Monday 28 May 2012

Fame at last! - Monkey's Cream Coloured Courser photos make the national newspapers!

Well would you believe it. I was happy enough seeing the beautiful Cream Coloured Courser at Bradnor Hill golf course last Monday, but it just gets better. Last week an agency emailed me to ask if I would be interested in selling my pictures (from my blog) to the national newspapers. They mentioned a 50/50 deal on any sold and said they would tout them round. I thought about it for about 0.000000000000001 of a second, and agreed to email some pics.

I am pleased to say that the pics appeared in both The Sun and The Daily Mail. Here is a link to the Daily Mail website:

Although I would say at this point, there is "no sign" of any money! Hopfully it'll be showing well before too long. 

Tuesday 22 May 2012

Cream Coloured Courser, Bradnor Hill Golf Course

 It doesn't get much better than this. Just a day after seeing my 1st ever UK Bee eater, I get my 2nd life tick in 2 days; and what a tick to get!

I woke up to go to get ready for work at 6.45am as usual and noticed I had a text.  It read something like "Mega! Cream Coloured Courser, Herts!". "Yes", I   thought, that's not too far. Then I rubbed my tired blurry eyes and read it again, it said "Herefds" nor "Herts". That is far! Walking to the bus stop calls were made to the lads (Shaun and Paul) to see what the plan was. I agreed to get into work and check on-line to see how far it was etc. I soon became apparent that it was even further than I had thought, over 200 miles, taking in the notorious problem M25 and M40 motorways and estimated to be a 4 hour drive. There was no way we could do it after work. I checked my calendar and could rearrange stuff to enable me took book the afternoon off. Hawky was up for it and so was Nick Croft. All I needed now was a car! My wife had taken mine to work, so, meeting Nick at Stratford station, we headed to Romford, walked to my wife's office, picked up the keys, and the car, and headed to my house. A quick change and we were on the way to Grays, where Hawky was working. Eventually at 2pm we were on the road. The sat nav said it would take 3 hrs 38 mins.

For once the motorways played ball, we flew along. There were no delays, no road works, no accidents. We didn't stop once. We arrived on site 3 hr and 15 mins and 215 miles later.

The bird showed very well down to about 50 yards, providing cracking scope views. After the long drive, we chilled out and enjoyed the bird for about an hour as it slowly moved further away, to about 100 yards. After the customary high fives we made our way back to the car with broad smiles across our faces.       

On the way home we stopped for Dipper along a good looking river and was very lucky to not only find 2 Dipper but a Dipper box. It was a great way to end the evening's birding.

We arrived home at about 10.30pm, tired but very very happy.

Sunday 20 May 2012

Bee eater, Glandford, Norfolk!

It really doesn't get much better than this. Bee eaters are almost untwitchable and are often only seen as fly-bys or even heard only. Last week on Thursday and Friday we (me and Shaun - see contemplated after work twitches to Dungeness, Kent (1. 5 hrs) and Cley, Norfolk (2.5 hrs) for Bee eaters but decided against it when news informed us that they had flown.

So this morning with news of another bird up in Norfolk, this time at Glandford, we decided that it was worth a punt. At 10.30am we set off and the next 120 miles and 2.5 hrs in the car was excruciating as Paul kept texting us that the bird was still present showing well on overhead wires. The weather was good being overcast and damp as we parked us 1pm. Another text stated the bird was still present 5 minutes earlier. We literally ran the 300+ yards to where a group of birders could be seen. Out of puff (carrying camera, scope and bins) we arrived to be told the dreaded news - "the bird flew off east literally 10 seconds ago". Noooooooo!

Catching our breath we thought about going back to the car to visit the site the bird had been seen at earlier, but being less than a mile away, we decided to walk. That was a good call, as  the bird had relocated on wires just 200+ yards down the lane. Whoohoo!

The bird provided great scope views for 30 minutes or so. Shaun and I literally high fived as we were so pleased to have successfully twitched such a stunning and difficult bird. 

Just up the road at Warham Greens a Red Breasted Flycatcher had been found so we headed there to find it mobbed with up to 100 birders. Apparently the bird was playing hard to get and many, in fact, most had not seen it. Luckily, it was to be our day and after a short walk up the lane, we found it! It showed very briefly but ok for just a few seconds before diving for cover again.

What a great day! It doesn't much bee-eater than that!

Thursday 17 May 2012

Melodious Warbler, Leyton, East London - showing well

I went back to Leyton during my lunch break again today (15 minutes desk to bird) this time armed with my bins and camera. And this time I struck lucky! The bird showed after 5 minutes or so and then continuously on and off over the next 45 minutes. What a cracker! I can't resist adding so many pics! Enjoy. 

Wednesday 16 May 2012

Melodious Warbler, Leyton, East London - suits you sir

Expect the unexpected, someone once told me. They were certainly right today when someone found a singing Melodious Warbler in the heart of east London, literally a stone's throw from the 2012 Olympic site, and very conveniently, just one stop on the central line from my office in Stratford.

With no optics I headed over (15 mins door to bird) and was lucky to see the bird within 5 minutes of arriving, thanks to to fellow birder on site who lent me his bins! It showed well for a couple of minutes before being lost to cover.

This was only my second Melody after a bird at Languard, Suffolk, a couple of years back. 

Shaun will no doubt be more than happy to stump up the £5 we bet, just a week ago, that he see a Melody before I see an Icky. I very much doubt one will ever turn up so close to home, but who knows,.........expect the unexpected! 
I was wearing karki boxers - honest!

Tuesday 8 May 2012

Dungeness - looking for megas - close but no cigar

On Sunday I really fancied getting out to try and find a few birds of my own. On Saturday, Kent held some half decent migrants, and Dungeness had hosted both a surprise spring Ortolan Bunting and a Melodious Warbler in recent days. After a chat with Shaun, Dunge(ness) it was to be.

We arrived on site before 8am determined to bash the bushes (not literally) and put in the leg work to try and find our very own goody. Firstly, we worked the trapping area and the moat, then slightly further afield inland. There were plenty of Whitethroats and a dozen or so Wheatear, including some very smart spring males, as well as a brief view of a Redstart. Moving on to the area around the lighthouse we checked the garden, which just 3 days earlier the Melody had frequented for just a day, this time only whitethroats and Blackcaps were present.

On the shingle wheatears were everywhere, there must have been 30-40 present. We also managed a single Whinchat and one more Redstart.

We were lucky not to have egg in our laces(!) when trying to photograph wheatears we almost walked on to a Ringed Plover nest. I managed my 1st Hobby of the year, which was shortly followed by a 2nd.

After 3.5 hours we had not found our mega! We decided to move up the road to Rye Harbour (West Sussex) where a Kentish Plover had been reported. Both Shaun and I had only ever seen one previously so we were keen to see another.Thirty minutes later we walked the short distance to the saltings where a group of 20+ birders were scoping the area. The bird was seen semi distantly for a few minutes then somehow disappeared. Being lazy I left my scope in the car but could see 3 birds much closer with the bins and one looked like our plover. Getting Shaun onto it with his scope he confirmed it was the bird, and all present had brief but very good scope views.

We decided then it would be rude if we didn't go home via Elmley Marshes to see up to 4 Black Winged Stilts that had been there since the previous day. I am not a great fan of Elmley, with the hides being about 1.5 miles from the car park and my first 2 experiences being on the first occasion nearly freezing to death when I forgot my coat and  the 2nd dipping a Pacific Golden Plover, that was there showing well the day before and after. A bird I still not caught up with to this day.         

As you will see below the stilts showed disappointingly distantly when we got to the hide, and only 2 were seen, along with Spotted Redshank and Green Sandpiper.

The highlight was Shaun's excellent spot of a fly by Spoonbill, which appeared to land some distance away. A very good spot Mr Harvey!

And that was that, a good days' birding . The sting in the tail was the following day, when news of a mega rare, Crested Lark at, yes, you've guessed it, Dungeness, hit the  pagers. From the reports I have read it was found pretty much in the area we worked just 24 hours earlier; a  case of right place, wrong time, just! At least neither of us needed Crested Lark having seen one a couple of years back at .............................Dungeness!