Wednesday, 2 December 2009
On site I first bumped into Hawky and Bagsy who had not seen a lot for their efforts and then Shaun, who had seen one of the Serin briefly. Before I could get to The Mound, Hawky called to say he had found a Dartford Warbler just up the road so we headed along to see it. Dirty Year Lister Jonathan Lethbridge was there too when we arrived, trying to work out which list he might need a Dartford for; his Sunday list or his seen whilst wearing this pair of pants list. The Dartford showed nicely through a fence, not allowing any good photos. For an example of a crap photo of it, see Hawkys blog; http://www.hawkysbirdingblog.blogspot.com/
Back to The Serin Mound, no sign and 40 mins later I was off to Berwick Ponds to look for Bittern. A couple of laps produced, well not much really, just a calling Water Rail and some common wildfowl.
It was good to get out and catch up with the lads, although briefly. Looking forward to a day out birding soon.
Saturday, 7 November 2009
It may have been here for months but it is still a big draw!
Thursday, 22 October 2009
Tuesday, 20 October 2009
We then headed up towards Penninis Head where a Common Rosefinch had been reported. Wheatears and Meadow Pipits were scanned hoping to be turned into something rarer until we spotted a large flock of Greenfinch in the first field off the head land. We scanned them hoping to find the Common Rosefinch in amongst them and we did! Hawky had it in his scope and managed to get us all on to it (life tick for Dave Mo) before the flock took flight and it could not be relocated much to the disappointment of those turning up to see it after we put out news. They included our fellow Essex birders H, dirty year listers; Bradders Junior and Jonathon Lethbridge, Sam Shippey, Sir Les Harrison of the Garrison and Bradders Senior. They had however been getting good views of Wryneck just below the turning circle on the airfield. With it now past 6pm and the light starting to fade we decided to leave the Wryneck for the following day and go and get a couple of well deserved beers and some sleep.
It seemed like we had walked a lot of miles today so we headed back for dinner at The Bishop and Wolf. Great value and very good food. It was Bradders Jnr's birthday so we all got together for a few beers.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Sunday, 4 October 2009
After a short stop at Grove Ferry which produced Peregrine, Marsh Harrier and Hobby we headed to Dunge to give the Glossy Ibis a go.
Passing H on the way in he informed us that the Ibis were tucked away in a gully and he had not seen them. Up we strolled to the viewing point to surprisingly find all 5 Glossy Ibis together out in the open. A quick call and H was back 10 minutes later.
Sunday, 27 September 2009
Sunday, 20 September 2009
Sunday, 13 September 2009
Had a great afternoon out with the family in Whitstable, Kent on Saturday, and look who we bumped into, comedy genius Vic Reeves, who was also taking a break from birding for a day out with his family!
Wednesday, 9 September 2009
Doing a tad more research this time and armed with a map that Bradders Jnr kindly emailed me I set off up the M11. It proved a lot simpler this time to find the site and luckily the harrier was showing as I arrived. Jumping out and fixing my bins on it I had good views immediately. A kind birder let me have a look through his scope to provide even better views as it cruised over the fields in front of me for 5 minutes or so before settling in the field in front of me, out of sight. Here is remained for the next hour until I had to leave. Relatively brief views but I am not complaining, it was a stunner
The bird was apparently showing well over the filter beds area of the park. I had a quick look on Google maps before we left home, which confirmed the park itself was quite small and there was one body of water. This would be easy. Jamie and I spent the following 40 minutes walking around the park, asking the locals about the “ well known” filter beds area only to be greeting with puzzled looks and a lot of shrugging of shoulders.
Completely stumped I called fellow birder Ray Parker Lethbridge (see below) for some advice and he activated his new Lethbridge Telephone WalkNav devise immediately. At this point I will refer you Jonathan’s blog for a detailed and almost accurate recount of our conversation. Obviously the bit about me being a tad unfit is not true. I am very unfit! (http://www.wansteadbirder.blogspotcom/).
After 10 minutes of guiding me to where we wanted to be, up hills, round bends, across cricket pitches, through streams, passed burnt out cars (only joking) etc we were there and so was the Alpine Swift (life tick 358). I have always wanted to see one so was chuffed. A superb powerful looking bird.
Anyway, in order to thank Jonathan for his gallant effort in getting us there I have composed the following. (Please read/sing to the tune of Ghostbusters, by Ray Parker Junior)
When you get lost
When you’re on a twitch,
Who ya gonna call
If the directions are crap
And you’ve got no map
Who ya gonna call
You’ve walked round and round
But it can’t be found
Who ya gonna call
I ain’t afraid of no dip
I aint afraid of no dip
If you’re lost and alone
Just pick up the phone
He’ll use his IT skills
To direct up and down hills
Who ya gonna call
Be afraid not
He’ll pin point the spot
When you call
Thursday, 3 September 2009
News of an Arctic Warbler at Landguard had Hawky and I making plans to get there straight from work. We met at Tesco’s car park at Gallow Corner, Romford and were on our way in the Hawk-mobile by 5.10pm. Landguard being around an hour and 20 minutes away we were hoping we would have enough time to see the bird before dusk.
Unfortunately things did not go to plan. At around 5.20pm Jonathan “Dirty Year Lister” Lethbridge (who had already outrageously already ticked the bird rather than do the ironing) called to say the A12 ahead of us was blocked and at a standstill for 4 or 5 miles. We immediately diverted and zoomed along country lanes, over level crossings, though fields and hay stacks etc (slight exaggeration) until we got near Chelmsford when we realised everyone else must have had the same idea and we were as likely to move as a Frenchman living next door to a brothel (Blackadder Series 4).
We decided to give it until 6pm to see how far we progressed. 30 minutes and 400 yards later it was over. There was no way we would get to Languard before night fall. We turned round and came home. No Artic Warbler, no tick, no luck! Maximum effort and no reward. Bummer. :o(
Rumours are circulating around Essex than a man wearing a Tilley hat, surrounded by loads of small children, was seen along side the A12 in the Chelmsford area, mid afternoon chopping down a tree, insanely laughing, but they have so far been unsubstantiated.
Monday, 31 August 2009
The day started well with constant traffic of Sootys and Manxs. We didn't have to wait long for our first real excitement. Probably having been there less than an half an hour JL shouts "large shearwater!" But what was it? Well to be honest we are not 100% sure. Stuart having some experience of Cory's Shearwaters counts out Cory's. We decide it almost has to be a Great Shearwater (life tick 355) as it dwarfed the Manx is helpfully sheared past and was too dark for a Cory's.
The next four or so hours we were fed a constant procession of Manxs (150 ish), Sootys (30+) and Storm Petrels (35+) and a large Basking Shark feeding along the shore line below us was a life first for Stuart.
At about 10.30am experienced Cornwall sea watcher Martin Elliot joined us and we chatted about Black Browed Albatross's and what he thought our large shearwater was earlier from our description. He was pretty sure it sounded like a Great Shear too. The pleasant chit chat however all came to an abrupt end at just gone 11.20am:
ME (that's Martin Elliot not me) "Great Shearwater! Heading towards Runnel Stone from the left. Hang on, f*ck me, it's a Fea's! It's a f*cking Fea's Petrel! Is everyone on it? Fea's Petrel!"
(life tick 356)
Luckily we had all had our scopes trained on the very spot as we had been watching a steady stream of Storm Petrels in tha area. We had good continuous views for a couple of minutes as it slowly sheared over the ocean and eventually out of site.After high fives were exchanged all round, calls and texts were made back to our birding buds back home so they could share in our good news! Well something like that
A "lucky, lucky, lucky, lucky bastard" according to HawkyWe were over the moon. All the effort to get there had paid off. Within 2 hours we were fog bound and sea watching was no longer an option. We twitched the Citrine Wagtail at Marazion which was just a 20 minute drive away. The bird had not been seen for a few hours so rather than stand there chatting we decided to go and look for it. This was almost a big mistake. We followed what we thought was a circular path which in fact took us further and further away from where we wanted to be. Eventually we climbed a stile and found ourselves on a main road a good 2 miles from where we had been. We started the long walk back when the pager bleeped to tell us "Citrine Wagtail showing well exactly where you had been standing, you idiots!" The pace quickened to by the time we got back to the entrance to the reserve we were jogging. Luckily we made it back and had very good views of the bird (life tick 357) for just a couple of minutes before it flew a short distance out of sight and I believe it was not seen again that day. Phew!
Pic borrowed from Surfbirds (not mine) With thanks to Brian R Field
It was time to head home. The weather was now very poor. We stopped in Devon (Beer Head) for Wryneck, but we could not even find Beer Head let alone a Wryneck. Anyway who cares, I had 4 life ticks that I did not have 2 days ago and one of them was a Fea's Petrel! My target of a 360 life list by the end of 2009 now looks much more likely after such a cracking weekend.
All 3 blackish terns were duly seen again and with the sun setting rapidly we continued on our way south west via a supermarket for essential provisions, beer and snacks, and a fish and chip shop.
At Big Pit you get to see what is was like to be a miner over the last couple of hundred years and what terrible conditions they were forced to work in. Firstly you travel down 300 feet in the cage to the tunnels then take a guided tour of the mine shafts, it's really interesting and educational (especially if you have a family history based around mining).
Anyway luckily the evening before I was due to come home from South Wales to London the American Black Tern was located at Farmoor Resevoir in Oxfordshire, very conveniently about half way home. It was either stop at services on the M4 and pay £5 for a crap sarnie or knock up a packed lunch and stop off for the tern. Choices, choices!
By midday we were at Farmoor Res and ticking American Black Tern (life list 355). Seeing it with WWBT and Black Tern in the same scope view was a real help on the ID front. We continued home via the M40 and 11 Red Kites arriving home mid afternoon. Little did I know at this stage I would be back at Farmoor within 4 hours on the way to Cornwall!
"Which one of the dots is it Dad?"
Wednesday, 26 August 2009
Monday, 24 August 2009
Another lone Grass Snake was seen off the board walk around Aveley Pools to bring the total to 6 in one visit. The only other thing of note we saw was a lovely piece of home made cake back at the visitors centre that rounded off a great couple of hours out with the family.