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.

Monday 9 September 2019

Red-backed Shrike at Holland Haven

Jim and I set off this morning hoping to connect with the Red-backed Shrike found at Holland Haven yesterday. We had little information but hoped it had roosted and we might get to see it stay for a second day. On arrival we were very fortunate as a local had just located the Shrike and very kindly waved us over so we too could enjoy the little cracker. Shrikes remain one of my favourites especially autumn Red-backs. The bird performed well for an hour and then the rain started to fall so we retreated to the car satisfied with our views but hoping to see more of this or others before the migration has finished this autumn.

Year list now 281

Red-backed Shrike Holland Haven
Red-backed Shrike Holland Haven
Red-backed Shrike at Holland Haven
Red-backed Shrike at Holland Haven

Sunday 8 September 2019

American Golden Plover at Shellness NNR

We started early this morning at Oare Marsh where we found around fifty Golden Plover but couldn't find the American among them. We had nine Curlew Sandpipers along with numerous Lapwing, Dunlin, Godwits, Avocet, Turnstone, Curlew, Ruff, Ringed Plovers in a real wader fest which is now the norm on any visit to Oare. Water Rail, Snipe, Wheatear, Bearded Tit etc etc all made for a very good watch despite the target not showing and then at around 9.30am news arrived that a "probable" had been seen over the Swale at Shellness so we set off to make the drive around to the island and very quickly found three birders scoping the bird from the sea wall on the drive down to the car park.

American Golden Plover.....very difficult bird to find (top left in my poor record shot)
The field held about 140 Golden Plover but they remained hidden in the grass with the American bird proving to be the most sedate of all but it did get up and show itself for a few seconds every hour. I pointed the camera in the general direction and managed to grab a single shot of it before it dropped back down and completely out of sight. After three very brief views in a couple of hours we left for home but pleased to have the hat trick of Golden Plover on the year list. The bird shows all the characteristics you'd expect and as such news has been amended from probable to actual.

Year list now 280

Curlew Sandpiper at Oare
Curlew Sands plus supporting cast
Wheatear at Shellness

Tuesday 3 September 2019

Brown Booby at Kynance Cove

The 19th August 2019 and a Brown Booby is seen for the very first time fishing in British waters, roll on a few days and another report comes in from St.Ives in Cornwall and this bird gives itself up to a very fortunate few but takes some birders up to five days to connect with the wandering bird then out of the blue comes another record with what is considered a first summer bird at Kynance Cove in Cornwall. I'm now singing that famous Clash number in my head "Should I stay or should I go".
With a little encouragement from Mrs A I watched as news came in of the bird appearing to go to roost on the rocks at Kynance Cove so that was it a quick call to Jim and we are meeting up at 12pm ready for the 320 mile drive. We made good time and arrived in the dark at 5.30am to find at least 50 cars already there with many birders sleeping off their long drives. We waited until about 6.15am and then slowly took the short walk out to the headland to view the rocks. The crowd gathered and by 8am the twitch numbered around 200 birders but the mood was low until 8.08am when the cry went up "there it is" and the crowd moved as one to get on the target as it flew out from roost and came around the headland to give us cracking views. Over the next three hours we watched it dive, sit on the water and fly along with long periods of sitting on the pyramid rock. What a day, what a bird!

Life list now 405
Year list now 279

The Brown Booby at Kynance Cove
Brown Booby
roosting on the small pyramid rock
zoomed in
The view out to the roost site. (spent most of the day on the small rock to the left as per above pics)
The small crowd
The Booby prize