Saturday 17 December 2011

Merry Christmas

Just like to thank everyone who has visited my blog this year and to wish everyone a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year .

Sunday 11 December 2011

60 UP............... Norfolk Stars Again

Lapwings .

I set off early on Saturday 10th December my destination was Cley Marshes  in the hope of seeing the Western Sandpiper , i arrived in good time just as the pager informed me that it was still there showing from Pats Pool , great i parked up and headed to Pats pool , i got into the first hide No birders , went to the second hide and instantly realized i would be looking into Sun , and there was only one birder in this hide and by which time i had a small following of birders behind me , the guy said " its showing from the hide over the other side of the pool , so without haste i ended up in my third hide in about 10 minutes , Phew !!!!  

 Within a minute or two i was straight onto the first winter Western Sandpiper   ,  it was with a small flock of Dunlin , now i am no expert on " Peeps " but the features i did notice were the following : the rather long thin bill was evident ,as were the  white breast patches , the lore's were white and there is a small whitish super behind the eye , rather long legged , the crowned appeared faintly streaked , the overall profile reminded me of a very small Dunlin,  and is a very welcome lifer which brings my wader list in the UK to 60 .

  I watched it for a short while when  all of a sudden a Peregrine flew through flushing everything into the air , although most of the birds settled back again the majority of small waders flew off to safer grounds and i didn't see the Western Sandpiper again in next 3 hours i spent there , however it did re appear later in the afternoon when i was on my way back home .

Green Winged Teal.

I did see this Green Winged Teal which was quite distant but showed well through the scope and was a welcome year tick  .

Green Winged and Eurasian Teal .

There were very good numbers of Golden Plovers I made a count of 500 + and there were an equal number of Lapwings ( see top photo ) , there were lesser numbers of Black Tailed Godwit , Redshank  and Avocet  where i counted 16 birds , i did not have long here as i had to get back home as i had other arrangements in the evening however i had a good time with lots to look at , i did see a female Marsh Harrier on one of the banks.

Marsh Harrier.

And i also had very close views of this fine male Pintail which is one of my favourite ducks.

Male Pintail.

And then it was time to head home. 

Sunday 27 November 2011

Chew Valley Wader Show.........

Birders viewing from Herriott's Bridge.

A trip to Chew Valley Lake in Somersett on Saturday 26th November produced a truly wader spectacle , i arrived at 8.45 am and joined the already assembled birders along the bridge , see above photo, my main target bird was the juv. Sharp Tailed Sandpiper and i did not have long to wait, it was quite distant but very good scope views were obtained.

  The white supercillium especially behind the eye was very noticeable , the buff tinged breast was also very noticeable, i bumped into Nick and Russell .G. who were quickly onto the bird and this was a new species for Russell as well and a very welcome year tick for both Nick and myself . Sadly i didn't get any photos as the bird was to distant and was quite flighty .

Nearby Grey Wagtail.

On the other side of the bridge there was an adult winter plumage Spotted Sandpiper which showed every now and again , my best views of this were in flight , there was also  a close Grey Wagtail, later in the morning the 2 Long Billed Dowitchers  were seen and once again to distant for any attempts at photos , there were hundreds of Pochard , Tufted Duck , Shoveler and Teal plus i saw 3 Bewick's Swans , Russell picked out a distant Peregrine which was good to see .

i then  decided to head of to Blagdon Lake to try for the Ring Necked Duck so i said my goodbyes to Nick and Russell and headed off there via the visitors centre where i tucked into pastie and chips and got my permit .

Male Red Crested Pochard.

I had no luck with the Ring Necked Duck but did add this smart Red Crested Pochard to my year list   I also saw a smart Long Tailed Duck and female Goosander which i added to my days total , i spent about an hour here and also added Slavonian Grebe and a lone Roe Deer then i decided to go back to Herriots Bridge for another look at the Sharp Tailed Sandpiper. 

I got some more distant but good views of this plus i re located the two Long Billed Dowitchers which were by a massive looking Black Tailed Godwit in size comparison , on the way home i saw  2 Red Kites which added to the earlier count made 5 in total today , a really enjoyable day with top quality birds  .  

I managed a couple of  photos of a Black Headed Gull and a Mute Swan during the day.

Black Headed Gull.

Mute Swan.

Tuesday 22 November 2011

Thanet Way

Not much to report over the weekend , i had planned to go for the Blackpoll Warbler in West Kent but decided to wait on news before making the trip , however the news come back as negative .

Now back to the Thanet Way , on my way to work yesterday i had a really smart view of a female Merlin flying fast and low across the Thanet Way between the St Nicholas and Monkton roundabouts and later in the day on my way back i had just passed Whitstable when a really graceful Barn Owl drifted past in front of me and landed on a post . 

Monday 14 November 2011

Eastern Black Redstart........ In Margate

Eastern Black Redstart.

I popped down to Margate Sunday morning to have a look at the Eastern Black Redstart ( form Phoenicuroides )  and what a really smart bird to see ,  according to Uk400 website its the first confirmed record of this race in Britain , as i said a really smart bird and totally different in overall plumage to Black Redstart , according to the experts in this field its the separation in primary feathers that clinches it as a Eastern Black Redstart plus i believe it was confirmed after some droppings were taken and the DNA from this confirmed it . Here are some more photos :

It seemed to be feeding well.

There were a few other birds around and i managed a photo of a normal Black Redstart for comparison .

Normal Black Redstart .

Sunday 6 November 2011

Stodmarsh .........Glossy Ibis

Glossy Ibis in flight.

I spent a couple of hours at Stodmarsh this morning in the hope of seeing the Glossy Ibis and to catch up with the recent sightings of Water Pipit from the Marsh hide , on my way around to the hide i bumped into the regular Stour Valley birders Martyn , Adam and Chidders , it was great to meet up with them as i often neglect local birding when i am of in pursuit of some far away rarity , they informed me that the Glossy Ibis was still on view from the Marsh hide and they had up to 16 Water Pipits whilst they were there , so after saying our goodbyes i headed off and once in the hide i did a very quick scan and couldn't find the Ibis , had it flown off or walked behind some reeds ?? 

Then all of a sudden it flew in from behind the hide and landed right in front of the hide only to be flushed by a very close Marsh Harrier , i did not get a photo as it was to quick but managed a flight record shot ( see above ) and i got a couple of the Marsh Harrier .

Marsh Harrier

I then checked out the pipits in flight which were spooked by the Harrier and counted at least 10 Water Pipits plus several Meadow pipits , eventually they all landed out of sight although later in the morning 3 Water Pipits flew out of the grass onto the mud but were abit distant  to try even for a record shot , however the Glossy Ibis had re appeared at the back of the pool.

Glossy Ibis

This is a really smart bird with light buff speckling on the nape , it had a curious feeding motion in the way it constantly opened a shut its bill at a very fast rate , great bird to see . 

Other birds of note were  3 Fieldfares , Common Snipe , Sparrowhawk and a fly over Siskin , there were several Cetti's sounding off here and there plus 3 Bearded Tits pinged their way across the reeds .

Sunday 30 October 2011

So which is Best .... Shetland or Scilly ? Theres only one way to find out ..........

Tresco Isles of Scilly.

Well having been lucky enough to visit both Shetland and Scilly  this year the question i have been asked which is better ??  I first visited Scilly way back in 1990 and have been back on and off since then , probably around 8 or 9 times and i  have  seen some wonderful birds and made many life long friends on my visits , the birding in my opinion is totally different on Scilly compared to Shetland , having said that i only have been to Shetland once , however its plain to see that on Shetland you need a car to get around as the mainland is much bigger then you think where as on Scilly you are on foot basically all day long which can be up to at least 10 hours per day .

Most reliable mode of transport for Scilly.

Cost wise there is not alot in it to be honest , getting to Scilly by helicopter is the most reliable way but quite expensive , the Skybus plane is abit cheaper however they don't always fly if the weather is particularly bad and then of course there is the Scillion ferry which i used this year , its by far the cheapest way to get across to Scilly and there is always the chance to bird from the ferry ,highlights this year being  Storm Petrel , Great Skua  and a pod of Common Dolphin however if the sea is rough and you don't have good sea legs it can be quite an uncomfortable voyage plus the crossing takes the best part of 3 hours and if there is a mega on offer it can be quite frustrating .

One of the headlands on Shetland.

Getting to Shetland was pretty straight forward , flying from Gatwick to Aberdeen and getting a connecting flight from Aberdeen to Sumborough  , although the Sandhill Crane in Aberdeen did throw a spanner in the works this time . getting around the mainland easily was only possible with a hire car and the birding was quite different to Scilly , the habitat on Shetland is far more barren and the areas that you check were anywhere there was any cover i.e peoples gardens which looked good for migrants , where as on Scilly there is so much cover for birds to hide and feed all over the place , on Shetland there are isolated pockets here and there .

North west of Lerwick .

The social side on Scilly is really great and there is an evening bird log from the Scillion club where you can get food and a pint to celebrate your days birding , plus the use of CB radios to give out bird sightings or ask for any news works really well , on Shetland as far as i know none of this exists so its always worth exchanging phone numbers with other birders you meet so any news gets passed around , this method helped me connect with Lesser Grey Shrike , Little Bunting  and Red Breasted Flycatcher on Shetland this year . 

Grey Seal.

Getting to the off Islands on Scilly is very easy , the local fisherman have this well and truly worked out with daily trips to most of the other Islands , i must admit i found this very frustrating on Shetland , where access to the surrounding Islands is not easy , if a mega breaks on an off island you have little or no chance of getting a ferry or plane to them as they are almost always fully booked , i would have liked to have visited Fair Isle but there were no flights available all week !! still that is the only downside of Shetland and with a little more research and planning on my part i might be able to solve that problem .

Well to sum it all up i cant really decide which is best , they both have their own magical appeal and i will have to visit both again to help me decide ..........

Tuesday 25 October 2011

Scilly Twitch

Northern Waterthrush on St.Mary's Isle of Scilly showed well from Lower Moors and was a new species for me , plenty of great back up birds included : Upland Sandpiper , 2 Olive Backed Pipits and Wilson's Snipe.

Northern Waterthrush.

Northern Waterthrush.

Upland Sandpiper.

Note Central crown stripe and thin neck.

Wilsons Snipe.

Common Snipe.

Wilsons Snipe.

Very close Greenshank.

Black Redstart.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Grey Phalarope at Reculver

I was lucky enough to see this stunning Grey Phalarope at Cold harbour Reculver on Saturday 8th October , it showed really well and did not seem bothered at all by the closeness of fellow birders .

Sunday 18 September 2011

Pennington Marsh

Bairds Sandpiper.

I went  to Pennington Marshes in Hampshire on Saturday 17th , my main target bird was this really smart Bairds Sandpiper .

Neat breast band was very  visible.

Primary feathers extend beyond tail.

Supercillium was prominent .

The Bairds Sandpiper was smaller than the nearby Dunlin , a really smart bird to observe , feeding constantly and showing very close at times , all the waders were spooked by a Kestrel which flew through the area where they were feeding , all the waders took to flight and the dark central tail feathers were easily seen on the Bairds Sandpiper. This is the fourth Bairds i have seen and by far the best view i have had of one. 

I headed of in the general direction the Bairds Sandpiper had flown of to and despite scanning various parts of the estuary drawing  a blank , i decided to head back to the original pool i had first seen it in and on my way there i noticed a gathering of birders checking out some bushes and i was informed that yesterdays Wryneck had been re found but was being very elusive , however i had only been there for a couple of minutes when the  Wryneck  was picked out sitting in a slow bush , i had  really great views of this wonderful bird and i never tire of seeing them. 


After i had my fill of these great birds i headed of to the nearby Normandy marsh where there had been a report of a Grey Phalarope , i arrived on site and was soon enjoying really good views of this smart wader feeding in its usual circular motion.

Grey Phalarope.

Other birds of note here included a juv. Curlew Sandpiper , plus up to 3 Greenshanks , Black and Bar tailed Godwit , several Turnstone , Ringed Plover and Dunlin , i also en counted at least 3 Kingfishers here .

With time against me i headed for home  , however i had just enough time to call into Thorny to check out news of a Sabine's Gull but my luck run out with this one , i did add Common Sandpiper , Little Egret and Sandwich Tern  plus  several Yellow Wagtails flying around the nearby cattle .

Sandwich Tern.