A fairly quiet period until autumn 1999, when we were initially treated to the first definite, twitchable Short-billed Dowitcher, and then one of the best autumns ever for rarities. A friend of ours left home to twitch one bird, and told his mother he'd be home for tea. He was -ten days later!!! Sadly many of the birds remained unphotographed by me, but I was more interested in seeing them. I was just lining up on a Siberian Thrush on Gugh, it dropped down, and someone came running up to point out the Short-toed Eagle flying in! The best period of twitching we've ever experienced.


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American Golden Plover Pennington Marsh May 1998
I took this shot of an extremely obliging bird at 6.00am. The majority of these occur as juveniles so this was a welcome sight. Unfortunately it didn't quite reach the beautiful full breeding attire before it left.

Chestnut Bunting Salthouse June 1998
Probably an escape, but it attracted a lot of birders just the same, the only real problem for its acceptance was the fact that it was an adult. Against this, it showed little feather wear etc., and the species is now on Category 'A'.

Bonaparte's Gull Hearne Bay Kent June 1998
A first summer individual that gave a lot of people the runaround in North Kent before succumbing to the lure of chips right by Hearne Bay pier. Even then it didn't linger, this was a very lucky shot.

King Eider Ythan Estuary June 1998
We tend to forget King Eiders are still BB rarities as they usually stay so long. This is the famous Ythan bird, on the day it came to investigate us! It will surely not be long before another stunning male takes up residence somewhere, but when are we going to get a female at the same time?.

Broad-billed Sandpiper Rattray Head June 1998
Given the location, not surprisingly seen by relatively few birders, but we were just down the road so had it to ourselves. Still not particularly approachable, but the only half-decent shot I've taken in Britain.

Black Stork Walberswick August 1998
Not an infrequent visitor, but not always easy to catch up with (two were suppressed in Norfolk in 2011).This bird was in the area for quite some time, but constantly moving. I never saw it on the ground, indeed I haven't ever, although I did see one in a tree in Nepal!

Common Nighthawk St.Marys Scilly September 1998
Although not strictly a mega given the number of records, nighthawks are usually difficult to twitch, plus Scilly accounts for most records. Few are seen on the ground, but this bird took to roosting in a field in full view. Sadly, as with most, it died one morning, and many birders don't actually know for certain whether they ticked it in time, as it sat there dead for a while before anyone investigated. We were lucky in that we saw it fly on the day we went.

Pied-billed Grebe Singleton Lake Ashford Kent March 1999
Seemingly far less regular today than they used to be, when one of these turns up they tend to stay for long periods, often years. The picture is complicated by movements within the UK, this bird later appeared in Norfolk to provide the first county record, but was probably the same bird recorded in the area in 1997.

Iberian Chiffchaff The Verne, Portland May 1999
The first to be positively identified and easily twitchable after they were split from Chiffchaff, this was a mega for only a few years, although there are still only one or two records each year, doubtless more are overlooked.

Slender-billed Gull Monks Wall NR Kent May 1999
Over ten years since the previous record, and only one other (pair) since, so still maintaining its mega status. I wish one or two would turn up where a closer approach were possible, I still haven't got a decent photo of this species anywhere in the world!

Black-winged Pratincole Titchwell July 1999
Always a welcome sight, a mid-summer rarity. Although not quite the extreme rarity it once was, this bird attracted numerous admirers, partly because it was the third Norfolk record and the first in the county for 25 years.

Short-billed Dowitcher September 1999
The first inkling of what was to be one of the best autumns ever, we heard confirmation of this bird's identity whilst at Titchwell. Deciding not to bother going home, Ann drove to Rosehearty to arrive just before dawn. It was the first time she'd driven our new car!, and thirty degrees colder when we arrived. A lovely day when the sun came up, and excellent views, despite a few trying to flush it by looking for it before dawn.

Chimney Swift Penzance October 1999
Although we were among the few birders to catch up with everything in a hectic October (Veery, Siberian and White's Thrushes, Short-toed Eagle, Blue Rock Thrush) I didn't manage to get many photos. One of the few was this bird on the way back from our third trip to Scilly, by then it was about my fourth of this species in Britain.

Pallid Swift Winterton October 1999
A multiple arrival of this former mega rarity saw us driving home from Cornwall and changing route at least twice on the way. Finally arriving on the North Norfolk coast to hear it had already gone to roost, we managed to catch up with it the next day when it was re-located further south. Now a much commoner migrant, I wonder how many are the "real thing" and not juvenile swifts.

Paddyfield Warbler Lee Valley October 99
Just when you thought it was safe to go back to work, and with many people still in the West, a superb find for Greater London. Lured off the Isles of Scilly and Cornwall by several Pallid Swifts, many birders connected with this one as well.

Booted Eagle St.Buryan area November 1999
Appropriately named considering the BOU's decision on this record, I'm sure many birders still include it on their list. This is a less widely published shot, the directly overhead photo has appeared in everything from British Birds to the Chew Valley Times!

Ivory Gull Aldeburgh/Southwold December 1999
What a fabulous end to the year and millenium for Suffolk birders, and many others who travelled to see it. Even more approachable than most, just after I took this shot a small boy rode past on a bike and almost hit it! The bird just ignored him and stayed on the boating pool wall. Unfortunately, it wasn't quite so tolerant of fireworks, as New Millenium celebrations meant nobody saw it after New Year's Eve.

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List of
Rarities from 1985
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