Sunday, 30 May 2010

Savi's Warbler

After pretty much non-existent views of the Savi's Warbler on Thursday night (although it was heard really well!) I got up early and headed back to Old Moor RSPB car park in the hope that the bird may show well (at all!).

There was quite a few people again today, we all wandered down to the back end of the reserve and waited for the bird to sing, we didn't have to wait long before it was singing away. A brief view was had as the bird flitted between the two sides of the ditch it seems to favour, eventually after some more singing and some more ranging up and down the ditch the bird eventually gave itself up singing low in the reeds and showing well and many people managed to see it well. The bird appeared to be ranging further up and down the ditch as time passed by but as the sun went behind the cloud and the wind picked up the warbler was becoming more and more difficult to see so I decided to go for some breakfast!

Both Reed and Sedge Warbler were also present in the reedbed singing away.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Monty's Harrier

On Thursday I was doing some surveying in Lincs and saw a distant pale harrier in strong heat haze. It looked quite interesting but due to the viewing conditions I wasn't able to clinch ID and then I didn't see the bird again.

A late night twitching the Old Moor Savi's Warbler and a dawn start this morning was not ideal but the rewards were high as on arrival at the site bang, male Montagu's Harrier hunting across the grassland. Over the next 5 hours of the survey the bird was observed several times by myself and another surveyor. As I was walking around doing my transects the bird showed really well, occasionally at close range (c30m). It was observed attempting to hunt Linnets and Skylark and it was giving a rabbit some attention for a while but was not seen actually catching anything. At one point it flew straight at and started attacking an adult male Marsh Harrier. When at close range, and especially when it was making contact with the Marsh Harrier it was clear that there was a substantial size difference between the birds, with the Monty appearing c.1/3rd smaller than the Marsh. All in all a spectacular bird and as always a joy to watch.

A simialr aged bird from France (from Wicked Pedia)

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Baby Grouse

Today I've been in a mix of habitats, made up of heather moorland, wet grassland and agriculture watching breeding waders such as Snipe, Curlew, Lapwing and Oystercatcher. Watching breeding Curlew is quite interesting as they cover a large area and seem to spend the whole time flying round calling, occasionally landing on a large rock or fencepost and calling some more! There was a number of Red Grouse in the heather and the highlight today was undoubtedly a pair of Grouse with at least 6 youngsters in tow, trying to count them was difficult as they went bobbing along in the heather! I also found a Meadow Pipit nest.

Saturday, 22 May 2010


Just had this beast in my garden/house visiting the security light! Awesome giant of a creature. Also a Clouded Silver visiting my security light.
Cockchafer Melolontha melolontha

Tuesday, 18 May 2010

Wildlife in Lanzarote

The following species were also seen during our time on Lanzarote:

Bath White
Small White
Large White
Clouded Yellow
Painted Lady
Long-tailed Blue
African Grass Blue

Haria Lizard

Blind Albino Crab - Munidopsis polymorpha

Whale sp. 2 individuals whilst sea-watching on different dates - may have been same species

Shark sp. 1 close in (quite large) whilst sea-watching

Bath White - looked to have just escaped a Southern Grey Shrike attack!
Munidopsis polymorpha

Haria Lizard

Haria Lizard

Monday, 17 May 2010

Lanzarote Trip Report - Part 3 - Bird Photos

Hoopoe, Tias Gold Course

Black-winged Stilt, Janubio

Squacco Heron, Tias Golf Course (Phone-scoped)

Ruddy Shelduck, Janubio

Greater Flamingo, Janubio (Phone-scoped)

Southern Grey Shrike (koenigi)

Berthelot's Pipit (berthelotii)

Barbary Partridge (Phone-scoped)

Andy birding at La Caleta de Famara

Andy sea-watching at Punta Pechiguera (Fuerteventura in the distance)

Lanzarote Trip Report - Part 2 - Bird List

Bird List
  1. Bulwer’s Petrel: 19 seen heading north on 13.05.10 Caleta Negra, 2 seen heading north on 14.05.10 Janubio.
  2. Cory’s Shearwater: Very common, seen every time you looked out to sea!
  3. Macronesian Shearwater: 1 seen heading north close in on 08.05.10 Janubio.
  4. Gannet: 1 juv heading north on 13.05.10 Caleta Negra.
  5. Squacco Heron: 2 on 11.05.10 Tias Golf Course.
  6. Cattle Egret: 2 in breeding plumage at Janubio, others seen at Teguise Golf Course and farmland as driving around the country.
  7. Little Egret: 1 on 04.05.10 at Janubio.
  8. Purple Heron: 1 on 11.05.10 Tias Golf Course.
  9. Greater Flamingo: 1 bird present on all visits to Janubio, very nervous and flushed readily by unsuspecting tourists/dog walkers/low-flying hand-gliders etc!
  10. Ruddy Shelduck: A pair of birds at Janubio throughout.
  11. Black Kite: 1 adult on 13.05.10 Llano de Zonzomas drifting low along the road before being lost to view over nearby farmland.
  12. Osprey: 1 bird roosted on 09.05.10 Janubio.
  13. Common Kestrel: Endemic race (dacotiae) very common throughout.
  14. Barbary Falcon: 1 adult on 07.05.10 Mirador del Rio.
  15. Barbary Partridge: Seen at several locations, e.g Janubio, Uga and Tachiche Golf Course, commonest at Tachiche Golf Course where over 100 were seen on a single visit.
  16. Houbara Bustard: Endemic sub-species (fuertaventurae) seen easily at El Rubicon on all visits, up to 7 seen in one flock.
  17. Oystercatcher: Single bird seen at Janubio during second week.
  18. Black-winged Stilt: Very common at Janubio where they were breeding – young seen.
  19. Stone Curlew: Endemic race (insularum) common on El Rubicon.
  20. Cream-coloured Courser: Endemic race (bannermani) common on El Rubicon.
  21. Collared Pratincole: 3 on 11.05.10 Tias Golf Course.
  22. Little Ringed Plover: Single bird on 12.05.10 Janubio.
  23. Ringed Plover: Seen at Janubio, up to a dozen, including very obvious tundrae birds.
  24. Kentish Plover: Common at janubio, peaking at 21 birds on 14.05.10.
  25. Grey Plover: Low numbers at Janubio throughout.
  26. Sanderling: Up to a dozen at Janubio, in a variety of plumages.
  27. Little Stint: 1 adult in winter plumage on 04.05.10 Janubio.
  28. Semi-palmated Sandpiper: Excellent scope views of this Nearctic vagrant at very close range on 04.05.10 at janubio. Partially webbed feet clearly seen. The bird would associate with the Baird’s Sandpiper and Sanderling when flushed however would feed fairly distant from the other birds and in this regard was always on its own.
  29. Curlew Sandpiper: 1 winter plumage bird on 04.05.10 and 2 birds (winter and spring plumage) on 06.05.10 both Janubio.
  30. Dunlin: Maximum of 10 on 04.05.10, including several birds in summer plumage, considered to belong to alpina race all at Janubio.
  31. Baird’s Sandpiper: Excellent scope views at close range of this Nearctic vagrant present on 04.05.10. The bird was actively feeding along the shoreline of the laguna at janubio. It would associate with Sanderling when in flight if flushed (as was the case due to dog-walkers/tourists etc) but whilst feeding it was incredibly aggressive towards them, puffing its feathers up and chasing after them.
  32. Eurasian Whimbrel: Low numbers (less than 5) roosting at Janubio throughout.
  33. Greenshank: One present on 12.05.10 and 14.05.10 Janubio.
  34. Common Sandpiper: One on 08.05.10 Janubio.
  35. Turnstone: Common at Janubio along the rocky shrore.
  36. Lesser Black-backed Gull: 2 at Janubio during both weeks.
  37. ‘Azorean’ Yellow-legged Gull: endemic sub-species (atlantis) very common throughout the country.
  38. Common Tern: A single bird north on 13.05.10 Caleta Negra.
  39. Rock Dove: Commonly seen along coastlines, cliff-faces and up in the barren volcanoes, believed to belong to the endemic sub-species (canariensis).
  40. Feral Pigeon: Common in cities/towns.
  41. Collared Dove: Very common throughout, especially in towns and on beaches!
  42. Barbary Dove: A couple of birds seen at Playa Blanca that looked a bit more Barbary Dove like than Collared Dove like.
  43. Turtle Dove: Fairly common, where there was cover, especially in the northeast of the island.
  44. Monk Parakeet: 2 birds seen briefly on 14.05.10 Arrerife, though to belong to this species, though other escapes not totally ruled out.
  45. Common Swift: Occasional birds seen, best views on 11.05.10 Tias Golf Course.
  46. Pallid Swift: Commonly seen all over the island, best views on 10.05.10 Jameos del Agua and on 11.05.10 Tias Golf Course where birds were seen down to several feet. Birds seen belonged to race brehmorum.
  47. Eurasian Hoopoe: Very common throughout the country, peak count on 13.05.10 of 65+ birds at Tachiche Golf Course, including flocks here of 11 and 23 birds, large numbers also seen at Tias Golf Course.
  48. Lesser Short-toed Lark: Singing birds recorded at El Rubicon with peak counts made on 13.05.10 of 65+ birds at Tachiche Golf Course. Birds seen belong to endemic sub-species (polatzeki).
  49. Sand Martin: 2 birds on 04.05.10 Janubio.
  50. Barn Swallow: Several birds seen at a variety of locations throughout the country.
  51. Red-rumped Swallow: 4 birds flew north over the villa on 03.05.10 La Goleta.
  52. House Martin: Several seen over Playa Blanca during first week.
  53. Berthelot’s Pipit: Common all across the country, birds seen belong to endemic race (berthelotii).
  54. Iberian ‘Yellow’ Wagtail: Stonking adult male seen at close range on 09.05.10 Janubio (Motacilla flava iberiae).
  55. Common Blackbird: Two males heard singing from deep cover with one male seen briefly, contact calls of female also heard all on 13.05.10 Tachiche Golf Course. Song was like a melancholy version of nominate, however race uncertain – seeking confirmation of whether they were likely to be western Canary Island Race/North African race.
  56. Spectacled Warbler: Endemic sub-species (orbitalis) common in dunes on 12.05.10 La Caleta de Famara.
  57. Sardinian Warbler: A family group seen on 07.05.10 Tachiche Golf Course entrance road.
  58. Common Chiffchaff: One seen on 07.05.10 Tachiche Golf Course entrance road with another seen near Playa Blanca. Race unassigned.
  59. African Blue Tit: Endemic sub-species (degener), pairs seen on 10.05.10 Jameos del Agua and Haria.
  60. Southern Grey Shrike: Endemic sub-species (koenigi), incredibly common countrywide, birds were heard calling, singing, young birds also seen.
  61. Raven: A pair of African Raven sub-species (tingitanus) was seen on 07.05.10 Haria.
  62. Spanish Sparrow: Very common throughout, seen in most habitats.
  63. Atlantic Canary: Two birds seen on 07.05.10 and 10.05.10 at Haria.
  64. Common Linnet: Common throughout, birds belonging to the endemic race (harterti).
  65. Trumpeter Finch: Common throughout, birds belonging to the endemic race (amantum).
Details of reptiles, amphibians, mammals, insects etc coming soon…

Lanzarote Trip Report - Part 1 Logistics and Sites Visited

Lanzarote Trip Report 3rd – 15th May 2010

Approximately 2 weeks on Lanzarote (Canary Islands) with a couple of birding trips made, mainly morning (0700 – 0930 – it wasn’t light till 7ish) or evening (1900 – 2045) however as we were driving around the island visiting some of the sights several birds were seen at random times/locations, birding trips were not made on every day.

The two weeks weather was generally hot (24-29oCs) with several of the days been quite to very windy (generally NW wind) and a couple of early morning showers (typically on the days I’d gone to the better birding locations in the north/east of the island!). Most days started off cloudy and this gradually cleared throughout the day and more cloud was noted in the northeast of the island and inland (if anywhere can be classed inland on an island this small?).

This was my first trip to the Canary Islands so I was looking forward to getting a few new species and some new endemic sub-species/races etc and I wasn’t to be disappointed. We were based right in the south of the island, just outside Playa Blanca where we hired a villa on the La Goleta complex. This worked very well as it kept costs down (e.g. we went to the supermarket to buy food, had our own private pool etc and it was lovely and peaceful!). We hired a car from a local firm that had been recommended to us, we got “upgraded” from a brand new Citro├źn C2 to an old Ford Fiesta! It was a rubbish car but got us from A-B, and occasionally C, this cost a little over £150 for 2 weeks hire. It was the first time I’d ever driven on the wrong side of the road but Lanzarote proved a good place to learn, with good roads and hardly any other cars!

From our base in La Goleta, Playa Blanca travelling around was easy and nowhere was really that far away. Locations visited included with species accounts to follow:

La Goleta, Playa Blanca: Location of our villa, good for close-up views of Spanish Sparrow, Kestrel, Trumpeter Finch, Collared Dove, Linnet, Berthelot’s Pipit, Stone Curlew, Southern Grey Shrike and ‘Azorean’ Yellow-legged Gull. The gulls would roost around the villas and bathe in the communal swimming pool giving great views! Barn and Red-rumped Swallow were recorded flying over the villa and House Martin and Hoopoe were seen over the town.

Hoyo Azul/Caleta Negra/Punta Pechiguera: Great location for sea-watching. A non-stop supply of Cory’s Shearwaters and ‘Azorean’ Yellow-legged Gull with Rock Dove, Common Tern, Gannet and 19 Bulwer’s Petrel also seen from this location on one evenings watch.

El Rubicon: Excellent site but under threat from constant and continued development. Houbara Bustard was ridiculously easy here as was Cream-coloured Courser, Stone Curlew, Lesser Short-toed Lark, Kestrel, Berthelot’s Pipit, Pallid Swift, Trumpeter Finch, Hoopoe, Linnet and Southern Grey Shrike.

Janubio (Salinas and Laguna): An excellent location only 8/9Km north of where we were staying. I made several trips here; most of my birding time was spent here as it was close enough to get to and from before breakfast/after dinner. Wader passage was noticeable here with birds present for a day or so then moving on. Highlights here were undoubtedly Baird’s Sandpiper, Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Greater Flamingo, Ruddy Shelduck, Barbary Falcon, Barbary Partridge and Iberian Yellow Wagtail. Other waders seen here included Sanderling, Turnstone, Whimbrel, Oystercatcher, Kentish Plover, Black-winged Stilt, Little Ringed Plover, Grey Plover, Little Stint and Curlew Sandpiper. The coast here was also great for sea-watching with Cory’s and Macaronesian Shearwater and Bulwer’s Petrels all recorded. Osprey was found roosting on a disused windmill. Several Sand Martin were seen here.

Campo de Golf Teguise (Tachiche): A friendly set of ground staff let me wander all around the golf course. It wasn’t particularly exciting in terms of migrants but species such as Chiffchaff, Sardinian Warbler, Southern Grey Shrike, Hoopoe (c65+, including flocks of 11 and 23!), Cattle Egret, Barbary Partridge (100+), dozens of Kestrel and Blackbird recorded. According to the literature I’ve found there seems to be little reference to Blackbirds on Lanzarote (eg. It’s not referred to within Clarke & Collins A Birdwatchers Guide to The Canary Islands as occurring on Lanzarote). I’d be grateful to get peoples opinions on this record. There were at least two males singing at different areas of scrubby woodland. The birds were much more secretive than those in the UK, and the song was much more melancholy, are these birds likely belong to the western Canary Islands race or the North African race? Barn Swallow seen here too.

Campo de Golf Tias: A young golf course with a lot less vegetation than Teguise, again the friendly staff let me on for a couple of hours birding, highlights here included a flock of 65+ Lesser Short-toed Lark, a dozen or so Hoopoe, two Squacco Heron, Purple Heron, Pallid and Common Swift, Cattle Egret, Trumpeter Finch with the highlight being 3 Collared Pratincole roosting on some rough land.

Mirador del Rio: Spectacular views from here, the Barbary Falcon and Rock Dove made then slightly more interesting too! 50 Barn Swallow where noted too hawking along the cliff-top fields.

Mirador de Haria: More spectacular views with good looks at Canary, Raven, Kestrel and Linnet.

Jameos del Agua: Excellent views of the Lanzarote race of African Blue Tit and Pallid Swift.

La Caleta de Famara: Spectacled Warbler in the dunes here.

Driving around the island: Did quite a few miles best birds seen from the road included Black Kite (1 adult at Llano de zonzomas), Turtle Dove (fairly common), frustratingly a probable Eleonora’s Falcon was lost as I was driving through a village near Mirador del Rio. Quite a lot of Swift sps. were seen whilst driving, these were not checked properly.

Sunday, 16 May 2010

Lanzarote Trip Report

Just writing Lanzarote Trip Report, highlights include: Bulwer's Petrel, Macronesian Shearwater, Squacco and Purple Heron, Greater Flamingo, Black Kite, Barbary Falcon, Barbary Partridge, Houbara Bustard, Collared Pratincole, Semi-palmated Sandpiper, Baird's Sandpiper, Red-rumped Swallow, Iberian Yellow Wagtail, Blackbird, African Blue Tit, Canary plus lots of endemic sub-species etc... details coming soon....

Hoopoe - Abundant all over the place!

Saturday, 1 May 2010

Local Patch

Had a dawn (ish) blast round the local patch this morning with not a huge amount new recorded. I got to watch and listen to a pair of Lesser Whitethroat performing a courtship display which was enjoyable in the early morning sun. The patch seemed to be crawling with Blackcap and Common Whitethroat with plenty of Chiffchaff still singing away. I think I only had the one Willow Warbler this morning still singing around Patch Pond. The Starlings and House Sparrows that breed on the housing estate are busily chasing insects about to feed to their young. I spent quite a while watching the House Sparrows fly-catching, quite successfully. I wasn't the only one watching them as all of a sudden a really smart male Sparrowhawk came shooting through for them, luckily for the Sparrows they all got away in time! The two families of ducklings were still surviving. I also noted a large terrapin in the pond, basking in the early morning sun - would this take out ducklings? Several pairs of Bullfinch were found, the patch is brilliant for this stunning, yet declining often difficult to see species, a pair of Goldfinch were also displaying. The Skylark was still singing away, as were the Song Thrush, Robin, Wren, Dunnock etc. Unfortunately the weather closed in and it then rained for a lot of the day. Disappointingly there were no hirundines or swifts seen, which was surprising.

A trip to check on the horse over in Minskip, near Boroughbridge resulted in several Tree Sparrow been seen. Barn Swallow had obviously arrived back on their breeding sites there since our last visit with 4 birds noted, these birds were already nest building too! A flock of 4 House Martin flew north, later several birds were found collecting mud for their nests in a nearby village. A Sparrowhawk was noted soring over, with Buzzard calling from high up in the sky somewhere and a single Swift flew northeast.

This might well be the last update for a white, dependent on Canary Island Internet capability! I may go out on the local patch tomorrow if I get time, otherwise it will be on my return, hopefully after seeing some half decent birds!