Sunday 30th March 2014

   Really nice, sunny day at Chew today. But, sadly nothing too special to see. Except for this pair of Scaup at Stratford. Always nice to see though...

Scaup (Duck)

Scaup (Drake)

Saturday 29th March 2014

   Return to Forest of Dean after a late start, due to rain. after a few bits & bobs, and normal Forest birds, we went to Brierley, to look for Willow Tit. Found a pair of Long-tailed Tits building a nest in some Gorse, then the call i had been listening for...Willow Tit. A couple of calls more, drew me to a Hawthorn, only to see the bird fly out and into the Pines. It sat out in the open, but no camera! Went back for it, only for the bird to disappear.

   Got back to the car, and looked at the pager. Two Taiga Bean Geese in Worcestershire, but where was this place. A look at the map, and it was maybe an hour away, so time to move. An hour later, almost exactly, we had found the lake area. Now to walk the footpath to the lake, where the birds had been seen last. After talking to some birders, when i had got near to the lake, they said the birds had flown back to the field back along the track. So, back i go along the track. There were no geese there when i walked down, but now there were about 20.....Greylag, Greylag, Greylag, Greylag, etc. Then there they were, one would probably have given most people the slip, nearly a fully Orange bill, unusual, but the other was a typical looking bird. Very nice, shame they were straight into the sun....but i did manage a few shots, not too brilliant, but first ones i have of this species.

Taiga Bean Geese (Pair)
   Might go back tomorrow after work, maybe.......

Sunday 23rd March 2014

   About time to go for the Great Spotted Cuckoo again, couldn't resist any longer.

   Got there a bit earlier than last time, to see if i could manage anything better. Walked out to the Golf course, to find it was showing near the entrance. But, at about the same distance as last time. Then for some reason it decided to fly, a couple of Crows hassled it, and it carried on flying, and went right up onto the headland!!! Now the choice do i go for another long walk, and hope my knee holds out, or wait for it to come back down. I decided to test my knee out again, and I'm so glad i did. As i walked up the hill, a local couple told me the bird favours the area by the masts, so typically they walked straight towards them. Nothing....but, then the man moved towards the trees and up it came......please don't go back down now!!! It didn't, and i managed to relocate it, a bit further along the track. Where i also managed to get the birders who turned up, to sit down with me and wait for the bird to show properly. They did, and all thanked me after, because the bird showed really well, until 2 walkers came passed. But, even then it just went back behind the grass tufts where it had been feeding.

Great Spotted Cuckoo
Great Spotted Cuckoo

Great Spotted Cuckoo
Great Spotted Cuckoo

Great Spotted Cuckoo
Great Spotted Cuckoo

Great Spotted Cuckoo

    After getting these photos, i was quite happy to leave Penally and start towards home. In Swansea, we stopped off at Fendrod lake, only a small lake in a park, in Swansea, but it held quite a few Gulls. Including a 1st Winter Kumliens Gull, which eventually showed quite well.

Kumliens Gull (1st Winter)

Saturday 22nd March 2014

   Over to the Forest of Dean today, another look for the Two-barred Crossbills.

   Along Serridge Ridge, and down the hill to Drybrook Road station. No sign. Walking back up the hill i heard a few Crossbills go over, then the sound i have been listening for the Two-barreds, but i still couldn't see them!!! As i got back up to the path along the ridge, 6 of them flew from the ridge down towards Brierley, oh well saw them again, but no photos again too.

   One good thing knee feeling bit better today. So another walk???? This time from Woorgreens along the Crabtree Hill path. Almost immediately from the end of the car park, some birds flew up from the ground. Chaffinches maybe, but a closer look and they were mostly Bramblings, at least 60 of them. The biggest flock i had sen this Winter. Not a lot else on the walk to the Heath area, except lots of Siskins, they seem to be everywhere at the moment. Got to the Heath area, and found the bird i was looking for, within 15 minutes, then tried to get some shots. It was a Great Grey Shrike, it had been around for a while, but my knee never felt good enough to make the walk until today. It eventually showed really close, but couldn't get a close shots, as there was always something in the way. Did manage the one below though....

Great Grey Shrike
   So started the walk back, by the time i got to the car park, my knee was agony, but it was worth it.....i think????? Must be need for any comments on that OK!!!!

   We stopped off on the way home at Aust Warth, i know.......boring, but my parents haven't seen the Twite as many times as me. We did also see our first Wheatear of the year, bit distant, but.....


Friday 21st March 2014

    Sorry getting predictable now......Aust Warth again...and a Twite.



Thursday 20th March 2014

   Another visit to Aust Warth. Sadly when i got there it rained, and heavy too!!!! The Twite got soaked.......


   but soon dried out........


Tuesday 18th March 2014

   Another after work visit to Aust Warth. Same birds as usual, Twite and Reed Buntings showed well again.

Reed Bunting (Male)


Monday 17th March 2014

    A trip to the Avon Gorge Peregrine Watchpoint, after work. I got there just after 4pm, to be told i had just missed a close food pass, and people were still looking at their camera backs!!!! Bugger.

Peregrine (Pair)
    The birds were still there and flying, but not photographable. I did managed a couple of not very good shots. Then about 5pm, the light gone, and it was now bloody cold too, they did another food pass. This time on the far side of the river, and i managed some even worse shots!

Peregrine (Male)

   Will try again, better light, more time..............better shots!

Sunday 16th March 2014

  A wander around Somerset today. Saw nothing much until Catcott, where they was a drake Garganey and a female Marsh Harrier. Then to Chew, still not seen a Sand Martin!!!!

Saturday 15th March 2014

   As usual, a rare bird turns up on a Monday, and work all week gets in the way, bugger!!!! After waiting all week to see the Great Spotted Cuckoo, i finally have chance, so lets go see. This will only be my second in the UK. My first being the one at Pennington Marshes, Hampshire in 2001! Wow, long time. I actually saw a couple last year in Spain, but need photos..........

   So, after a 2 hour drive, we arrived in the railway station car park, at Penally, Pembrokeshire. I asked a birder in the car park "I take it its still showing well, is it?", to get the answer " flew from the headland out to the island, about half an hour ago!" POOH!!!!

   Oh well were here now, may as well take a look around. A Cettis warbler called from a nearby wet field. Meadow Pipits flew from around my feet, there were quite a few on the golf course. I bumped into a bird photographer friend, Richard Stonier, who said he had sen it quite close earlier, but the it was still too dark for photos. After about 2 & a half hours of nothing, i decided to go to look at another site, and maybe come back later. I swapped phone numbers with Richard, he said he would ring if it came back. So we left. We stopped to get some food, but the shop had nothing there, so we had ice creams instead, not really a fair swap i know, but was a sunny day! We were heading for Bosherton Lily Ponds, i had seen reports of Bittern and Ducks there, and more importantly some very tame Otters. Just over half way there, my phone rang, it was Richard, "Its back". So, we turned around and went back.

    We got back and i walked across the Golf course again. Got to where Richard was standing, and asked "Where is it mate, and have you got pix yet?" to which he replied "Its over there, and NO I haven't"

   The bird had been hiding in the long grass, between the humps. It then popped up on top of one, and the photos began. The bird then showed well for about an hour, before being disturbed by some golfers, and disappeared for over an hour. It was found again, but it was at the other end of the course.

Great Spotted Cuckoo
Great Spotted Cuckoo

Great Spotted Cuckoo

Great Spotted Cuckoo

  Eventually, about 6pm, it returned to near the 'tin huts', where it roosts, and did exactly that! Sadly, it didn't show enough of the bird, from any angle to get decent shots, even if the light was gone by then!

   Oh well, defo the best shots i have anyway. Lets see if it stays a while?

Friday 14th March 2014

Reed Bunting (Winter Female)
   Aust after work again, boring.................not really! Windier today, and cold......and no sign of the Twite, has it gone to be with its friends and breed...maybe? Oh well, here are some more Reed Bunting shots, this time Winter plumaged females for comparison, much paler face pattern, still nice though!

Reed Bunting (Winter Female)

Thursday 13th March 2014

Reed Bunting (Summer Female)
   A return to Aust, this time the Twite didn't show so well. It was seen to fly from its usual tree tops, out over the salt marsh, and join up with some migrating Meadow Pipits, flying North, and not seen again. So i concentrated on the Reed Buntings, and especially the females, which are coming into Summer plumage, and look cool...hope you agree?

Reed Bunting (Summer Female)

Wednesday 12th March 2014

     Early finish at work today, so off to Chew, to look for the Siberian Chiffchaffs near the Bernard King hide.

   Walking passed Hollow Brook, i noticed there were 2 female Goosanders there, so i tried to get some some before they flew off to the main lake.

   I carried on to the Bernard King hide, i saw a Chiffchaff straight away. After a short while, the Siberian Chiffchaff showed well too, then another. But, they were both behind the screen, and my lens won't fit!!!!!! Saw them anyway. Had a quick look for some reported Sand Martins, but no sign.

Tuesday 11th March 2014

   After work i decided to go to Aust, to see if the Twite was about. No-one else there, obviously not been showing today................wrong! It showed, probably the best it has shown while its been here! Other than the other day, when i had it on the wire, but this was even closer.


Sunday 9th March 2014

     A fairly early start saw me back beside the river Arun, but not many Gulls there, and no sign of the Kumliens!!!! Back for breakfast, then after we met up with Nick bond, a birding friend who lives in Worthing. I managed to throw a whole loaf of bread out for the Gulls, but it didn't work, NO Kumliens or Glaucous Gull! We did have at least 4 Med Gulls, but none of them would pose for photos! Looks like i was right, when i said my luck had run out?

Herring Gull
   We left Nick and headed for Kent, not too far i thought. A stop at Dungeness RSPB, then onto the Heron? How wrong could i the time we got to Dungeness, 3 hours later, i couldn't be assed with the Heron, might do it later in the day????

   I went into the Visitor centre at Dungeness to see what was about. The regular stuff really, until i noticed, right at the bottom of the board, 2 Penduline Tits at the ARC pit. Oh well, there is always other stuff there too, lets have a look. So, after a look at Google maps, to see how far the Heron was from here, we set off across the road to the ARC pit, and more precisely the Hanson hide. Got to the hide, quite a few people there, and a couple taking photos, so lets have a it, thats too far away for pix though. But, they were still taking photos? Then i noticed that, either the first bird had moved closer, or the other one had been close all the time! Either way, it put on a great show for, probably, an hour. Lovely birds.....

Penduline Tit
Penduline Tit

Penduline Tit
      While there, may thoughts were proven right too, there was other stuff there. At least a pair of Goldeneye, a flyby female Smew, which i failed to get the camera on....bugger. The female Goldeneye showed well though.

Goldeneye (Duck)
    Do we have time for the Heron now? No not really, too far away, oh well lets spend some more time here instead. Tree Sparrows near the car park, very nice, a quick search, in vain for a Glossy Ibis, produced a flyby Great White Egret. 3 female Smew were found further east along the ARC pit. A search through the Gulls near the fishing boats, sadly didn't produce the Glaucous Gull or the hoped for Caspian Gulls. Right then time to set on our way home, check Google maps, don't know why, i know how to get home from here, but phone clicked into gear, and Hythe, where the Heron was, was 14 minutes said over an hour earlier.....thought it had to wrong, but didn't have any go in me anyway after the traffic earlier. Oh well its 'plastic' anyway........aint it?????

Saturday 8th March 2014

   Weekend trip, to the South Coast. Visit a birder friend, and get some birding done. Might even go for the rather suspect Chinese Pond Heron in Kent???????????

   Littlehampton was first, to see if i could photograph a 1st Winter Kumliens Gull, and a Glaucous Gull that had been there too. I got some flight shots, of the Kumliens Gull only, but not the, on the deck shots i wanted, sadly. Maybe later on in the day.

Kumlien's Gull (1st Winter)

   Next stop was Brooklands Boating lake, there had been some Little Gulls there, showing really well. Oh dear, maybe my luck has run out, there was no sign of any Little Gulls!!!! Right then, Widewater Lagoon next, Red-breasted Mergansers were the aim. They are here regularly so i have been told........No sign of them either.

   So back to Littlehampton, and again NO i said, my luck has run out!

Thursday 6th March 2014

   Another after work bird trip, this time only to aunt Warth. It proved worthwhile, using the car as a hide, and a bit of patience, the Twite showed really well. Even putting in an appearance on the barbed wire, very nice.

Monday 3rd March 2014

   A quick visit to the Peregrine Watchpoint on Durdham Downs today, after work. This overlooks the Avon Gorge, and to the left is the Suspension Bridge. The Peregrines show, but not well enough for pix. But, while i was waiting, i got some common stuff are the Crow (Corvid) family!


Carrion Crow

Sunday 2nd March 2014

   Gotta try the Parrot Crossbills again today.........

   We stopped off at Choseley Barns, there were Yellowhammers along the road, and we found both Partridges there too. Didnt see or hear any Corn Buntings sadly, but I'm sure they are still there.

Bar-tailed Godwit
   Next stop was Burnham Overy harbour, just to check see if there were any Waders there. There were. Both Godwits, Grey & Ringed Plover, Dunlin, Redshank and Curlew. A couple of small, probably family parties of Dark-bellied Brent Geese flew over too.

Black-tailed Godwit

   Then a drive further along the coast road to Holkham. We stopped and had a look for a Rough-legged Buzzard, which had been around the area. Sadly i couldn't find it, but we did have a Common Buzzard, a Peregrine and at least 6 Marsh Harriers, so worth the stop anyway.....

   Now then, would i get a chance at the Parrot Crossbills today.....As soon as i got to the car park, i got the bad news, the Parrots were about, but had not been coming down to the puddles all day! Oh well, I'm here now. I set up by the puddle, a quick chat to a birder friend, and in came the Commons again. Including this odd coloured, 1st Winter Male, almost yellow, bit strange......

Common Crossbill (1st Winter Male)

Common Crossbill (Female)

Common Crossbill (Male)

    Nice, but not the Parrots.......

    The Commons flew off. Then came the Parrots.......will they come down though.......YES!!!!!

Parrot Crossbill (Male)
Parrot Crossbill (Female)

Parrot Crossbill (1st Winter Male)

  Then they were gone.....great stuff, got the photos i wanted, lets hope i can get some more. The Commons came back in, came down to drink, and left again. Everybody else left, i was alone, so moved a little closer, found a tree stump, used it as a seat, and waited. Another birder arrived and sat down behind me, and we waited.........Not long after he arrived they arrived too, in the dead tree. Quiet and sit still, will they be brave enough to come down????? Again YES!!!!!!!

Parrot Crossbill (1st Winter Male)
Parrot Crossbill (Flock)

Parrot Crossbill (Female)

Parrot Crossbill (Female)

Parrot Crossbill (Male)

Parrot Crossbill (Male)

Parrot Crossbill (Male & Females)

     Wow, this was one of the best days i have had with my camera, never been this close to Crossbills, let alone Parrot Crossbills. Photos i could never of dreamed of, just enough light, and NO rain.

    Hope you like the photos as much as i do.......................?