Monday, June 30, 2008

Espana win the European Cup!

Ole ole ole ole ole ole

Espana playing open attractive football and keeping the ball on the deck for the most part have won!

I was hoping they would win as I enjoy their style of football. It was a shame that Holland could not sustain their game as well.

The powerful South Africans are here - lets hope England can raise their game - KP its time to stand up and be counted. I expect to watch lovely cricket from the SA's just hope we can live with them!

2nd week and Andy is still there, good luck as well as I hope his second serve stands up better than it has so far or Richard Gasquet
will take advantage!Watch those drop shots too!

I think Andy is playing better than I have seen him and he deserves to go through to the quater finals and play probably a certain Spainard!

Penguins, Loggerhead Turtles and......

Looking at the BBC news front page I always dip into the Science/Nature section some interesting news about id individual penguins on Robben Island, the return of two washed up Logger-heads from Britain to Gran Canaria and a warning to Tourists to stay out of the Congo DONT GO TO SEE THE GORILLAS here.

Also of interest the Australian Treasury Chief has taken five weeks leave to look after endangered Wombats.

all stories can be seen here

Saturday, June 28, 2008

Picos Trip

Well as I now know that Jules is writing up our trip as I post - ( and Andy Murray is on court!) I am happy to leave my report where it is at mo. I will post a link to Jules report and add anything I think!

If you are thinking of going to Espana birding or on a family trip to Espana may I highly recommend Jules! Top birder and top bloke!

If you want a holiday in Spain with the family and can escape for a days birding - if you stay in or nr Oliva brilliant or Alicante.

Look on his Oliva Rama Tours website and enjoy!

Roding Woodcock

A trip out on Wednesday evening to Chobham Common - fantastic close views of a Hobby, a pair of Woodlarks and a pair of Tree Pipits!
Along with singing Dartford Warblers and Stonechats.

A Roebuck was also spotted in long grass.

Then at least 13 views of Woodcock - including roding!

One seriously great close view as a pair flew over us!

We heard some churring and spotted about 4 different Nightjars - disappointingly no really fantastic views (unlike the previous two years) - we were later going this year usually 1st week of June.

But it was a very light evening as well!

2 nice year tics!

Once again Bob and I had a great birding evening! Different each year!

Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Parque Natural del Rio Duraton to the Ermita de San Frutas

After we had landed at Madrid Airport and been picked up by Jules Sykes of Oliva Rama Tours (slightly changed itinerary for next year).We headed North of Madrid birding from the minibus - as we spotted Common Buzzards, Booted Eagles, Black Kites and Montague's Harriers.
On towards our Hotel in Sepulveda we stopped at a wooded area full of bird song and a variety of birds,Turtle Dove,Black Redstart, Nightingale, Goldfinch, Blackcap,Calling Cuckoos,and then Golden Eagles soaring above us!
There was a distinctive song or was it a call? A small warbler was above our heads and eventually I was able to separate its song from all others and I was rewarded eventually by a sight of a blocker for me Western Bonnelli's Warbler! Jules had come up trumps again! My first of three target lifers!
The birds then seemed to tumble out of the trees for us as Chaffinch, Jackdaw, Serin, Wren and Spotted Flycatchers all followed! Kestrels hovered above while Blackbirds alternated with beautiful song and loud chattering alarms!
Eventually a Melodious Warbler was located, along with Great Spotted Woodpeacker.
Others in the group heard and saw several other birds which I eventually caught up with later in the trip on next morning!
After unloading at the hotel we went out again.
We stopped near Sepulveda in the Parque Natural del Rio Duraton to seek out our first target species of Western Orphean Warbler a lifer for some, Bob and I were more than happy to see this little beauty.The Parque entrance track passes across a plateau of superb limestone grassland and scrub. I noted a slight twitchiness with Bob however as his target was the elusive Dupont's Lark! Of this bird not a sound was heard however we met the Park Warden and he gave us a precise location(well a large area it had to be said but at least we knew which way to look!) and said with patience you ought to see one! Well time was getting on and this location had to wait for the morning!
The next morning found us once again seeking the elusive Dupont's Lark. After a long time and a downpour of rain where we sought shelter in the minibus the sun again came out and with it birdsong and the distinctive song of a Duponts could be heard clearly.
Where was the little endangered species? Well we heard and looked and looked and heard but not a sighting was to be had. Many birders dip this bird and I must say i was really glad that I had seen Duponts last year on our way to the Pyrennes. However I was very aware that Bob's target birds were two- one being Dupont's Lark so for our trip to be successful we needed to pin this bird!

Jules spotted a lark on a rock and said quietly - Duponts singing and there followed directions!We all got to see the bird and it proceeded to sing away for an age! In fact so long that I actually was able to get a record shot myself before it disappeared into the surrounding grass!The pic below is not mine but from Jules Sykes.

Back for Breakfast of Coffeee and toast then on to look at the gorge. The river has cut a deep scar through the limestone, in the form of a dramatically beautiful gorge that weaves it’s way through juniper and wild-flower cloaked hillsides.We stopped off the road to view the wildlife. A number of birds were called and plants id...then I spotted a couple of Griffon Vultures sitting under an overhang and posing nicely. Time for some digiscoping and once I have down loaded them I shall post a couple of pics!

Then it was time to leave this area where we could have birded for another day at least!

Oh yes we had wandered around and seen Larks of all kinds ,Southern Grey Shrike and Woodchat Shrikes a plenty with Tawny Pipits galor - heard Dartfords with some seeing the beauty. Above us were Short-toed and Booted Eagles - Two species of Black eared Wheatear with the more common Northern everywhere! Beeaters,Corn Buntings on wires.

Oh yes Spectacled Warbler!
Somewhere I have omitted the stop for coffee in a delightful place whose name eludes me. Stork City would be a good name for it as these delights were everywhere!I shall return to this on another post!
The journey to the Picos was somewhat spoiled as it rained and it poured!

As I re read this and look at my notes I see I have managed to leave out lots of birds from our first day and some delights of the morning of the second day such were the numbers thick and fast of the first two days!

How could I not mention the Golden Oriels, the Hobbies, and Woodlarks? The Egyptian Vulture so magnificent and frankly huge? Hearing Quail again? oh and Hoopoes?
Well along with Sprawk and Chough and a juvenile Rock Sparrow I did...and thats life!

Monday, June 23, 2008

Picos de Europa

Just returned from a week in Espana!

Highlights were a dust bathing Wallcreeper below us at about 3/4 metres and a wing- clapping Honey Buzzard that flew right over us displaying all the features of a Honey and then flew off displaying and tumbling and rising and dipping and windclapping as he went! Superb!
The Wallcreeper was one of two we saw at close quarters - an Adult and a Juvenile. I have never been so close to a Wallcreeper before or seen them flying around so much and then this beauty dust bathing!

Pics are by Jules Sykes of Oliva Rama Tours

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Sunday, June 08, 2008

A Raptor day plus a lifer!

I have had serious problems with my pc and this blog!

Hopefully things are back to normal now!

I will be writing up this posting tomorrow as I have been out since just before 6am and got home about 8.45pm so animals need some attention!

Monday morning and another lovely day!

At 6am I picked up Bob and we were at Walker's for breakfast at 7.30.On route past Lakenheath a Hobby flew so close to the car I was glad it wasn't a large van as it would have been no more! Brill views of the marking and feathers could be counted (if I hadn't been driving!)
To the Raptor Watchpoint in Norfolk by 9am and it was overcast and everywhere was wet from yesterday and overnight! It had to burn off soon. At 9.30 we were sitting down all sorted and waiting. I heard a kurfuffle behind me and there was a raptor being harrassed by lots of crows! A very dark Honey buzzard male! He was obviously hunting for a frog or two. Unfortunately the crows forced him upwards and he disappeared into the murk!(9.45)We then were on to a feast of raptors but no more Honey's.Common Buzzards a plenty, 2 Hobbies dashing through, a serene Barn Owl who even perched for us for a while, A Sparrowhawk, a Kestrel and an unknown raptor sp (by now the summer warden was with us...he thought poss. Gos but none of us was able to call it! Then Bob spotted a Red Kite!I saw a dark Marsh Harrier hunting low. There were Greylags with half a dozen or so Egyptian Geese in a field close to what had become a lake (the river!).

Surrounding us was a choir of Skylarks at least 5 pairs...occasionally a male would rise out of the field and hover ever upwards. The sun came out and shone all was well with the world.

We noticed high numbers of Kestrels on our journey- hope they are successful at raising the next generation.

Monty's were calling (in spirit.....) so off we went to seek out a pair. We arrived at location to be greeted by a male perched and preening. The female then flew and picked up a stick and disappeared again.The male gave a lovely view in flight and disappeared.

We were then treated to the lovely male flying over the field we were first looking at and then on to the next. A delightful flying lesson for anyone who cared to watch! was on to seek out the Buff-breasted Sandpiper at Maxey GP's nr Peterbough ( we did consider the Thrush Nightingale at Minsmere but you cant do everything!
I am posting a couple of photo's from Mike Weedons blog hope he doesn't mind...

A very nice bird!
No sign of any Little terns amidst the Commons.
I see today a Greensand was spotted -shame it wasn't there yesterday!

Then to the biggy.

On route home via Tring in Herts!

Earlier we had seen 2 Icterine Warblers reported on the pager. One at Ely another in Herts. We were going to go to see if the Ely bird was still around but as it had only been reported at 6.45 I thought it might have gone and a birder we met at Maxey had been for it and dipped.

We arrived at aptly named Cementry Corner nr to Wilstone Reservoir to massed cars!
We spotted the birders down the road all intently looking into trees and bushes.

Having arrived we were greeted by the Icterine's song very loud too! A case of stand and wait then...a couple near us had been there for 2 hours!The bird was in an Elder.
I spotted a tail as a guy called its there! We waited another while and it sat out briefly but I was in the wrong place to see it clearly -too much foliage to see through! Then it flew and sat up in a tree - burst into song and we were able to really see this glamerous warbler.Shinning even more yellow than any picture as the sun was right on the bird! A really wonderful bird and a terrific sighting! The slate coloured legs, the lores and light supercilium were all noted as well as the panel patch on the wing. Best of all was the crest raised on the head and the movement of the throat as he sang his heart out!
A wonderful feeling!
The couple next to me had met Bob somewhere else recently but she was not able to see the bird right away until I said "take your bins away and look with you eyes!" Strange but true as she immediately saw the bird and then was able to really look at him!Often happens!

We were all very happy - the couple were also seeing an Icterine for the very first time and Bob enjoyed his best ever views of one as well!

I have just found this blog showing photo's of our bird!

I shall ask if I might post a photo on here!Thank you Ashley for permission to use a couple of your photos! Top guy!

Bob and I then went to look at a Black tern as both of us are fond of Terns and particularly Black ones!

Then food called and we drove to Wendover to the Firecrest Pub and very nice it was too!

Well blog is back!

I have enjoyed several lifers in recent weeks none more so than Trumpeter Finch with one in Norfolk and then one for the Sussex list, with Terek Sandpiper also added to the World life list!
My Sussex list is now growing respectable!Sussex has enjoyed a great time recently with megas and rares and scarities left right and centre, including
Alpine Swift and Red-backed Shrike along with Trumpeter Finch and Terek Sandpiper. Almost dare not go too far away....hopeful the Thrush Nightingale may continue on its way southwards!(Dont mind if it lands in Kent or Sussex!)

Looking forward as well to a week in the Picos....birds, butterflies and orchids in fabulous scenery.