Sunday, March 1, 2015

Dartford Warbler - Ash Ranges


Great morning at Ash Ranges in Surrey. Good views of Dartford Warbler, Woodlark, Meadow Pipit, Red Kite, Stonechat + others.




Woodlark


Surf Scoter

Surf Scoter (Vancouver Island 2010)
On Saturday 28th February 2015 I caught up with a bird I haven't seen since living on Vancouver Island - Surf Scoter! I couldn't resist a quick twitch to Gosport in Hampshire to add this North American diving duck to my British List. The weather was less the favorable with rain, wind, distance and light being against me. I did get scope views and a flight view but no photos. I made a quick stop on the way out and checked out the Brent flock for a rarer Black Brant but no luck.

Brent

Saturday, February 14, 2015

Little Bunting


Took a drive west on the M4 to Wales this morning. Picked up my good friend Stuart Clarke at 08:20 am and headed down to Forest Farm Country Park, Glamorgan. Today's target bird was Little Bunting! This NE European breeder of the taiga has been frequenting this location for the last week and as I have never seen this species before, I thought I would give it a go...   





We only waited a few minutes before the bird showed and as you can see above; gave us lots of opportunity for observation and photos. The feeder station was very busy during our visit with Chaffinch, Bullfinch, Blue Tit, Great Tit, Coal, Reed Bunting, House Sparrow, Dunnock, Robin and Nuthatch all putting in a regular appearance. A great mornings birding, made extra special by sharing it with my good friend Stu.
 
Blue Tit

Bullfinch (male)

Great Tit

Blackbird

Nuthatch

Bullfinch (female)

Sunday, February 8, 2015

Serin

Serin
On Saturday 7th February 2015 I hit the road about 06:00 am. My destination was was Gunners Park, Shoeburyness in Kent. For the last week 2 male Serin have been regularly  visiting a small patch of weed in the north-east corner of the park. As I have only seen this species once in Brittany, I was keen to go take a look. On arrival (08:15 am) there were a few birders milling around the area. 


The 'gen' was that the birds were doing circuits around the park but seemed to keep returning to this one patch. That information proved to be correct and we only waited a few minutes before both birds returned. Though the light was not great I did get killer looks through my scope. After getting my fill I decided to try get a few record shots with my new camera - DMC Panasonic FZ72. Both birds spent most of the time low down in the grass making photos very challenging but occasionally popped up. 


Stonechat
Whilst waiting for the Serin to show an accommodating Stonechat kept us entertained coming close to all the birders. After about 45 minutes I decided to make a move to my next destination: St Andrews Church in Bramfield Hertfordshire.


A small flock of Hawfinch have been frequenting the churchyard; though I only got a 3 second view before 2 birds flew off. I waited for another 1/2 hour but no luck so I headed to Amwell Nature Reserve. 

Robin
Here I spent a couple of hours birding the reserve, going through large groups of ducks and gulls and some fun time in one of the hides with my new camera

Reed Bunting
Reed Bunting
Long-tailed Tit
Gadwall
Marsh Tit

Sunday, January 25, 2015

Twite

Me scanning at Titchwell
Had a great day in Norfolk with my good friend Jono Dudley yesterday. We hit the road at 06:00am putting us near our destination (Titchwell Marsh RSPB Reserve)  around 09:30. However, we made a quick pit-stop at Thornham Harbour where 65 Twite had been reported by Rare Bird Alert. 

Thornham Harbour
Though it was freezing cold the weather was perfect; with beautiful winter sun making everything look incredible. We bumped into a few other birders who too were looking for the Twite. It didn't take long to spot the first group of about ten birds; perched on top of some grass near the water. They were highly mobile which kept us on our toes but we managed to get some good views. 

Twite
Wind, distance and frantic feeding habits of this species made photography very challenging. I didn't manage to get anything - I NEED a KOWA adapter but they have still not released it for the Iphone6! Jono, however, did get some good record shots which is amazing under the conditions...check his website here: http://composeandshoot.wordpress.com/





Twite was a lifer me, so our day got off to a great start! Next we stopped at Titchwell Marsh where we spent a few hours birding the reserve. We tallied up 50 species, with good looks at most, though the high tide had put many species at distance.

Jono at Titchwell Beach
There was a good selection of waders to sort through including Black-tailed Godwit, Bar-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Redshank, Ruff, Curlew, Snipe, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Grey Plover, Turnstone, Dunlin, Sanderling and Oystercatcher. Next we headed to Wells-on-Sea to chase a Red-necked Grebe reported in the harbour. En-route we spotted a gathering of twitchers at the side of the road - stopped and got a distant look at Rough-legged Buzzard. The grebe at Wells was a no-show so we hit the road back to good old Woking! Good day, great company and a lifter in the bag - TWITE!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Norfolk Gaggle and a Hike in Wales


My wife Lori and I decided to spend a couple of days in Norfolk just before Christmas. We stayed at the Cromer Country Club but made a trip up the coast to visit Titchwell  Marsh RSPB reserve. En-route to Titchwell we noticed a big flock of geese get up and settle again at Holkham. Here we got great looks at hundreds of Pink-footed Geese. 



A little further up the road we pulled over again. Here there were more Pink-footed Geese, Greylag Geese, 2 tundra Bean Geese and 12 White-fronted Geese.



Titchwell as usual produced lots of birds-56 species including: Marsh Harrier, Knot, Bar-tailed Godwit, Avocet, Sanderling, Black-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover, Ruff, Curlew, Goldeneye and Water Rail. 

Pink-footed Geese going to roost
The following day we took a walk from our accommodation along the coastal path to Overstrand. The birding was a little dull but the views and scenery were beautiful. A good time to reflect the past year. I totaled 199 species for year including 18 lifers. The highlight for 2014 other than some new birds was birding with my old Canadian pals - Mike Force and Chris Charlesworth. 

Cromer Lighthouse


31st December 2014 - Pen y Fan-Brecon Beacons - WALES

Stuart, Den, Nolan and Rich at the old red phone box - Storey Arms
Our last 2 days of 2014 was spent in Wales with our good friends Stuart and Catherine. We also hooked up with our other good friend Den for a walk up Pen y Fan on New Years Eve. Bird species-RAVEN. The wind was absolutely horrendous but at least we didn't get wet!


At 06:00 am New Years day I awoke with 'Auld Lang Syne' still ringing in my ears until the sound of a Blackbird's alarm call blasted across the garden outside; confirming my first bird of the year. With the excitement of a new years bird list ready to begin I got up, guzzled bucket loads of coffee, and stood at the bottom of Stuart and Cath's garden - still in my pajamas. A great place to start a new year - the river Taff at the end of the garden and Garth Mountain looming above. 25 species were tallied here and a further 6 when Stuart and I took a stroll up the road. A great start to what I hope will be a fantastic year with many more adventures to come! Thank you to Stuart and Cath for being amazing hosts and making our visit such fun!

King Arthur - On stag and guarding a precious cargo

Friday, November 7, 2014

Desert Wheatear


Finishing work at 12:30 on a Friday definitely has its benefits and I took full advantage today as I headed west from Surrey to Reculver Towers in Kent. On arrival the reported (Rare Bird Alert) Desert Wheatear was hidden behind some rocks and with dark clouds threatening to stop play I felt somewhat un-optomistic. Luckily, my anxiety was exchanged for euphoria, as this scarce vagrant from North Africa made an appearance and gave me a few opportunities for a record shot! 


My luck continued at this site as I also connected with a British Lifer: Shore Lark! This individual was about a mile up the beach and hanging out with three Snow Bunting. Didn't have much luck on any good photos but have attached one record shot.

Shore Lark

Other species of note: Stonechat, Meadow Pipit, Curlew, Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, Dunlin, Redshank and Brent Goose.