Sunday 26 May 2019

Squacco Heron at Titchfield

Jim and I made the 100 mile journey south this morning to Posbrook Flood in Titchfield.
As we arrived the Squacco Heron had just been seen prompting a mass exodus and leaving us to refind the bird ouselves. After about ninety minutes I'd managed to walk around the far side away from Jim ans as I spoke to him on the phone to check he wasn't on the bird I noticed it in flight and we both  managed to connect at the same time and Jim managed to highlight to the small crowd with him.

After waiting another hour without seeing the bird we left for Acres Down some 25 miles away.
We saw a Redstart on the way in and then picked up several Tree Pipits to give Jim another year tick.
From the view point we had several Goshawk, several Common Buzzard a very distant but possible Honey Buzzard and a Red Kite. Three Hobby hawked and a couple of Hawfinch were seen by others.
A single Goshawk flew up and sat in a tree for a few seconds but we failed to find any tickable Honey B's.

Year list now 252

Squacco Heron at Titchfield
Squacco Heron

Monday 20 May 2019

Whiskered Tern at Dungeness RSPB

Well I suppose I should land the pun now.....One good Tern deserves another!

We popped down to Dunge this afternoon hoping the reported Whiskered Tern would hang around and it did. We got straight on it seconds after arriving at an empty Dennis's hide to give us all a Life tick. We watched it floating around the pit and often resting on the shingle island in front of the hide making it easy to see all the ID features. We left to try for the Serin that Dad still needed for a year tick but when news came through that a Roseate Tern was now on the same island at Dunge we quickly made the call to try for it as we were only six miles away. Marco jumped in with us and within a few minutes we had arrived back at Dunge only to find the hide now full and the Roseate sitting on the island with the Whiskered Tern. After a few minutes the Roseate flew off high towards the power station but I'd picked up another year tick and the Jims had landed there second lifer of the day.

Marco showed us a new scrape in Ashford that will be worth a look in the future as we drive to Dunge.

A good afternoons work

Year list now 251
Life list now 402

Whiskered Tern
Roseate Tern

Saturday 18 May 2019

Serin at Littlestone and a first for London

Jim and I travelled down to Littlestone in Kent this morning and before 7am we had found our first target as we pulled up outside the golf course to park and we could hear the European Serin singing it's heart out. The singing made it quite easy to pick out the bird as it moved from the pines to the trees across the road and back. It dropped to the floor but quickly returned to the safety of the tree tops. We spent half an hour watching it before moving on to Dunge.

Serin at Littlestone
At Dunge a three hour sea watch produced the following.........
Arctic Skua, Red-throated Diver, Fulmar, Auks, Whimbrel, Common Scoters, Gannets, Comic Terns, Sandwich Terns, Med Gulls, Porpoise and Seals but we missed the only Pom Skua of the morning.
We headed next to Worth and the great wood were a Golden Oriole had been heard. We walked miles and although we heard a couple of fruity notes that may have come from the Oriole they were too few and too short to put a positive ID on it. We did see a couple of Turtle Doves, Bullfinch and Marsh Harrier to break up the long walk back to the car and then we moved on to Margate where another long walk gave little reward and we can now say we've dipped the "plastic" Pied Crow.

On the journey back we stopped at Crossness where Rich B. had found London's first Great Reed Warbler. Again a long walk from the Golf Centre and we eventually made the area. We could hear the Warbler and after a short wait it showed well as it climbed close to the top of the reeds. Getting an image proved challenging as it remained in the reeds. We picked up a nice first summer Little Gull at the outfall too.

Great Reed Warbler (Thanks for the find RB)

Year list now 249 

Red dot the bird yellow dots the viewing points

Friday 17 May 2019

More Spoonbills and F-16 Falcons

F-16 fighting falcon at Lakenheath
Incredible speed
Imagine sitting in that cockpit and flying it at c1500mph

Spoonbill at Cley
Latin name: Platalea leucorodia  meaning (Platalea/BROAD) (Leukos/WHITE) (Erodios/HERON)
Interesting to see that the french call them Spatule Blanche and the Italians just use Spatola.

They are great birds to watch though and one of my first birding memories was seeing my first at Minsmere way back when I was just a child which I guess was a summer visitor as this was in the 1970's.

After a gap of 300 years the Spoonbill returned as a British breeding bird in 2010 and thankfully this  success continues giving more people the opportunity to see them.

Spoonbills at Cley

We headed to Cley this morning quickly ticking the five Temminck's Stints before moving on to the Eastbank where we found another year tick with nine Little Terns sitting on Arnold's Marsh. A Little Stint was reported but we failed to find it. Back in the car and we noticed four Spoonbill flying over Walsey Hills and watched as they doubled back to drop in front of the new Babcock hide. We parked up and enjoyed good views of the four birds feeding which was a real pleasure as most encounters with Spoonbill tend to be hours of the birds resting with heads tucked away out of site.

Flying over Walsey Hills
Mipit at Salthouse
A quick drive along the Beach Road at Salthouse gave an opportunity to grab a few images of a Meadow Pipit  before we headed home stopping on route to watch the American F-16 fighting falcons putting on a show at Lakenheath as they came in the land. We also saw a C-17 transporter take off. Now I know it's not bird watching but I challenge anybody to watch these fighter jets taking off and not get something from the experience. The F-16 cost around 14million dollars according to the WWW and travel at over 1500MPH. The noise of one of these jets  passing over at these speeds is unbelievable and a memorable experience. If you're passing Lakenheath take a minute to watch them.
The F-16's won't be here long as they head back to Florida but the F-15's take off most days.

An F-16 Fighting Falcon
The F-16 in all it's glory......what a thrill.
The C-17 transporter
Year list now 247 and one off my best May total of 248

Monday 13 May 2019

Somebody stop me next time

With East Yorkshire having a mad migrant day on Saturday I hatched a plan to attack it on Sunday.
I knew it was forecast to have a clear night and the wind was against us but the draw of Brown Shrike, Collared Flycatcher, two Woodchat Shrikes, two Wryneck and several other more common spring migrants was too much. We could have waited for news and then gone but I'm an early bird so we set off early and had almost made it through Lincolnshire into Yorkshire before the negative news started coming in....No sign of Brown Shrike, No sign of Collared Flycatcher, No sign of Woodchat Shrikes etc etc.....So plan B was quickly hatched and we made it a simple day out at Bempton Cliffs.

Gannet at Bempton Cliffs
Gannet close up
Puffin for year tick 245
Barn Owl at Bempton
We added just Puffin to the year list for our trouble but enjoyed a lovely day out at what is an outstanding reserve alive with 1000's of Gannet, Razorbill, Guillemot and Kittiwake along with several Puffin, Shag and Fulmar. The place is alive with Tree Sparrow and we had a day flying Barn Owl entertain us for a while too to make it a really special few hours before we started the reverse journey south.

Tree Sparrow
On the way home we stopped in at Blacktoft Sands on the Humber  to show Jimmy to reserve. We had lovely views of at least ten Marsh Harrier but Monty seemed to be having an away day with several reports of a female several miles north of the reserve.

I added Black Tern at Wilstone last week so the year list now stands at 245
Brown Shrike remains on my dipped list and had become a bit of a bogey bird and is joined now by Collared Flycatcher on the went for and failed list.

Black Tern for year tick 244 

Wednesday 8 May 2019

Fisher's Green

I paid a visit to Fisher's Green today looking for Black Terns but alas it seemed to be the only place in the Uk that didn't attract any on passage today. So with a big dip on the Terns my prize was a rather confiding Cormorant and a pair of Grebes with a youngster on the nest.

Today our little fella had his first birthday too and I have to say that year has gone so fast.

Happy Birthday Little man

Great crested Grebe with a youngster well tucked in
The pair looking out for the little guy
feeding time
Year list still 243

Tuesday 7 May 2019

Great-spotted Cuckoo Weybourne Camp Norfolk

We set off a little late this morning but still arrived in Chalkpit Lane by around 10am and very quickly found the reported five Dotterel hiding in the field on the west of the road. The birds were hunkered down and not at all mobile and were in the company of two Golden Plover.

Dotterel record shot
Dotterel...not easy to pick out in the gravel
We moved on to Titchwell and found another year tick with Turtle Dove as one fed on the path just past Fen Hide where the staff have put some seed on the floor funded by operation Turtle Dove.

Turtle Dove
We had a good walk around Titchwell and then decided it was time to chase the Great-spotted Cuckoo to give the old man a lifer if we could. The Cuckoo has been giving the locals the run around for a few days but with news that it had been seen at Gramborough Hill we decided to drive down and see if it would stick at all. On arrival the few guys on site said it had only been seen in flight heading towards Weybourne so we jumped back in the car and drove down to the Weybourne beach car park. We walked along the shingle beach to view Weybourne camp only to be told the bird had just been seen to drop out of the pines and head back towards Salthouse. Back in the car and heading west again we decided to try Muckleburgh Hill to view the trees at Weybourne from the other side just in case and to cover all bases and this proved inspired as on arrival we got the thumbs up and quickly shared good scope views of the Cuckoo sat in the trees in the "clump". It gave a couple of short flights before dropping into the bramble and out of sight.

The massive crowd at the hill
The clump at Weybourne viewed from Muckleburgh hill 
Whilst on site we picked up another year tick with a Hobby hawking over the hill.

Year list now 243