Tuesday, 27 September 2011

GREAT Orme - 27h September 2011

My second visit to the Great Orme in two days produced this delightful juvenile Dotterel on the north west side of the Orme. My first visit produced very little apart from lots of common migrants with the highlight being 2 Common Crossbill.
This is my first juvenile Dotterel, and this is the first time I've been able to get such amazing views which allowed me to get the incredible images above and below (I don't even care if I'm blowing my own trumpet!)
The wonderful weather we are experiencing at the moment means that butterflies are out in force and I saw 3 very late Graylings. This is rather peculiar however as thyone Grayling which is an endemic subspecies should be finished by mid-July. I noted that it was very small compared to the nominate race, so maybe this is a second brood due to the hot weather!?
Southern Hawker was taking advantage of the beautiful weather too as this frequented the bramble around Powell's well.
A day to remember!

Wednesday, 21 September 2011

10 Tonnes of Coot!

A short blog post this evening to just say a huge congratulations to Kane Brides for reaching the very impressive milestone of 1000 Coot to have been hand-caught and colour-ringed.
All this has been completed in just under two years which is impressive by anybodies standards, and I feel proud to say that I have been able to contribute to this total whilst helping Kane on a few trips out this year.

The 1000 milestone also means that the colour combinations that Kane has been using, have run out and today marked the start of a revisited Coot project. Kane is now using single white darvic rings showing 3 black letters/numbers.
Please visit Kane's blog post introducing the darvic project for more details. As you will see, we cannot stress enough that every resighting of a colour-ringed bird is invaluable so please report both colour-ringed and darviced birds to kanebrides(AT)gmail.com

Sunday, 18 September 2011

A Sunday Tryngites! - 18th September 2011

I just couldn't stay away! I NEEDED to get some more views of this wonderful wonderful bird! I made the trip late morning with Matthew 'Brucey' Bruce from Bangor to Junction.
The bird was instantly present and I was able to fire off a few shots as it fed in front of the boardwalk at Conwy RSPB. I would have loved to get some digiscoped pictures, as the scope views were just incredible! You could even see the sparkle in its eye! (Sorry...I'm waffling)
It seemed so happy at the reserve that it even sat down for a short time!
It took flight and flew left to right in front of the screen showing off its pristine white underwing and landed even closer which allowed me to scrutinise the bird and note down the features that separate it from an adult bird.
A most enjoyable revisited twitch!

Saturday, 17 September 2011

Bangor bound! - 17th September 2011

Photo: Alex Jones
2011's Hurricane season has done wonders for British birding with some stunners such as Black and White Warbler and Northern Waterthrush on Scilly Isles today, plus a huge influx of American waders on the west coast of Ireland and a trickle elsewhere. It was a matter of time before one of these birds made it across the Irish sea and became twitchable for a young student like myself!
I am now back in Bangor so I was delighted to hear that a Buff-breasted Sandpiper had turned up at RSPB Conwy and was still present when I would be passing the Llandudno Jn turn off on the A55. Arriving on site, I met up with Chris Bridge (and family) and Alex Jones who were watching the stunning juvenile Buff-breast.

Although photographs of these stunning waders are almost jaw dropping, you really do have to see one in the flesh to really appreciate just how lovely they are. Such a lovely warm gingery tone and a very placid looking face make this bird potentially one of the most visually enjoyable birds I have ever twitched...stunning!

Wednesday, 14 September 2011

McLesser with Fries - Preston Docks - 14th September 2011

Kane and I took advantage of the post-breeding dispersal of large juvenile Gulls down at Preston Docks with a spot of grabbing. With a little help from a certain fast food chain's chips (no salt but ofcourse!) we were able to grab a single juvenile Lesser Black-backed Gull. Sadly, the gulls became very skittish after the first bird, so we weren't able to catch anymore but the adrenaline of waiting to strike made for a very enjoyable 45 minutes! Cheers Kane for making the trip across the Ribble!

Gynn Square Seawatching - Blackpool - 14th September 2011

Basking Shark moving very slowly north 08.30-10.30.

I decided I would try one last time seawatching off the coast of Blackpool to see if I could add to the list of great birds Katia has brought me. I wasn't disappointed!
Arriving at 07.45, I understand I had just missed an adult Pomarine Skua which would have been nice!
The first decent bird I saw flew south at 08.46 in the form of an adult Sabine's Gull...superb! This is something I have always wanted to find for myself and be able to scan the open sea and discover that unmistakeable wing pattern!
)8.52 and I got my first views of a Leach's Storm-petrel making its way slowly south which was in view for approx. 3 minutes and I loved every moment of it! Storm-petrels really are wonderful things!
At 09.05, I spotted a very similar wing pattern in my scope to the first bird and there in front of me, was a delightful juvenile Sabine's Gull heading south too! What a start!
The watching became pretty difficult thereafter until 09.45 when a 2nd Leach's appeared in my scope just in front of North Pier. I decided to try and get a photo of this one by running to the edge of the incoming tide and hoping it would be visable for a record shot...sadly, it was very low and appeared only a couple of times above the surf. In the process, I almost stranded myself on the very fast moving incoming tide which was surrounding me in all directions!

Apart from the avian highlights, I picked up a large animal 100 meters in front of North Pier which I instantly thought was a whale. It took about 2 hours to make its way north out of view, so I had a very long time in which to observe this beast and attempt to photograph/ID it. Throughout the whole time I was watching it, I was saying to myself that it wasn't a Basking Shark as it just didn't seem to scream Basking which is what I would have expected. I really did think it was a small whale (maybe a Pilot or something). After much deliberation, and cross referencing Google images and my montage above, I have come to the conclusion that I saw my first ever Basking Shark (and in Lancashire too!)

A great mornings seawatch and and lovely finally to 3 days of being blown about the Blackpool coastline! Highlights being Sooty Shearwater, 3 Sabine's Gull (inc. Heysham's bird), 2 Grey Phalarope, 2 Leach's Storm-petrel and a Basking Shark...Not at all bad!

Tuesday, 13 September 2011

Grey Phalarope - Fairhaven Lake, Lancashire - 13th September 2011

After a rather uneventful seawatching session at Starr Gate on the falling tide today, I called in on the way back at Fairhaven Lake to see my 2nd Grey Phalarope in 2 days. I was hoping it was showing well like storm blown 'sea' birds from the past. It did not disappoint! The bird was showing very very well in the eastern corner of the lake feeding on the debris that had been blown into the corner by the ever present westerly wind.
Similarly to the Red-necked Phalarope present on the lake on the 17h September 2010, the phalarope was very tame and allowed me to get very close to it to observe its delightful feeding habits and lovely plumage. I would suggest it was moulting from juvenile to 1st winter, but I'm no expert...

Norwegian ringed Black-headed Gull - White J0N8
Ringed in Frognerparken, sørlige utløp, Oslo, Akershus & Oslo, Norway 08/04/2011
Resighted - Fairhaven Lake, Lancashire (1078km from ringing site, 158 days later)
The seawatch itself produced very little compared to what other lucky lancashire birders saw, but Fulmar, Manx Shearwater, Arctic Skua and several very close in Gannet were the highlights

Monday, 12 September 2011

Sooty and Sweep - 12th September 2011

A certain forum discussing birds has been getting rather excited with the build up to the 2nd Hurricane to attempt to cause our birds some discomfort. Katia was set to hit overnight last night and it appears to have hit pretty hard! I arrived at Starr Gate for 09.20 to a huge swell and 30 or so mph winds.
Sandwich Tern - the only photo of of the avian variety and I feel almost embarrassed to put it on my blog!
I got two main highlights from the seawatch with the first at 10.02. I picked up a small wader appearing slightly larger than a Dunlin. It had cold grey Mantle with generally white body except for a black 'line' on the birds face. This quickly made it apparent that it was a phalarope sp. The Black wings except for a reasonablyhttp://www.blogger.com/img/blank.gif broad white wing bar at the base of the secondaries and tertials, in addition to the grey mantle made me come to the conclusion of a (presumed adult) Grey Phalarope! My 2nd self found bird following my first ever views back in 2005!
Next came the highlight of the trip, and probably my seawatching highlight of the year! Scanning from left to right I picked up a shearwater flying south. With it being off Blackpool, I instantly labelled it as Manxie, but the wings appeared too long so I followed it as it banked from side to side. It turned away from me showing its underside for the first time, and instantly, I noted that it was almost completely dark underneath except for a couple of silvery flashes on the underwings...I had a Sooty!
Not a photo but an appropriate image that I painted back in 2007!

This is a lifer for me and my 8th species of tubenose which certainly makes today special in terms of The Tubenose Challenge
Full sightings from the day:
Sooty Shearwater flew South-east 11.27
Grey Phalarope flew North 10.02 (close in at c50 meters out)
16 Sandwich Tern
4 Arctic Tern
6 Gannet
1 Manx Shearwater flew south
1 Guillemot
24 Cormorant
1 Knot flew south
c200 Common Scoter

Lets hope it continues tomorrow!

Thursday, 8 September 2011

Sabine's Gull - Heysham Harbour - 8th September 2011

After an early start at Brockholes produceing a blank on pretty much anything except a light Mipit movement, I was more than eager to go and see a Sabine's Gull when I found it was lingering in Heysham Harbour. This is a bird I have only seen once back in October 2001, long before my proper birding days so I was keen to be able to fully appreciate one in the flesh.Adult Sabine's Gull - Heysham Harbour/Outfalls
Arriving at the Outfalls late afternoon, I got the briefest of glimpses of the classic white wedge in the wing of an adult Sabine's Gull. Result, it was still present!
Over the next 20 minutes, I was able to get some wonderful views of this truly beautiful bird as it made several visits into the harbour itself passing at c30feet away from me at eye level. I don't care who you are, if you get close up views of an adult (or indeed a juvenile) Sabine's Gull, you have to agree that they are stunning birds.

Also present on the outfalls and in the surrounding area were several juvenile and moulting adult Arctic Tern plus a few Common Terns and a single Sandwich Tern
My personal highest count of 15 Mediterranean Gull was an added bonus that I wasn't expecting (well, not in those numbers anyway!)
aswell as 2 Little Gull which blended into the 'crowd' and took a while to pick out.

Even at a decent range, the classic wing pattern of the Sabine's Gull stands out a mile off. I can't wait for that day when I am scanning a rough sea and this sight appears in my scope...phwarrr!

Wednesday, 7 September 2011

Poppin' ma Coot Cherry - 7th September 2011

As the summer turns into autumn, it approaches Coot season as today saw Kane, Chris and I head down to Redesmere, Macclesfield to do a bit of grabbing.
As I am the only member yet to catch a Coot, I went first at having a go for them...

It took a while, but after a couple of attempts, I had my hands on a young Coot and added to the day total which was 10 new birds and 1 recap.

Kane still makes it look easy, but it is certainly not! I will be back to work on my technique, but for now, I just have peace of mind that it is not impossible! A great day!

Saturday, 3 September 2011

Swallow Roost - Worsely, Gtr Manchester - 3rd September 2011

Photo: Kane Brides

Regular readers of this blog will note that I haven't done any ringing at all for almost 2 months since the Long-Eared Owls back on 12th July.
Similarly, it has been just as long since I last saw Kane, so It was nice to catch up with him this evening in Worsley, Gtr Manchester for a Swallow roost at a reedbed.

We caught 51 birds which were ringed by Jenny and myself. This was the first time I've handled 'adult' Swallow, so it was a lovely experience, particularly the 2 adult males that I ringed.

Thanks to Kane for the invite and to Steve Christmas for letting me come along.

It's good to be back with some pliers in my hands