Monday 15 July 2024

Missed opportunities first half of 2024

BUFFLEHEAD: First reported on 19th March in Clyde for a day before moving to Aberdeen on 24th March where it remained for two days before being found on Loch Leven on 29th March and was last seen on 6th April with a single reported distant sighting on 7th April.  I gave this some thought but couldn't justify the money and time involved whilst it was here.

COLLARED FLYCATCHER: One on Fair Isle, Shetland for a day on 2nd May before another was trapped at Kilnsea Yorkshire on 3rd May. News was released at 8am and the bird was seen for the rest of that day and all day on 4th. I have no excuse for not going for this bird, it was a cracking male and gave two days to connect so it's a big regret for me already.

EASTERN SUBALPINE WARBLER: A male was found in brambles at Holme in Norfolk on 28th April but news wasn't released until 9pm which ruled out a visit on the day. The bird showed really well all day on the 29th for those lucky enough to get there but left overnight and wasn't seen again. This is also a bird I should have found the time and motivation to see. Another was found on 3rd May on Shetland and another or the same bird on 6th May still on Shetland and both out of my twitch zone.

SOCIABLE PLOVER/LAPWING: One was found on 2nd February in Cornwall and was twitchable at distance until 9th February. Again another bird I regret not trying for but it was a twelve hour round trip and I couldn't justify staying away from home at the time and didn't fancy the long return trip.

INDIGO BUNTING: One in Whitburn, Durham from 18th May until 20th May giving a three day window for me to make the nine hour round trip but I never found the free time to do it.  Only three previous accepted records in Britain but this if accepted would be the first mainland bird. Another in Denmark and another in Iceland add to the chance of acceptance. A first summer male (same as the Whitburn bird) has also been photographed in Milford Haven Pembrokeshire on 22nd May. I really regret not going for this bird!

GREEN WARBLER: One on Unst, Shetland from 22nd May until 24th May. Out of my twitch range but a rare bird with only ten previous records accepted and only two of these being mainland birds. A second record on Holy Island Northumberland on 24th May was seen again briefly on 25th and despite being a third mainland record it remained untwitchable although I doubt I'd have tried with it being over six hours from home in a good wind. Another was found on Fair Isle on 17th June.

THRUSH NIGHTINGALE: Several typically elusive birds found on spring migration. Six birds found on Shetand and another on Orkney but two mainland birds were found, one at Blakeney point on 18th May was twitchable if you were in the area and happy to do the long walk down the shingle beach and another bird reported as singing at Frampton on 8th May wasn't located or seen by anybody. Not a particularly rare bird with annual passage but a very elusive bird and difficult to connect with on the mainland for sure.

BOOTED EAGLE: One photographed on 20th May with a large arrival of Red Kites. With no accepted records this bird could hold the key to acceptance.(The bird was reported as a probable again on 8th June in Devon.)

INDIAN GOLDEN ORIOLE: An Oriole found on Holy Island Northumberland on 21st May was later ID'd as an Indian bird, a seperate species to our European birds and a first for Britain. It was seen by a few lucky individuals until lunchtime when it went missing and disappointed a few twitchers the following day. Holy Island is around six hours from home and this twitch was never on which helps to deal with missing it.

TAWNY PIPIT: My bogey bird, one was reported at Pendeen on 11th May but was not seen after the initial report and another was found on Fair Isle on 27th May.

MAMORA'S WARBLER: Fair Isle 29th May - 1st June

BRIDLED TERN: One seen on Coquet Island Northumberland in the evening of 1st June and last seen on 15th June. Tempted me this one but I couldn't get the Jims interested and the long solo run put me off both for lone travel and expense involved along with it taking a lot of my valuable free time.

ZITTING CISTICOLA: JP found one at South Foreland on 20th June but lost it within minutes of the find and couldn't relocate it so sadly the twitch didn't get underway for what will be a ninth for Britain and a fifth for Kent.

RED-FOOTED BOOBY: One was photographed from a boat 800m off the Dorset coast on 24th June and seen from Portland too. The bird was seen again on 2nd July off the coast of Sidmouth in Devon.

STEGNEGER'S SCOTER: Presumed returning bird off Musselburgh in Scotland, first seen on 2nd July. This is 400 miles from home, a journey that would take around seven hours each way and one that so far has not grabbed me but if I'm heading north then maybe it could be doable at some time as it remained in Lothian well into August last year.

SOUTH POLAR SKUA: One from Scilly paleagic on 5th July 

So the big regrets for 2024 lie with Indigo Bunting and Collared Flycatcher the rest were either too far or just not twitchable for me.


With regards to Essex ticks I missed the Greenish Warbler at Walton on the Naze on 8th June due to family commitments and had similar trouble getting away for the Citrine Wagtail at Holland Haven on 2nd May and the Greater Short-toed Lark at KGV on 2nd May which I dipped due to getting there too late after a lovely day with the grandchildren.

A Roseate Tern was reported flying down river at Canvey on 14th June and a Great Reed Warbler was also reported once only on 21st May so neither were real opportunities to add them to the Essex list.

A Caspian Tern was reported at Abberton on 16th June, I tried to connect but the bird wasn't there when I searched for it.

Sunday 14 July 2024

More garden birds

 The two Robin youngsters are still spending most of their time in my garden and seem to be doing well despite the constant threat from the neighbours cats.

Juvenile Robin

Great Tits and Blue Tits are thriving too and are almost ever present in numbers as the youngsters don't seem to want to leave the garden at all.

Blue Tit

Great Tit

Great Tit

House Sparrows are now on their third brood and the Magpies continue to defend the territory too.

House Sparrow

House Sparrow


House Sparrow

Saturday 13 July 2024

Franklin's Gull at Crossness

Sitting minding my own business this afternoon when news breaks of a Franklin's Gull at Crossness in south London. The first report was vague just saying one at Crossness this afternoon but it wasn't clear if it was still about or had flown off so I decided to wait for a second report which came through about an hour later. A quick call to Jim and we were off making our way through the Blackwall Tunnel. Traffic was bad and it took just over an hour to get there arriving to news that the bird had just flown off west. We decided to stick it out at the outfall believing that the bird would return to feed at some point and two hours later it did and showed really well for the small crowd gathered.

I managed a few shots but with dark clouds moving in we left around 7pm to head home satisfied with the year tick (222) and the London tick (240)  I picked out a single Med Gull amongst the gathering of Black-headed Gulls but little else of note whilst we waited.

Great to see Mick S. there for a catch up, it's been a long time coming and with Mick's experience of seeing these birds abroad it was of course he who called the bird when it first returned. And good to see Nev there getting his 400th tick.

Wednesday 10 July 2024

more time to focus on the garden


Wood Sandpipers at Ranham

I had a spare hour yesterday before picking up my grandson from school so used it to walk out to Butts hide at Rainham where a remarkable count of eleven Wood Sandpipers had been reported earlier in the day. I counted ten during my brief visit. A Great White Egret was seen along with a couple of Marsh Harriers and several Bearded Tit although the general feel was one of a very quiet reserve in blustery cool conditions for mid July.

year list now 221

Wood Sandpipers at Rainham

Sunday 7 July 2024

Scotland or another day in the garden

I'd like to go see the Stejneger's Scoter in Musselburgh but I can't find the time or motivation to do the 13 hour round trip for it so when I woke this morning at 4am I considered it again but the sensible side of my brain won and I spent the day at home with Suzanne. She was pretty poorly today with her back pain levels nearer the ten again so I'm glad I did stay home.

With Suzanne settled in bed for the morning I set up to see if I could improve on yesterdays garden images. The woodpecker visited briefly first thing but didn't return for a few hours. The Greenfinches that have visited over the last couple of days didn't come in today until early afternoon but I was pleased to see them again. The only bad point was the Scoter getting reported all day long so I would have added that if I'd gone. 

The year list has stalled completely.

Saturday 6 July 2024

Great spot in the garden

Every year I see Great spotted Woodpeckers in the garden, they breed close by and every year the young birds drop in for a feed. This year is no different with the first young bird appearing over the last couple of days to feast on the peanuts I provide. 

I really do value the diversity in the garden and when it's difficult getting out birding at least I this fix at home. Yesterday alone in the pouring rain I had the following birds in the garden. (Highest counts actually in the garden at any one time together)

1 Greater spotted Woodpecker, 5 Greenfinch, 9 Goldfinch, a Dunnock, 3 Blackbirds, 3 Collared Dove, 6 Woodpigeon, 5 Feral Pigeon, 34 House Sparrow, 42 Starling, 3 Robin, 4 Magpie, 2 Jackdaw, 3 Parakeet. 6 Blue Tit and 5 Great Tits.

Add the fly overs .... 1 Cormorant, 3 Swift, Lesser Black-backed and Herring Gulls, a Kestrel and a Red Kite.