Sunday 2nd November 2014

   Well after all the excitement of yesterday, back to local birding today. So as i missed it before, went for the Pallid Harrier again at Steart WWT.

   Had kept an eye on its movements a bit this week, but it was just ranging far and wide....so pot luck really. Steart Gate seemed like a good place to try for a while, as its sort of in the middle of the reserve, and you can watch a wide area.

   Well we watched for quite a while, while watching a big flock of waders flying around on the far side, we noticed 2 bigger birds, and they were Short-eared Owls....nice, then there was another bird with them.....the Harrier, brilliant, but long way off and into the sun. After about 5 minutes, it landed out of view, and so did the Owls....

   I picked it up again about 15 minutes later, but it was now over the far side of the river too, so further away again. Then it was gone.....NO PHOTOS!!!!

  Well, a Hoopoe at Dunster Beach, might be better bet. So, we drove there.

  First person i bumped into was James Packer, he said he had seen the Hoopoe, but it was really elusive, and had no pix.......but he had got full frame shots of the Harrier earlier, don't you hate it when that happens??? James has some really good shots on his site the Somerset Birder.

   Oh well, lucky git, i better try and get some Hoopoe shots instead then. So, after a chat about the 7d MkII, which he was getting, tomorrow, he was off. I then went in search of the Hoopoe. Found it after about half an hour, but it was elusive......then when most of the other people gave up, i managed to get fairly close, as i was on my own. Hope you like them, cracking bird aren't they??

Hoopoe

Hoopoe

Saturday 1st November 2014

  Right then after last weeks 'dip' day, another mega rare bird turns up, and again its on a Thursday!!!! But, its Cleveland.....bit closer would have been nice. This was an Eastern Crowned Warbler, it was only the third ever record for the UK, the others being in Durham and Hertfordshire, the second one was only seen by the ringers (i think anyway). The Durham bird stayed around for a couple of days, will this one??? Too far for me anyway, or so i thought, until i got a text from a friend, Andy Jordan, saying he was gonna go if it sticks until Saturday.......im up for that, but it won't be there will it???

  Well, again it was still there on Friday.......getting a bit itchy now, another day in work.

  So, Saturday morning saw us driving to Brotton in Cleveland, hoping for a change in luck.

  Then the pager message saying it was still there.....brilliant.

  We arrived about nine o'clock, found the 'overflow car park' at Hunley Golf Club, and started getting the gear out. The first person i saw was Rob Jones, my Pelagic mate, he said he had been there from before light, and it was showing fairly well. Here we go then......

   Into the wood, where is the bird? The people there had lost it, but we were told it does a circuit, so we waited, both in different areas, Andy got on the bird first. We both watched it a tried to get photos, but there was not a lot of room. The bird seemed to favour 2 big Sycamores in the middle of the wood, so i got myself positioned near there, with the light behind me. The light was great too, this doesn't normally happen on mega days.

  I got some not too brilliant shots, and then it disappeared. Only to be replaced about half an hour later, by a Yellow-browed Warbler.....

   Eventually, the bird started showing well and the cameras started working. This was mine and Andy's first try with our new Canon 7d MkII cameras, and it was turning out to be brilliant. Well, i will let you decide if its brilliant or not......?

Eastern Crowned Warbler
Eastern Crowned Warbler

Eastern Crowned Warbler


Eastern Crowned Warbler




Eastern Crowned Warbler

Eastern Crowned Warbler












   Well, thats much better than last week aint it?



   So, its now getting into the afternoon, the light on the Sycamores is going, so we decide to go to Sleedale, not too far away from here, for a couple of Rough-legged Buzzards that have been around, and showing well, that would be good.















   We got to the RL Buzzard site, and saw one straight away, although it disappeared quite quickly over the brow of a hill. Andy, myself, and Darren Pearce, who we met at the ECW, then met up with a few other birders, including Rob again, and Jim Almond.....and others. In the end, we think we had 4 separate birds, brilliant...

Rough-legged Buzzard
   I managed a couple of shots too,but distant and wrong light, well you know the excuses by now...

   Ah well, i got the important one, RL Buzzard can wait for another time.....watch this space (hopefully)...


Rough-legged Buzzard

Saturday 25th October 2014

   As i said earlier in the blog, no Scilly for me this year.....so when a Yellow-billed Cuckoo turned up at Porthgwarra, Cornwall, typically it was on a Thursday, so the weekend wait began......

   Oh well, as is usual with Yellow-billed Cuckoo's, it won't be there in the morning, they never are....But, this one was.....its still only Friday, will it be there Saturday???? It was seen to go to roost in a bush Friday evening, so there was a chance. What to do, do i go straight to Porthgwarra, and risk the scrum if its seen first thing, or do i go half way, to Davidstow Airfield for the American Golden Plover?

Ringed Plover
   Well, i choose the latter one. No sign of the AG Plover......there was a flock of Golden Plover that flew over, but in the gloom, it was impossible to pick it out. After about an hour of nothing, but rain, i finally found some waders, a Ringed Plover and 2 Dunlin.......not really a wow moment......

   There was also no news on the Cuckoo, which had either died, or done a bunk....

   So, one last bird to aim for, the Pallid Harrier at Steart WWT.

Dunlin
   Sadly my luck held, and there was NO sign of that either.......

   So, what started out as a 2 Megas and a Scarce bird day, turned into 'bugger all day' instead.....

   Oh well, thats birding aint it!



Sunday 19th October 2014

     Wells Wood, and especially the 'Dell' was the first stop this morning. There were a few little flocks of Redwings there, and we then had a Red Kite over. On the walk to the Dell, a Yellow-browed Warbler called from near the Caravan park. But, today the noticeable bird was Jay, they were flying around every couple of minutes, could have been the same ones, but after wandering around the rest of the wood, they were everywhere.....must have been quite a big invasion, wish it had brought other stuff with them.....

'Possible' Siberian Chiffchaff
    Actually at the Dell, there were 4 Common Buzzards, and now 2 Red Kites flying around. A couple of Chiffchaffs, and a possible tristis type Siberian Chiffchaff. But sadly none of the migrants from last week....bugger.

   Anyone got any thoughts on this Chiffchaff?







Pink-footed Geese
    Another pointless search for the Rough-legged Buzzard at Holkham, just some flyover Pink-footed Geese. A Grey Partridge was probably the best bird.....










   One of the birds i had been hoping for, that had been one of many migrants seen last weekend, was Long-eared Owl. So when was reported from Walsey Hills, along with 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, that was the next stop........or was it? We got to the Walsey Hills car park, and drove straight past....the car park was full, and there were cars all along the road there too. So, we went to Salthouse, forgetting that, there was NO beach car park anymore, what a real shame, i used to really like it around that car park..........Snow & Lapland Buntings, Shorelark, Waders including Purple Sandpiper have been just some of the birds i have seen there in the past. Wont be so easy anymore I'm afraid. So as we drove back to the Wallsey Hills car park, someone pilled out, and i pulled in, good timing....

Long-eared Owl
   The Long-eared Owl, showed well, but there were so many people it was hard to get close enough. The light was really harsh from one side too, as you can see from these photos....

Long-eared Owl














 
   Will come back later, when the crowds die down, as long as they don't flush it first!!!!!!

Dark-bellied Brent Goose (Adult)
  So, back for the Phalarope, this time it was even harder to photograph today, as the light was too strong. It was there, but no photos this time. But, the light on a flock of Dark-bellied Brents was too much for me to resist. As there were adults, juveniles and family parties, i took quite a few photos too...

   Another quick trip to Stiffkey, produced the Yellow-browed Warbler again, but this time, it only showed very briefly when i arrived, and disappeared, it was still there though as i heard it call. But i didn't see it again....
Dark-bellied Brent Goose (Juvenile)

       The Chaffinch migration was still going on  
    though, and this time there was a Brambling
    amongst them......











Long-eared Owl
   Right then, lets try the Owl again. This time not so many people, and i actually heard one of the Yellow-browed Warblers too. The Owl had moved slightly, and so it was slightly more covered up, but still showing quite well...

   So a trip to Norfolk without visiting Titchwell.....shame the migrants had disappeared, but still a decent weekend.

   Will be back again soon...................









Saturday 18th October 2014

   Another Norfolk weekend this weekend, as there had been a brilliant fall the weekend before, i hope some stick around this time................

   First stop was Holkham, to look for a Rough-legged Buzzard, which sadly didn't show. So onto Cley beach car park, and then the Eye pool, its not a big pool, but there was no sign of the Grey Phalarope.......it was there though, it was hidden in the small amount of sedges growing along the north edge, you wouldn't believe anything could hide in there......it did come out though!

   In the actual Eye field, there was a flock of Golden Plover and another of Dark-bellied Brent Geese, a few Skylarks and a late(ish) Wheatear too.
Golden Plover
Dark-bellied Brent Geese
   Sadly, it turned out to be another of those days, everything had gradually disappeared, leaving just a few stragglers, mainly Yellow-browed Warblers. There was one at Stiffkey campsite wood. From there we could see over the marshes, the Rough-legged Buzzard had been seen there too. We didn't see it, we had Dark-bellied Brent Geese, Redshank, Oystercatcher and Curlews there, while watching the Yellow-browed Warbler. Also while watching one, we had at least 2 more calling, so 3+ in the small wood there.

Yellow-browed Warbler
   This bird was on show most of the time we were there, nearly 3 hours, in a very small Ivy bush and Elder, but photos?????? Got a few, but they either had a branch through the head, or the bird looked the wrong way, what a pain..................







Yellow-browed Warbler









SEE WHAT I MEAN...!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!





   The other 2 seemed to be on a circuit with a flock of Tits etc., so never stopped long enough for pix, and i actually didn't see either of them. The flock did include Great, Blue, Long-tailed and Coal Tits, & Goldcrest. The one noticeable bird though was Chaffinch, there was an almost continuous stream of them while we were there. Little flocks of 6, or sometimes 10/12....but nothing else with them.

   A return to Holkham, still didn't get to see the Buzzard though.............better luck tomorrow huh!











Friday 17th October 2014

   After 2 days of a Bonxie (Great Skua), being seen at Chew, i gave up and went....as i had not seen one at Chew before, it seemed i should.....

   Sadly, the light was crap, and the bird didn't come close enough for any, even half decent, shots.

Great Skua
   So, this one will have to do....i know its absolute shite but hey.......


Sunday 12th October 2014

   As not going to Scilly this October, due to knee op cock-up by the NHS, what to do to find migrants....oh well Portland's not a bad place to start is it?

   First stop...Ferrybridge, the tide was in, so not a lot there sadly. Oh well, Portland Castle next. This was rather quiet too, windy & cold there, but the Winter plumaged Black Guillemot was seen from there.....could it be the same bird as last Winter, returning? Its in exactly the same place....!

   Oh well next stop Reap Lane, Rose-coloured Starling the target, would it be there....YEP! It showed quite well in a garden, but showed even better in the horse field opposite the stables, and then in the brambles along the lane. Nice bird too, usually they are pretty tatty looking birds, but not this one...

Rose-coloured Starling (Juvenile)
Rose-coloured Starling (Juvenile)














Rose-coloured Starling (Juvenile)














   Sadly, a look around the Bill, and then Radipole produced bugger all else............

   The best things were quite a few new Moths, thanks to Martin bringing his home catch to the Obs.

   This is a link for this day on my Moth Blog.

Sunday 28th September 2014

    Right then, lets try again......

    Back to Kilnsea, and the Masked Shrike had moved again, but again only one more field. It was in the field nearest to Beacon Lane, and was showing fairly well again, but still not close. The light was really good, no wind....so everything except the bird was right. After a while, the crowds thinned out, and i was able to get into the field, along the hedge, along with a few other photographers. Still the bird stayed at a distance.....

    So, we did the same as yesterday and visited the Canal Scrape hide, the same culprits were on view again, Common & Jack Snipe, the Wheatear put in a brief appearance, and not mush else.

   I decided to put in a few more hours at the Shrike.......come on i need some luck now.

   Sadly, it didn't work out as well as i hoped, but i managed some half decent stuff, on what was the 4th attempt......here are the best, of a bunch of, not quite good enough shots!!! Oh well, good weekend anyway.....not everyday you see a 3rd for Britain is it?

Masked Shrike (1st Winter)






Saturday 27th September 2014

   So, after waiting all week, i finally drove to Spurn, East Yorkshire, or to be a bit more exact....Kilnsea. A Masked Shrike had been there since last Saturday, and with working all week, this was my first chance to get there. This was only the 3rd record for the UK, and as one was in Scotland.....too far, and the other was on Scilly.....after i had left, this was a new UK bird for me, and so worth the risk.....hopefully! There was a brilliant fall of birds last weekend, and most had stayed for a few days, but now were gradually disappearing, some, like the Olive-backed Pipit, i would have liked to have stayed, but the Shrike was the main one......

  My luck was in, as the bird was still there. It had been in that same field all week too.

   Sadly though, it was always on the FAR side of the field, while i was there. We waited for probably 3 hours, and it was still along the far fence line. So, i decided to go look elsewhere and come back later.

Wheatear
   We went to the Obs, but when we were told that there was NO car access anymore to the point, we decided to turn around and go to the Canal Scrape hide instead. There was a fairly late Wheatear showing well there, a Common Snipe & a Jack Snipe showed well, although never in the open enough for really good photos...




   So, back to the Shrike, fingers crossed it will come closer this time....Well good start, a lot less people at the viewing place, may help. After another frustrating hour or so, the bird moved along the fence, and then flew to the nearer hedge.....is this it?????? NO! It disappeared....

  People starting to give up from the viewing area, then one chap & his girlfriend went, and i was there on my own. A couple more people turned up...no sign, then the girlfriend came back to tell us, the bird was in the field, on the other side of the road. So, is it going to be closer....yes, but still hard work to photograph through the hedge....but at least i got a couple of shots at last.....

Masked Shrike (1st Winter)
   Not really as good as i would have liked, but got another day tomorrow, so fingers crossed again..


Sunday 21st September 2014

   Another dull, cloudy day, never good for photos......so again it was Chew. May get some better Osprey & Hobby shots.

   So we stopped at Herons Green again, to see the Osprey sat in the dead tree again....driving along Moreton lane there was a car parked in the road, as this is only wide enough for one car, this wasn't good.....then i noticed the driver, he was stood in the middle of the field with his camera, trying to photograph the Osprey.....not sure if he managed it, or just flushed it, because it was now flying around the point. The man packed up his stuff, before moving off....oh well thats those photos out of the question then!!!! I drove to the Moreton point car park, and as i stopped the Osprey came around again, and i managed to get some flight shots...

Osprey (Juvenile)
Osprey (Juvenile)
Osprey (Juvenile)
    After such a good start, the rest of the day was a bit of a let down, to be honest! Until while sat in Stratford hide, someone mentioned that there was a Black-necked Grebe at Moreton....

    So, that was the next stop, or so i thought, driving along Moreton lane i could see a large bird sat in the dead tree again, but it didn't look as big as the Osprey.....it wasn't, it was a large juvenile female Peregrine....very nice too.

Peregrine (Juvenile)
    Then onto the hide, and there was the Black-necked Grebe, probably a juvenile, shame it was just too distant for photos. But, it definitely improved the day...

Saturday 20th September 2014

    Chew Valley Lake today, bit dull, but got some half decent birds.

Hobby (Adult)
    We stopped at Herons Green, to look for the Hobby, which had been around. Luckily, it was still there, sat on top of the same tree, as on Thursday. But, this time i managed to get a shot....would have loved to get closer, but........

Osprey (Juvenile)









    I drove a bit further down Moreton lane, when i realised there was a rather large bird sat in the dead tree at Moreton point......so onto the car park near the point, parked the car, and got out with the camera, to get some shots of a juvenile Osprey.

   So, two decent raptors already, always a good day.....




Lesser Horseshoe Bat
      Onto the hide..........i counted 28 hibernating Peacock butterflies, brilliant.....but, best of all was the juvenile Lesser Horseshoe Bat roosting there. I had only seen them here once before, as this is not a full time roost, i feel i can mention it here, if it was a permanent roost site........well it wouldn't be here would it!!!!

Lesser Horseshoe Bat


Hobby (Juvenile)
    So, onto Stratford hide....from there we continued the raptor count, with Sparrowhawk, Buzzard & a juvenile Female Peregrine........and then a juvenile Hobby too.....


    So despite the weather, not a bad day at all.







Thursday 18th September 2014

   Dads Birthday, & the parents Wedding Anniversary today, so they went out. I said i would pick them up, and we could go out for a meal.

   That ended up with a visit to Chew.

   Stood at Herons Green Bay i noticed a Hobby flying around the Southern end, and while watching it, 5 small waders flew by. I managed to see there were Ringed Plover there, but they went by too quick. Luckily for me they flew around the bay, and came back and landed right in front of us....amazing. 3 Ringed Plover & 2 Curlew Sandpipers all juveniles too....spot on

Curlew Sandpiper (Juvenile)
Curlew Sandpiper (Juvenile)


Ringed Plover (Juvenile)

























   If you are wondering, we did go for a meal on the way back too.............

Wednesday 17th September 2014

   As the sun was out, i thought a quick visit, after work to Sand Point, was a good idea, especially as the long-staying 1st Winter Red-backed Shrike was still around.

   I did see it fairly briefly, but it flew off, when i moved from behind a small Hawthorn, and i didn't ever find it again...did manage 2 shots, both exactly the same....so here is just one of them. Not brilliant i know, but the best i could manage.

Red-backed Shrike

Monday 15th September 2014

Black-tailed Godwit
   An after work visit to Slimbridge WWT today.

   A fairly decent assortment of Waders were seen.......including Black-tailed Godwits, Green Sandpipers, Ruff etc. Mainly juvenile birds on their first southbound journey.

   While there, there was a small flock of Goldfinches flying about feeding on Thistle heads, and then coming down to drink. But, overtime i moved the camera to photograph them, they were off, except this juvenile bird below.

Goldfinch

Ruff & Reeve



















Common Cranes
   Last stop in one of the hides, brought in 2 Common Cranes, which flew in from somewhere near the 100-acre......

   Lets hope they stick around, and return to try and breed again next year.


Common Cranes