Sunday 2 December 2012

Harty Ferry Raptor Watch Point

Saturday afternoon I headed out to Harty Ferry Raptor Watch Point in Kent for a few hours birding with Shaun and his 11 year old nephew, George. Conditions for not ideal as it was quite windy and very poor light, and of course absolutely freezing! Immediately on arrival we had the very pale Common Buzzard, that we think might be getting mistaken for a Rough Legged. At the watch point we had numerous Marsh Harrier, (c.20), 1 Peregrine and the pick of the bunch, 3 ringtail Hen Harrier (apols for the really crap photo below).

We took a drive up the lanes to try and relocate some Waxwings that had been reported earlier, but could not find any amongst the hundreds of Redwing and Fieldfare.

With fingers and toes numb through cold, we headed towards Swale but the light was getting really poor, so we abandoned our plan to walk out onto the reserve but instead found this smart Med Gull on the sea wall.

Tuesday 20 November 2012

Dungeness Birding Day Out

On Sunday I headed down to Dungeness in Kent for a day's birding in the sun, with a few of the lads; Shaun, Bradders Jnr and Jono. A Pallas's Warbler had been in the lighthouse garden for a couple of days, and having only ever seen 2 of these smart little birds, I hoped  it would still be there, despite the clear over night skies. Unfortunately, it was no where to be seen.......

The lighthouse garden has turned up all sorts over the years, but today it was quiet 

This is the  3rd winter this Glaucous Gull has returned to Dungeness, I wonder how many more years it will return 

A big ugly pale brute and a Glaucous Gull - that's Jono snapping away

When news broke at lunchtime of a mega rare Desert Warbler an hour up the road we had to go and investigate. Despite bashing the hell out of Samphire Hoe, it could not be located and it has not been seen since. Oh well, you can't win 'em all.   

Saturday 3 November 2012

Desert Wheater - Abberton Resevoir

Our route home from Suffolk took us about 5 miles from Abberton Resevoir, where all week a female Desert Wheatear had been keeping residence in the visitors centre car park! I had resisted temptation to drive down from Suffolk to see what would be only my 2nd ever Desert Wheatear, hoping it would stay a week until we passed close by a week later. Luckily it did stay and provided excellent views.

A week in Suffolk - a trip to Strumpshaw Fen

Ok so Strumpshaw Fen is actually in Norfolk, not Suffolk, but let's not split hairs. At around 50 minutes by car from our base we waited for the morning's rain to clear before heading out mid morning. Although we didn't see our main target, otter, it was well worth the trip.

Nuthatch on the feeders

Chinese Water Deer

Waxing - one of two on site (Waxing photos by my son  Jamie aged 12)

Marsh Tit in fading light


A week in Suffolk - ringing at Minsmere

Just back from a week away with the family to Suffolk. While there we attended a bird ringing day at Minsmere RSPB, which had us captivated. We arrived at Minsmere hoping to see Bittern but in the end we spent at least 3 of the 4 hours we were there at the ringing. The only slight disappointment was that we missed the ringing of a male Sparrowhawk by just 10 minutes! But as you will see below we more than made up for it later.
female Blackbird - one of many ringed during the session 

Lesser Redpoll - after Blue Tit these were the most common species ringed

a rather tired looking Goldcrest - at least half a dozen were ringed

Treecreeper - one of two ringed, this one released by my 12 year old Jamie 

Firecrest! The star of the show and amazing to see so closely 

Jamie is now hooked and wants me to look into getting involved in ringing, obviously something I would be more than happy to look into! Other bird ringed while were were there were coal tit, long tailed tit, blue tit and goldfinch. Many thanks to the Waveney Bird Ringing Group and the volunteers on site that day. 

Jamie releasing a goldfinch

Saturday 29 September 2012

Shetland Birding Trip 29/09/12 to 06/10/12

Just back from another great week on Shetland. Although the week only produced 2 life ticks, the quality of birds was good, with many speciers only seen for the 2nd time.

On this occassion I ventured north with Paul Hawkins, Jonathan Lethbridge, Vince Haley Frame, Steve Bacon and Mat Eade.

The 2 UK life ticks were Pechora Pipit, which was very hard work, taking hours in poor conditions and eventually only seen after an organised flush, and Siberian Stonechat, which by contrast showed very well (pic below). Here are just some of the many pics from the trip:

Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll - what a cracker - again on Unst where my only previous one had been seen 2 years earlier

Spotted Sandpiper   

Spotted Flycatcher 

Isaballine Shrike - only my 2nd ever! This bird realy gave us the run around until we eventually caught up with it on our 4th attempt! 

Couldn't resist another pic!

Black Guillimot

Common Eider 

American Golden Plover - poor pic, but never really got great views of this bird

European Golden Plover - Leucistic type 

Hooded Crow - common with their waistcoats on

Starling - as common as you can get - but very smart

Siberian Stonechat - tick!

And another 

Little Bunting 

Pied Flycatcher

A really poor shot of my 2nd ever American Buff Bellied Pipit

Yellow Browed Warbler - saw lots and as always very smart

Other birds of note seen during the trip were, Surf Scoter, Red Breasted Flycatcher, Barred Warbler, Wood Warbler and the best find of the crew; Great Reed Warbler, found by Mat on our last day! The trip may not have delivered us a mega eastern or yankee Thrush, but many good birds were seen and we all had a good crack along the way.   

Tuesday 25 September 2012

Shetland here I come!

On Saturday (29th) I am off to Shetland with a few of the lads for a week's birding. Last time I went (2 years ago) we had it off big time. I recorded 6 ticks: Lancy, Swainson's Thrush, Sykes Warbler, Buff Bellied Pipit, Horny Redpoll and Black Headed Bunting, all of which were backed up by a cracking supporting cast of scarcities. It was particularly good to have a good mix of eastern and western birds - something I am hopeful we'll get again this year, given the current easterly gales blowing in and the western front that is on its way from next weekend.

So what would I like to see? Well I like to see all sorts of stuff like Sib Thrush, Oven Bird, Killdeer and PG Tips, I could go on for ever, but I am not greedy. I would love to see (and ideally find!) a couple of megas, birds that you may only have the opportunity to see once a decade or even once a life time, but there are still plenty of other birds (mostly from the east) that I would love to get on my list i.e. Pechora Pipit, Red Throated Pipit, Arctic Warbler and of course my bogey bird, Icky Warbler. A couple of those, perhaps with a yankee or far eatern thrush would make it yet another Shetland trip to remember.

This will be my 3rd trip and as yet I have never failed to get a tick. So watch this space for daily evening updates from Sat 29th. Surely this time we wont be so lucky to get 2 megas ticked (Sykes Warbler and Swainson's Thrush), on the day we arrive, in fact afternoon between 3pm and 6pm, before we had even taken the luggage out of the hire car! Fingers crossed. Watch this space!       

Sunday 16 September 2012

Short Billed Dowitcher, Lodmoor RSPB, Dorset

My second mega in a week, this time the now long staying and 2nd for Britain, Short billed Dowitcher, at Lodmoor RSPB, Dorset. Shaun (of ValleyBirding fame) and I headed south at 6am arriving on site about 8.45am. The bird was showing well upon arrival, in poor light, but providing good scope views for 20 minutes, when  it flew to cover. Poor record shots below. With a 3rd for Britain turning up on Scilly this week, I guess birders will be giving Dowitcher sps a little more attention in the future!