Sunday, 13 October 2019

Red eyed Vireo and a Great Snipe in Yorkshire

We set off this morning with a plan to see the drake Hooded Merganser at Titchwell and then make our way north if the Red eyed Vireo was still at Easington. On arrival at Titchwell it was raining heavy but we set off to check the reserve for the duck. I found a Yellow browed Warbler to give the Jims a year tick but the duck wasn't to be found. We toyed with the idea of walking to Thornham point for a Grey Phalarope but then news came through that the Vireo had been seen so we turned and headed for Yorkshire. The drive was nasty with road closures taking us through Hull but we arrived around 1.30pm and got straight on the target. For the next couple of hours we watched the bird return to feed on Elder every half hour or so and filled the gaps with good views of more Yellow browed Warblers and a Pied Flycatcher. At around 4pm news started to filter through via the locals walkie talkies of a possible Great Snipe at Kilnsea then within ten minutes the ID had been confirmed and the panic set in as 90% of the Vireo crowd set off on the short journey to Beacon Lane. We walked up the lane to find a small gathering had the footpath blocked as the Great Snipe was sitting on the footpath and they'd set a protective boundary for it. We set up the scopes and after a bit of a tumble I managed to get on the bird for my second lifer of the day.
What a day!

Year list now level with my best ever total of 286
Life list now 409

Red eyed Vireo at Easington
Red eyed Vireo
Red eyed Vireo
The scramble for the Great Snipe

Friday, 4 October 2019

Ross's Gull Image included in the British Birds annual round up

British Birds emailed to ask if they could use my Ross's Gull image and of course I was delighted to agree and received a free copy of the October issue too which was nice.

The delightful Ross's Gull
The cover
The October issue gives a very detailed summary of all of 2018's rarities including the beautiful Grey Catbird that I was fortunate enough to see down in Cornwall. There's also some very nice images of other rarities I connected with including the American Bittern at Carlton which proved very difficult to catch on camera so it was nice to see it showed well for at least one lucky photographer.

Wednesday, 2 October 2019

A Noteable Sprawk

My image of the Sprawk in the garden last week has received a noteable tag on Birdguides which is always pleasing.

The link to birdguides:

The shot was taken laying on my kitchen floor at which point I squeezed the lens through a small opening in the french doors. The bird was resting on it's prey but wasn't spooked by the door opening.
My challenge then was to light the image as it was 7am and the garden was in dark shade. I set the ISO to 2000 which still only gave me a shutter speed of 1/320 but luckily I held still and the bird froze in it's pose enabling me to get a nice sharp image.

Saturday, 28 September 2019

Dipped a Phalarope in Kent

I could have headed up north today in search of the Eastern Yellow Wagtail on Anglesey but instead decided on a more sensible trip down to Birchington in Kent where a Grey Phalarope had been feeding in the bay for a few days. I searched with a few others all morning but failed to find the target getting a juvenile Spoonbill as a consolation prize of sorts.

Dad still needed the American Golden Plover so we popped into Oare on the way home for him to connect and luckily it was sat on the East flood when we got there. Greenshank and Curlew Sandpiper the best of the rest whilst here but we did get great scope views of the AGP.

Year list stuck at 284 oh and the Wagtail wasn't seen all day so better to dip a Phalarope an hour form home than a Wagtail five hours away.

American Golden Plover
AGP in flight
AGP centre back looking right
Apologies for the poor record shots, quite distant and heavily cropped.

Friday, 27 September 2019


I pride myself on the help I give the local House Sparrow colonies with three families raising at least three good size broods this year and a garden alive all day every day as the dispersal hasn't yet started so they all remain very close. Whilst this is all good for the Sparrows it also means my garden is a regular path of the local Sparrowhawks. Over the years I've only witnessed one previous strike when I lost a Collared Dove although I've seen many near misses. This morning I witnessed the second strike when a young female took a House Sparrow for breakfast but I guess that's nature.

Juvenile female 
Female Sprawk
Standing over the prey
Always in the darkest corner of the garden 
Pleased with the opportunity to grab a few images but it hasn't helped with the year list status which remains on 284 so I could use another tick before the end of September. Three more this year gets me to my best ever year with only sixteen for 300 but targets are hard to find

Sunday, 15 September 2019

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

I couldn't make the trip south yesterday when news filtered through of the remarkable Hampshire record of an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler that had been found among the migrants at Farlington Marsh so watched with interest all afternoon and planned a first light assault this morning.
I collected the Jims and set off down the A3. We arrived at Farlington around 6.45am to find the car park almost full and a twitch already formed around the Blackthorn bushes about 100 yards from the gate at the car park. We walked over and hit the jackpot when Matt and George M. put us straight on the bird. We watched it for a couple of hours as it went about feeding trying to built up the fat reserves required for its next move. The bushes were alive with Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Whitethroat etc but the star bird performed well and gave the opportunity to grab a few images too but as the crowd continued to grow we left the bird to them and moved on in search of another year tick with the Bluethroat at Warsash. This was a bad move at a place we have prior dipping history. As ecpectd the target didn't show but we enjoyed some good supporting migrants here before setting off to Pulborough on the way home. We walked out to Jupps View about a mile from the car park and quickly located the Red-necked Phalarope spinning on the closest pool and then left satisfied with the life and the year tick for the day.

Good to bump into a good few familiar faces including Graham J and the Moretons.

Year list now 284
Life list now 407 and the lifers keep coming this year.

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler
The Twitch
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

Wednesday, 11 September 2019

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear at Pilling

When first found the Wheatear at Pilling was put out as an Eastern Black-eared Wheatear and people rushed to connect but then a tag was added indicating that it could also be a Pied Wheatear.
The following day things were reversed and it was now thought to be a Pied but the tag now read but possibly Eastern Black-eared and some poop has been collected and sent for DNA testing to see if that can identify the taxa. We hadn't been too excited at the prospect of travelling up the M6 to see this bird but today decided we should try so we set off early hit horrendous traffic as the M6 was closed at junction 12 but soldiered on and arrived on site at 10am where we found the bird entertaining a small crowd which we joined and spent a few hours watching the Wheatear as it went about its business.

Whilst on site news came through that RBA had now labelled the bird as an Eastern Black-eared after inspecting the many photographs they had found one that revealed the white spot at the base of the mantle feathers which is diagnostic and not seen in Pied Wheatear so on this info I've listed it as a pending Black-eared. I understand the guy at RBA putting out the info also sat on the BBRC panel up to last year and has a wide interest in taxa so quite a reliable source.  The birds ID continues to be debated elsewhere but for now RBA have labelled it.

The journey home was much smoother.
Year list now 286
Life list now 406 (pending acceptance of course)

Eastern Black-eared Wheatear at Pilling 
You can actually see the Wheatear in this pic........good luck
Eastern Black-eared Wheatear
Black-eared Wheatear 
Cracking little performer
Now and then you find a bird that likes the camera.