Thursday 20 June 2013

Cirl Buntings, Prawle Point, Devon

Just back from a few days away in Devon. We stayed in Compton Castle (National Trust) which was fantastic and enjoyed great days out at Dartmouth, Totnes, Brixham and Paington.

Birding was not on the agenda so just one short strategic walk was done, at Prawle Point. It was my first ever visit and I ad only ever seen one Cirl Bunting previously, just up the coast at Berry Head. Getting out of the car a male could be heard signing nearby and was easily tracked down. We spent about an hour on site and saw at least 3 males and 2 females.

Twenty plus of these noisy buggers lived in the castle grounds and provided an alarm call each morning.

The only other bird of note seen was a single Spotted Flycatcher in the castle gardens.

Sunday 16 June 2013

Pacific Swift, Trimley NT, Suffolk

Yesterday was my lovely wife's 40th birthday. We had extensive celebratory plans for the day, and they didn't involve twitching a mega rare Pacific Swift, jut 70 miles away, just over the Suffolk border. When news broke mid morning I consigned myself to missing the UK's first Pacific Swift for 20 years. News continued throughout the day that the bird was still showing well just to rub it in.

So, when I woke up this morning and checked Birdguides, I was amazed to see that it was still present. All I had to do was make breakfast for our friends, who had stayed over, and I was set to go. By 10.30am I was on the road. An hour and quarter later I was parking up, and setting off on the 3 mile walk to the lagoons. It took about 40 minutes to speed walk the 3 miles and I was at least pleased that it was on a dirt track on not the shingle/stones of Blakeney Point! Who can forget the Alder Flycatcher twitch! I lost 2 toe mails on that slog up the point. Anyway I digress. I was surprised to see so many birders on site, a good 400 - 500 were lined up on the grassy bank looking out over the lagoons.

It appeared the bird had not been seen for between 10 minutes and 2 hours depending upon who I asked. Good numbers of Common Swifts could be seen distantly but too far away to enable any distinguishing features to be made out. Slowly but surely the swifts edged closer and closer. Someone called the bird but I couldn't latch on to it, then suddenly, there it was. Yes! Once picked up it became easier to pick it out as it flew lower over the water. It wasn't long until it was over my head and flying off over thee river and out of sight. Hundreds left! Tick on their list. About 100 stayed eager for more and 10 minutes later it had snuck back and this time provided short but very good views as it hawked low over the lagoons. 

Very happy I made the 3 mile return trip to the car feeling quite lucky that this time the birding gods seem to have smiled on me as this mega rare eastern vagrant hung on for a 2nd day.                            

Sunday 9 June 2013

Bee eater, Pegwell Bay, Kent

I managed to squeeze a few hours out of my busy schedule today to head down to Kent coast to twitch a European Bee eater. I have only ever seen one in the UK and that was just last year, with Shaun, up in Norfolk. So when news came through that yesterday's bird was still at Pegwell Bay, I jumped into the car and headed south east. Less than 1.5 hours later I was there.

I was lucky to pick up the bird in flight as I arrived and saw roughly where it headed. Another brief but obscured views was had before again it was off. I went off to find it and luckily stumbled across it as I rounded a bend around 50 yards away in a bare tree. I took a couple of record shots (below) before creeping closer. Great scope views were had for just a couple of seconds before again it was off. This time I couldn't relocate it despite looking for a further 45 minutes.

News came through of a Black Kite which was on my route home. It would have been rude to not have stopped off, so I did, and saw only my 3rd ever Black Kite in the UK. It showed relatively distantly over corn fields before drifting off slowly east.

Two great birds in around 2 hours of arrival and a hopefully the shape of things to come.

Tuesday 4 June 2013

Fly Tipping Scum

Just when you think you've seen it all, some scumbag comes along and does this. This picture was taken last weekend at local birding/wildlife site the Ingrebourne Valley (see Shaun's blog, Valley Birding, for info about this site). It was the 2nd time a dump truck full of waste has been dumped in the same spot in a week! Just how scummy can you get. Firstly, they charge some unsuspecting person money for clearing a site, then they bag the cash and dump it wherever they like, spoiling the countryside for everyone. This time they even covered half the road! Let's just hope they can be caught and get more than a measly fine or slap on the wrist, which seems to be the norm in this country nowadays.