Sunday 23rd November 2014

Great White Egret
   A return to Chew, to try and get some decent photos. We arrived at Herriotts channel to see the Egret feeding well there, and this time it stayed.....

   It fed really well there too, it was regularly catching Perch, someone there said it caught at least 28......

   Channel must be good for fish there, as there were at least 2 Kingfishers fishing around there too.

Great White Egret-with food

Yellow-legged Gull

   A look around the lake, on the way back to Woodford lodge didn't really give us anything new so, hopefully the Lodge would be OK.

   As yesterday we had Goosanders, the female Red-breasted Merganser, Kingfisher, Goldeneye...& ssssh 2 Ruddy Ducks.

Yellow-legged Gull
   The Great Northern Diver was there too, but this time not so close. The one new bird there, was a 3rd winter Yellow-legged Gull, which spent a while there on the pontoons.

Yellow-legged Gull

Saturday 22nd November 2014

    Chew was worth a visit today, as it held some good birds.

    From Woodford Lodge, while looking for the juvenile Great Northern Diver, we had quite a few Goosander, and the female Red-breasted Merganser flyby. Goldeneye, Kingfisher, 2 Little Egrets, and a pair of Egyptian Geese were also there. We also had a Ruddy Duck, but keep that to yourselves, we don't want the big bad 'cullers' knowing do we.....
   Then of course the Diver came in too....

Great Northern Diver (Juvenile)
Great Northern Diver (Juvenile)
    Another good bird was at Herriotts too, the Great White Egret was feeding in the channel. But flew before the camera was ready, it stayed around the back of the reedbed. Water Rail is a regular here, and didn't disappoint either, feeding under the Willow there.

Saturday 15th November 2014

    Portland & Weymouth was the place today. A Dusky Warbler near the Hump, on Avalanche Road, was the main target.

   First stop, as usual, was Ferrybridge. There were a few birds there, but it was rather cold & windy. Dark-bellied Brent Geese, about half a dozen Med Gulls, about 25 Dunlin, and a few Skylarks.

   Dusky time.......but, stood for hours in a muddy track, on a cold, breezy & dull day, wasn't the nicest place to be though. The Dusky didn't show for ages, but did put on a show late...sadly never a good enough show for the cameras. Only thing that came close to the camera was a male Kestrel...

   Oh well, not a great day, maybe the Harbour???? Portland Harbour from Portland Castle, is normally pretty reliable for Divers etc. We will see.....

   First bird, even before i got out of the car, was a female Black Redstart. In the same small bushes there, there were 4+ Chiffchaffs. Nice start, better than most of the rest of the day. Lets hope the Harbour is good too. There were a few, but not as many as there normally are, Red-breasted Mergansers, and in the same place as last years bird, there was a Black Guillemot, in winter plumage. After a little while i also found a Great Northern Diver too.

    So, not a great day, defo NOT good for photos......but Dusky Warbler, along with the rest of the other good birds aint bad is it????

Sunday 9th November 2014

    Cold, but sunny day, so the Pallid Harrier was the aim today, at Steart WWT. After a couple of hours there, we decided, sadly, a day or two too late, and there was no sign of it......only things of note were two Great White Egrets, but as usual here, they were too distant for any photos.

   Ah well, there must be something on the Levels? Gotta make use of the sun.....

   So, Catcott was first stop. but i was wrong......there wasn't much there either! Not even a Great White Egret.....

   Small consolation was a female Marsh Harrier, and some it was flight shot practice. Starlings....boring i know, but hey, they look good in the blue sky....dont they?



Saturday 8th November 2014

Fly Agaric
   Trip to Chew today. Not much happening I'm afraid. The only real thing of note, was the Fly Agaric were finally out, at No.1 Picnic site....not much i know. Amazing that i hadn't even noticed these there, until a couple of years ago...

Fly Agaric

   But a quick drive around to Blagdon, was an Rainbow Point there was the usual Black-necked Grebe, but also there were 3 Red-crested Pochard, 2 Drakes & a Duck. WE then found another Duck near the Lodge, so 4 Red-crested Pochard in total. None of them close enough for photos sadly.

   Only other thing i photo'd was a calling Lesser Black-backed Gull....not too exciting, huh?

Lesser Black-backed Gull

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 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??



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 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 this space (hopefully)...

Rough-legged Buzzard