Thursday, 14 May 2015

Day off in the Flatlands - 14th May 2015

So on a very rare day off, I took advantage and decided to go on a jaunt to the east coast to pick up a few yearticks and ideally a lifer in the form of Golden Oriole. There have been a lot of possible lifers in Norfolk recently, but alas, they have all gone! Golden Oriole has eluded me for far too long, so I was very keen to try my best with this species.
It turned out being a 20 hour trip with Jonnie Fisk getting churring Nightjar, 3+ Stone Curlew, Temminck's Stint, 2 singing Nightingale, 3 Red-crested Pochard, Spoonbill, 2 Woodlark, booming Bittern and a Turtle Dove.  Sites visited were Thetford Forest, Lakenheath RSPB, Weeting Heath, Wolferton Triangle (note a lack of a certain bird from the list.....), Dursingham, Titchwell, Broom GP, Paxton Pits and finally Gibraltar Point. The final site of the day took a real weight off my shoulders with THREE Golden Orioles including a wonderful adult male. The trio showed pretty well occasionally, but were very mobile and were flying up to 400m at a time, which made them hard to relocate/keep up with.

That's how you 'day off'!


 Last weekend I spent a fantastic two days with Jake Gearty, Danni Gilroy, Jonathan Scragg and Aidan Branch. We started in Aberdeen looking for the Harlequin, but sadly he wasn't seen at all on the Saturday and has since been seen up and down the river, which is frustrating! We then moved onto the Ythan Estuary and had superb views of the drake King Eider who was displaying like a hero. Next we moved onto the sublime village of Portsoy in beautiful sun and had excellent scope views of a full summer plumage White-billed Diver.
We ended the day in the Cairngorms with 2 Ptarmigan being the obvious highlight as they were just so fantastically tame and so beautiful! Some of the last birds of the day were 2 stunning Black-throated Divers, a stunning Slavonian Grebe and 3 displaying Ospreys, with the latter over the restaurant we ate at! We camped in a tent near the forest and enjoyed brief views of a male Capercaillie before bed...what a nice nightcap!
Sunday wasn't quite so brilliant as the weather was a little woeful to say the least. Crested Tit was about the only bird we added to the trip list, but that's rarely a bad thing! I had hoped to give the Crossbills a go, but sadly we only had a single flyover bird that was almost certainly a Common Crossbill. A great trip with some great people!

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Red-throated Pipit! - 3rd May 2015

Ridiculously good day with Jonnie Fisk and Daniel Branch with obvious highlight being the fantastic adult summer Red-throated Pipit near Stockport! Remarkable! Other highlights included yearticks of Montague's Harrier, Spoonbill, Black Tern, Common Tern and Curlew Sandpiper. Great day

Saturday, 2 May 2015

Local birding - Pectoral Sandpiper and a dastardly Bufflehead - 1st/2nd May 2015

 Last night on the way home from work I stopped in at Marshside to try and see the Pectoral Sandpiper. Just this week when the Rainham bird turned up, I was puzzled by spring Pec Sands and then realised that three of the four I have seen have been in Spring and in Lancashire! When one turned up at Marshside I couldn't resist so popped in. When I arrived it had just been flushed, along with the other 1000 or so calidrids, by a Peregrine onto the out marsh, so I had the hide to myself. After about twenty minutes, a flock of 30 or so waders came in and I picked up a call I was unfamiliar with but I recognised it from a previous search on Xeno-canto. A scan of the flock of Dunlin showed a slightly larger bird with a warmer tone, longer wings and pale belly. It landed and showed the yellow legs, yellow base to the bill, warm cheeks, tapering back end and most importantly, the strong contrast between the belly and breast streaking. My best views of Pectoral Sandpiper to date. Fantastic birds and I hope to finally find my own at some point in the near future.

Saturday came around and I was laying low after a tiring week hoping something would 'break' on the pagers and ideally not too far away. At half 8 I got my wish with a Bufflehead at Woolston Eyes! I was informed about the bird that toured the UK last year with a bright green ring on the left leg. The original finder was fairly happy it didn't have a ring, so access to the otherwise private nature reserve was granted at a cost of £2 per person. With several decent birds onsite and it not being all that far away I decided to take the risk. I joined Graham Clarkson, Paul Brewster, Scott Reid, Alex Jones, Steff Leese and Chris Piner on site and had really nice views of the Bufflehead as well as the male Ruddy Duck that took a shine to the bird! I had the ring in the back of my mind so paid a lot of attention to the legs and only really got good views of the right leg which was unringed. The left leg was harder to see but from what I could see, it didn't have the 'bright green' ring. A short while after I left the site, I was alerted that a photographer got a shot of the left leg and it was indeed bearing a green ring....oh well! A nice bird, a nice site I've been to only once before and nice to catch up with mates.