Thursday, 29 January 2015


Very excited that I'm going to be going to Andalucia, Spain in early April for a week or so birding and mammal watching (all other animals welcome too!), scoping out more birding destinations for Birding Ecotours.

There's a wide range of really great wildlife in this region. Some of the main wildlife targets will be Iberian Lynx, Wolves(!), Otters, Wild Boar, Mouflon and Red Deer - early days of planning yet, so may be more...

Bird-wise I'll be targeting Spanish Imperial Eagle, Golden Eagle, Black Vulture, Griffon Vulture (and Ruppell's too...?), Egyptian Vulture, Black-shouldered Kite, Purple Gallinule, Marbled Teal, Crested (Red-knobbed) Coot, Northern Bald Ibis, Red-necked Nightjar, Iberian Woodpecker, Iberian Shrike, Iberian Magpie, Great Spotted Cuckoo, Common Crane, Audouin's Gull, Sandgrouse, White-headed Duck, Black Wheatear, Great and Little Bustards, Eagle Owl, Scops Owl, Rock Thrushes.... and a lot more.

On top of the above there should be some cool raptors passing through such as Bonelli's, Booted, Short-toed Eagle, Montagu's, Marsh and Hen Harriers (Pallid too?), Black and Red Kites, Osprey and Lesser Kestrel.

Should hopefully be a good range of other migrants too, such as Crakes, Hoopoe, Bee-eaters, Rollers, Swifts, Shrikes, Orioles, Larks, Chats, Wheatears and Warblers... southern Europe in early-April could be interesting... certainly very exciting!

Area I'll be exploring.... (not my picture).

Sunday, 25 January 2015

Green-winged Teal NDC

I went away on Friday night for the weekend for the first time since Christmas, so when I got a phone call from Jono (Birding Dad) on Saturday morning I got that sinking feeling - "I'm watching a Green-winged Teal at North Duffield, can you come down and see it". Er, no, I'm in Warwickshire! I just had to hope it would be there Sunday afternoon. Several people saw it on Saturday morning before it was flushed by shooting at the nearby farm and was not seen afterwards. Though I did get several photos of the bird so I knew what I was missing, thanks everyone!

There were no reports of it during Sunday morning so I headed straight there when I got home just after lunch. There was quite a few ducks on the water - this could take some time.

In fact it didn't! I started on the left side of the large flock and about 10 birds in was the smart drake Green-winged Teal! The bird was on show until dusk. A nice bird for my Patchwork Challenge list! I got a few record shots on my phone (below). There wasn't much else of note, just the usual suspects.

Green-winged Teal (phone-scoped) 

Green-winged Teal (phone-scoped) 

Green-winged Teal (phone-scoped) 

Green-winged Teal (phone-scoped) 

Sunday, 18 January 2015

A great few visits to the Patch

Had a great few visits onto the 'patch' this weekend.

Some highlight birds include:

Hen Harrier - finally caught up with the ring-tail Hen Harrier that's been in the local area for a few weeks!

Raven - one flew west over Skipwith Common on Saturday afternoon.

Marsh Harrier - had an immature bird at NDC today.

Peregrine Falcon - had an adult female yesterday and an immature male today, both at NDC. The male today made several attempts at Dunlin during the 2 hours I was watching him, and one go at the Marsh Harrier too!

Barn Owl - saw a few birds this weekend - probably about 5 birds! Some very nice views (and rubbish record shots off my phone in near-darkness).

Tawny Owl - three seen on Saturday night.

Black-tailed Godwit - one flew into NDC briefly before heading back north up the valley, presumably trying to find some unfrozen ground!

Stonechat - Two seen at the same time today at NDC.

Other common birds that had alluded me until now included Corn Bunting, Coal Tit, Siskin, Lesser Redpoll. I'm now at 81 species, 86 points.

The Shelduck had reduced to about 110 birds, Dunlin had increased to 224 (good count) and there were about 97 Whooper Swans late afternoon today. It was not possible to count the wildfowl as they were all very tightly packed on the only unfrozen patch of water!

Barn Owl - phone-scoped record shot near dark

Barn Owl - phone-scoped record shot near dark

Sunday, 11 January 2015


A steady couple of days on the patch but I did get two birds that may be difficult - especially with the water levels at NDC rapidly decreasing - Pochard (1 male) and Tufted Duck (1 female). Other 'new' birds included the worlds fastest Long-tailed Tit (very much wind assisted).

Of most interest at NDC today was the Shelduck - had a high count in the morning of 118 but this afternoon beat that and got 124! Unusually high for the time of the year I think. Nothing interesting in the gull roost unfortunately.

Another nice Barn Owl view today too.

Tuesday, 6 January 2015

Patch Birding

I've added a couple of new birds to my #PWC2015 list over the last couple of days, this has included sightings of Barn Owl, Mistle Thrush, Linnet, Gadwall, Kingfisher and, best of all - Stonechat. Not bad for a couple of dog walks and and quick look on the Carrs.

Now up to 66 species (68 points).

Lots of common birds still to make an appearance yet too such as Long-tailed Tit, Coal Tit, Yellowhammer, Treecreeper, Lesser Redpoll, both Partridges etc!

North Duffield Carrs was heaving with birds today, loads of Golden Plover and Lapwing, there was also a good number of Dunlin and Ruff, four or five Curlew and a couple of Redshank (no sign of yesterdays 4/5 Black-tailed Godwits). Still plenty of Whooper Swans about, as was the Bewick's Swan. Good numbers of Shelduck, Wigeon, Teal, Mallard and a few Pintail, Shoveler, Gadwall. Lots of big gulls coming in to roost too.

The view from the hide today.

Sunday, 4 January 2015

Patchwork Challenge

I've decided to do the 'Patchwork Challenge' this year. Their blog is here:

I've selected an area that stretches from Bubwith Bridge, up to North Duffield Carrs and village (including my house and the footpaths/areas I walk my dogs) across to Skipwith Common. I've put a rough idea of my patch below:

My Patch - rough map view

My Patch - rough satellite view

Although I've not participated in the Patchwork Challenge before I will know if a bird is 'good' or not as I've birded this patch a fair bit over the last 3/4 years. A lot will depend on the water levels over the year and how much I can keep motivated to get out and look for birds - I prefer the foreign stuff! Hopefully I won't miss too much when I am abroad this year...!

I've had a couple of visits to North Duffield Carrs and my dog walk circuit over the weekend and am now up to 60 species (and 62 points). Mainly all common stuff though the Bewick's Swan in with the Whooper Swan flock today is the best bird so far. I've also had a few waders that can be tricky on the patch at this time of the year such as Redshank and Curlew, though they are easy in a couple of months time...

It's amazing how different two days can be. One Saturday afternoon the reserve was full of Golden Plover, Lapwing, Ruff and Dunlin, today there was just a handful of Ruff and Dunlin and only a few Lapwing and Golden Plover. I guess the difference is down to the frozen ground today. There is also a sizable flock Shelduck present at the moment, getting on for 70 birds, unusual for the time of the year I think. The flock of Whoopers today was double the count of yesterdays too.

The Bewick's Swans with Whooper Swans from Bird Race 2013!

Saturday, 3 January 2015

Little Beauty

Ended the year with a nice bonus UK tick, as did many lucky birders.

At some point when I was in Australia (November) I got news of a Little Bustard being in the UK, but it didn't hang around and so that was that, or so I thought (plus I was seeing lots of great birds so didn't really care!). But then one was reported on the south coast near the end of December - the same, or another? It got me a little more interested... But I had no real intentions of driving to the south coast.

The next day, New Years Eve, one was found near Flamborough in East Yorkshire. So I shot across there and in no time at all I was enjoying nice views of this very rare bird to the UK - the first in Yorkshire since 1956!

In the rush to get to the site I forgot my camera, so I've just got a little record shot (below) from my phone -admittedly it does look a bit like a female Pheasant in this picture!

Little Bustard (Phone-scoped) Andy Walker

A really great find, and re-find so thanks to everyone involved. The bird hung around on the 31st and was also present on the 1st January 2015 for those who couldn't get there on the 31st. However is was not there on the 2nd. It was the first mainland twitchable bird for years - possibly since about 1996! It was the first I'd seen for a number of years, since I was in Spain/Portugal.

Friday, 2 January 2015

Australian Landscape Photos

Here are a few photos of the various landscapes/habitats I was birding in during my time in South Australia and Queensland. This will probably be the final installment of photos from my trip for a while (Phew! I hear), however I do have a few other blog posts to do on my trip, e.g. Bowerbirds and their Bowers, some species specific stuff etc... though I'm likely to be busy for a while on a few other things so will feed those posts in when I'm quiet.

Here's some quick links to the other Australian photo pages I've put together:

South Australia Birds: Click here
South Australia Wildlife: Click here
South Queensland Birds: Click here
North Queensland Birds: Click here
Queensland Wildlife: Click here

I'd highly recommend birding trips to South Australia and Queensland, I saw loads of great birds, many I got photos of, many I didn't! Also great for a wide range of other wildlife too.

Mount Lofty, Adelaide, South Australia © Andy Walker 2014

Glenelg Rivermouth, Victoria © Andy Walker 2014

Gluepot Reserve Campsite, South Australia © Andy Walker 2014

Kanyaka Homestead, South Australia © Andy Walker 2014

Lake Gairdner, South Australia © Andy Walker 2014

Laratinga Wetlands, South Australia © Andy Walker 2014

Little Dip, South Australia © Andy Walker 2014

Mount Ive Station, South Australia © Andy Walker 2014

Mount Ive Station, South Australia © Andy Walker 2014

Mount Ive Station, South Australia © Andy Walker 2014
Dawn on my birthday. Perfect!

Dave and Sue in Parachilna Gorge, South Australia © Andy Walker 2014

Gum Trees, Murray River, South Australia © Andy Walker 2014

Secret Rocks, South Australia © Andy Walker 2014

Waterhole, South Australia © Andy Walker 2014

Telford Scrub, South Australia © Andy Walker 2014

The Outback, South Australia © Andy Walker 2014

The Outback, South Australia © Andy Walker 2014

Waitpinga Beach, South Australia © Andy Walker 2014

Brisbane, Queensland © Andy Walker 2014

Mangroves, Brisbane, Queensland © Andy Walker 2014

Lamington NP, Queensland © Andy Walker 2014

Lamington NP, Queensland © Andy Walker 2014

Lamington NP, Queensland © Andy Walker 2014

Sheepstation Creek, NSW © Andy Walker 2014

Sheepstation Creek, NSW © Andy Walker 2014

Sheepstation Creek, NSW © Andy Walker 2014

Storm in Queensland © Andy Walker 2014

Sundown NP, Queensland © Andy Walker 2014

Cairns Esplanade, Queensland © Andy Walker 2014

Daintree River, Queensland © Andy Walker 2014

Waterhole, Queensland © Andy Walker 2014

North Queensland Coast, Queensland © Andy Walker 2014

North Queensland Coast, Queensland © Andy Walker 2014

Swamp, Queensland © Andy Walker 2014