Wednesday, 28 January 2009
***Late night update, Tawny Owl (year tick 135), calling outside tonight's B&B in south western Scotland, coolio!
Tuesday, 27 January 2009
A walk along a secret river did not produce the hoped-for otter, do they even exist???
Wednesday, 21 January 2009
After surveys I made a quick late afternoon visit to Cresswell where I got really good views of 78 Twite feeding in the dunes around the cows, my best looks at this species for a long while. A look out to sea produced only two birds, both Red-throated Divers but another year tick. On the way back to the B&B a strategic stop gave 2 Greater Scaup and stunning views of 2 Barn Owls hunting.
Today I only added one year bird, but it was a good one! Red-legged Partridge!!! What a cracker! This takes me up to 133 for the year which I'm quite pleased with considering I've not had plenty of common birds yet, e.g. Grey Partridge, Little Egret, Marsh Tit and Green Woodpecker etc...
Monday, 19 January 2009
We set off at 5.30am and made good time, getting to Hayle for lunchtime, a brief refuelling and toilet stop and we were off looking for the track to find the owl. We thought we were in the right place but turns out we were on a sheep track! After finding some helpful birders we were quickly pointed in the right direction and continued our march to our target bird, up a very muddy path/swamp. A male Merlin shot across the path in front of us and a couple of Ravens flew along a valley below us, we saw a guy low in the vegetation so cautiously walked up to him and sat on the ground where we enjoyed really satisfactory views of this breathtaking bird. We watched it for about 30 minutes before the weather turned and a deluge ensued. Before the bad weather we were able to observed the bird looking around (presumably for photographers???) it’s piercing eyes stood out at range. This was a UK first for me, and a lifer for Ade and Jenny so we were all happy with the start to our weekend! The only bad point was the weather turning and us not being able to really stay up there for any longer. We left the hill happy, wet and dirty, (some more than others……).
We’d headed to our B&B in Penzance – Elmsdale Guest House (highly recommended), very clean B&B, good breakfasts, very nice rooms and very nice people – can’t wait to return. After a good shower and getting warmed up we headed to town for some good food and a celebratory drink!
We went back down to Marazion but there was no sign of the Phals but a single Water Pipit was a nice bird. We quickly made our way to Newquay where we got excellent looks at a very interestingly plumaged Rosy Starling, somewhere in between plumages. We then headed to Devon where we found a delightful road to a Cider place, and some scones with jam and cream just for Jenny.
We then decided to try our luck with the Penduline Tit that had been present in the area for a few days, we didn’t have to wait long for it to pop out and start showing off in the reeds at fairly close range, a cracking little bird. A look through the gulls on the sports fields here gave us a smart adult Med Gull but little else. We then went on to a secret location where we got fantastic views of at least 10 Cirl Buntings, a UK tick for me having never birded down there before.
All in all a very good few days birding with a decent trip list (TBA). Big thanks must go to Jenny for being very understanding of two losers standing around looking for birds! Xxxxx Thanks too must go to Ade for finding a couple of the birds and sharing the driving – I can’t believe my little Peugeot made another long haul twitch, 1000 mile round trip!!! Big up the French (or whoever makes them!).
Cheers – ANDY.
Tuesday, 13 January 2009
Monday, 12 January 2009
Sunday, 11 January 2009
After a cracking Bacon sandwich we moved across to Piper Hide, enjoying good views of a Kingfisher en route. Though we scanned and scanned we couldn't find the Bitterns, not sure if anyone did today? The only bird of interest we saw there was a nice drake Pintail. Then it was on to Huxter Hexagonal hide or whatever it's called... This was where it got interesting, we immediately got onto the Caspian Gull that was showing well, however, some in the hide seemed unable to differentiate it from Black-headed or Common Gulls, and thought they were still watching the Caspo 20 minutes after it had flown off!!! Never mind, and then there was the ones thinking the Caspo was actually a Ring-billed Gull...... and the ones claiming a self-found tick... you can't claim a self-found tick if the birds been there for over 2 months! That's just wrong! Though I was the first person to see it in my scope view so maybe i can have it as a self-found too???? Answers on a postcard......
All in all an interesting day, at least it was warmer than of late with a few new year ticks.
Wednesday, 7 January 2009
It was back to work on Monday the 5th, I didn't mind as I knew I stood a chance of adding Red Kite to my year list, which took no time at all to get, they always amaze me and I love driving past Harewood and seeing them when I'm in the office.
My first work trip of the new year took me up to Blyth, Northumberland this was the first visit to an estuary and coast of the new year so everything was new for the year however highlights included Water Pipit, Jack Snipe and 20 Purple Sandpiper.
On the way back home i had an hour or so of light left, it had to be done, I stopped in at Saltholme and within a few minutes of rolling up at the site was looking at the Glaucous-winged Gull again, this time it was closer than before, better light, less birders and with less other birds so viewing was much better than on the 2nd. I was really pleased to get further looks at this bird and may well go back again if I'm passing and it's still around as it's an awesome bird.
Poor quality phone shots below...
Monday, 5 January 2009
Sunday, 4 January 2009
- Brown Shrike: I was present at more-or-less first light (what happened to work that day?) so had great views of the bird. I stayed up on the road as all the numpties ran off into the field (not sure if they had been given permission), they flushed the bird from the bottom of Old Fall right up to me! Cheers for that!! It then flew over the road and vanished for a while before being relocated several hundred metres away. I'd always wanted to see a Brown Shrike in the UK (after disappointingly brief views in Borneo) so was happy to get one so close to home! Other good birds seen that morning included Red-backed Shrike, 7 Yellow-browed Warblers, Red-breasted Flycatcher and a self-found Richard's Pipit.
- Bluethroat: Not here because it is rare, as it isn't particularly but here as it is one of my favourite birds and the first one that I have actually found myself, plus it was on the Northumberland mainland, so not particularly common up there either. Was twitched by quite a few birders which was cool. The story of this is strange to say the least! I was out surveying a stretch of beach when some of the local chavs had set light to some tyres, the plume of smoke was bellowing out to sea over the dunes and areas of scrub and forced down a group of migrating birds. On checking out these birds nothing but glimpses, then a pish and bamm it was sat in the top of some scrub, Bluethroat!!! Awesome! I had a feeling something good would be around, I'd already found a Wryneck the day before (and one later that day too) and a Black Redstart and the area was humping with common and scarce migrants.
- Red-footed Falcon: Again not particularly rare but it was the fact that i saw 5 different birds in a week as I was shooting all around the country with work at the time, and these birds were very close to where i was working. Birds in all kinds of plumages were observed. In a way this was quite a sour point as because I'd seen so many Red-foots in the spring I didn't bother with the bird at Tophill that turned out to be an Amur Falcon, even though my good friend Rich kept asking me to come and see it! I should have made the effort!!
- Lesser Grey Shrike: A bird a had always wanted to see, and probably should have/could have if it wasn't for those damn Sparrowhawks!!! This bird showed really well and was even singing and even made it onto my pissing list...
- Black Stork: A good addition to my list, this had become a bit of a bogey bird for me and i almost missed it again somewhere in deepest Yorkshire after having dipped it up somewhere near Newcastle. I was about to leave the site when someone found it - about 2km from where it had last been seen, it must have walked as it certainly wasn't seen in flight.
Other birds I was pleased to see during 2008 were Red-flanked Bluetail, Steppe Grey Shrike, Canavsback, Two-barred Crossbill, Desert Wheatear, Pied Wheatear, White-crowned Sparrow, Stilit Sandpiper, Wilson's Phalarope, Snow Goose, Blue-winged Teal, Lesser Scaup, King Eider, Tawny Pipit, Hume's Warbler (2), Hooded Merganser, Cattle Egret (2), Marsh Warbler (7), Icterine Warbler (2), Sub-alpine Warbler, Wryneck (2), Hoopoe, Red-rumped Swallow, Pallas's Warbler, Radde's Warbler, Siberian Chiffchaff, Yellow-browed Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher (2), Black Redstart, Red-backed Shrike (2), Great Grey Shrike, Black-crowned Night-Heron, White Stork, European Storm-Petrel, Black-winged Stilit, Buff-breasted Sandpiper, Pectoral Sandpiper (2), Glossy Ibis (2), Common Quail, Rough-legged Buzzard, European Golden Oriole (3), Common Crane, 'Black-bellied' Dipper, Tavener's and Cackling Canada Geese and lots and lots of self-found Waxwing.
Lets hope 2009 lives up to 2008!!!
Some phone-scoped pictures from 2008 (sorry for the poor quality for most of these):