Tuesday 30 July 2013

Quail at Crane Hill Cambridgeshire

Bird 265 for the year.
The bird in question was a Quail and I found it at Crane Hill in Cambridgeshire. Two singing males have been reported since Sunday so I dropped in to try my luck. Firstly Crane Hill is not the easiest place to find with the published postcode taking me to the local Golf club so I had to get on line and check the local map to get my bearings again. I walked though the small metal gate and from here for about half a mile to the end of the woods (which contain Spotted Flycatcher and Bullfinch amongst other birds) The public footpath takes you down a steep dip and continues all the way into Everton. The birds had been reported at the track leading to Stonehill Farm (this track is private land so stay on the footpath.) I didn't hear any Quail here instead picking up a single bird at the top of the steep ridge on my way back which was a nice reward for the time invested. I also had Corn Bunting, Yellowhammer and Whitethroat with Buzzards calling overhead too.  A nice walk and not too far from home thankfully.

Monday 29 July 2013

Caspian Tern at Rudyard Reservoir Staffs

I woke early today and decided to make the trip up the M1/M6 to Staffs in the hope that last nights poor weather had kept the Caspian Tern pinned down. 180 miles in just under 3 hours and I'm pulling into the car park at the bottom of Bean Lane before 8am. (Yes I broke my soft 2 hour rule for this one)
I saw a couple of birders on the shore of the reservoir and walked towards them to find they had the bird in view on the mud at the end of the reservoir. I scoped it for a while before it flew up and started to fish on the far side. It caught a fish and then returned to the mud for about an hour and this was it's routine all morning.

Caspian Tern (distant record shot)
Distant shot of the bird resting with BH Gulls
Caspian Tern is the worlds largest Tern species and it can usually be found in North America, Asia and in Europe around the Baltic Sea area with American birds migrating to South America and the West Indies whilst the European/Asian birds tend to migrate to the tropics. It can be found as a resident in Africa and Australasia so who knows where this guy came from.
Britain averages about five records of Caspian Tern a year but rarely does one hang about in land.

I also paid a visit to Tittesworth Reservoir and I need to thank the guy from the sailing club  that made me a coffee (that's hospitality) and the guy that helped me find my first Willow Tit for two years.
Birds 263 and 264 for the year.

On another high note I added Lapwing to my garden list on Friday when a group of five flew over bringing the list of seen or heard (Little Owl being the only bird not seen but heard) from the garden up to 62

Thursday 25 July 2013

Baird's Sandpiper at Frampton Marsh Lincs

I made another visit to Titchwell today where I finally found my first Curlew Sandpipers of the year (261)
Six birds dropped in to feed infront of Parinder hide both adults and juvenile birds with the adults showing terrific plumage and giving nice comparison with the summer plumaged Knots on site.
Knot (and a few Godwits)
Curlew Sandpiper with summer plumage Knots in the background
Reed Bunting
With the tide in the reserve held lot's of Terns with Little, Sandwich and Common all present in both adult and juvenile forms. Nine Spoonbill rested in the middle of freshmarsh and the LRPs had a couple of chicks with them which was good to see. Spotted Redshank were present with some still in jet black summer plumage. Upto six Greenshank were resting with the Black-Tailed and Bar-Tailed Godwits whilst sandpipers were represented by Wood, Green and Common. On the beach I watched a single Arctic Skua fly past.

I moved on to Lincolnshire to a new reserve in Frampton Marsh where a White Rumped Sandpiper had been reported. On arrival I was quickly on the reported bird but it showed all the characteristics of Baird's Sandpiper. Although it didn't fly while I observed it I'm pretty sure the bird will be recorded as Baird's and not WRS. Four Wood Sandpiper and a single Green & Common were also here. Frampton is a nice reserve and I'll be sure to return when I have more time to explore. With the bird ticked as Baird's Sandpiper my year list moves to 262.

Wednesday 24 July 2013

Budgie on the loose at Rainham

I visited my local reserve at Rainham again today with my son and as we stood on the bank he asked "What's that blue bird Dad?" I replied " They're House Sparrows mate and they're not blue" and as I'd just finished saying it I saw the bird he was talking about....A bright blue female Budgerigar!
Somebody is no doubt missing her.

Female Budgerigar at Rainham Marshes

Monday 22 July 2013

Two-barred Crossbill at Lynford Arboretum

Tick 260 for 2013 came today in the shape of three Two-barred Crossbill at Lynford Arboretum.
I parked in the car park at 9am and walked just across the road to the gate at the entrance to the Arboretum where a small twitch had already gathered. Within a couple of minutes I was enjoying my first ever views of these Scandinavian visitors as a female and two juveniles sat in a nearby Larch tree eating cones amongst the local Common Crossbills and Siskins.

Distant record shot of a Two-barred Crossbill 
I then moved on and stopped to scan a group of raptors to find Marsh Harrier, Common Buzzard,Red Kite Kestrel and Sparrow Hawk before having to pull over pretty quick when a Montagu's Harrier flew past. I managed to get the scope set up on the female as she hunted along the hedgerow for several minutes.

Distant record shot of a Montagu's Harrier

Saturday 20 July 2013

An insurance job with the "possible" Black Scoter Titchwell

I made the trip up to Titchwell today hoping to bag an insurance tick of the possible Black Scoter that's been reported  (debated) of late. The bird is causing some doubt amongst the locals as when seen close in it shows the yellow you'd expect of Black Scoter but the bill shape is not as expected. Our thinking today was we'll take a look for ourselves and then if the record should be accepted we'll be able to include the bird on our lists but the plan came unstuck as a) the weather was bad and b) the bird wasn't there.
Whilst scanning the sea we found just a single Common Scoter, a few Gannets, Little and Sandwich Terns whilst on the shore line were Sanderling, Turnstone, Bar Tailed Godwits, Knot, Ostercatcher to name a few.



Juvenile Little Ringed Plover
House Martin
On the reserve we saw six Spoonbill and watched as the juveniles followed the adults begging for a feed, Spotted Redshanks moulting into winter plumage, a couple of juvenile Little Ringed Plovers, Little Gulls, Black Tailed Godwits, Avocets, Green & Common Sandpiper, lots of Ruff in various plumages and a nice Little Stint in with a small group of Dunlin. All in all a very nice mornings birding only spoilt by news as we arrived home in Essex of several Two Bar Crossbills being reported just up the road at Cley and Holme. Maybe I'll catch these if they settle in Norfolk. Two reported in Suffolk too so maybe the influx is about to happen.

Friday 19 July 2013

More time with the Little Owls

I had a dilemma today....do I travel to Titchwell to see a "possible" Black Scoter or do I stay local and enjoy the company of the Little Owls again. The Scoter is a mega rare bird with only ten previous British records but then again I've been to Titchwell recently and the Scoter flock is about a mile out and finding a Black Scoter in amongst them is not going to be easy unless they come much closer to the shore line, with this in mind the local Owls won me over. Also on my radar are Rufous-tailed Rock Thrush in Aberdeen and  Bridled Tern on the Farne Islands (both Mega but both too far for me to twitch) just noticed a report of a possible Eleonora's Falcon in Essex!!!!.. let that settle somewhere and I'm all over it and I might still be tempted to try for the Scoter tomorrow?

An adult Little Owl surrounded by Magpies looking for an easy meal
Adult Little Owl in flight 
Juvenile Little Owl
Juvenile Little Owl

Wednesday 17 July 2013

Pacific Golden Plover at Rutland Water

After making the trip almost to Rutland yesterday (Fermyn Wood) to find out the Pacific Golden Plover hadn't been seen I was pleased to see it reported again last night. On checking for news this morning the bird was being reported as "still from Heron Hide". With this information I jumped in the car and made the journey hoping the bird wouldn't go missing as it had yesterday. On the trip up I encountered a fly over Goshawk which is always nice. I arrived at Rutland and paid the £5.50 entrance fee (a bit strong me thinks) and walked the mile along the path to Heron Hide. On arrival the bird was showing well on the far bank feeding on the muddy fringe of the lagoon with some cows for company. It later returned to the rock barrier to rest up with a small group of Lapwings. I worked on the diagnostics a little and grabbed a record shot before setting off home where on the way back to the car I enjoyed a fly over by an Osprey carrying it's lunch.

PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER: Split from American Golden Plover, Breeds in Alaska & Russia and winters in NE Africa and SE Asia along the Pacific coast. We get about one a year accidentally land in Britain on passage and this one gives me tick 259 for 2013 and it's my first PGP so tick 328 on the life list too.

A distant record shot of the PGP (left of the cow)
Anyone for a fish supper?

Tuesday 16 July 2013

Purple Emperor at Fermyn Woods

The Purple Emperor
I have seen several reports from the weekend of people seeing lot's of Purple Emperor butterflies at Fermyn Wood in Northamptonshire so I headed up there this morning hoping to get my first experience with this mythical beast. The drive up the M11/A14 was 85 miles and took just over 80 minutes with traffic being kind to me. I arrived at Fermyn Woods country park at 8am but decided to look for the car park around the corner so came back out of the park turned right and took the first right turn. I spotted two cars parked by some green barriers a few hundred yards up this road and the sign post again said Fermyn Woods so I figured this might be a good start and sure enough it was as between 8.30am and 11am I saw at least a dozen male Purple Emperor, a Silver Washed Fritillary, 4 White Admiral, Large & Small Skippers, Lot's of Comma, Ringlet and both Large & Small White. Throw in fly overs by Red Kite, Buzzard and Raven and it was a very rewarding few hours spent and the walk was only a few yards from the car too so I may return with my good lady to show her these Imperial beauties.
Purple Emperor (showing no purple)
A change of light and the purple shows.
His Imperial Majesty 
Male PE (with a few battle scars)
White Admiral
I had hoped for news on yesterdays Pacific Golden Plover at Rutland but sadly it wasn't seen today so I headed home with the year list still on 258.

Monday 15 July 2013

Roseate Tern at Rye Harbour and local Little Owls

I woke early this morning so decided to make a local trip in search of Little Owls. My Mum had discovered a family group on her dog walking routine so I just had to visit and see if they'd show for me. I arrived at 5.30am to find an adult Little Owl feeding on the grass and quickly found two juvenile birds and a second adult. I sat and enjoyed the four birds for a couple of hours before setting off for Rye Harbour down in East Sussex where I've been watching reports of Roseate Tern on the reserve for the last few days.
Little Owl
Little Owl
It was nice and breezy on the coast and I made my way around the reserve to Denny Hide which overlooks the tern colony. On arrival I was greeted by another birder who said he'd been looking all morning without luck but I noticed he only had binoculars so thought that with my scope maybe I could help find them and I wasn't wrong as the third bird in my scope was indeed a cracking adult Roseate Tern. (Bird 258 of 2013) I shared the view with the other birder and we managed to enjoy a couple of nice flight views before another adult joined us and showed well flying around the pools before landing in a nice place to give scope views for around ten minutes. Before leaving I managed to get another three birders on the target for which they thanked me. Lot's of Common and Sarnie Terns about but not a single Little was seen.
Little Owl
A light lunch and a brisk walk around the antiques shops of Rye and I was on my way home where I cracked open some Amber nectar to celebrate the cracking views I'd enjoyed of both the Roseate's and the Little Owls.

Little Owl
Juvenile Little Owl
Little Owl in flight

Friday 12 July 2013

Pectoral Sandpiper at Rainham and Kingfisher at Lackford Lakes

I wanted to pop over to Rainham this morning to look for the Pectoral Sandpiper but the reserve doesn't open until mid morning so I filled the time with an early visit to Lackford Lakes in Suffolk where I found three Green Sandpipers, a Turtle Dove and a couple of Kingfishers performing from the double decker hide.

Green Sandpiper

Green Sandpiper
After a nice morning at this Suffolk reserve I returned to sunny Essex and Rainham Marsh.
I marched around to the wooden boardwalk and scanned the pools from the first viewing platform to find the Pectoral Sandpiper on the far scrape with a Green Sandpiper, nine Greenshank and a pair of Little Ringed Plovers. Bird 257 of 2013.

Monday 8 July 2013

No Black Headed Gull in with the Black Headed Gulls

I dropped in on the Thames at Crossness today and scanned the hundreds of Black Headed Gulls looking for the Bonaparte's Gull that was seen yesterday. I have seen a couple of them this year but this particular one is a second summer and showing almost adult plumage with a clear BLACK head. The Black Headed Gulls we know actually have brown heads so it would be quite easy to pick out the american visitor if it were present but unfortunately it wasn't seen. Just a few Cormorants and Common Terns along with a single Shelduck to add to the hundreds of BHG's feeding on the sewage outfall.

I grabbed a couple of quick shots of the terns.

Common Tern

Common Tern

Common Tern

Saturday 6 July 2013

Spanish Spoonbill at Titchwell

This morning was one of those "where to go" mornings.
Yesterday saw an Ascension Frigatebird photographed on one of the Scottish western Isles and the Bridled Tern remains in Northumberland but both are well outside my twitch zone so I'll leave them for the die hards.
So with this in mind I decided to head up to Norfolk for some more relaxed birding.

Arriving at Titchwell at 8am we walked to Freshmarsh finding a nice Grasshopper Warbler singing it's heart out on the way and a path covered in tiny frogs too which we managed to avoid as we walked through.
At the hide we quickly found a Spoonbill. The bird was rung FJ9 research shows this to have been born in Sevilla (Casa Neves) Spain in 2007 but it appears to over winter in the UK since as it's been recorded in Hampshire, Dorset, Devon and Norfolk. The bird spent much of  the time sitting on bended knees but did stand and stretch just long enough for me to grab a picture or two.

Spoonbill FJ9
The marsh also had lot's of Avocet and some with small chicks from what I suppose are second broods as many of the chicks are almost fully grown now. At least nine Spotted Redshank in fine summer plumage rested in front of Parinder hide with a small group of Knot and a single Greenshank. Little Ringed Plover were moved on by the Avocets as was any bird that got within a few yards of their youngsters.
Avocet chick
Avocet (My favourite shot of the day)
Four Little Gulls were swimming around and a large group of Black Tailed Godwits dropped in to join the three Bar Tailed already present. On the beach we witnessed Little, Common and Sandwich Terns going about their routines and a raft of several hundred Common Scoter drifted along on the tide with a few Gannets flying over too. The walk back delivered Bearded Tits and great views of the Gropper sitting on a small bush singing for England.
Spotted Redshank
All in all a nice visit.

On the way home we stopped at Swanton Novers raptor watchpoint but we drew a blank as far as Honey Buzzard go.

Reed Bunting
Sedge Warbler