Sunday 15 November 2015

Crag in the bag! - Crag Martin, Chesterfield

There was no chance last week of getting any time off work, so when Chesterfield's amazing record of European Crag Martin was still flying about the famous crocked spire yesterday and appeared to go to roost at Chesterfield Football club's stadium, I couldn't resist a twitch.

Lee "indoorstoomuch" Brown was my partner in crime again. Lee picked me up at 5.30am. I'd had a heavy night with friends over, drinking far too much and not getting to bed until just before 1am. When the alarm woke me at 5.10am I was in a bad way, but I crawled out of bed, got dressed, brushed my teeth and waited to be collected.

Two and half long hours later, I perked up as news came through that the bird was showing at the football stadium. Thirty minutes later we were pulling up and, easy-peasy, there it was, hawking insects inside the stadium. It remained on view, proving good bins views for 30+ minutes, until it disappeared.          

It was time for a quick breakfast stop (McDs obviously) then it was time to go see the famous crocked spire of Chesterfield cathedral. The birds again showed well around the clock tower as it zoomed around in high winds making photography almost impossible, well for me anyway.   

After c3 hours on site it was time to head south. I was home by 1.30pm, bagging not only the mega rare hirundine, but also a few brownie points from the Mrs. I wonder if that will be the last tick of 2015?      

Sunday 25 October 2015

Great Grey Shrike, Harold Hill - Local mega!!!

Record shots of a local mega, Great Grey Shrike, found at Dag Nam Park, Harold Hill, by Colin Jupp. First site record in around 30 years and fantastic to see just a few miles from my front door.

The bird was seen in poor light, hence the quality of the record shots.

Sunday 18 October 2015

Shetland 2015 highlights

Shetland 2015 was the first time I have come back tickless. However there were still good birds see and find, although it just lacked the biggie that would have made it another classic trip. Building up to the trip the weather looked perfect with strong south easterlies forecast and we were licking our lips at anticipation of all thee birds this weather system would bring. Unfortunately it didn't quite work out like that. In the end the winds were too strong, often gale force and combined with heavy rain. At times it was very hard work.

For about a week leading up to our arrival an Arctic Warbler had been reliable just north of Lerwick. This species is rapidly becoming my bogey bird with two previous dips. Yet again as in 2010 a long stayer decided to do a bunk the night before I arrived so it remains one of my most gettable and wanted birds.

In between the poor weather we did manage to catch up with some decent birds so I can't complain too much. Hopefully I'll be back next year and hopefully it'll be raining megas!  

Red Breasted Flycatcher  

Bluethroat - one of two seen and my favourite bird of the trip. I've seen a few before but this showy individual at Quendale was a joy to watch

Flycatcher sp - Hawky, Andy and I found this bird and at first dismissed it a Pied Flycatcher but upon inspecting the pics later we began to ponder if in fact we had actually found a mega, a Collared Flycatcher. Separating the two species  from photos is almost impossible as arguments can be made for each species, but plenty of top birders have been edging towards it being a Collared. We will probably never know. Unfortunately the bird was gone the following day,   

Showy Lapland Bunting that frequented the Sumburgh lighthouse lower car park regularly throughout the week 

Yellow Browed Warbler - we lost count of how many we saw and found, probably way over 30

Spotted Flycatcher

Olive Backed Pipit - my 5th seen (ever) and every one if them on Shetland, including the one our group found last year

Arctic Skua seeking refuge from the shocking weather on the runway of the airport

Reintroduced and tagged Lesser Whitefronted Goose, originally released in Sweden  

Thursday 24 September 2015

Probable Acadian Flycatcher - Dungeness, Kent

How many firsts for Britain have you seen? I am pretty sure I have only seen one, Pacific Diver, in Yorkshire in 2007. Well maybe, I have no seen my second.

This Tuesday, 22nd September, I had taken my telescope, bins and camera to work as I planned a quick visit to Vange Marsh after work to go see a Wilson's Phalarope. I have only see one previously so one 30 minutes up the road was a must.

At work I cam out of a meeting around 11am to find numerous missed calls, texts and whatsapp messages. An Empid Flycatcher had been found at Dungeness in Kent and is do-able at around 1.5 hours from my work.

I guess 99% of birders at this point would have been thinking it was probably an Alder Flycatcher. There had been 2 Empids in Britain in the last 7 years and both had been Alders. I had seen the 2nd on Blackeney Point in Norfolk. My boss is very understanding of my passion for birding and twitching and said I could go right after our afternoon Finance meeting at 3pm. By 1pm I had a car full with city workers Bradders and Jono catching a train to meet me and Dan Barrett arranging to meet us on route.

The messages soon started to say, "Empid still, thought not to be an Alder", this was getting interesting. At 3pm we were on the road and by 4.50pm we were on site, along with a good 250 birders, surrounding the garden where the bird had been tracked down to and had been showing well on and off in poor weather most of the afternoon. The garden was in fact the same one where I had seen my first (of two) Dark Eyed Juncos in Britain. It didn't take long for the bird to show and when it did it was not shy, sitting on benches, a bin, fences and a satellite dish.

With the wonders on modern technology even while we were on site, via Bird Forum and twitter, American birders who had studied the photos were commenting that they were pretty confident it was an Acadian Flycatcher. If so it would be Britain's first and only the 2nd for the Western Pal after a bird was found dead in Iceland many years ago.

So it is now time to wait and see what happens. I believe DNA was obtained so a definite outcome should be able to be found. Watch this space.                                

Thursday 3 September 2015

Sri Lanka - Leopard, Sloth Bear, Jackal, Wild Boar etc

Sri Lankan Leopard 

The largest Leopard on the planet. It has evolved to be the largest leopard, as in Sri Lanka it is the number one predator. In all other areas where leopard can be found there is also a bigger, more dominant cat i.e. Tiger in India and Lion in Africa.    

Wild Boar

Spotted Dear

Land Monitor


Golden Jackal  

Water Buffalo 

Leopard food

Water Monitor

Monday 31 August 2015

Birds of Sri Lanka

Yet more pics of some of the 120+ species of birds seen during my recent family trip to the beautiful island of Sri Lanka.

Indian Nightjar - Udawalawe National Park  - 1 seen all trip + 1 probable Grey Nightjar

Malabar Pied Hornbill - only seen at Udawalawe NP

Indian Roller - c10+ seen, including one flock of 7 roadside on wires  

Spotted Dove - very common 

Black Headed Oriole - c10+ seen

Sirkeer Malkoha - 1 seen all trip

Jungle Fowl - Sri Lanka's national bird

Black Crowned Night Heron

White Browed Fantail - (above and below) a few seen but always very mobile and high up in canopy  

Brown Headed Barbet

Grey Headed Canary Flycatcher

Loten's Sunbird

White Browed Bulbul - fairly common

Greater Coucal