Sunday 28 August 2011

Western Bonellis Warbler, elusive but worth the wait

Shaun and I headed out again yesterday for a Western Bonellis Warbler, our 2nd attempt in 3 days and 3rd overall after dipping one in Wells Wood after the "Alder" Flycatcher twitch last September. The previous day there was also a Greenish Warbler on site to make things even more interesting. We met Hawky, Bradders Jnr and non twittcher Jono on site, in Cromer, Norfolk at 7.30am.

The area over cover was large so we split up, and 30 minutes later Hawky called to say he had a likely suspect briefly for the Bonellis. Unfortunately as we found him the heavens opened and heavy rain started to fall. Not great warbler watching weather! An hour later, things were not looking good. The rain continued to fall and we wondered whether it would be 3rd time dippy.

For once the weather forecast was right. Bright spells were forecast from lunch time, and right on cue, about 11.45am, the dark clouds and drizzle were replaced with blue skies and sunshine.

We began searching the site heading round the perimeter and in a sunny glade found quite a few birds flitting about. Immediately one or two looked interesting but it was hard to get enough on them to confirm what they were. There was a very pale bird that when it flew appeared to have a yellowy/green patch on its side, could it be the Bonellis? Before we could confirm it disappeared.

So again we headed off to carry on looking. 10 minutes later we took a call from Jono to say the Greenish Warbler had been found. Back at the play area, 30+ birders staring up into the canopy. At first there was some confusion as the bird we were looking at appeared again to be very pale, and not Greenish like. With good views provided over the next 20 minutes we soon realised we were getting good views of the Bonellis Warbler. It took 4 hours but it was 3rd time lucky for both me and Shaun, so via an escaped Burrowing Owl just up the road in East Runton, we headed off home happy.

Thursday 25 August 2011

Dunge Dip

The news of a Bonellis Warbler being trapped and ringed in The Moat at Dungeness mid morning yesterday; had myself, Bradders Jnr and Shaun heading south straight from work hoping for a midweek tick (my and Shaun only).

By midday it was confirmed as a Western Bonellis, and it at 1.30pm it was reported again. Leaving Hornchurch at about 5pm we made good time arriving around 6.30pm. At first the news was positive with a departing birder stating the bird had shown just 10 ins earlier. We joined a small group of birders stood before a section of cover and it soon became apparent that it contained a number of Willow Warblers, but not a lot else. After 30 mins or so we decided we'd search the rest of The Moat. Despite us not finding a Bonellis Warbler we did enjoy a great supporting cast of 2 Black Redstarts, up to a dozen Wheatears, 2 Winchats and best of all 2 cracking male Redstarts.

With the light rapidly fading we bashed some bushed hoping to relocate the earlier reported Wryneck, but again no joy, so we headed off for a fish and chip supper, only to find that closed too!

That's the 2nd Western Bonellis me and Shaun have now dipped. It'll be 3rd time luck hopefully.

Monday 22 August 2011

Some birds from Mallorca

Just back from a week long family break to Port Du Pollenca in Mallorca. We've visited the Port Du Pollenca on 3 previous occasions, each time over the May half term, and I was not surprised to find it much quieter bird wise in August. As well as many fewer birds, it was significantly hotter too, with the thermometer hitting 37c on at least 2 days. That's over 100f in old money, and too hot for me!

Anyway onto the birds I did see. I only actually went out birding once, for 2 hours early one morning to S'Albefuera wetlands, actually it was more like drylands! I was lucky to have a party of Bee eaters fly overhead within 10 minutes of arriving, as they would be the only Bee eaters of the trip. The main differences from previous visits to this site, apart from it being much drier, was the absence of Black Winged Stilts, probably the most common bird seen on previous visits, this time I saw none (at this site). There were also many more Purple Gallinule and the re introduced Nobbed Coot, many not tagged. Also seen on site, loads of Kentish Plover, Nightingale, Black Crowned Night Heron, Cattle Egret and Sardinian Warbler. Next I headed off to my favourite site at the sewage works up the road, but I was gutted to find there was no longer access!

Sardinian Warbler - plentiful but elusive

Other birds seen were 2 Booted Eagle, 1 very well but with no camera! 3 Eleanoras Falcon, 2 Hoopoe, 1 Audines Gull, 1 Raven, loads of Spot Flys, Serins and Ospreys. Notably no Woodchat Shrikes or Cirl Buntings were seen.

Tuesday 9 August 2011

Porthgwarra sea watch - Sun 7th Aug

I took Matt, our friend's 11 year old son, for his first sea watch on Sunday morning. Matt, a young keen new birder,his dad Ray, and I headed to Porthgwarra for a couple of hours, to see what we could see.

No one wanted an early start do we didn't arrive until 10am and there were half a dozen birders already there. We were informed it had been good for a few hours with good numbers or Corys passing and 2 Great Shearwaters. (I knew we should have got up at 5am!) Fingers crossed it would continue.

In the following two hours a steady stream of Manx's passed through, and after about 45 mins we had our first Corys. It was not easy at first getting Matt on to them (we only had my scope) but we soon got into the swing of things, lining up birds to pass through. The undoubted highlight was a Cory's Shearwater about a third of the way out to the Runnelstone. It slowly passed from east to west providing cracking views as it lazily flew along.

In total in two hours we had:

200+ Manxs
6 Cory's
2 Pom Skuas
1 Arctic Skua
1 Sooty Shearwater
2 Puffin
2 Balearic Shearwater
1 Common Scoter


Surfs up!

Just back from a cracking weekend in Cornwall (many thanks to Ray, Tina, Matt, Adam, Ron and Barbara) for inviting us down to share a part of their holiday with them. The kids tried surfing for the first time and I think they're hooked!