Monday 22 June 2015

Returning Bonaparte's Gull .......At Oare Marshes

Adult summer Bonaparte's Gull.

I received a very early text message from Rich " the twitch" on Saturday morning informing me that the Bonaparte's Gull had returned for it's 3rd year running , so without haste i headed over to Oare and duly caught up with Richard and Murray W who had found this cracking looking bird 3 years in a row .

 A lot of returning Gull's end up with nicknames ie: "Waldo" the returning Ring Billed Gull in Gosport plus "Rossi" another returning Ring Billed Gull in Essex , if i had to choose a nickname for this returning Bonaparte's Gull i would call it " Murray" for the simple reason Murray has incredibly found this bird each of the previous 3 years , just a thought !! 

Black hood extending into nape.

White eye crescents clearly visible at distance .

The Bonaparte's was on the East flood when i arrived but then flew out onto the exposed mud on the Swale , and it proceeded to do this most of the morning.

Note white underwing in flight.

Bonaparte's Gull .

Whilst watching the Bonaparte's Gull Julian picked out an imm Spoonbill flying around the East flood eventually heading towards the west flood , Bearded Tits were " Pinging " in the reed beds and showing occasionally , plus Murray pointed out a Turtle Dove on it's favoured perch.

Here' a few more pics of the Bonaparte's Gull.

Black bill & black hood.

Bonaparte's Gull.

Great birding session and great to meet up with some very familiar faces.

Sunday 21 June 2015

Day trip to Norfolk

Marsh Warbler .

I headed off to Norfolk for the Marsh Warbler & White Rumped Sandpiper ,    i set off early on the 11th June and headed for Narborough in Norfolk , i arrived in good time at approx 7 am and walked down the river path and was soon listening to the Marsh Warbler in full voice with several different species being mimicked including , Nightingale , Redstart & Goldfinch .

Marsh Warbler in full voice.

The Marsh Warbler showed very well at times but was often obscured by the reeds , i also had a brief view of a Garden Warbler.

Garden Warbler.

I spent a good hour and half here then headed to Cley , after getting my permit from the visitors centre i headed to the hides , well no sign of the White R Sandpiper from the first hide  although it had been seen earlier , i ventured around to the other hides and still had no luck with the Sandpiper , however i had plenty of cracking birds to keep me company including up to 8 Spoonbills.

Spoonbills coming into land.

Adult Spoonbill with a Avocet.

5 of the 8 Spoonbills in flight.

I had a good selection of waders including several Little Ringed Plovers , 4 Greenshank , Redshank & a single Black Tailed Godwit plus lots of Avocets.


Very vocal in flight.

i also saw 2 1s Little Gulls which were new birds for the year for me.

1st Summer Little Gull.

Little Gull .

A really enjoyable birding session with lots to look at with birds coming and going all the time , i also had some cracking views of  Sedge & Reed Warblers.

Reed Warbler.

Sedge Warbler.

I spent quite some time here however i never connected with the White Rumped Sandpiper but still had a great time  .

Friday 19 June 2015

Church Norton to Bardsey Island

Hudsonian Whimbrel.

Another day and another trip to Church Norton  , this time however i managed to get some better photo's of the Hudsonian Whimbrel , the bird showed much better today and certainly has a very  healthy appetite with crab very much on top of it's menu.

I watched this bird for quite sometime then headed off to Siddlesham ferry for a quick scan where i added Green Sandpiper, Little Ringed Plover , Avocet & Black Tailed Godwit to my days birding , the plan today was to try and see some Turtle Doves and so i headed to Wood Mill which is meant to be a reliable site for them , after parking up i spotted a Water Rail with a chick in the nearby dyke , to quick for the camera sadly but great to see.

Turtle Dove.

It didn't take me long to hear Turtle Dove   " Purring " , almost straight away in fact , i eventually managed to see one perched right out in the open , really delightful looking birds.

Turtle Dove in flight.

I had really great views of these increasingly rare birds plus great views of a Cuckoo perched right out in the open.


On the way back to the car the Water Rail & Chick put in another appearance and this time i managed a photo or two.

Water Rail & Chick.

Best foot forward.

This is the first Water Rail chick i have seen , lovely little bird it was to.

Fluff ball , Water Rail chick.

I kept getting news that the Cretzschmar's Bunting on Bardsey Island was showing on a more regular basis so plans were put into place and an over night drive to Gwynedd to catch a small boat across to Bardsey was the plan , I arrived in good time at 4 am thinking i would be the first birder there , however the car park already had a few cars in it , so i decided to walk down to the beach to get my place on the first boat which only takes 12 people at a time , when i reached the boat there was already 7 other birders there and luckily i made up the first 12 birders on the first boat .

Adult male Cretzschmar's Bunting.

Whilst waiting for the boat i had great views of two Chough either flying overhead or landing on the cliff , then we were on our way on this small craft passing Puffin , Razorbill & Guillemots as we went across to the island , plenty of  Manx Shearwaters sheared past our boat and then we were on Bardsey Island , an island first for me , i waited about 15 mins for the Cretzschmar's Bunting to come down and feed on the seed the warden had put out for it , cracking looking bird and my second lifer in the last 3 days !!

Cretzschmar's Bunting.

I watched the Cretz Bunting feeding on seed for approx 10 minutes then it flew up and over us , after a while I could  hear it calling then someone picked it out on top of a nearby gorse bush , what a treat .

I  had awesome views of this cracking bird then decided to head back to catch the boat back to the mainland , on my journey home i called into the West Midlands at Marsh Lane NR and had great views of the Melodious Warbler that has been singing in a favoured bush for the last few days.

Melodious Warbler.

In full song.

A really great few days birding  , many thanks to the Warden and volunteers on Bardsey Island for organizing this great birding spectacular.

Hudsonian Whimbrel Revisited plus a cracking Bonus !!!

Hudsonian Whimbrel at Church Norton.

Last Saturday the 13th June i went for a second look at the Hudsonian Whimbrel in the hope of getting some photo's , i  joined the already assembled birders looking for the target bird , however it was out of sight in the long grass , all i could see was it's striking head pattern , eventually it flew from the grass and the key feature of all dark rump was seen , it flew further out into the estuary so i decided to head to Posbrook in Titchfield for another look at the Greater Yellowlegs ,it's not often you get the chance to see a decent sub species & a mega wader in the same day!!

Greater Yellowlegs .

I was soon on site and eventually reached the scrape at Posbrook , the Greater Yellowlegs was partially hidden by Black Tailed Godwits , (the above photo was from a previous visit) , however eventually they all flew up and landed again with the Greater Yellowlegs out in the open but mainly asleep , just lifting its head up every now and again.

Sleeping Greater Yellowlegs.

I watched this bird for quite awhile then i planned to head to Acres Down in the New Forest in the hope of seeing some raptors plus Wood Warblers etc , however as i was almost back at the car my phoned beeped with the news of a BLACK EARED WHEATEAR .

I than double checked the bird news services , thinking it must be  probably in Norfolk or Yorkshire  , However i could not believe my luck ,  WOW a BLACK EARED WHEATEAR at Acres Down in the New Forest , and i was only 30 mins away and going there anyway , so without haste i wase soon on the road and heading to Acres Down , on route to the Forest there had been no further sign since the first report come out , i reached the car park and a birder said , " Its not been seen for 40 mins" , great just what you want to hear when you turn up for a Mega !!!!

Black Eared Wheatear.

 It must still be here , it's got to be here , please let it be here , i took a slower walk checking the grass bank just in case , then i saw some birders who were clearly watching it !!!!

Taking off.

Needless to say i joined up with them and then had cracking views of this fantastic looking bird , this Black Eared Wheatear  was the Eastern race and in my opinion the better looking race . cracking white plumage contrasting with all black wings and throat patch , white boarded black tail , this was a new bird for my UK list.

On a fence post.

Black Eared Wheatear (Eastern race).

I really enjoyed watching this bird in such a great setting in the forest , i also saw 2 Goshawks and a Tree Pipit , i decided after well over an hour to look for some other birds and i ventured further into the forest seeing several Common Redstarts plus i saw a fantastic Wood Warbler plus a further two birds calling nearby .

Male Common Redstart.

I decided to have another look at the Black Eared Wheatear before ie headed off and once again great views of this top bird were seen.

That evening i went to Lavington Common for Nightjars & Woodcock and i was not disappointed , i saw 2 perched Nightjar's and heard several more plus i had at least 5 Woodcock  "Roding" , other birds seen were Dartford Warbler , Stonechat & Yellowhammer, a truly great days birding.

Wednesday 10 June 2015

Hudsonian Whimbrel ....... At Church Norton

Hudsonian Whimbrel 

News broke yesterday morning  of a Hudsonian Whimbrel at Church Norton .

Hudsonian Whimbrel 

I arrived about 4pm and the tide was coming in quite fast , however i managed to see the Hudsonian Whimbrel feeding on the waters edge quite close in before it flew over to the other side of the estuary , the russet coloured rump & tail were very obvious and distinctive , a real key feature in separating from  Eurasian Whimbrel which have an extensive white V  extending through their rump into their lower back making Hudsonian Whimbrel  quite an easy bird to id from Eurasian Whimbrel.

Hudsonian Whimbrel 

When it landed on the far side of the estuary the most obvious feature was the striking head pattern , the central crown stripe and supercillium's stood out as they were very pale in colour compared to their very dark lateral stripes , the head in general was very pale contrasting against it's overall colouraration.

Another flight shot

The Hudsonian Whimbrel was keeping company with 2 Eurasian Whimbrel where a good size comparison could be made , the Hudsonian Whimbrel being smaller.

Pale head and underwing shot

Friday 5 June 2015

The Land of Puffin's .....Plus one very Special Visitor

The landing sign at the key.

On Thursday the 4th June i  headed for Skokholm Island in Pembrokeshire and my target bird was the Swainson's Thrush , a very early start meant i made great progress and arrived ready for the boat across to Skokholm in plenty of time.


Skokholm and Skomer are really the land of the Puffin and i must confess i have never been to either of these islands before so was really looking forward to it , there was 40 birders who had booked the boat across to Skokholm and with the added news from the Island that the Swainson's Thrush was still present meant the atmosphere was quite electric.

Quite vocal.

The nerves were jangling as i waited and eventually we were all on the boats and heading to Skokholm , plenty of Gannets , Razorbills , Guillemots , Puffins & Manx Shearwaters were seen on route to the Island .

Puffin in flight.

We were met at the key by one of the volunteer wardens who gave us a brief run down of what and where we were allowed to go and then we set off to the viewing area where the Swainson's Thrush has set up home , there was only a smallish viewing area to look through and i have to say all the 40 birders present were superb in making sure everyone of us could see through to where the Thrush has been seen .

Cracking birds.

And then the Swainson's Thrush flew up from the nettles on to a low branch and within 2 to 3 seconds was gone again . all i saw was the tail , wings and pinkish coloured legs , so yes i have seen it but no way could i tick it on that initial view , staying calm i thought it shows every 20 mins approx so i have at least a couple more chances , it then flew back from the right and i missed it completely that time , checking the time and it was now 11.22am , we were told the boat goes back at 11.30am .

Another Puffin flight shot.

 Thinking i had seen it but could not tick it i was beginning to think my chance had gone and then the warden Richard Brown made an announcement , the  boat has now been arranged to leave at 1pm or 4pm  to give us all a better chance of seeing the Swainson's Thrush well , what a great relief , game on and then the Swainson's Thrush gave it self up completely and started showing very very well indeed .

Swainson's Thrush.

Note the ring on it's leg.

The group of birders present were in elation ( me included) , this is a cracking bird to see in a fantastic setting  , certainly my favourite birding twitch of the year so far.

Swainson's Thrush.

Whilst watching the Swainson's Thrush  a Firecrest appeared on a couple of occasions plus a Chough flew over calling as it went , thousands of Puffin's , Razorbills & Guillemots made this a real birders paradise.


I would just like to say a massive thank you to Richard Brown and his group of volunteers for making this fantastic day possible .