Saturday, 29 June 2013

Welbeck watchpoint

Sign at Welbeck Raptor watch point
With the weather as good as it was today I thought it would be worth a good session of raptor watching at Welbeck. Lot's of Common Buzzard, a couple of possible very distant Honey Buzzard and a very probable Honey being mobbed by the local crows. A Goshawk was called but again remained a probable sighting.
Hobby flew over but that was it until we had got about an hour away and the pager bleaped into life...Honey Buzzard at Norton! I knew today would be a good day but had hoped for the action to be a little earlier before we left.I popped back in to get a better view of the Melodious Warbler and get Jim a life tick too but although the light was better the bird sang really well but didn't come out in clear view at all preferring to hide in the pines.

Melodious Warbler

Friday, 28 June 2013

Melodious Warbler at Broom Woods, Tiln, Nottinghamshire

Melodious Warbler
I dipped a Melodious Warbler last year five miles from home and having a soft two hour twitch rule I have been watching news of a warbler that has been reported in Nottinghamshire(146 miles away). First reports were Icterine Warbler but the bird was then later reported as Melodious. This morning the weather forecast predicted  a day of grey drizzle so as I woke early I thought I'd give the bird a go. I landed in Tiln Lane, Tiln, Nottinghamshire at around 8.30am this morning and struggled to find the woods but luckily a couple of local dog walkers (the birders best friend) put me right and I was soon parked up at the double gates referred to on the pager messages. The local fishing bailiff turned up and gave me rough directions and with the reported c1km walk in my mind off I went to find the bird. After half an hour I'd had Cuckoo, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler, Chiffchaff and Skylark but no sign of the target and I had a good soaking whilst looking too. Another dog walker and the same question which was greeted with a smile and the words "yes I know follow me" back down the track over a little fence and follow that well worn path the birders have been down there all week. Sure enough a short walk down the path I find a couple more birders and in seconds we are all enjoying the song and short views of the little cracker singing it's heart out in the rain of course all in vain as it has little chance of finding a female what with it being so far from home.

Year list now at 256 and another bird off my dipped list.

Thursday, 27 June 2013

Nice day at Weeting Heath with Stone Curlew and Spotted Flycatchers

Weeting Heath has never been a favorite place for me and I don't know why just a bad experience of sitting for ages and seeing just the top of a Stone Curlews head for my effort a few years back I suppose but I decided today to pay it another visit and I was glad I did.
Wood Mouse

Stone Curlew
Stone Curlew with chick
Stone Curlew with chick
Spotted Flycatcher

First a Stoat dancing on the path to the hide, then stonking views of a pair of Stone Curlews with chicks from West hide followed by crippling views of a pair of Spotted Flycatchers and a family of Wood Mice.
Throw in a good chat with the warden and a few visitors and watching the Stone Curlew chicks getting ringed and I have to say I had a good day there and would gladly pay to visit again.
A Woodlark was seen and a second pair of Stone Curlews further back on the heath, five Buzzard came up to ride the early morning thermals and a single Curlew was also seen. This has to be the best views I've ever had of Stone Curlew and I'd recommend anybody wanting to see them pays the reserve a visit.
NWT members free the rest of us £3.75 entrance.

NB: Photographs of the Stone Curlews taken from West Hide with no disturbance to the birds.

Wednesday, 26 June 2013

MEGA ALERT: Black Winged Pratincole at Shellness

News came out at lunch time today of a Pratincole "species" at Shellness NNR in Kent.
I waited for a second report and sure enough the bird had been seen again so I jumped in the car and made the 70 mile journey. I parked in the car park and walked the sea wall to the hide (about a mile)
Since the early report the bird had been seen again and confirmed as a Black Winged Pratincole and I wasn't to be disappointed as I got views of the bird as it flew up from the reserve and then drifted high and West and appeared to be moving on at around 4pm. We waited for further news but the bird wasn't seen again.
The sighting has been reported to the county recorder and I understand photographs were obtained  too so the record should be good to stick. Here's hoping it's relocated and more people get to see it.
Bird 255 for 2013.

Britain has seen 39 Black Winged Pratincoles with the last one being in 2009 which travelled between Kent and Norfolk between 10th May and the 12th June so maybe this bird will be pinned down again. Here's hoping

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Poppy fields

The poppy fields look fantastic right now....carpets of red!

Saturday, 22 June 2013

Wilson's Phalarope at Yarmouth on the Isle of Wight

It's not very often I leave the Island with the exception of my annual pilgrimage to Skomer but today I decided to twitch the Wilson's Phalarope on the Isle of Wight. We set off at 5am and arrived in Lymington harbour at 7.15am after a quick stop at the golden arches for breakfast. The ferry cost us £55 because we decided to take the car as it was raining. We boarded the 7.45 ferry and landed in Yarmouth at 8.30am (ish)
I had little idea of the direction to point the car knowing only that we were looking for Yarmouth station pond but I luckily turned into Victoria Road which took me into Station Road where I found the station car park (only room for three cars but luckily I parked ok) I got out of the car to view the water in front of the station and to my relief the vagrant from North America was showing with a Redshank and a small group of Black-tailed Godwits. Wilson's Phalarope is now on my list!

The bird is a female and in splendid plumage, a large phalarope which acted more like a wader than the usual phalarope swimming in circle action. We watched the bird from the railway track and managed a couple of record shots. The bird has been present five days now and looks quite settled taking little notice of dog walkers etc and seems to be enjoying the company of a single Redshank between feeding sessions amongst the Godwits. When we left there were around fifteen birders enjoying good views of the bird from the station car park area including fellow Bubo lister Dave Aitken who seems to have the bug as bad as me.
Yarmouth Isle of Wight
Shanklin surf
After spending an hour or so watching the bird we had a quick drive over to Shanklin before returning to the ferry port for our journey home with my year list now at 254 and having enjoyed my first visit to the Isle of Wight but I shall return for a longer stay in the future for sure.

Friday, 21 June 2013

Rose-Coloured Starling Wells next the sea WHAT A BIRD!

After seeing photographs of the Rose-coloured Starling in Norfolk this week I decided I had to give it a go despite not needing it on my year list after already connecting with the Exeter juvenile earlier this year.
Boy am I glad I did as the bird is a stunner. I've seen these birds before but never one looking so fine and dandy as this guy. It spends all day in the same tree defending the two fat ball holders provided by the house holder who has displayed great tolerance to the invasion around her garden since the bird arrived in Wells probably on a detour from somewhere like Hungary or Romania? I think the weekend could see a lot more birders visiting this little summer garden on the north Norfolk coast.

Rose-coloured Starling

Rose-coloured Starling
Rose-coloured Starling
Rose-coloured Starling

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Heron on the Lea

A quick walk down the river Lea today in muggy conditions was surprisingly quiet with very few birds on the wing and even less calling despite the air being awash with insects for them to feed on. There were a few new fledglings about with Long Tailed Tit, Blue and Great Tits and Goldfinch all being seen. I didn't really get the camera out save a couple of shots of the Heron below which was fishing in the river.


A night in the Brecks looking for Nightjar

The weather report said hot, dry and no wind and it's the middle of June so perfect for Nightjar. I text Jimmy and asked if he was interested in an evening mission to find Nightjar in the Brecks. The text was received with immediate approval and we set off to Breckland at 8pm arriving in a forest clearing by 9pm to find nine other birders had also decided tonight was a good night for Nightjar. We waited and at 9.25pm had our first of a dozen or more Woodcock flying over the clearing as they called. Tawny and Little Owl were heard from every corner of the forest and deers barked as the rest of the forest fell to silence with the last of the birds singing their final song of the day. Then at around 10pm we heard the first of several churring Nightjar, a strange noise like an engine running and by cupping our ears in our hands the noise was magnified. We heard a couple of wing claps too as the birds flew around out of site to us before finally seeing two birds flying quite close as we exited the forest around 10.30pm. It's quite an experience to be stood in the middle of a forest in darkness listening to all the birds and animals either settling down for the night or just about to get up for a night of hunting and hawking and it added bird 253 to my year list.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

The reeds of Rainham

Rainham marsh is my nearest RSPB reserve being just a ten minute drive away but I don't visit anywhere near enough so today I made the trip and walked the reserve.

The reedbed was alive with birds including Reed, Sedge and Cetti's warbler plus a few Reed Bunting.
Every channel of water held a breeding pair of Little Grebe some on eggs whilst others already had chicks. Cuckoo called and Green Woodpecker raised the alarm when a cat patrolled the footpath. Marsh Frogs called from every ditch and a couple of Voles rushed across as I approached target pool. Lapwing and Redshank appeared to be the only waders present although I was looking more at passerines today.

Reed Warbler

Reed Warbler
Reed Warbler take off
Reed Warbler
Little Grebe
Sedge Warbler
Sedge Warbler

Monday, 17 June 2013

Roller at Edgefield near Holt

It doesn't get much better than this! Saturday I'm in Kent watching a Black Kite, Sunday I'm in Suffolk connecting with the Pacific Swift and today I ventured up to Norfolk where I found my first ever Roller and what a bird it was. I had waited for news this morning after the bird had been found last night and sure enough it was posted as still being around first thing but as I was due to leave a second post saying that the bird had flown west came through to add doubt to my reasoning but my gut told me the bird would be re found so I decided to make the 120mile journey for it. Suzanne came with me and we pulled into the layby about 400yards past Holt country park on the B1149 and crossed the road as we could see a crowd of twitchers gathered in the field.
Roller twitch 
Within seconds we had the bird in my scope (252) and had cracking views of it flying around and sitting out on various favoured perches before it finally flew off over the road.
Distant record shot of the star bird
We left and took the long route home along the north coast stopping first at Cley and then at Titchwell and Choseley drying barns. Amongst the other less significant birds seen were Marsh Harrier, Corn Bunting, Turtle Dove, Spotted Redshank, Knot and Grey Plover in splendid summer plumage along with many other expected birds for this time of year. The Roller has to be one of the best birds on my list and the day will be long remembered.

Corn Bunting

Sunday, 16 June 2013

MEGA ALERT : Pacific Swift still at Trimley Marsh

Having not twitched yesterday I was racked with remorse last night as the posts kept on coming with news of the Pacific Swift still being seen well into the evening over the marsh at Trimley so I decided that I'd wake early and give it a go knowing my chances would be slim as these birds don't come along often and certainly don't spend two days at the same place but what the hell I was going to give it a go, so I collected the Jims and we headed up the A12 arriving at the car park for 7am. We made the walk along the track reported to be some three miles but realistically more like two.
Trimley Marsh with Pacific Swift in the distance (honest it's there)
On the way three birders were already leaving saying it wasn't present which we thought was a little strange to be leaving at 7.15am so we continued our march towards the visitor centre hearing Nightingale call along the way. We got to the first hide at 7.30am and entered to find three locals inside and they greeted us with news that they had just seen the bird so within minutes we were all sat enjoying distant views and as news went out on the pager the hide quickly filled. Soon after the mass ranks decided the bank behind the hide would give a better view so we joined them and again had lovely scope views as the bird hawked the reedbed and came a little closer in the next hour that we watched it. Having an appointment to keep we had to leave but took advantage of the warden and his car for a lift back through the reserve to the car park for a small donation....what a result and what a gent he was.

Great twitch of this mega rarity with a good bunch of birders and a welcoming reserve.
Pacific Swifts breed in eastern Asia and winter in Australia so finding one in Suffolk is rare in fact I think it's the first time for the county and only the seventh for Britain with most not being twitchable until this little guy decided to stay put long enough for us. (Bird 251 for 2013!)

Saturday, 15 June 2013

Oare and Elmley

Spotted Flycatcher
I woke early this morning and decided to take the Jims down to Faversham as they still hadn't seen the Black Kite. We arrived on site at around 7.30am and had to wait around an hour before we had a distant sighting of the target as it flew along the far ridge of the valley but it was enough for them to tick it. We waited a couple of hours but it didn't return despite several Common Buzzard and a Sparrowhawk showing. We left to search the local lanes and found a pair of Turtle Dove before pulling into the local church were we found Spotted Flycatcher and a Hobby flashed through too. Then the pager buzzed into life with the message MEGA ALERT : Pacific Swift Trimley Marsh. Now we were in Kent over a hundred miles away and thought the swift would be a fly through so we carried on birding in Kent with a visit to Oare Marsh  followed by a trip to Elmley with the pager buzzing with messages of conflict ranging from "not seen since xxx" to "re found at xxx" along with "police on site issuing parking tickets" and "park in village and WALK to the reserve then follow the track for THREE miles" so we decided to give it a miss which could be a decision we live to regret but hopefully the bird will show again as it makes it's journey down the east coast. Swift dilemma aside we had a decent day down in Kent.
Meadow Pipit at Oare Marsh
Little Egret at Elmley
Oyster Catcher at Elmley

Marsh Harrier and Lapwing

Friday, 14 June 2013

Swallowtail Butterflies at Strumpshaw Fen

I took a drive up the A11 today with Suzanne and Tia. After walking the dunes on the coast we headed back towards Strumpshaw Fen in the hope that the warmer weather might bring a few Swallowtail butterflies out to play. We parked up and made the short walk around the back of the reserve away from the visitor centre. A short way down the track we found the flower garden we were looking for and after a short wait a couple of Swallowtails flew in and started to feed. Large White, Peacock, Orange Tip and Brimstone also enjoyed the flower bed whilst we had views of Marsh Harrier from the garden and could hear Cuckoo and Bittern too. We enjoyed a nice pub lunch on the banks of the Broads at Burlingham and then we made the journey south.

Swallowtail butterfly
Swallowtail butterfly
Brimstone Butterfly

Tuesday, 11 June 2013

Long Tailed Duck at Canada Water Rotherhithe WHY?

After reading a couple of blogs regarding the Long Tailed Duck that has decided to spend some time in the middle of Rotherhithe on a small area of water in the middle of a retail park next to Canada Water station I couldn't help but take the short fifteen mile drive to check it out.
Long Tailed Duck
Long Tailed Duck
Firstly I was amazed to find free parking, that's not expected anywhere in London but I parked up and walked across past the station to view the water. I quickly found the Long Tailed Duck in the middle of the pool so occupied myself with Heron and Cormorant while I waited for the sea duck to come closer and eventually it did as did a pair of Common Tern as the male brought fish to the female before mating took place.
Grey Heron
Reptile Eyes
Common Tern (with Stickleback) 
Long Tailed Duck

Why this sea duck has decided to drop in on a fresh water pool and taken a liking to bread is beyond me but it appears healthy enough and dives for almost a minute at a time so hopefully it'll find it's way home soon.