Monday 30 May 2016

Black Billed Cuckoo ...On North Uist

Black Billed Cuckoo on North Uist.

On the 25th May i gave into temptation and headed to North Uist in the Outer Hebrides to see the Black Billed Cuckoo which was a new species for me , here are a few selected photo's :  

Enjoying the sun in the garden.

Often perched on fence posts.

Looking for caterpillars.

Flying back to the garden.

Superb looking bird.

Black Billed Cuckoo.

Monday 16 May 2016

Busy Birding Week...........

11th May 2016 in Cornwall

Dalmatian Pelican at Skewjack Farm

I fancied a trip to Cornwall as there were some decent birds around plus the lure of the Dalmatian Pelican was also pretty tempting , so i set of early on the 11th and was down in Cornwall by about 8am , the weather was awful on route with heavy rain and thick fog on different parts of the journey .

I started off at Marazion marsh in the hope of seeing the Woodchat Shrike which would have been a welcome year tick but sadly it had moved on and i dipped , then news broke that the Dalmatian Pelican was being seen from the coastal path at Porthgwarra. 

So i followed two other cars of birders on route to the site , one car turned off and the other had stopped & informed me that the Pelican had flown inland towards Sennan so i then headed off in that direction , i saw some other birders parked up near Skewjack farm  (some of whom i knew) so i joined them and got the latest info , they had seen it !! but it had dropped down into the valley below , best idea was to wait to see if it would reappear !!

 Whilst i was chatting to Nick & Russell  (great to see you) Russell picked out the Dalmatian Pelican flying up from the valley below and eventually flew more or less straight over where we were standing.

Impressive bird.

No doubt the debate will rumble on about it being a genuine vagrant or plastic fantastic , either way it was a very impressive bird to see in great company  , for now it goes on my Pending list until the Bourc make their final decision.

From here we said our goodbyes and headed to Lands end and had cracking views of a male Serin.

Male Serin

Digi scoped pic of the Serin.

13th May 2016  in Essex

Record shot of the Franklin's Gull

On Friday the 13th May i headed to Abberton Reservoir in Essex  in the hope of seeing the Franklin's Gull , however on arrival i was informed it hadn't been seen since earlier that morning , we were looking from the Layer-de-la-Haye causeway when another birder thought he had got it but very distantly on the water , it took some finding but we all managed to get onto the bird in question and in fact it was the Franklin's Gull, this was  a welcome year tick for me.

It was never close at anytime i was there but decent scope views were good enough , i could only manage a record shot of this bird (probably my record shot of the year tbh), i did go around to the hide to see if i could get closer but without success , a cracking Black Tern was great to see here though.

Black Tern.

14th May in Dorset

Great Spotted Cuckoo.

Today i headed of to Dorset to see the Great Spotted Cuckoo , the news was positive when i was on route but ie become a bit concerned via news on twitter that photographers were getting to close and flushing/harassing the bird , now i take photo's of birds & wildlife but can honestly say i have never flushed or harassed a bird to get that shot !!!! 

But more importantly we must always put the birds welfare first , migrants have often flown hundreds of miles to reach our shores and all they want to do is feed & rest.

Ok rant over sorry about that , the Great Spotted Cuckoo is the first record for Portland i believe and was showing really well the time i was there , here are a few photo's i took.

Love that tail.

Great Spotted Cuckoo.


Saturday 7 May 2016

Dungeness Sea Watch on 6th May 2016

                                                                  6th May 2016 

Light phase Pomarine Skua.

                                  Sea watching from     6.45am until  10.45am

Brent Goose  :  5 east

Shelduck  :  2 east

Garganey :  1 east

Common Scoter :  225 east

Red Throated Diver :  3 east

Great Crested Grebe :  15+  on sea

Fulmar :  2 east

Gannet :  200+  east & west

Oystercatcher : 18 east

Grey Plover :  4 east

Dunlin  :  3 east

Sanderling :  20 east

Whimbrel :  30 east

Great Skua :  1 east

Pomarine Skua  : 83 east  (81 light phase  & 2 dark phase)

Arctic Skua :  1 east

Kittiwake : 15 east

Little Tern :  10 east

Sandwich Tern :  50 east

Commic Tern : 300+ east

Black Tern :  1 up & down the patch

Guillemot :  2 on sea

Auk Sp :  5 east

Swallow : 4 in off the sea

Harbour Porpoise :  10+

Pomarine Skua

Black Tern.

One of many Whimbrel.

Kent Birding at it's Best...............

2nd May 2016.

Western Rufous Turtle Dove (Form Meena)

This incredible bird has been teasing Kent birders since February of this year , it had been visiting & photographed feeding in a private garden in Otford and despite several hours of searching by the Kent county recorder & friends there was no sign of this very rare bird , a few weeks passed and then another report came through and finally the Western Rufous Turtle Dove (form meena) gave it's self up  on Saturday 30th April when it flew into the trees near the garden it feeds in before it goes to roost.

First record for Kent.

I was there early Monday morning the 2nd May and after a short wait i saw the Dove fly into the trees and then watched it for approx 15 minutes sitting out in the open before it dropped down to feed , it then reappeared for a few minutes deeper in the trees before eventually flying off at 10,15am , it goes missing during the day and reappears later in the evening to feed up before going to roost .

The Western Rufous Turtle Dove (form meena) is the first ever recorded in Kent and the first of this race i have seen , so many thanks  to the residents for allowing us to view it.

3rd  May 2016


I spent a few hours at Stodmarsh and then Grove Ferry on the 3rd May and added 3+  Hobby to my year list , cracking birds and always one of the highlights of the year. there were plenty of  Blackcaps  in the Alder wood plus a single Garden Warbler.

One of three Hobby at Stodmarsh .

I then went around to Grove ferry and  from the ramp a very showy Kingfisher put in an appearance plus several Sand Martins came down feeding over the pool , there were also 2 Nightingales showing on & off along the entrance track plus a Stoat run across the path but sadly to quick for the camera.


Sand Martin.

5th May 2016

13 Wood Sandpipers & 1 Little Stint.

I got a phone call informing me at 2.30pm that there was at least 10 Wood Sandpipers from the ramp at Grove plus a smaller wader which was causing some confusion  , these are one of my Fave waders so i wasted no time and headed there and sure enough there were 10 Wood Sandpipers , the smaller wader was out of view by the time i got there , eventually it showed and my initial impression was Little Stint although it did look bigger than i expected next to the Wood Sandpipers it also appeared to be elongated at the tail end.

 Opinions were divided between us all , eventually it showed much better and flew around with the Wood Sandpipers and was clearly a Little Stint (it's amazing what heat haze & time of year can do to your id skills) anyhow the final total of Wood Sandpipers was an incredible 13 birds.

Coming into land .

I also saw my first Common Swifts of the year , a really enjoyable birding session.

Common Swift.

Monday 2 May 2016

Scotland Birding 25th to 27th April 2016

Day One   25th April 2016

Black Grouse Lekking.

I set of early for a couple of days birding in Scotland with several target birds to see , i normally go to Tulloch moor for the Black Grouse lek but always find them quite distant there so this year i tried a new lek (well new to me) in Perthshire and saw 8 male Black Grouse quite close , i stayed in the car to avoid disturbance and had some excellent views of this remarkable bird behaviour .

Jumping Black Grouse.

Dancing Black Grouse.

I didn't stay long at the lek as i wanted to keep disturbance down to the minimum , from here i headed to the Cairngorm Mountains , arriving in the car park to quite heavy snow and strong winds put me off going up to look for Ptarmigan , however i was compensated in approx 20 Snow Buntings feeding around the car park.

Snow Bunting.

I then decided to try for White Billed Diver which had been seen around Burghead & Portsoy  , on route i saw plenty of Red Grouse and a single fly over Woodcock , however i drew a blank on the White Billed Divers , the sea was very rough caused by strong winds plus i had several snow showers which made it feel very cold.

My last destination was a quick look in at Loch Garten , plenty of Siskin were around the feeders plus an Osprey was on view from the hide.

Osprey in the snow.

Day two 26th April 2016.

A very early start saw me checking out a location for Capercallie and i was not disappointed , i also added Crested Tit & Siskin at this site.

I then went to Loch Garten and had great views of a Crested Tit in the car park.

Crested Tit.

There were plenty of finches feeding on seed in the car park including lot's of Siskin & Chaffinch.

Stunning male Siskin

The feeders near the hide held plenty of Siskins to plus a delightful Red Squirrel put in a brief visit.

Male Siskin on a feeder.

Red Squirrel.

From here I went to Poorhouse Wood which is  a site for Scottish Crossbill and after an hour or so i connected with a small flock of Crossbills , a male bird sat out in the open and was calling constantly .

I then tried my luck at Lochindorb  for Black Throated Diver and despite my best efforts all i could come up with were 3 Red Throated Divers two of which were displaying.

There were several Red Grouse around us showing very well at times plus Sand Martin & Wheatear  were seen.

One of many Red Grouse seen near Lochindorb.

My final destination of the day was Nethybridge and my target here was of course the delightful Dipper.


Day Three 27th April 2016

The last day of my trip was spent looking from Portsoy again for White Billed Diver without success however i did see Great Northern Diver in summer plumage plus some cracking looking Eiders.

Male Eider.

Plenty of Fulmars , Kittiwakes & Gannets were also seen at Portsoy.

Close Gannet.

My last site was at Largo Bay where we once again saw plenty of  Eiders (No sign of the female King Eider) plus 80+ Velvet Scoters.

Velvet Scoter.