Monday 30th September 2013

   Dinnertime, and a quick walk into the park in Chipping Sodbury. Sat down to text a friend, who had asked if i was going to Scilly this year, when i heard a call i recognised.........."Thats a Yellow-browed Warbler!!!!!"

   I walked back onto the road there, and could make out the movement and calls again, even without binoculars! I made a few calls and texts, and within 5 minutes or so, Darren Pearce arrived and saw the bird too. This is his patch, and was a really nice patch tick for him. Sadly, i had to go back into work. I spent about an hour after work and heard it again, but no sign.

  Well chuffed with this one!

Sunday 29th September 2013

   Another visit to Chew again today, for the same reason as yesterday, Herriotts Little Gulls!!

Little Gull (1st Winter)
   Sadly the adult bird was nowhere to be found. But, the 1st Winter bird showed a bit better!

Little Gull (1st Winter)


   The Hobby showed better than yesterday too, and i managed a couple of shots, in flight….

Hobby (Juvemile)
Hobby (Juvemile)


Grey Wagtail

  At least 3 Grey Wagtails showed around the bridge area.

   Then we decided to go to Blagdon lake, to see if the Glossy Ibis was showing. It was, in Pipe Bay, which is near the dam, but it was just a little too far away, for decent shots. Did get this though.

Glossy Ibis (Juvenile)

Saturday 28th September 2013

    A visit to chew today, to see if i could photograph, or just see, the Little Gulls which had been on Herriotts Pool. There were 2 there when we arrived, an adult Winter and a 1st Winter bird. Other birds in the area included a late juvenile Hobby and a Common Sandpiper.

Little Gull (1st Winter)
Little Gull (Adult Winter)
Little Gull (Adult Winter)

    But, the only things i photographed, other than that, were these Teal……


Saturday 21st September 2013

   Our last day!!! Mark had read up, from his book, on where to spend today. We didnt really want to have to rush to the airport, so closer to San Francisco, was our best bet. A nature reserve to the south of SF, called Las Gallinas was his choice. We didnt bank on the rain, it absolutely poured down. But its the last day of the holiday, so im staying out anyway!!! This reserve has at least 3 decent sized ponds, surrounded by fields, a tarmac walkway too, so easy walking, reed fringed edges and some tree covered islands, very nice.

Night Heron (Adult)

Night Heron (Juvenile)
   First thing i noticed were the Ducks, we had not seen this many on our trip before. Pintail, American Wigeon, Green-winged Teal, Shoveler, Mallard and Cinnamon Teal. sadly nearly all the drakes were still in eclipse plumage, shame, but nice to see anyway. There were also quite a few American White Pelicans, Great White Egret and Night Heron too. Overhead we had Violet-green Swallow, Rough-winged Swallow and then a small Swift, Vauxs Swift, a lifer for me, and we hadnt even walked 50 yards yet! A female Northern Harrier flew across the track up in front of us.
American Wigeon (Eclipse Drake)

Cinnamon Teal (Eclipse Drake)

American White Pelican

Vaux's Swift
   Then the rain started, luckily we were able to shelter under some trees, but we still got wet. We did a bit of luck while under the trees though. We had a male Common Yellowthroat calling and then showing, also a couple of Marsh Wrens, and then a Virginia Rail on the track (last 2 were lifers for me). There were also hundreds of Swallows sitting on the wires above our heads, waiting, like us, for the rain to bugger off, and the sun to come out???

Common Yellowthroat
Virginia Rail

   I went back to the car, to get my coat, as it seemed the rain was going off, halfway back the heavens opened again, needless to say, i got drenched. Having change my t-shirt etc, and put my coat on, i wandered back towards the trees. On one of the telegraph poles was a small raptor, Sharp-shinned hawk, i managed to get some shots before it disappeared, but the bird was nearly as wet as i was!!! Got to the trees as the rain got heavier again, Mark decided to go back and sit in the car until it went off. I had another walk. Not too much different though, except a Green Heron, getting soaked too. So eventually i got back to the car. Typically the sun came out just as i got there! Oh well, lets try again.
  We walked along the same track. Similar birds were seen again, this time a Black Phoebe showed well enough for photos. as we got to the trees again, i noticed the Hawk was back on the poles. So i walked back to get some more pix. It was pretty obliging, and drier, too.

Black Phoebe

Sharp-shinned Hawk

   Over the far side of the ponds i then noticed a male Northern Harrier, flying along the far track. It landed on a post, and started feeding on something. Great, lets get around there and photograph that, but just then i also noticed a man out running, nutter, and he was running straight towards where the Harrier was. It saw him and flew off. While searching for the Harrier, i noticed another pale bird shape, off in the distance.....White-tailed Kite, very nice, but distant. We walked that way anyway. I got some distant Kite shots, and it was off! As we continued, we came around a bush, to see the Harrier sat on the track feeding. Photo time!!!!!!! We gradually got closer and closer, the bird seemed unworried. the results of both are below.

White-tailed Kite
Northern Harrier (Male)

   From there we went back to the car. Mark had said, he had a few little bits down the road, while i had been walking around, the first time, so i went and had a quick look. Two California Towhee were by the side of the road, a few birds were moving in the trees, including a still sodden Yellow Warbler. While watching this, a Woodpecker flew out of a small bush, up into the treeline. A female Nuttall's Woodpecker. And it rained again, California 'the sunshine state', what??????
Yellow Warbler
Nuttalll's Woodpecker

    Then we were off, drying out in the car, back towards the airport, and home. Another good holiday over.

    The outcome of the Shearwater Pelagics question? If you want to see seabirds, recommended. But, if you want to get close, and like we did, photograph them, not really that good im afraid!! If they learn how to 'chum', it would improve dramatically, and may well get us back????
   Well you never know......

Friday 20th September 2013

   No blog for yesterday, travelling day, Vancouver back to San Francisco.

   Bodega bay pelagic today. Last one, so heres hoping!!!!

American White Pelican
   This time the pelagic started quite well, we had Double-crested & Brandts Cormorants in the harbour area, also American White Pelicans, and the obvious Gulls.

American White Pelican

    Then, back to normality, fog and dull light, pooh!!!! We went a far old way not seeing anything due to the fog. The odd time it cleared, we got lots of Phalaropes, in good sized flocks. Then a Pomarine Skua, and then a bit better, a Black-footed Albatross, then a lifer, South Polar Skua, just in time the fog lifted, briefly anyway!

South Polar Skua

South Polar Skua
Black-footed Albatross

Red-necked Phalaropes
Grey Phalarope

   Then at last, some bright weather, and clear skies. Now we want some birds. First some Pink-footed Shearwaters, then a couple of Storm-petrels, then one of the highlights, a juvenile Long-tailed Skua, very nice.
Long-tailed Skua

Pink-footed Shearwater

   Then the real excitement started, huge flocks of Storm-petrels were found. Containing Ashy, Black, Wilsons, and (at last) Fork-tailed Storm-petrels. The last one a lifer for both of us. Estimated totals in all the flocks were 8,000+, amazing.

   Towards the end of the trip, we managed to find some feeding Whales. There were up to 50 Humpbacks, we also had Blue Whale, Rissos & Pacific White-sided Dolphins, along with hundreds of California Sea-lions, this was fantastic too.

Storm-petrel flock
Ashy & Fork-tailed Storm-petrel flock
Ashy & Fork-tailed Storm-petrel flock
Fork-tailed Storm-petrel

Fork-tailed Storm-petrel

Ashy Storm-petrel
Black Storm-petrel

Wednesday 18th September 2013

   Stanley Park, Vancouver today. I have been looking forward to this, since we booked the trip. Varied Thrush is the main target.

   A drive around reccy, we parked and decided to walk around a bit the walk produced bits and bobs, but nothing to get the camera on really, except a showy Song Sparrow near the car park. OK shall we try somewhere else, we both said. We walked back towards the car, as we got to a crossroads just before the car park, i caught a movement, can't be what i thought it was, can it? But, it was, a big Owl had flown onto a log right by the track, a Barred Owl, absolutely brilliant. We got some shots, and gradually moved closer, than, bad luck struck again, a runner was coming along the track from the other way, shite!!!! But no, the Owl took no notice, wow, i can't believe that. It allowed us to get closer, even walk passed it, so we could get the light on the right side. Mental.

Barred Owl
Barred Owl

   Another part of the park produced a flock of American Robins, in a tree with some berries on it. Maybe we can get some other stuff here we thought. We did, Black-capped Chickadee, Western Tanager, Spotted Towhee, House Finch and a rather small Woodpecker, which neither of us got a good look at.

Western Tanagaer
House Finch

Black-capped Chickadee

   A further short walk, and i found a Red-eyed Vireo (which has now been re-identified from my pictures, as a Yellow-green Vireo, see the bottom of this page for more details), and while we were watching it, the Woodpecker came out of hiding, a male Downy Woodpecker. Nice bird.

Downy Woodpecker

  A couple of Chestnut-backed Chickadees were found nearby too. A Great Blue Heron showed extremely close near the Lost Lagoon, where there were also American Wigeon and a female Green-winged Teal.

Chestnut-backed Chickadee

Green-winged Teal

Great Blue Heron


   More wandering produced more Spotted Towhees, Western Tanager, and some House Finches and Chickadees all in a small flock. Then our only Raccoons of the trip. Up to 4 of them, showed quite well as you can see. We then moved unto Beaver Lake, we saw the Lodge, but sadly no Beavers, shame! There we had some Carolina or Wood Ducks, and some nice Dragonflies too. There were also Red-necked Terrapins, a Green Frog and some Douglas Squirrels, you can see all the Animals (other than the birds), we saw on the whole trip at this part of my website.

Wood Duck (Drake)

  We then returned to our original car park, to look for Ducks, like Barrows Goldeneye, but it seems we were too early in the Autumn, for the returning Ducks, so we walked a bit along the same track. To our surprise the barred Owl was back, but this time up a tree. Showing well again though!!

Barred Owl
Barred Owl


Dusky Canada Geese
   We also had a small flock of 'Dusky' Canada Geese, looking rather different to the Canadas we get in the UK. While looking at the Geese, a Woodpecker came and landed on a tree nearby. A Red-breasted Sapsuker, and it showed really well too!

Red-breasted Sapsucker
Red-breasted Sapsucker

This part of the Blog page was written and added at a later date. 
I will try and add some more info, and details at another later date, 
when i have the final article

Yellow-green Vireo
   This photo caused a real stir in Canada, after an email conversation with a Canadian birder, who decided this was a Yellow-green Vireo, NOT as i had thought a Red-eyed Vireo! At the time i was a bit worried about our ID, but we thought it was too far out of range for Yellow-green, how wrong could i be? It turns out it could be only the second record ever for Canada (there is some debate now about the '1st' record), and the first for British Colombia. I received quite a few emails from birders in Canada. One of which, gave me a telling off, still makes me laugh now thinking about it, saying i should have let people know about the bird. Then another email, 5 minutes later, apologising, as he had now read the full report!!! I, of course forgave him! 

   Wish i had known what it was, i would defo have put the news out.