that it can be a very useful tool for learning and gaining stronger ID skills. By forcing you to look out for new birds it expands your knowledge. For me this year I scanned lots of flocks of Black-headed gulls, for example, hoping for one with white wing tips and thereby see my first Mediterranean Gull (and indeed you will see in October I was successful). Or even at a more basic level, you have to separate your Song from Mistle Thrush or Common from Herring Gull and with that you strengthen your knowledge and skills.

So in this post I will share my list for the year with a few memories and photos.

January (65 ticks)

The good thing about listing is that when the days are shortest and weather toughest even a House Sparrow or Blackbird can be a year tick again. So I started the year with some fairly relaxed birdwatching around where I live and added 65 of the most common birds to my year list.

A January highlight was finding a flock of 80-100 Yellowhammers joined by 40-50 Reed Buntings when out for a run. They gave a strong dash of colour in an otherwise grey day and month.

24 – Yellowhammer
1Pink-footed Goose – Anser brachyrhynchus
2Mute Swan – Cygnus olor
3Mallard – Anas platyrhynchos
4Eurasian/Green-winged Teal – Anas crecca
5Goosander – Mergus merganser
6Little Grebe – Tachybaptus ruficollis
7Common Woodpigeon – Columba palumbus
8Common Moorhen – Gallinula chloropus
9Eurasian Curlew – Numenius arquata
10Black-headed Gull – Chroicocephalus ridibundus
11Herring Gull – Larus argentatus
12Great Cormorant – Phalacrocorax carbo
13Grey Heron – Ardea cinerea
14Eurasian Sparrowhawk – Accipiter nisus
15Common Kestrel – Falco tinnunculus
16Common Magpie – Pica pica
17Eurasian Jackdaw – Corvus monedula
18Rook – Corvus frugilegus
19Great Tit – Parus major
20Eurasian Blackbird – Turdus merula
21European Robin – Erithacus rubecula
22House Sparrow – Passer domesticus
23Common Chaffinch – Fringilla coelebs
24Yellowhammer – Emberiza citrinella
25Common Reed Bunting – Emberiza schoeniclus
26Rock Dove – Columba livia
27Eurasian Blue Tit – Cyanistes caeruleus
28Long-tailed Tit – Aegithalos caudatus
29Eurasian Wren – Troglodytes troglodytes
30Song Thrush – Turdus philomelos
31Dunnock – Prunella modularis
32Greylag Goose – Anser anser
33Canada Goose – Branta canadensis
34Eurasian Wigeon – Mareca penelope
35Tufted Duck – Aythya fuligula
36Common Goldeneye – Bucephala clangula
37Eurasian Coot – Fulica atra
38Common Gull – Larus canus
39Common Buzzard – Buteo buteo
40Common Kingfisher – Alcedo atthis
41Carrion Crow – Corvus corone
42Goldcrest – Regulus regulus
43Common Starling – Sturnus vulgaris
44Dunlin – Calidris alpina
45Fieldfare – Turdus pilaris
46Pied Wagtail/White Wagtail – Motacilla alba
47Eurasian Siskin – Spinus spinus
48Common Shelduck – Tadorna tadorna
49Grey Partridge – Perdix perdix
50Common Pheasant – Phasianus colchicus
51Northern Lapwing – Vanellus vanellus
52Black-tailed Godwit – Limosa limosa
53Lesser Black-backed Gull – Larus fuscus
54Eurasian Tree Sparrow – Passer montanus
55European Goldfinch – Carduelis carduelis
56Coal Tit – Periparus ater
57Eurasian Bullfinch – Pyrrhula pyrrhula
58Lesser Redpoll – Acanthis cabaret
59Great Crested Grebe – Podiceps cristatus
60Redwing – Turdus iliacus
61Meadow Pipit – Anthus pratensis
62Eurasian Nuthatch – Sitta europaea
63Eurasian Oystercatcher – Haematopus ostralegus
64Common Redshank – Tringa totanus
65Great Spotted Woodpecker – Dendrocopos major
January Year Ticks

February (17)

With a lot of the easy birds taken in January I saw another 17 species in February. I had a lovely day visiting Skinflats which added Short-eared Owl, Merlin and Peregrine but alas I didn’t have my camera with me. So you will have to settle for this lovely image of a Short-Eared Owl taken on South Uist last year.

71 – Short-eared Owl
66Eurasian Treecreeper – Certhia familiaris
67Mistle Thrush – Turdus viscivorus
68European Greenfinch – Chloris chloris
69Red Knot – Calidris canutus
70Great Black-backed Gull – Larus marinus
71Short-eared Owl – Asio flammeus
72Merlin – Falco columbarius
73Peregrine Falcon – Falco peregrinus
74Rock Pipit – Anthus petrosus
75White-throated Dipper – Cinclus cinclus
76Grey Wagtail – Motacilla cinerea
77Common Snipe – Gallinago gallinago
78Gadwall – Mareca strepera
79Red-breasted Merganser – Mergus serrator
80Common Raven – Corvus corax
81Water Rail – Rallus aquaticus
82Red Grouse/Willow Grouse – Lagopus lagopus
February Year Ticks

March (2)

And now the hard work kicked in with just 2 year ticks in March.

With a lot of fairly easy species taken, lockdown still restricting movements and it being too early for most of the migrants to make it as far north as Scotland this was a fairly quiet month for me. However on the last day of March I did see my first migrant Sand Martin flying overhead followed a few weeks later by a visit to the riverbank where they nest. Migration had begun!

84 – Sand Martin
83Eurasian Skylark – Alauda arvensis
84Sand Martin – Riparia riparia
March Year Ticks

April (43)

April was a very productive month as we were able to travel again and the migrants were arriving thick and fast. I added 43 year ticks in April.

A self-found Ring Ouzel in the Ochils, a local Gargany at Black-Devon Wetlands, and my first ever Yellow Wagtail were highlights for me. A great month of birding.

93 – Local Ring Ouzel
107 – Male Gargany
124 – Male Yellow Wagtail

It was also great to be able to travel to the coast and see lots of seabirds for the list. By this point in the year I had started birdwatching with a new friend who was much more experienced that me. This really helped me identify birds at distance which previously would have been beyond me too.

85Red-legged Partridge – Alectoris rufa
86European Stonechat – Saxicola rubicola
87Common Pochard – Aythya ferina
88Stock Dove – Columba oenas
89Common Chiffchaff – Phylloscopus collybita
90Eurasian Blackcap – Sylvia atricapilla
91Tawny Owl – Strix aluco
92Common Linnet – Linaria cannabina
93Ring Ouzel – Turdus torquatus
94Northern Wheatear – Oenanthe oenanthe
95Eurasian Green Woodpecker – Picus viridis
96Barn Swallow – Hirundo rustica
97Willow Warbler – Phylloscopus trochilus
98Smew – Mergellus albellus
99Little Egret – Egretta garzetta
100Western Marsh Harrier – Circus aeruginosus
101Bearded Tit – Panurus biarmicus
102Greater Scaup – Aythya marila
103Bar-tailed Godwit – Limosa lapponica
104Common Sandpiper – Actitis hypoleucos
105Whooper Swan – Cygnus cygnus
106Eurasian Jay – Garrulus glandarius
107Garganey – Spatula querquedula
108Northern Shoveler – Spatula clypeata
109Common Eider – Somateria mollissima
110Velvet Scoter – Melanitta fusca
111Common Scoter – Melanitta nigra
112Grey Plover – Pluvialis squatarola
113Common Ringed Plover – Charadrius hiaticula
114Little Ringed Plover – Charadrius dubius
115Common Guillemot – Uria aalge
116Razorbill – Alca torda
117Black-legged Kittiwake – Rissa tridactyla
118Sandwich Tern – Thalasseus sandvicensis
119Northern Fulmar – Fulmarus glacialis
120Northern Gannet – Morus bassanus
121Long-tailed Duck – Clangula hyemalis
122Ruddy Turnstone – Arenaria interpres
123Sedge Warbler – Acrocephalus schoenobaenus
124Western Yellow Wagtail – Motacilla flava
125Common House Martin – Delichon urbicum
126Rock Ptarmigan – Lagopus muta
127Collared Dove – Streptopelia decaocto
April Year Ticks

May (32)

May was also a productive month thanks in large part to a holiday with Heatherlea in the Highlands where I saw my first ever Capercaillie. I did also add a local Wood Warbler, and a life tick in Corn Bunting and a vagrant Pied-Billed Grebe.

149 – Female Capercaillie
130 – Wood Warbler
144 – Corn Bunting
128Barnacle Goose – Branta leucopsis
129Whinchat – Saxicola rubetra
130Wood Warbler – Phylloscopus sibilatrix
131Common Cuckoo – Cuculus canorus
132Red Kite – Milvus milvus
133Snow Bunting – Plectrophenax nivalis
134Red-throated Diver – Gavia stellata
135Black-throated Diver – Gavia arctica
136Osprey – Pandion haliaetus
137Hooded Crow – Corvus cornix
138Golden Eagle – Aquila chrysaetos
139White-tailed Eagle – Haliaeetus albicilla
140Great Skua – Stercorarius skua
141Black Guillemot – Cepphus grylle
142Atlantic Puffin – Fratercula arctica
143European Shag – Gulosus aristotelis
144Corn Bunting – Emberiza calandra
145Whimbrel – Numenius phaeopus
146Common Tern – Sterna hirundo
147Arctic Tern – Sterna paradisaea
148Black Grouse – Lyrurus tetrix
149Western Capercaillie – Tetrao urogallus
150Common Crossbill – Loxia curvirostra
151European Pied Flycatcher – Ficedula hypoleuca
152Common Redstart – Phoenicurus phoenicurus
153Tree Pipit – Anthus trivialis
154European Golden Plover – Pluvialis apricaria
155Slavonian Grebe – Podiceps auritus
156Common Whitethroat – Curruca communis
157Common Swift – Apus apus
158Sanderling – Calidris alba
159Pied-billed Grebe – Podilymbus podiceps
May Year Ticks

June (4)

We had a lovely month in June with a trip to the wonderful Isle of May to see lots of Seabirds but of course none of these were year ticks. I did add a Spoonbill on my local patch (no camera again) and a lovely holiday to Mull added Hen Harrier and Barn Owl.

162 – Barn Owl
160Eurasian Spoonbill – Platalea leucorodia
161Hen Harrier – Circus cyaneus
162Barn Owl – Tyto alba
163Manx Shearwater – Puffinus puffinus
June Year Ticks

July (0)

Summer tends to be quiet for bird watching and this was the case for me with a big fat Zero in year ticks. We did enjoy some wonderful whale watching though as well as some great views of Golden Eagle.

Golden Eagle on Mull

August (2)

Another fairly quiet month but with two days staking out a likely spot (location not given due to sensitivities around this species) my friend and I did have distant views of a Honey Buzzard

164Ruddy Shelduck – Tadorna ferruginea
165European Honey-buzzard – Pernis apivorus
August Year Ticks

September (13)

September added some fruitful sea watching with a life tick Pomarine Skua being a highlight at Hound Point. I also had a trip to Lancashire where I twitched a Pectoral Sandpiper. We also had an epic (and wet and cold) trip to Bass Rock to see the Gannets.

166Northern Pintail – Anas acuta
167Common Greenshank – Tringa nebularia
168Pomarine Skua – Stercorarius pomarinus
169Arctic Skua – Stercorarius parasiticus
170Little Gull – Hydrocoloeus minutus
171Pectoral Sandpiper – Calidris melanotos*
172Great White Egret – Ardea alba*
173Marsh Tit – Poecile palustris*
174Ruff – Calidris pugnax
175Spotted Redshank – Tringa erythropus*
176Brent Goose – Branta bernicla
177Surf Scoter – Melanitta perspicillata
178Red-necked Grebe – Podiceps grisegena
September Year Ticks

(* denotes seen in England only)

October (19)

In October we had a lovely week in Norfolk which added lots of ticks, I didn’t cover it on the blog as not really part of Scotland. I also took the opportunity on driving back from England to pick up two mega birds Long-Toed Stint and White-Tailed Lapwing both of which were life-ticks.

White-Tailed Lapwing

A trip to Musselburgh did add a life tick in Med Gull which I mentioned at the start. Keep looking through Black-Headed Gulls for long-enough and you will find one with white wing tips and stockier blood red bill.

196 – Med Gull (left)

At the end of October I was on 197 and the 200 goal for the year was very much within grasp.

179Pied Avocet – Recurvirostra avosetta*
180Grey Phalarope – Phalaropus fulicarius*
181Yellow-legged Gull – Larus michahellis*
182Caspian Gull – Larus cachinnans*
183Cattle Egret – Bubulcus ibis*
184Rose-coloured Starling – Pastor roseus*
185Little Stint – Calidris minuta*
186Cetti’s Warbler – Cettia cetti*
187Egyptian Goose – Alopochen aegyptiaca*
188Long-billed Dowitcher – Limnodromus scolopaceus*
189Common Crane – Grus grus*
190Purple Sandpiper – Calidris maritima
191Eurasian Woodcock – Scolopax rusticola
192Brambling – Fringilla montifringilla*
193Stone-curlew – Burhinus oedicnemus*
194White-tailed Lapwing – Vanellus leucurus*
195Long-toed Stint – Calidris subminuta*
196Mediterranean Gull – Ichthyaetus melanocephalus
197Twite – Linaria flavirostris
October Year Ticks

(* denotes seen in England only)

November (5)

I tracked down a Glossy Ibis reported on the side of a main road south of Edinburgh only for the bird to upsticks soon after and fly to my nearby patch.

198 – Glossy Ibis

My friend and I visited the coast for a remarkable Little Auk passage and being on 199 it seemed rude not to try for a 200th. So a quick visit to Slamannan Plateau afterwards added my 200th bird of the year – Taiga Bean Goose. Here is a picture from January 2020 when I added them as a life tick.

200 – Taiga Bean Goose

We also twitched the Isabelline Wheatear which visited East Linton which was also life tick for me, on an absolutely baltic day the bird must have been questioning it’s life choices in coming to Scotland.

198Glossy Ibis – Plegadis falcinellus
199Little Auk – Alle alle
200Taiga Bean Goose – Anser fabalis
201Isabelline Wheatear – Oenanthe isabellina
202Jack Snipe – Lymnocryptes minimus
November Year Ticks

December (3)

With so many birds already seen it is quite hard to add year ticks in December but I managed 3. A Great Northern Diver at Burntisland as somehow I had missed them all year. I finally added the White-Winged Scoter at Musselburgh albeit very distant views. My final bird of last year was a Snow Goose and it was this year too after a couple of wild goose chases I caught up with this beauty near Airth.

205 – Snow Goose with Pink Feet
203Great Northern Diver – Gavia immer
204White-winged Scoter – Melanitta deglandi
205Snow Goose – Anser caerulescens
December Year Ticks


I have really enjoyed my bird watching and wider nature watching this year. That has included sharing about it on this blog so thanks for following!

For next year I am going to try for 200 birds in Scotland (rather than UK), I made 186 this year so that is a significant step up but hopefully achievable. I would also like to get my UK life list to 250 (currently on 233) with a total of 28 birds added this year as shown below.

206Garganey – Spatula querquedula
207Little Ringed Plover – Charadrius dubius
208Western Yellow Wagtail – Motacilla flava
209Wood Warbler – Phylloscopus sibilatrix
210Corn Bunting – Emberiza calandra
211Black Grouse – Lyrurus tetrix
212Western Capercaillie – Tetrao urogallus
213Pied-billed Grebe – Podilymbus podiceps
214European Honey-buzzard – Pernis apivorus
215Pomarine Skua – Stercorarius pomarinus
216Little Gull – Hydrocoloeus minutus
217Pectoral Sandpiper – Calidris melanotos
218Spotted Redshank – Tringa erythropus
219Grey Phalarope – Phalaropus fulicarius
220Yellow-legged Gull – Larus michahellis
221Caspian Gull – Larus cachinnans
222Little Stint – Calidris minuta
223Long-billed Dowitcher – Limnodromus scolopaceus
224Common Crane – Grus grus
225Stone-curlew – Burhinus oedicnemus
226White-tailed Lapwing – Vanellus leucurus
227Long-toed Stint – Calidris subminuta
228Mediterranean Gull – Ichthyaetus melanocephalus
229Glossy Ibis – Plegadis falcinellus
230Little Auk – Alle alle
231Isabelline Wheatear – Oenanthe isabellina
232Jack Snipe – Lymnocryptes minimus
233White-winged Scoter – Melanitta deglandi
Additions to my UK Life List

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