The year it all began! A family summer holiday in the French Alps (my first time abroad) kicked things off, producing new species for the life list such as Purple Heron, White Stork, Golden Eagle and Booted Eagle. Then in October, a largely unsuccessful holiday to Shetland provided new birds such as Purple Sandpiper, Rock Dove, Twite, (Northern) Bullfinch and self-found Waxwing (my first at the time – the bird plonked itself in front of me on a hedge in the cottage garden) – a magical moment! The journeys to-and-from Shetland were a little more productive on the rarities scene, with Spotted Crake seen at Baron’s Haugh RSPB, Clyde and my first mega (and probably best to-date) – a juvenile Masked Shrike in Fife! Other species of interest seen in 2004 were; Ruddy Duck, (Tundra) Bean Goose, Ring-Necked Duck, Lesser-Spotted Woodpecker and Crested Tit.