Nice views of one of my favorite birds; Little Owl, today down on my local patch. Though the light wasn't great for photos, I was happy with the results.
Sunday, March 2, 2014
Nemesis - something that a person cannot conquer, achieve, etc.: The performance test proved to be my nemesis. That about sums up my relationship with the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker. Shameful as it IS, I have failed to connect with this bird in the UK. How can someone have Dusky Thrush on their British List and not Lesser Spot? Its possible; cos I did it. However, that is now longer the case. While hiking in the Brecon Beacons on Saturday 22nd February 2014, i got a text from my birding pal Dave Baker informing he had found a pair. Great news! So, after a 2 1/2 hour drive back from Cardiff Sunday morning I met Dave at a private location in Surrey. Here we got TWO males and a female. Had absolutley fantastic views and it really was worth the wait. Thanks Dave!
|View from Fan y Big looking back at Cribyn, Pen y Fan and Corn Du in The Brecon Beacons Wales|
My only contact with this elusive species was in 1999 when we caught and ringed one at the biological station in Rybachy Russia.
Monday, February 10, 2014
Had an amazing start to the weekend with a cracking Red-flanked Bluetail in Gloucester. This individual had been found earlier in the week but I wasn't able to try for it until Friday. I packed my scope and bins and took them with me to work; 12:30 soon came and I was on the M4 heading west. 2 1/2 hours later I was slipping on my wellies and heading for the bird!
There were birders walking back to their cars, triumphant and casual as I clumsily panted my way up the hill. There claims of 'no need to run mate, its showing well' were ignored as the only time I was going to slow down was when I connected with this bucket list bird. To be fair, they were right. As soon as I arrived I immediately 'got on the bird', and started to adjust my heart rate.
This individual was moving in between two trees, occasionally dropping to the floor to collect meal-worms left by some birders. The drive and effort was well worth it! That is more than can be said for the gong-show on Saturday. I clocked up 400 miles target birding in Norfolk. Two hours walking sand dunes in Great Yarmouth for Shorelark - dipped. 1 1 /2 hours south of Holt waiting for Parrot Crossbill - nothing. Forty minutes in brutal wind looking for Richard's Pipit on the coast - drum roll......nope. Good job Friday was success!
Sunday, January 5, 2014
Connected with a GLOSSY IBIS today (5th January 2014) near Frencham Village in Surrey. This bird was first reported on the 2nd but I didn't try for it until yesterday afternoon. My efforts went unrewarded but that doesn't matter now. This morning Lori and I headed back to Frencham where we met with lots of happy looking birders and yes, Glossy Ibis!
This very cool and rare bird to the area was feeding and preening on the other side of a flooded meadow. I believe this is the first twitchable Glossy Ibis for Surrey. The other record was in 1833 I think; hence its popularity with Surrey County listers. A good trickle of people were coming and going including a few of the Tice's Meadow crew - taking a well earned break from work party duties - good to see you Dave Baker and Rich Horton!
|Tice's Meadow Crew|
|Tufted Duck - Frencham Great Pond|
Monday, December 30, 2013
Hope you all had a great Christmas! Mine was fairly quiet though things picked up Boxing Day - a message from my friend David (Ginger) Baker brought me back from a Mince Pie induced coma. 'Are you off to Weymouth today mate?' The fact that I had allowed my RBA subscription to lapse in the last week left me ignorant to the news. "What's in Weymouth?" - BRUNNICH'S GUILLEMOT!
Brunnich's Guillemot (Thick-billed Murre) is a high arctic breeder which normally spends its winter out at sea off central Norway. This individual, a probable storm blown bird, is apparently the first twitchable mainland bird in Britain. David Baker and I headed down Saturday morning, arriving just after 09:00 am. There was close to 100 people already on site with more arriving all the time. The bird had been seen but had headed out of the harbour. We didn't have to sweat for too long as when everyone was scanning the bay with scopes, Dave looked down at the channel in front of us and said "there it is!"
Over the next hour we all got fantastic looks at this rare northern auk. Other species of note included Black-throated Diver (Arctic Loon), Great Northern Diver (Common Loon), Black Guillemot, Razorbill, Shag and Kingfisher. We then decided to try for another rarity in Devon but first made two quick stops adding GLOSSY IBIS and Mediterranean Gull.
With two more really cool birds in the bag we were feeling pretty good and optimistic for our next twitch, though not the two hour drive. On arrival at Brixham Harbour in Devon the rain stopped falling and the sun came out; as our luck continued. Within minutes of being at the harbour we were ogling another British lifer for us both - WHITE-BILLED DIVER (Yellow-billed Loon).
This adult put on a great show; fishing up and down in front of us and was also joined by Black-throated Diver and Great Northern Diver; giving good opportunity for comparison. While we were there we noticed a few Turnstone out on a boat and a couple running in between our legs, oblivious to all us birders. It got me to thinking about Purple Sandpiper which prompted Dave to look on the other side of the harbour wall - and there was about 6 Purple Sandpiper! The best look I've had and after walking the wall we counted 13 individuals.
Finally the light started to go and we made quick trip around the bay and tried to connect with a possible Red-necked Grebe, but no joy. No complaints, we had a great days birding!
The following day Lori and I headed out to Buckinghamshire where I snagged my 30th British lifer for 2013 - CATTLE EGRET! We then headed to Otmoor Rspb where we witnessed the Starling roost and got a sneaky look at a Bittern before heading home; a fly-by Woodcock above our heads put the icing on the cake on an amazing weekend.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Lori and I Started off December with a winter walk around Pulborough Brooks RSPB Reserve. Though a little chilly at least it wasn't raining. Good number of thrushes around including Blackbird, Song Thrush, Mistle Thrush, Redwing and Fieldfare.
Finches were represented by Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Bullfinch and Linnet. The only raptors today were: single female Peregrine Falcon, juvenile Marsh Harrier and a Common Buzzard. Wigeon and Teal were in good numbers as were Canada Geese. Others included 2 male Northern Pintail, 3 Snipe and 3 Black-tailed Godwit and shed loads of Lapwing. 45 species altogether.
Here is the only shot I got of my British Lifer Two-barred Crossbill! No complaints; what a cracking bird and I was so lucky to get a shot at all. This female has been frequenting an area on Leith Hill in Surrey and has been associating with a group of Common Crossbill. It was a 3 hour vigil but worth the wait. At one point I could hear Common Crossbill above my head but could also here a weird (to me) call. My best description is that it sounded similar to a Red-breasted Nuthatch of North America - 'sounds like a child's trumpet'. Anyhow, minutes later the Two-barred Crossbill made an appearance for about 30 seconds before flying off. My best guess is that it was the culprit.
Posted by Rich Mooney at 10:44 AM
Chased Lesser Yellowlegs down in Devon with Nolan in April but dipped. Luckily we got it this time at Lepe Country Park in Hampshire - 24th November 2013. It took a while to locate as it was hidden by an embankment. The only time it came really close; it got chased off by a Redshank, so I only got a few grainy record shots and video. Other species of note that day are: Little Egret, Oystercatcher, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Dunlin, Snipe, Black-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank, Turnstone, Rock Pipit, Cetti's Warbler, Sparrowhawk and Red Kite en-route.
|Redshank (back ground) and Grey Plover|
Nice to get this Icelandic breeder - Great Northern Diver; on my local patch. Other than Canada, this is the second time I have seen this species in the UK. The first time was at Staines Reservoir a couple of years ago. Hope it stays around for the New Year. Thanks to David Baker for the heads-up on this sighting. Date seen: 15th November 2013
Wednesday, October 23, 2013
A Great Grey Shrike at Papercourt Meadows was a fantastic winter bird to get the heart rate going. I have seen this species once in Russia in 1999 and last year on Thursley Common, so was happy to get another viewing. I found out on Tuesday when I got a call from my mate Dave Baker. A backed up sewer put the kibosh on twitching it; so I waited until the following afternoon and luckily snagged a distant look.
Today I headed back to Papercourt, hoping to get a better look at this individual. Alas, it was a no show. I did, however, get some nice digi-shots with my iPhone of a pair of Stonechat.