Saturday, 25 April 2015

Great Blue Heron ......... On Scilly

Great Blue Heron on Bryher.

Yesterday the 24th April i teamed up with Kevin and our destination was the Isles of Scilly and our target bird was the Great Blue Heron on Bryher which was only the 2nd record of this species in the UK . 

 Kevin picks up the story from here , i will add photos of the Great Blue Heron as the story unfolds :

Following a whole two days spent dipping the Heron on 15th & 16th April ( note the bird reappeared once we landed back at Land's End !! ), Rob and i decided to give it another go.
In the 7 days that had passed , the bird had been seen daily at a number of sites dotted around Scilly.

So the 23rd April was targeted only have to move the date to the 24th following a late notice hospital appointment. Looked though we were going to lose our flight monies as it was less than 24 hours notice. Following an impassioned plea to the Isles of Scilly travel , i managed to get an empathetic manager to change the flights for £60 instead of £320. Boy can i grovel! That sorted Rob was to bring himself over to mine at 0300 on the Friday. Nice !?

No one overslept so we were on our way, on schedule.  The near 5 hour journey dragged a bit , but we made healthy progress arriving at Lands End airport at 0750 ready for our 0831 flight . We were greeted ( were we f### ) with the news that the flights were cancelled due to wind direction and visibility. WTF !!

A 15 minute flight arriving at 0850 had just turned into a near 3 hour cruise on a sh##y flat bottomed boat ( AKA the Scillonian ) scheduled to arrive at 1200. Is this bird a jinx for us !? With no option other than drive to Penzance we wearily got on with it.

On the boat we go. We eventually camp on the Lower deck to try and avoid the roller coaster ride that comes with a boat without a keel ! On board entertainment (DIY) included an impossible crossword , snacks from our reserves more out of boredom than hunger and futile attempts to find out if the GBH was around. So, with our plans severely compromised and no news to go on we disembarked at 1210 with glasses borderline half full/empty.

Given the lack of news , we decided to head for Bryher where the bird was favouring mostly.  I assume the skipper hadn't waited !? Other birders joined us making 12 in total , getting the fare down to £5 each.

Water Taxi the " Falcon ".

By 1225 we were on Bryher and on our way to the pool by Hell Bay hotel where the GBH was most commonly seen. Still no news ! Hearts were partly dampened , heads a little hung and tales of woe were already being created that would go down in the dipping halls of infamy.

As the throng of birders approached the pool there was still no sign of the GBH at a distance , Two birders were on the far side , they could see us, no body language to put a spring in the step. Closer examination was required. On we went. There by the waters edge was another birder. He looked semi-professional , you know, the kind of Sunday afternoon birder that us serious birders / twitchers can be all too dismissive of. He had some intel !

There had been a large Heron that had flown in but had conveniently moved out of sight in tall vegetation at the back of the pool. Oh yeah, really !? Apparently , he had gone in to the hotel to use the toilet so the permutations were becoming exponential.

Arrggghhhh !! The non-natives were now getting really restless. ' Lets move around to get a better view ' et al. Baaaa . The flock of sheep clambered their way with varying degrees of guile , via a few natural obstacles . Corroboration was established. The bird WAS there and it had YET to fly off. Belief ? It was becoming palpable. Did i even hear some praying ?

Then , hallelujah. ' A  sign '. A large Heron came flying into view. Within seconds ( following borderline hysteria from those that couldn't see the fly in ) the GREAT BLUE HERON myth for the two of us became a reality .

The presence of the ' in person' bird surpassed the images that, up til now, we could only ruefully appreciate. This was the ' real deal '. Manly, and less than manly , congratulations rippled through the 15 or so conectees. Relief made birders stand an inch or two taller and we feasted our eyes for a good 10-12 minutes , whilst the Heron huffed and puffed to the sound of cameras and iPhones gorging on capturing images that would be scrutinized in the hours to come.

The bird eventually had it's fill and was soon to take to the wing. This lumbering giant slowly meandered off towards the far side of Tresco with a Herring Gull or two as , no doubt, an unwelcome escourt . So, with the pressure off and two hours before we were to be ferried back to St.Mary's the prospect of some birding took shape , we looked for some Golden Oriole , but alas. Who cares - GBH !!.

We enjoyed looking at some migrants washing them down with a pot of tea - oh , how civilized the happy twitcher can be. As 1530 approached the reverse journey was about to commence with the Falcon on hand to speed us back to the quay at Hugh town.

Up to 10 hours of travelling and sitting on our derries to follow , The sweet victory of success will greatly help. And its true , ' every cloud has a silver lining '. Ours will be a re found on the difference between flying and sailing on a coracle !! 
Should get home by 1145 and 0200 respectively . 

Did someone mention Lady A !!?

Thanks very much Kevin for that lively , amusing take on quite an adventure .

Thursday, 23 April 2015

New bird for my Oare Marshes list

Male Bearded Tit.

I met up with Chiddy again this morning at approx 11am at Oare Marshes with the hope of seeing the Ring Ouzel's that have been seen on & off in the paddocks over the last 8 days , on my way into the reserve i had a brief view of a Yellow Wagtail on the wires just before the cottages which was a welcome year tick .

I met up with Chiddy and after a brief look over the East flood where we added Avocet & Black Tailed Godwit we continued our walk to the West flood to look over the paddocks , and after approx 45 mins Chiddy re found  the female Ring Ouzel which is a new bird for my Oare Marshes patch list ,  many thanks to Murray . W. for his information on these birds , very much appreciated.

Bearded Tit.

We had a look from the West flood hide which was fairly quite other then a superb Little Grebe in full summer plumage plus there were several Med Gulls in and around the flood , we also added at least 5 Swallows from here.

On our way back to the car park we checked out the East flood again this time adding a single Common Tern roosting on the island with the Godwits plus the pair of Garganey were still busy feeding in the SE corner of the flood .

There were 2 male and 1 female Bearded Tit showing well close to the road although i never got a clear enough view for a clear photo .

Male Bearded Tit.

There was also several Sedge Warblers near to the road including this showy bird.

Sedge Warbler with food.

Sedge Warbler.

Another scan over the flood produced another Yellow Wagtail plus several Grey Herons & Little Egrets were flying around and a distant female Marsh Harrier put in a brief appearance.

Tuesday, 21 April 2015

A Little Catch up ....... Bee-eaters & Spring Migrants

Bee-eater on Isle of Wight 2014.

Here's a little catch up from my recent birding exploits starting with a brief visit to the cemetary along Old Charlton Road in Dover last Sunday the 19th April , news broke early of 5 Bee-eaters in the cemetary , normally they are just fly overs but when there came a second report of them still being present i made up my mind and headed there , 30 mins later i was walking up the hill behind two other birders and i could hear the Bee-eaters calling then i saw them circling around above the cemetary then heading high off and out of sight , 20 seconds later and i would have missed them 1 min earlier i would have had them perched in a tree .

That's birding for you , they were to quick for a photo so the above photo is from the breeding birds from the Isle of Wight from last year.

Cuckoo near the Marsh hide.

Yesterday the 20th i went to Grove ferry and  had a decent mornings birding session with lots of spring  migrants including my first Cuckoo of the year , there were plenty of Sedge Warblers calling and briefly giving  glimpses plus a few Reed Warblers were also making their presence known .

Superb Little Owl.

On my walk towards Stodmarsh i added both Common Whitethroat & Garden Warbler which were new birds for the year for me plus i en-counted a superb Little Owl near one of the barns , plenty of Marsh Harriers were on the wing with most birds carrying deceased Marsh Frogs in their talons.

Two of the three Green Sandpipers.

I eventually ended up at the Reed bed hide and saw 3 Green Sandpipers , i also added 2 Common Terns over the main lake .

As i was checking out another Cuckoo which was flying over the back of the reeds another bird caught my eye and i soon recognized my first Hobby of the year we ended up seeing a further 4 birds as the morning went on .

Hobby .

I eventually ended back at the ramp having seen and heard plenty of birds and as i was heading back to my car i saw a fledgling Mistle Thrush by the entrance track.

Fledgling Mistle Thrush.

Today i paid a quick visit to Oare Marshes in the hope of seeing the Ring Ouzels ( i know i am being greedy lol ) but sadly missed out on them but was pleased to see the pair of Garganey in the south east corner of the East flood.

Male & Female Garganey.

Busy feeding.

I also saw a really close Grey Heron feeding very well in the dyke near the pull in.

Grey Heron.

Saturday, 11 April 2015

New Site Tick Plus some Migrants ...At Oare Marshes

Male Garganey.

I spent an enjoyable birding session at Oare Marshes yesterday afternoon and my primary target was Garganey , i had a quick scan over the East flood and didn't really add anything out of the unusual , i continued down to the sea wall and walked along to view the West flood and after a bit of scanning i located both male & female Garganey , they were both asleep until a maniac Coot charged at the male which then stood up did a bit of wing stretching then went back to sleep again.

Male Garganey going to sleep again.

There were several Med Gulls calling overhead and i managed a couple of photos of these great looking Gulls.

Med Gull.

Med Gull being very vocal.

There were the normal array of waders such as Avocet , Redshank , Curlew , Oystercatcher and Dunlin . I kept my eyes on the sky as well and saw up to 10 Marsh Harriers and a couple of Common Buzzards plus a single Peregrine drifted over towards Sheppy .


I continued my walk back towards the sea hide and around the East flood where i heard my first Sedge Warbler of the year by the hide , plenty of Bearded Tits were "Pinging " in the reeds plus i even managed a photo of a female .

Female Bearded Tit.

Lots of Black Tailed Godwits were busy " chattering " in the south east corner of the flood and even more Med Gulls were calling overhead , there was a Kestrel  hovering quite close to the sea wall plus a single Swallow flew by very quickly and was a very welcome addition to my year list . 

Male Kestrel hovering.

I then on my approach to the East flood hide saw a delightful Wheatear in all it's glory on a post.


My last bird of note of this cracking birding session was a Little Owl which was a new bird for me at this site , i did get a very poor record shot but it just looks like a small blob lol .