Monday 28 July 2014

Bee-eaters breeding in the UK again

Just got home to see news that the Black-winged Pratincole has not been seen at all today at Ouse Wash so I may have missed the boat on that one but perhaps it's working it's way south as I type?

Anyway happier news has arrived in the fact that a pair of Bee-eaters have nested and are thought to be feeding young on the Isle of White.

The species has nested here before with the first attempt being made in Scotland way back in 1920 but breeding failed. In 1955 Three pairs nested in East Sussex raising seven young between them and in Durham back in 2002 a watch point was set up at a nest site and an estimated 15000 people visited as the pair raised two young. In 2005 a nest was predated by foxes in Herefordshire and the last other known attempt was in Dorset in 2006 but this attempt also failed.

So news today of the Isle of Wight nest site is exciting. The pair are nesting on the Wydcombe Estate and it is assumed the young have already hatched but numbers are not yet known. The national Trust have set up a wardened view point so people can enjoy the birds and expect the young to leave the nest in the next couple of weeks. The birds should hopefully hang around until late August at least so a visit will be on the cards which may help me finally put a tick against this cracking visitor and a breeding bird would be that little bit more special.

Watch this space!

Sunday 27 July 2014

Roding Valley fields

I had a lunchtime commitment to keep involving me, my lawnmower and my sons garden so sacrificed Black-winged Pratincole at Ouse wash and instead popped over the Roding at 6am this morning.

A sleepy juvenile Owl
I had another encounter with four Little Owls although I also had a fifth bird calling behind me. Green Woodpeckers hopped about feeding on the insects of the field with the Magpies and Crows. A pair of Mistle Thrush and a single Song Thrush were joined by two female Blackbirds and several Robin and Parakeets continued to make noisy flights back and forth.

Green Woodpecker
Mistle Thrush

A decent couple of hours birding and home in time for breakfast but still hoping to catch up with the Pratincole at some point too.

Friday 25 July 2014

Roding Valley Little Owls

Adult Little Owl at Roding Valley 
Adult Little Owl
Little Owl
Juvenile Little Owl
Ring-necked Parakeet
I was going to Rainham for the late night opening but the rain and Friday night traffic took that prize away from me so instead I've dug out a few more images taken this week of the local Little Owls and Parakeets.
Both great birds to watch as they go about their business. With good weather I might find more time with them over the weekend.

Wednesday 23 July 2014

Black-headed Wagtail Marloes record accepted

So I finally made a little birding history of my own when my record for Black-headed Wagtail at Marloes last May was accepted by the BBRC.

I remember the day well, on a spring break with my good wife (an annual event) we visited Marloes having missed the Skomer boat. Whilst scanning the fringe of the water I noticed the wagtail and straight away the dark black head jumped out and I knew I had a form of wagtail and that with the very dark shade it had to be black-headed. I called a local warden and he too got on it and put out the news locally and a small group of locals eventually visited to see the rare visitor.

The bird was a first for mainland Pembrokeshire with the only other record being on Skomer back in 1986 and at the time there were only 17 accepted British records so quite a rare find that would have attracted more interest if not clouded by the race issue surrounding Yellow Wagtail and the fact that although accepted by the BBRC the split isn't recognised by the BOURC but it could happen and at that time the bird will find it's way on to my life list instead of sitting as the best bird I've seen that is not on my list.

Other news:Bufflehead at Trimley...I feel a weekend trip if it hangs around as it could well be accepted even it if seems a strange time of year for it to turn I'll plan to see it Saturday if it's still there just in case it makes it on the list!

Sunday 20 July 2014

Local little Owls doing well again

Dad had seen the local Owls in the week so an early morning visit was on the cards and today was the day. I arrived at the Roding Valley fields around 6am which is only a couple of miles from home and saw my first Little Owl within seconds of arriving. The pair seem to have reared two young successfully this year which is pleasing and seem to be using the same nest hole as last year.

Little Owl
Little Owl
Little Owl youngsters

I enjoyed watching them for a couple of hours in which time I also had good views of the local Ring-necked Parakeets, Green & Great-spotted Woodpeckers and Mistle Thrush to name a few.

Ring-necked Parakeet
Following this I picked up the Jims and headed down to Rotherhithe where there had been reported news of a juvenile Yellow-Legged Gull in the week. Arriving at Greenland Dock we found the gull straight away but then doubt  crept in and it took a while to convince frst myself then the Jims that the first bird seen was in fact the target bird. We all agreed that as far as juvenile gull ID goes we all have a bit to learn but it's days like today that we hope will help that process along.

Yellow-legged Gull
City Coot
Great crested Grebe chick
A Short-toed Lark has been reported on and off from Rainham Marsh today and the Black-Winged Pratincole lingered at Ouse Wash Cambridgeshire but neither bird was particularly showy. The reported Bridle Tern at Winterton didn't show today. All these along with the RB Shrike we all possible chases for us today but we stayed local, got home early and enjoyed a bit of Golf too.

Year list now 233

Saturday 19 July 2014

Bonaparte's Gull Oare Marsh

We travelled down to Oare Marsh this morning to catch up with the Bonaparte's Gull there.

Distant Bonaparte's Gull 
On arrival John(sorry only know him as John) was already on the bird as it swam around on the east flood feeding. We were quickly on the target and it was in fine plumage sporting a full jet black hood, smaller than the local Black-headed Gulls it stood out and we were able to enjoy it for a while along with both adult and Juvenile Med Gulls, Marsh Harrier and Barn Owl. The flood also held Godwits, Lapwing, Redshank , Little Egret, 7+ Common Sandpiper, several Ruff, a couple of Turnstone and a single Dunlin. A possible Wood Sandpiper was seen briefly and both Kingfisher and Hobby flew over. (I missed both) In the Reeds we notd Sedge, Reed and Cetti's Warbler along with Reed Bunting and Bearded Tits.

Bearded Tit
Common Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper
Common Sandpiper at Oare Marsh
Grey Heron
Konik Pony

All in all a very enjoyable mornings birding but I was left wondering if this Bonny gull is the same bird as last year and if so where has it been since it left Oare?

Year list now at 232

Tuesday 15 July 2014

Great Knot at Breydon Water and Collared Pratincole at Minsmere

With a half day available I headed up the A12 with the Jims intent on connecting with the reported Collared Pratincole and as we pulled into the car park at Minsmere the bird was still sitting on the scrape from East hide so we headed off out to the sea wall and marched along to the hide. The target had just dropped out of view at the back of the scrape but after a short wait it appeared and took a few short flights returning to the same spot several times. Double figures of Little Gulls were showing well and a smart Med Gull dropped in too. The summer plumage waders were also notable with Spotted Redshank, Turnstone and Blackwits all present.

Collared Pratincole....yes it's there...look harder!
Another Collared Pratincole was reported at Cley as we headed further north. We stopped at Breydon Water pulling into the Rugby club car park and walked the length of the pitch towards the south wall where a few other birders had gathered. We scanned the distant flocks noting Whimbrel, Curlew and then a small group of nine Knots. After careful scoping we managed to pick out the features on the Great Knot. Views remained distant and the light was harsh too but on occasions the bird would turn into the light and reveal itself. This I believe is Britains fourth Great Knot and Norfolks first so a nice connection adding both to my year list and life list too.

Great Knot.....distant but trust me it's there

News then broke that the Cley bird had been identified as a Black-winged Pratincole so we headed off in pursuit only for the pager to inform us the bird had flown high and south as we got about ten miles into the drive which meant an earlier start to our 120 mile journey home.

Sand Martin at Minsmere

Year list now 231.

Sunday 13 July 2014

White-winged Black Tern at Abberton

Being in the middle of the slowest period I can remember for birding it was nice to catch up with the White - winged Black Tern at Abberton in Essex today. Viewed from the new causeway it was a little distant but showed well as it hunted over the reservoir before resting on the end of the spit giving good scope views. A Black Tern was seen hunting too and a Hobby gave chase to the local Starlings. A Marsh Harrier drifted through and several Common Sandpipers waded along the waters edge with LRP's. Both Yellow and Grey Wagtail were seen in our short visit and finally the year list ticked over once again reaching a slow 228.
Let's hope this is the start of things picking up again as the migrants get on the move and bring in the odd vagrant too.

Wednesday 2 July 2014

Ring necks in Priory gardens

With an hour to kill this morning I took a walk around Priory Gardens in Orpington.
The park is alive with Ring - necked Parakeets and I managed to grab a shot or two.

Ring -neck

Also noticed that the Grey Squirrels in the park are very red!

Grey Squirrel
Due a bit of birding!...roll on the weekend.