Monday, October 27, 2008

1st for Kent

Finally a mega I could go and twitch!

News of the Green Heron came up on my pager on Saturday. Well I thought its worth the risk of going tomorrow whatever the weather and I knew I wouldn't be able to go until Monday afternoon (and that would be tight if I didn't go on Sunday morning.

Would the bird still be there? I wanted to see it for my Kent list and also for my year list.Sometimes these megas just vanish overnight.

The weather was not fact it was rainy and windy and the weather forecasts kept saying how 'orrible it was out there.Clocks went back in the night.
So off to Hythe I went in the wet morning - a very well known path as I go to Dungeness frequently.

Not nice on the motorway with surface water but I arrived to find not huge crowds so that was good!

The Heron had been hiding away not from birders just its natural way. There was rain and rain and wind and wind and I thought this bird is not going to show!
I love sideways rain!(not)

Eventually the Green Heron (who actually didn't mind the rain one bit) decided to show itself. Great. Where's the camera and click a miserable record shot of an out of focus Heron!
Too much foliage! Not enough Heron, but then i had seen a first for Kent. Bird safely on the Kent list.

Thanks to Robin Mace for permission to use one of his photographs that he took today (Monday) in bright sunlight! I think he enjoyed the fact that he probably enjoyed better sights than those of us yesterday!
He also saw a Kingfisher.
I had a flock of raindrops!

Friday, October 24, 2008

The Moon in the daytime

The other day I spotted the Moon in the daytime and I took these pics.
Experimental with my compact hand held.

Thursday, October 23, 2008

Red-back Shrike in Kent and Serins in Rainham Essex

Well a little outing to my old haunts along the spy a Red-backed Shrike for my Kent list and then a trip up the motorways to Rainham Marshes for a Serin or two or three!

I had almost forgotten that 1 hadn't seen a Serin in UK this year having seen them in Espana!

Went to a secret location on Sunday and discovered that there were at least 2 Willow Tits still there. claw back for the year list.

On Saturday I got a new patch tick for Redlees Park a Grey Wagtail - 1st winter feeding happily among the leaves on the ground!
Redwings flew overhead and Fieldfares were in Syon Park.

Meanwhile I couldn't go to the Scillies/Ireland/Yorkshire for various birds several which would have been UK ticks and a couple lifers. Thats the ups and downs of birding!

Still I am still studying Southern African birds for the big trip!!
Field guide marked up with potential birds and a really helpful crew of South African Birders on Bird Forum who have been educating me about SA birding and Mammals!

(Just think of all those birds that might turn up next October when I am in Shetland for a fortnight, thats why they are not seeing so many there this October!!)Ever the optimist!

There is a Sabine's Gull out there with my name on it!

Nethy the Osprey in West Africa

Taken from the RSPB site.
Ok then, I've just checked the satellite data and as of 9am this morning (22nd October) Nethy had reached the river Richard mentioned yesterday and has followed it up to Lac de Guiers. Yesterday she travelled about 77km (48 miles), so she's just taking her time and enjoying the fishing.

Nethy's story is possibly set to hit the national press tomorrow.

Meanwhile back here at the reserve, the first wintering fieldfares have arrived. At this time of year when we get crisp, still, frosty mornings the like of which we get in Spring, we can sometimes see an out of season resumption of lekking activity by black grouse. Sure enough, this morning we came across 8 males strutting their stuff.

Tuesday 21/10
The latest data we have, up to 10am this morning, shows Nethy to now be in northern Senegal, just 12km (8 miles) from a large river close to Lac de Guiers, south of the Senegal River. Over the last two days she has covered approx. 203km (126 miles).

She seems to be relaxing, taking some well-earned rest and enjoying the presumably plentiful supplies of fish available to her now, as the data shows her to be spending time, resting for prolonged spells - clearly no great urgency for her to be constantly searching for food or pressing on anywhere in particular.

Nethy must be enjoying the warmth of the region too, unlike Loch Garten today where we had snow and sleet. The gale force winds over the weekend, have stripped the leaves form the broadleaf trees and strewn yellow pine needles everywhere.

You might want to watch The One Show on BBC TV next week on Tuesday 28th October at 7pm, as Operation Osprey at Loch Garten will feature - an historical piece about the early days of osprey protection.

Saturday, October 18, 2008

Cornwall Day 2 Part 5 well after the gulls!

Now what with all the downloading of photo's I cant remember where i am, except it was Cornwall and a beautiful day!

Oh yes after Hayle I went down to Sennan Cove to find a Yellow legged Gull, which i did after a while of studying lots of lesser black backs, Herrings and the occasional Greater BB - they are enormous when you accidentally stand near one!
There was at least one Common Gull here but as it flew off the other one i saw might have been it back! Boy it would have been good to have been with another birder as you can lose which bird is which when there are so many!

Paul would have been in his element! So many gulls so little time. Anyway i left the Cove which was a bit too full of tourists and birders (another lot who were keeping themselves to grockles to a boy!- Actually I might be doing them a disservice as they did appear to have coffee and teas! One deligent birder was scoping for his I guessed the YLG was elesewhere and it was. It was in a field as I discovered a little later!(this was a refound or refind bird!)

Then it was on to discover a few self found birds - oh I also saw a Whinchat and a Raven which I didn't write down on my list!No Choughs though which was a shame.
The Self found birds that ought to be reported? (Which I have btw along with the Red Kite as Peregrines are not noted here...I think they get so many!)

Red-breasted Flycatcher at the lighthouse at Pendeen Point which i just had to go to look at in the sun!Never seen it out of rain and wind! I also tried to refind a Rosy starling but I failed but now i have seen a pic of the little thing I'm hardly surprised as it looks different to the other Rosy I have seen this year in Wales. Still awaiting a stonking adult male though. (got a lovely photo by Kit Day of one as an incentive which I won in a Bird guides competition a couple of years ago!)
Oh have I mentioned Buzzards? Probably not sawa really pale morph along the main road to Lands End/Sennen. I also saw a another couple of dark birds - one I did get a record shot of - nearly got a brilliant shot but as i opened my car and got scope out a young man asked me the way to a place that wasn't on my OS map - but trying to help him meant the bird flew off!

I digress- on to the Ortolan Bunting outside a tiny village M (something)Madron.
Its great on these back road you can stop when you like and the birds take no mnotice if you stay in the car.

Then it was on to Marizon Marshes where I saw some Dragonflies....beautiful!(id later as I still havent decided what they were! 4 seen ......
Here I watched some Meadow Pipits feeding and then realised after they had flown away and then come back that one was not a Meadow but something else and whilst I thought Richard's I had to look into the field guide again to check!
Then the little blighter's flew over a hedge and I couldn't find them again...well i found some other Mipits! Richard's Pipit very nice!

The best thing about these birds was that they were all year ticks and two were UK ticks and one the RBF was a lifer! So that was all jolly well brilliant!

I went off to find a loo (this being important for a woman birder) and was going to get an ice cream as it was so hot but the que was too long so I left to try to find
Stithians Reservoir .....however I was rudely interrupted by the pager bleeping - MEGA.... and there no not the Alder Flycatcher back or relocated but a Red eyed Vireo! Well there should be no doubt about that id I thought and i will know what it looks like without having to check the Sibley or NA Field guide (that is at home!)as I saw my first in Canada in 2004! So it was about turn double check the OS map as to where the bird was and where I had to go to park! and off I went - on a Twitch!

Well what a cracking little bird! If you havent already seen it on Surfbirds or Birdguides then look on Cornwall Birding

What a little cracker!

(the Alder Flycatcher is also pictured )

I meant to say there were lots of birders about near Sennen Cove - mainly in three's and four's must all have been looking for that RARE.


Something had been here...was it the Whinchat?

Oh and after all this I then went and found the reservoir I was looking for and found the Nature Reserve part and the hide!

There was not really time to have a real search of all the gulls on the other part(also sailing people were a bit of a nuisance - in that they get in my way!
Nothing against sailors.

But not much on the other bit - I gather its the fault of the grey heron!

Looks an interesting place for a weekday! Now I have found it will visit next time I am in Cornwall.

website is here

Cornwall Day 2 Part 4 Gulls 2

Common Gull

Med Gull

Now why did I post this?

More gulls seen (seeking permission to post these - but will acknowledge anyway - if they are yours and you object -let me know and I will remove them)to be honest I may have seen these gulls - as they were both in Cornwall and I saw a Med Gull and at least 2 Common Gulls (at different places) but I did not see them at the place these photos were taken! They looked just like the gulls in the photo's which was my point!
But as for the third bird I cant remember why I posted it but it is a nice gull!

Perhaps its a beauty contest?

Cornwall Day2 Part 3 - Gulls 1

Now here are some interesting photographs by Simon Chidwick of a possible
Azorian Yellow legged Gull - at Sennen Cove. Now I did see this bird and took pics of it but when I uploaded them they were out of focus! Simon has kindly given me permission to post them here. If anyone has any thoughts please post them and I will pass them on to Simon.

Thursday, October 16, 2008

Cornwall Day 2 Part 2

Off to the Hayle estuary where i had seen an American Wigeon (juv/female?) had been spotted and reported on the pager the day before.....
its a good place to start the day as sea-watching wasn't a real option owing to the sunny day!
There were hundreds of gulls...Black-headed I was told a few years ago are not as common here....but i'm not sure anybody had told them that! There were Herrings of all ages...Lesser BB and some GBB then i spied a Common Gull and a Med Gull. No YLG that I could see.A Curlew was causing great delight to a group of Welsh birders who happened to be in the same car park as did the Grey Wagtails and Dunlin! I pointed out a Little Egret and off they went into ecstasy! A Redshank marched into view. I couldn't stand the delight! Off to the Reserve via another view point...where a Curlew and Redshank were sharing a feeding area. Not a lot about so a walk to the causeway...Meadow Pipits and a couple of Rock pipits interrupted my walk.
Once I had crossed the main road I joined a number of other birders...hi I said as I approached...grunt came one reply that I had to do with as they were the sullen bunch!

A flock of lots of wigeon greeted me as well as the flocks of gulls! (see previous post!) So no help from these miserable b******! Well as luck would have it lo and behold I saw a different Wigeon....I think I have the American I said gently and waited...the guy who had grunted on my arrival was no longer there and the others ignored me...suit yourselves I thought!

Been trying to find photos of this bird you will have to go to Cornwall Birding to see it!

to be continued!

Wednesday, October 15, 2008

Cornwall Day 2 Part 1

Havent got many pics as I was busy birding and forgetting the camera or when attempting to digiscope took so long hand holding and getting into focus - silly!

However Curlew was busy feeding and going slowly!
The picture of the gulls is for Paul - just a few of the gulls at Hayle!

Saturday was a wonderful day weather wise but I had been expecting to do seawatching in a howling gale...not today! So no chance of Sabine's but did have other goodies including some self found beauties!

Long w/e to Cornwall day1 part2

Later in the afternoon went for a walk around Newquay. Interesting for surfers and young students!

The waves seemed quite it was back to our Hotel and our beach.

In fact the waves were huge! Actually discovered that they were even high for the local surfers!

My friend Pat had her camera (I had left mine behind!) I may be able to post a couple of her pics later!

Watched for ages...most of the surfers were on the waves for a few seconds! Most about 10 seconds.I did notice one guy who seemed to be up for ages - all that effort for a couple of seconds?

Still I dont do swimming any more and would never have even tried surfing so what do i know?

The w/e was a reunion with some old friends from my last school. 4 of us arrived this am and the others arrived in the early evening - for a meal and drinks!

I was aware I was driving the next day and retired to bed early.My hire car was arriving early the next morning and i had some serious birding to do!
The others were due to go on a long coastal walk - Boscombe to Tintagel. (A walk I di back in the eighties!)

Long w/e to Cornwall

Have to admit I had been hoping that the Alder Flycatcher might still be around but as Saturday would be my day with a hire car to myself it was looking tricky when I heard the bird had been trapped and ringed on the Thursday afternoon. I was right to be worried by the Friday am there were no sightings.Not that I needed this little bird for my World List but for my UK Life list - it was a first for the UK provided its accepted.(I saw one in Canada in 2004)

Still who could anticipate what the w/e held?

I certainly didn't.My wonderful w/e began with a self found Yellow-browed Warbler on route to the beach at Polzeath...we were after breakfast! Two of my friends were walking in front and had gained quite a bit on me as I watched and listened for birds.Starlings, H.Sparrows,Woodpigeons just like being at home (altho no sign of the noisy RNP's!)
Then I saw a YBW perched up in a treee/shrub and i was able to watch it for about 3 mins in the sun! Then it dropped down and I left.
There were lots of Rooks and Jackdaws and some Crows a very few Magpies.
On after breakfast with a walk around Pentire Point.There were many birds to see here
various gulls mainly Herring and LesserBB with an occasional Common.There were lots of Oystercatchers and there were lots of Rock pipits! I was surprised at how many! Pied Wagtails, Meadow Pipits by the score!
Kestrels were hunting from the cliff edges....and being successful.A Curlew was spotted along with several Dunlins.Three birds were flying a fair way off shore....Gannets!
Stonechats were perching up.
A Longtailed Skua was seen flying purposely west.

A mainly white bird which appeared to have orange or a bright yellow on it was chased over our heads by Crows.Whatever it was I could not get a good sight of it with my bins as it went so fast! bird sp!

On the way across a field and on through a slightly wooded area I saw Chaffinches being the most numerous of the song birds...with Blackbird, Robin and Great Tits. Then on a wire was a Linnet with a couple of others lurking below!
Blue Tits were heard and finally one seen!A Song Thrush was spied.

Not bad for a walk chosen by my non birding friend John having read it had birds!

On route for Newquay I saw a Red Kite near to St Columb Major. (Please note all birds of note have been sent on to the Bird Recorder for Cornwall) Red Kite in Cornwall are noteable.

Thursday, October 09, 2008

Barnes on Wednesday

The sun was out- the dog walked so i could go somewhere...where?
Still no Broad-billed Sandpiper in if I'm at Barnes then if something turns up via the pager I could go!

So out to hunt out a rare of my Barnes? Well anything can happen!

Dragons everywhere and I even managed a shot! Took the SLR - I have two battery chargers for that! Discovered a dragon eating heron and took some shots missed it taking dragons....quite pleased with this sequence!Needless to say it missed whatever it was after - frog or fish? Shame that as it would have been brill!

The pager went mad...Alder/Willow Flycatcher in Cornwall (a UK first!) - Ortolan, Melodious and White's Thrushes - on Fair Isle and Northumberland.Will the Cornish bird hang on til Sat when i shall be there- and able to go birding?

A bit of twitching

Well Dorset called - well a siberian stonechat did!

Now I may have seen one before but there was a plenty of quibble about it and since I didn't have a clue at the time I didn't tick it.

I forget how easy it is to get to Dorset from West London...when the M3 is behaving!
Bypassing Poole is a must unless I am visiting my brother, who was at work and would be none to pleased that I remind him I am not!

Well I was aiming for Cress beds south of Bere Regis and eventually I found it. Since no one else was around I had to do my own finding at least the bird had been seen on Sunday would it still be around? There was a few false alarms as European Stonechats appeared including a female! But then a bird with a white throat and white rump was spied. I got out the compact camera for a hand held shot and damn the battery was dead!

However there was a Stonechat from Siberia, what a long way to fly. So in respect I watched the bird for a while!

Photo on Birdguides here

Sunday, October 05, 2008

Birding in Cambridgeshire and elsewhere!

In January(13th) some of you will remember that I posted this

"Then we dipped on - not a bird but a whole RSPB reserve!

Got to Manae and then couldn't remember which road to take for Ouse Washes.Even the RSPB sign didn't help. Neither of us has ever gone there on our own we discover and I didn't check the directions. Now I know I had to look out for the Rose and Crown!
Spent too long up and down roads that all looked the same but looked somehow wrong!
The RSPB site says the following

By plane the reserve is 90 minutes from Stansted airport - head for Ely and follow directions from there.haha.
(course it says all the other ways too!)"

Much to quacks of life amusement in particular.

Bob and I were in Cambridgeshire again today....Sutton Gault to see a year tick bird....Glossy Ibis.We arrived about 10,30 to be greeted with "have you come to see the Brown Heron?" Glossy Ibis will be forever a Brown Heron!

We walked about 400 metres down the side of the river where a 4x4 was pulled up we sheltered from the wind behind it spotted the G IBIS out in the field feeding merrily.
The driver turned out to be Edwin Frear(I discovered his name later with some research!) - who chatted to us about scopes digiscoping or buying a better lens for his camera.Then he showed us some of his photo's ...really lovely shots of Barn Owls, Kingfishers and some other birds.He had one of his photo's accepted for publication in the Countryside calandar for 2008.

see here

Three wise Owls.Thats the photo at the top of the page.
Nice talking to you Edwin.

He was a farmer and really keen on wildlife and photography of birds....he said he hadn't been doing it for long. He has a really natural eye.
We left him going to photograph the Glossy Ibis.
House Martins were much in evidence.

Bob and I had already planned that with the impending rain and high winds to go to Welney for food and a warm in the heated hide.But first we had to collect a reserve year tick!
Armed with an OS map we proceeded to drive from Sutton Gault to Welches Dam...short story we got there but realised that the RSPB sign we both remembered being in Manea has been removed! Park Road!!!On the Straight Road we had fabulous views of a Kestrel.The woman driving like a maniac (who turned out was not a local but a birder going to WD too) missed the Kes as she overtook at speed!Whatever was the rush?

We arrived to tick the reserve and see Tree Sparrows and better views we had of them than the Kent birds! On the feeders and in the trees.
We had an eye on the clock and it was time for calling.We could have walked the miles to the first hide to see if we could pick up Marsh Harrier but it was really cold by now and we thought food!

We had a very nice Shepherd's pie and good coffee. While eating we saw Whooper and Bewick's Swans had already started to arrive, skylarks and hunting Kestrels, as well as a small flock of Redshanks.Then it was to the observatory.Looking out we saw Greylags, more swans and Pink footed Geese newly arrived...(there had been 27 counted altho we didn't see that number)

2 Cranes were in the area but we didn't see them...if it hadn't been for the pager we may have stayed and watched for them...but a Ferruginous male had been seen in Bucks our route home was decided.(also we still had the threat of impending rain hanging over us)

On our way up to Sutton we had enjoyed seeing Buzzards and a Honey Buzzard (M11)as well as a Sparrowhawk. So having now seen a couple of Kestrels in Cambridgeshire we were happy BOP wise.

We traversed to the A10 seeing mixed flocks of Finches and Pied Wagtails, Lapwings
the occasional Kes and hundreds of Crows, some Jackdaws and a few Magpies.

Our route was relatively uneventful except a traffic jam in Bedford but mainly light traffic and much more pleasant than motorways!It began to rain and the wind got up.

We eventually turned down the A413 and looked for Calverts Lake....Bob's OS would have been really useful, but was at home...we did however manage to find it down lots of little country lanes. The Badger sign a giveaway.Here it was not raining and we realised that we had been birding without even if it had rained we were lucky and dry!

We didn't even need to find a hide as there were Pochards out in a bay we could see from the other side of the lake. Almost immediately Bob picked out the Fudge duck...I saw it through his scope and then refound it in mine.

Nowt else about so we wended our way home through Alyesbury and through the Chilterns down the beautiful valley that goes through Amersham...

on route ....yes a Red Kite over the road giving fantastic views and then several more Red Kites as we drove on.

A small flock of about 100 Starlings were seen moving in the skies...showing that even though there were not lots of them they could anyway!

We ended the day looking under wooden doors in the allotments near Bob's to see Wood Mice and Field Voles to add to our mammal list of GSquirrel and Foxes.

A thoroughly absorbing day in good company.