Sunday 27 September 2009

Tick as a Parrot - nah not really

Jamie and I spent almost 4 hours out in the warm autumn sunshine today in Kent. It really was a lovely morning spent walking around Pegwell Bay Country Park. The only thing that spoilt the walk was that it was not interrupted by seeing a Fan Tailed Warbler, but hey, you can't win 'em all.
Good views of Ring Necked Parakeet and Wheatear were had before we headed to Reculver to go for the Red Backed Shrike that had also been showing well (whatever!) the previous day. Birders in the car park at Reculver told us that they had spent 2 hours looking for the bird so we opted for ice cream and an early return home rather than a 3+ mile round trip walk to stare at an empty bush. Not the most successful of days tick-wise but a nice morning out with my 9 year old Jamie all the same.

Sunday 20 September 2009

Ticks out for the lads!

"Well found Hawky!"
Hawky came up trumps today when he found an Ortolan Bunting in Corton, Suffolk whilst on a weekend break with his family. Knowing both Shaun and I need Ortolan we had received text news by 8am and by 9am we were on the A12 heading north.

By 11am we were both enjoying stonking views down to 20 feet (life tick 360) as it fed on the path in front of us. The smart, well marked bird showed well for 30-40 minutes until we left.

Heading south we stopped off at Boyton Marshes for an even showier Glossy Ibis, it seemed completely unphased as it fed continuously just feet in front of us. I doubt I'll see one as well as that again.

Sunday 13 September 2009

Amazing Picture of Shooting Star in Kent

Me and Vic!

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

The Tickfest continues - Pallid Harrier, Cambs

Hot on the heels of Sunday’s Alpine Swift another much sort after lifer, Pallid Harrier, was available on Monday. Although in work time, I was in luck. I could get a few hours off and the bird was not too far away, around 1.5 hours away in Cambridgeshire.
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

Alpine Swiftly located (with just a little help)

Picture by Simon West - Many thanks.

Being an Essex/east London boy I have rarely ventured to sowf or norf London apart from attending the odd football match. So when an Alpine Swift turned up in Alexandra Park on Sunday it didn’t really gave a Scooby do where I was going. With my passport stamped, visa granted and making sure I had an up to date tetanus injection I ventured into norf London on Sunday with my 9 year old, Jamie. We arrived at Alexandra Park, parked up and set off to find the bird.

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
J Lethbridge

If the directions are crap
And you’ve got no map
Who ya gonna call
J Lethbridge

You’ve walked round and round
But it can’t be found
Who ya gonna call
J Lethbridge

I ain’t afraid of no dip
I aint afraid of no dip

If you’re lost and alone
Just pick up the phone
And call
J Lethbridge

He’ll use his IT skills
To direct up and down hills
Who ya gonna call
J Lethbridge

Be afraid not
He’ll pin point the spot
When you call

Thursday 3 September 2009

Arctic Monkey's Landguard Gig Cancelled

Last night the chance of a 5th tick in a magical 5 day purple patch was scuppered by traffic mayhem on the A12 around Chelmesford in Essex.

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.