Monday, 28 June 2010

Quail and Smurfs

Had a weekend stag do in the Lake District which was great fun but I really couldn't motivate myself to go to work this morning but I'm glad I did as I found myself a Quail!

Wednesday, 16 June 2010

Turtle Doves and not a lot else!

Yesterday saw me travelling to a different area in Lincolnshire, surveying was very slow, one of the slowest I've ever had, however a Turtle Dove made the pulse quicken for a short while as it flew right past me between to areas of cover. There really was little else of note, however it was nice watching a pair of Yellow Wagtail tend their nest. Other bits seen included Tree Sparrow, Linnet, Swallow, Swift, Grey Partridge etc...

Saturday, 12 June 2010

Honey to the Bee

Today I had the pleasure of watching a beautiful displaying male Honey Buzard as it flew around wing-clapping, a great sight! It is always nice to see that they have made it safely back from their wintering grounds and not got shot over France, Italy or Malta! Good times!

My 'Rare Birds Where and When' book (see a few posts down) has also arrived today so I will try and get chance to read through it and post a review on here in the near future.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Hare today gone tomorrow...

Spent a couple of days over in Lancashire, however the continued poor weather resulted in the cancellation of my breeding bird survey this morning. Yesterday the wind was not much fun to be sat out in, this was only slightly improved by a great look at a Peregrine that flew low through my watch area before gradually soaring to about 500m and then drifting off. The other highlight (it was a slow day!) was a cool Brown Hare that came fairly close (probably trying to get out of the wind like I was!).

I wish all of this wind had blown the Pallas's Reed Bunting a little further onto Flamborough Head or Spurn Point! On the plus side there may be another one out there somewhere!!!

Tuesday, 8 June 2010

Bird Photography Workshops & Tours

I've spent the day in the office writing reports today due to the poor weather which got me thinking about some more foreign travel, reminiscing of time spent in hot, sunny locations, watching top quality birds and I thought I'd share the details of my friend Glenn Bartley whom I met whilst birding in Costa Rica. In my opinion Glenn is one of the best bird photographers in the world, but don't just take my word for it check out his website.

Glenn is a professional photographer from Victoria, British Columbia, Canada. He focuses on capturing intimate portraits of birds in their natural surrounds. Glenn also leads photo workshops for Nature's Photo Adventures to exciting destinations around the world such as Costa Rica, Ecuador, Belize, Trinidad & Tobago and Canada amongst other destinations.

Glenn's work has been published widely throughout North America in books (e.g. Birds in Ecuador: A Photographic Journey) and magazines (such as Birders World, Birding and Bird Watchers Digest).

Monday, 7 June 2010

Rare Birds Where and When

The occurrence and successful twitch of the Marmora's Warbler in Gwent this past week and the Lesser Kestrel at Minsmere earlier this year inspired me to look into purchasing a reference material on rare bird status and distribution in the UK, so today I've just ordered a copy of Rare Birds Where and When: An analysis of status and distribution in Britain and Ireland. Volume 1: Sandgrouse to New World Orioles by Russell Slack (pictured below). I can't wait for this book to arrive as it looks packed full of a plethora of facts and figures and has had some really good reviews, as well as winning several top awards (e.g. Birdwatch Magazine: Best Bird Book 2009). I'll hopefully be able to mark up the rares I've seen before as well as plan the next ones I'm likely to see!!!

I've ordered my copy from Hopefully Volume 2: Swans to Auks will be published later this year too. You can view several sample species accounts at the above website (e.g. Blyth's Pipit and Ovenbird amongst others). For each species there is an overview of:
  • Distribution
  • Nomenclature
  • Taxonomy
  • Status
  • Historical Review
  • Occurrence and Arrival Patterns
  • Western Palearctic or European Records

and more...

When it arrives and I've had chance to give it a read through I'll provide my own thoughts on the book here.

Sunday, 6 June 2010

Marmora's Warbler

As soon as I heard that there was a first summer male Marmora's Warbler in south Wales I was very keen to add this species to both my life and UK lists, however due to work commitments at the end of the week and a date with some horses on Saturday I had a nervous wait, not helped by the negative news of Saturday afternoon/evening which delayed my start this morning from 2am till 8am. I had thought it was likely that the bird was still going to be present based on previous behavioural reports over the last few days. However I didn't want to waste the fuel if the bird had gone (eg predated during the afternoon).

I set off with my birding chum Dave from York at about 8.15 and after a rather wet journey south arrived at the site around noon. I'd literally just stepped out of the car when I heard and saw the bird briefly before it dropped out of view from a small Hawthorn bush. I'd read that the bird ranged around a sizable area so I was not too concerned that it had gone for good and about 10 minutes later the bird popped up in a distant Hawthorn bush, it was actively foraging within the bush but gradually worked its way to the top of the bush where it showed well, albeit distantly singing.

Chuffed with the views we'd just had we were amazed as the warbler flew to a bush a bit closer, then another, then it flew even closer, landing on a stone wall where it sat and sang for what seemed like an eternity, moving up the wall a few metres and singing some more - an incredible view of this super bird which left everyone awestruck.

Soon after this view the bird performed some more before flying across the road into a Holly bush where it then dropped out of view. With these incredible views we were totally happy to leave the site and head off on our journey home, very happy!

I'd like to thank Dave Perrett for letting me use his excellent photo of the Marmora's Warbler (above). You can visit Dave's blog/website at the following links and

Other birds noted in the vicinity included an almost constantly displaying Tree Pipit, several Meadow Pipit and Skylark, Whinchat, Stonechat and Cuckoo amongst others.

Saturday, 5 June 2010

Monty Gone

Went back to check on the male Monty's I'd found last week but after walking many Kms around the area it was apparent that the bird had moved on, oh well at least it was a nice day to be walking around! Whilst walking around there was plenty of breeding activity recorded with the highlights including Marsh Harrier, Barn Owl, Common Buzzard, Corn Bunting, Reed Bunting, Yellow Wagtail, Tree Sparrow, Linnet and Goldfinch with tons of Skylark and Meadow Pipit.

A rather jammy vantage point on Friday in Notts was great, I got to sit in the 25degC all day and watch birds! It was like I was being paid to be on holiday! Several good birds were found including Grasshopper Warbler, Reed Warbler and Cuckoo, a pair of Yellow Wagtail were showing very well as they continued to ferry food to their nest in some oilseed rape and several young birds were noted on a small flash including Moorhen, Coot and Mute Swan with 3 very young hatchlings. I also found a couple of Lapwing nests on a material I've not found them nesting on before, bark chippings! They seemed to like this material as there were 4 nests in 40sq m!

Thursday, 3 June 2010


Just back from an excellent evening surveying for Long-eared Owls. I'd hoped it would be a successful trip due to the lovely pleasant evening and I wasn't disappointed. Almost immediately on arrival at the site just before dusk we had a pair of birds hunting an area of marshy grassland/pastureland. This pair was seen entering a stand of conifers, presumably to a nest site or to feed young. It was interesting watching these birds hunting the fields, they were getting a bit of attention from the breeding Kestrels and the Blackbirds were going loco too. The owls facial expressions varied greatly as they raised and lowered their ear-tufts depending upon their mood and as they were listening for prey! All in all excellent views.

A short while later in another small plantation we had another bird, this time a fledgling, the bird was calling away and briefly showed as it moved around the edge of the plantation. At this point a male Grasshopper Warbler started reeling but I didn't bother trying to look for it as it was already dark by this point.

Tuesday, 1 June 2010

Evening Walk

Went for a nice evening walk to check out a few areas of interesting habitat, it was quieter than expected but still produced Cuckoo (rather embarrassingly my first of the year despite spending extensive amounts of time in suitable habitat!), Corn Bunting, Yellow Wagtail, Grasshopper Warbler and Wheatear with displaying Redshank, Snipe and Curlew proving entertaining. As darkness descended a couple of Barn Owls came into view and proceeded to scream at, and chase each other around!