Sunday 28 April 2013

Tickless in 2013

Back on Jan 1st I only needed 5 UK ticks to hit reach 400 BOU species mark, and as of today, 28th April, 118 days later, I still need 5 new birds to reach 400! No new birds seen so far this year! In the last few years I would have had 3 or 4 new birds by mid April but not this year.

The only ticks on offer hve been a Grosbeak in the arctic circle (too far); 2 ducks, one, that would have taken about 30 hours in travelling time to get to (Harlequin - again too far), which is still up there today, and another duck (Baikal Teal) that stayed one (working) day and by the sounds of it is unlikely to be accepted anyway and finally last week's Rufous Tailed Rock Thrush at Spurn that quite predictably done the Friday night bunk. I am just glad it was a rather dowdy 1st year female and not an adult male as I would have been significantly more disappointed to have missed that.

Birding though is not ALL about ticks (although I'd welcome one soon, please!). I've seen some good birds far this year including Penduline Tit, Great Grey Shrike, Hawfinch, Pied Billed Grebe, Pallas' Warbler, Green Winged Teal, Black Bellied Dipper and 50 billion Waxwings, including some in my road and the great local Slav Grebe and Black Redstarts.

So if there is a birding god up there I would very much welcome a nice shiny new tick soon. Something smart, rare,
do-able in a day and something we all need so the lads can all enjoy a fruitful day out! 

Watch this space!

Tuesday 16 April 2013

Florida/New York Trip List 30/03/13 - 12/04/13

Firstly I should point out that this was a family holiday and not a birding trip. Aside from a couple of mornings where I headed out early for a couple of hours on Sanibel, a trip to Corkscrew Swamp, Naples (with the family) and 2 hours one morning in Central Park, New York, all birds listed below were seen on short family walks or generally when out an about. The list below includes the frequency and location of each species.   * = new bird                                

1     Canada Goose/common/Central Park, NYC
2     Bufflehead/1/Central Park, NYC
3     Red Breasted Merganser/6/on sea, Sanibel
4     Common Loon/1/on sea, Sanibel
5     Pied Billed Grebe/common/Sanibel
6     Magnificent Frigatebird/6+/Sanibel
7     Double Crested Cormorant/common/Sanibel
8     Anhinga/6+/Bailey Tract & Ding Darling, Sanibel
9     American White Pelican/3/Ding Darling, Sanibel
10   Brown Pelican/common/Sanibel
11   Great Blue Heron/6+/Sanibel
12   Great Egret/common/Sanibel
13   Snowy Egret/common/Sanibel
14   Cattle Egret/common/Fort Myers
15   Reddish Egret/6+/Sanibel beach, Bailey Tract & Ding Darling
16   Tri-coloured Heron/6+/Sanibel
17   Little Blue Heron/common/Sanibel
18   Black Crowned Night Heron/1/Ding Darling, Sanibel
19   Yellow Crowned Night Heron/6+/Sanibel
20   Green Heron/4/Bailey Tract, Sanibel
21   White Ibis/common/Sanibel
22   Glossy Ibis/3/Fort Myers
23   Roseate Spoonbill/5/Corkscrew Swamp/Bailey Tract/Ding Darling
24   Black Vulture/common/Florida
25   Turkey Vulture/common/Florida
26   Osprey/common/ Florida + 1 NYC
27   Swallow Tailed Kite/3/Corkscrew Swamp(2) Fort Myers(1)
28   Bald Eagle/4/nest site, Pond Apple Trail, Sanibel
29   Coopers Hawk/1/Sanibel
30   Red Shouldered Hawk/common/Florida
31   Red Tailed Hawk/6+/Florida & Central Park, NYC
32   American Kestrel/1/Pond Apple Trail, Sanibel
33   Sora/2/Bailey Tract, Sanibel *
34   Purple Gallinule/1/Bailey Tract, Sanibel
35   Common Moorhen/common/Sanibel
36   American Coot/common/Sanibel
37   Black Bellied Plover/6+/Sanibel beach
38   American golden Plover/2/Sanibel beach
39   Piping Plover/12/Bunche Beach, Fort Myers *
40   Snowy Plover/5/Sanibel beach *
41   Killdeer/1/Bailey Tract, Sanibel
42   Black Necked Stilt/4/Bailey Tract, Sanibel
43   American Avocet/3/Bunche Beach, Fort Myers *
44   Spotted Sandpiper/2/Sanibel beach(1) Ding Darling(1)
45   Solitary Sandpiper/1/Bailey Tract, Sanibel *
46   Willet/common/Sanibel
47   Lesser Yellowlegs/2/Bailey Tract, Sanibel *
48   Greater Yellowlegs/3/Bailey Tract, Sanibel *
49   Ruddy Turnstone/common/Sanibel beach
50   Sanderling/common/Sanibel beach
51   Dunlin/6+/Ding Barling, Sanibel
52   Laughing Gull/common/Sanibel beach
53   Ring Billed Gull/6+/Statin Island Ferry,NYC
54   Herring Gull/common/all sites
55   Royal Tern/common/Sanibel beach
56   Sandwich Tern/common/Sanibel beach
57   Black Skimmer/50+ in 2 flocks/Sanibel and Bunche beaches
58   Mourning Dove/common/all sites
59   Common Ground Dove/10+/Sanibel
60   Eastern Screech Owl/1/Buttonwood Lane, Sanibel *
61   Barred Owl/3/11 adult + 2 young/Corkscrew Swamp *
62   Common Nighthawk/1/Fort Myers
63   Belted Kingfisher/4/Sanibel
64   Red Bellied Woodpecker/common/Sanibel & Central Park, NYC
65   Downy Woodpecker/6/Central Park. NYC
66   Pilliated Woodpecker/6+/Sanibel
67   Nothern Flicker/3/Central Park, NYC
68   Loggerhead Shrike/1/Fort Myers
69   Blue Jay/common/Central Park. NYC
70   American Crow/common/all sites
71   Fish Crow/6+/Sanibel
72   Barn Swallow/6+/Sanibel
73   Tree Swallow/1/Sanibel
74   Carolina Chickadee/1/Central Park, NYC
75   Tufted Titmouse/2/Central Park, NYC
76   Winter Wren/1/Central Park, NYC *
77   Carolina Wren/common/all sites
78   Golden Crowned Kinglet/common/Central Park, NYC
79   Ruby Crowned Kinglet/common/Central Park, NYC
80   Hermit Thrush/6+/Central Park, NYC *
81   American Robin/common/Central Park, NYC
82   Gray Catbird/common/all sites
83   Northern Mockingbird/common/all sites
84   European Starling/common/NYC
85   Worm Eating Warbler/1/Corkscrew Swamp *
86   Louisiana Waterthrush/1/Corkscrew Swamp *
87   Northern Waterthrush/6/Corkscrew Swamp(5+), Bailey Tract,(1) *
88   Black and White Warbler/2/Corkscrew Swamp
89   Common Yellowthroat/1/Corkscrew Swamp
90   American Redstart/1/Corkscrew Swamp *
91   Northern Parula/2/Corkscrew Swamp
92   Pine Warbler/3/Central Park, NYC *
93   Palm Wabler/common/Sanibel
94   Yelllow Rumped Warbler/1/Sanibel
95   Chipping Sparrow/common/all sites
96   Swamp Sparrow/2/Central Park, NYC
97   Fox Sparrow/1/Central Park, NYC *
98   Song Sparrow/Common/Sanibel
99   White Throated Sparrow/common/Central Park, NYC
100 White Crowned Sparrow/common/Central Park, NYC
101 Dark Eyed Junco/common/Central Paark, NYC
102 Northern Cardinal/common/all sites
103 Blue Grosbeak/1/Sanibel Lighthouse *
104 Indigo Bunting/10+/Sanibel Lighthouse & Alva/Florida *
105 Painted Bunting/3/Corkscrew Swamp(2), Alva, Florida(1)
106 Red Winged Blackbird/1/Central Park, NYC
107 Common Grackle/common/Sanibel
108 Boat Tailed Grackle/common/Sanibel
109 Brown Headed Cowbird/1/Central Park, NYC
110 Purple Finch/1/Central Park, NYC
111 Housefinch/1/NYC
113 American Goldfinch/common/Central Park, NYC
114 House Sparrow/common/all sites
115 Brown Headed Nuthatch/1/Alva, Florida
116 Brant/2/Hudson River, NYC
117 Mottled Duck/common/Sanibel
118 Brown Creeper/2/Central Park, NYC

Sunday 14 April 2013

Bunche Beach - Fort Myers

If you are ever in the Sanibel/Fort Myers area of Florida you must pay a visit to Bunche Beach Preserve. Bunche Beach is a reliable area for Piping and Wilson's Plover and this winter, host to a Long Billed Curlew. It is important to get the tides right though. I had planned a visit at low tide on a couple of occasions, whilst we were on Sanibel but other commitments meant they did not happen. Eventually I was only left with the option of going on route to the airport before flying to New York, to kill a couple of hours.

On arrival I saw 3 lady birders we huge camera lenses but was informed that it was almost high tide and there were no "peeps" (plovers) about. A decision had to be made, stay and enjoy the walk on the beach or drive  20 minutes and in the wrong direction to Cape Coral to go look for the Burrowing Owls. We decided to say and relax, and I am glad we did.

After ten minutes of siting in the shade I decided to go for a walk along the on the tide line. After a couple of hundred yards I saw some small birds in the distance; Sanderling. Well if there are Sanderling there could be other birds too I thought and kept walking. Another hundred yards and more small birds, this time, not Sanderling but Piping Plover. Result!          

Things then got even better! Out of the corner of my eye I saw three birds drop into the water 50 yards away. I didn't pay much attention at first assuming they'd be Willet, but they weren't, they were American Avocet! Another new bird.

Central Park, New York City

We only had 3 days in New York City and as we had never been before we had a lot to cram in. Thus meant birding time was severely restricted. Central Park was fantastic, with a great vibe, and the birding was pretty good too! We had a quick walk round on day one in the afternoon, where I had about 20 minutes around the bird feeders, and then one two hour session in the morning on day two. A further session was planned for morning the final day but was scuppered by heavy rain!

I hooked up with some very friendly local birders that morning who showed me round and told me how good it can be in early May, with brightly coloured warblers all over the place. To be honest I was quite happy it wasn't like that as you could spend all day there and not see everything, and I only had a couple of hours!      

Pine Warbler - one of four or five seen

Wood Duck

Swamp Sparrow


Ruby Crowned Kinglet

Palm Warbler

Tufted Titmouse

White Throated Sparrow

Downy Woodpecker

Hermit Thrush

Brown Headed Cowbird - only one seen

American Robin - literally hundreds in the park

Carolina Chickadee

Record shot of a "Red" Fox Sparrow - one and only seen

Dark Eyed Junco

Fall out at Sanibel Lighthouse

 Ironically the day we left Sanibel Island to relocate 3 miles away on the main land, birds started to fall out of the sky at Sanibel Lighthouse. On the morning of Sunday 7th April I checked the American Birding Association website (ABA) to check if there was much about and (choose expletive of choice here/multiples in fact), I saw that the previous evening just 10 minutes from where we had been staying, and where I had been checking every day, there was a Scarlet Tanager, Orchard Oriole, Pethonetary Warbler, Blue Grosebeak, Indigo Bunting, Oven Bird, Red Eyed Vireo.....

The plan was that after breakfast Julia and Sophie would head to the spa. We decided to have breakfast back on the island so we popped in to the lighthouse car park on route. Being a weekend and around 80f it was already very busy and we nabbed one of the last remaining spaces. I had about 30 minutes before we had to head off and in this time managed to see two Indigo Buntings and a Palm Warbler. I was reliably been informed that there had been no sign of any of the other birds recently, but there was every chance more birds could pour in.

It was good to meet birders; Don and Lillian Stokes here, whose book I had bought just the day before and fellow birder, Julie Long.

After breakfast, Julia and Sophie did head to the spa and Jamie and I headed back to the lighthouse. This time with 3 hours to spend there! Unfortunately, there was no parking spaces and queues of  traffic, so we had to park 15 minutes walk away. By now it was around 86f and there were no birders in sight.

We quite quickly re found the Blue Grosebeak which was bigger than I had expected and quite an impressive bird. It's a shame it never came closer than 40 yards away in a restricted area. Later we had at least six Indigo Buntings which were much more confiding and such a beautiful blue colour.                

Woody Woodpecker (Piliated) in the car park

Monday 8 April 2013

Sanibel update - day seven

Today we moved from our condo on Sanibel Island to a hotel just a couple of miles away on the main land. A birder had told us about house in a small town called Alva about 30 minutes away that had a number of feeders in the front garden, which often attracted buntings, so "on route" to our hotel we swung by to take a look.

Male Painted Bunting - stunning

Three of a least a dozen Indigo Buntings coming to the feeders

That evening we got tickets to our first ever baseball match! It was fun but long! We gave up after the 6th Inning, which had already taken 2.5 hours! Was a good experience though!!  Little did I know that while we were at the game, at Sanibel lighthouse all sorts of migrating birds were literally dropping out of the sky into the trees and grass. Typical it happened the day we left our condo which was just a 10 minute walk away!     

Sanibel update - day six

We woke up on day six to rain, after a night of thunder and lightening. I was hopeful that would mean "fall out" at Sanibel lighthouse so I set off after breakfast to check out that area. There were a few birders who had the same idea as me, checking the trees and bushes, but no migrating birds were present. There were still a few birds to be seen on the beach though.

Black Skimmers

Osprey with lunch

More of the 30 - 40 Skimmers on the beach 

Distant Spotted Sandpiper 

Magnificent Frigatebird

Reddish Egret  

Thursday 4 April 2013

Sanibel - day five

Up to date now. This is a quick post from this morning. I had a quick visit to the Bailey Tract at first light
which was rewarding as got much better views of the Solitary Sandpiper. No sign of the Northern Waterthrush or Sora, although I only looked for 10 minutes. A Greater Yellowlegs and the Stilts were still present.    

Solitary Sandpiper

Morning Dove

On the way back from a trip to supermarket we stopped for a walk around the Pond Apple Trail, hoping to see Bald Eagles, as well as many species of heron and egret.

Tricoloured Heron


Bald Eagle - an impressive sight - 2 adults and 2 young at the nest

Palm Warbler

Sanibel - day four

Not much birding today as we spent the day at the beach. In the evening after dinner we walked along the main beach for an hour though. A few pics below.

Black Bellied Plover

Snowy Plover - another new bird for me

Palm Warbler 

Sanibel, A visit to Corkscrew Swamp, Naples - Day 3

Day 3 of our holiday and we headed to one our favourite Florida sites, Corkscrew Swamp near Naples. There is a 2.5 mile board walked loop trail and on previous visits we have seen some great birds. Apart from  2 female Painted Buntings on the feeders near the start of the trail, the first 2 miles was exceptionally quiet, hardly a bird was seen or heard! However, as we moved into an area of the preserve that had a number of small ponds, it all came rapidly to life!

First Julia spotted the first of half a dozen Northern Waterthrushes. Twenty yards later, something caught my eye in the canopy. Wow! An  male American Redstart. It was stunning and I managed to get just a few people on to it before it disappeared.

Northern Parula - one of two seen

Louisiana Waterthrush - I was particularly pleased finding this bird as it was quite close to a Northern Waterthrush allowing me to be sure it was different. I debated with an American Birder who  had not seen it and was doubting my claim - until he saw my photos!  

Barred Owl chick - 2 present and an adult

Roseatte Spoonbill

Wood Stork

Red Shouldered Hawk

Possibly the bird of the day - Worm Eating Warbler - luckily found by a birder standing next to me - I think only 3 of us saw it as it passed though and disappeared after about 2 minutes.

Also seen of note were 2 Swallow Tailed Kites, Yellow Throated and Black and White Warblers and Carolina Wren. What a cracking visit, yet again.