Tuesday, December 14, 2010
Basically, i've not done any birding to report on. I've just been too busy at uni with, errr, assignments, yes that'll do, i've been doing assignments all autumn/winter.
I have however found the time for some volunteering with the Dorset Wildlife Trust, which has it's many rewards, such as this Little Auk whichwas sat off the landing stage upon arrival at Brownsea Island a few weeks ago.
Excuse the shite picture, digibinned with a naff little compact from a moving boat!!
I finished uni for the year on friday and since then i've had a few days birding the Somerset Levels. I haven't looked around the levels properly for about 10 years or so, so I was surprised and very impressed to see how the reserves have come along there. The area of land now setaside for conservation around the shapwick/westhay area has increased massively and theres new paths everywhere, well done to the organisations involved. It was all pretty birdy too, with Bitterns and Cetti's Warblers in particular seemingly all over the place. Highlight however was watching 3 Otters at close range feeding along a frozen drove, pure magic.
Anyway, any recent sightings will pale into insignificance with what i'll be seeing over the next few weeks. After a long period of no travelling i'm finally back on the road, with a 3 week trip to Nepal beginning tommorrow. It's a family holiday so won't involve the usual reckless pursuit of exotic rares, but should still be good fun. There will of course be pictures galore and hopefully a trip report (if I can find the time away from those pesky 'assignments') when I get back. Until then, a Merry Christmas and Happy New Year to everyone.
Tuesday, September 28, 2010
How prophetic those words turned out to be. 9 days after I leave and the lads go and find an empidonax flycatcher. OK, so its not the first for the WP Yellow-bellied that it was first put out as, but anyone who knows how dangerously obsessed I am with finding rares can imagine just how devastated I was when I heard the news.
At that point I realised that I had two options; to crawl into a corner and spend the rest of the autumn crying, or to bird my ass off for the rest of the season and try and find a rarity to match it, however unlikely that would be. Obviously the second option is much more appealing, and aside from spending Sunday volunteering down at Studland with the National Trust, i've been mostly birding during daylight hours. Hengistbury Head has been the site of choice of site for the last 2 days, and was particularly enjoyable today, as I found a Wryneck up on the heath on Warren Hill. Small beer indeed compared to the recent fare on Blakeney but its always nice to find something unexpected and is exactly the sort of thing I need to give me the motivation to keep getting out there over the coming weeks.
Back to the horrible beast that is the empid, I can only repeat what I said about the cornish bird at the time. Willow and Alder are pretty much impossible to seperate. We banded plenty of empids in Canada, Least and Yellow-bellied are pretty straightforward, but even in the hand, Willow and Alder just went down as 'Traills'. There are supposedly methods of seperating the two using biometrics but we tried them and they all turned out to be inconclusive. OK, so Alder is much more likely on probability but what sort of Rarities Comitee adds a species to a National List based on probability. As many people have suggested already, I think the best bet is to just recognise the birds as Traill's Flycatcher and hope that soon some clever bod comes up with a way of separating the two conclusively.
Anyway, and most importantly, massive congratulations to James and Paul for finding the bird. As all the twitchers who visited the point over the weekend will attest too, it is an absolute bitch of a place to bird. Imagine doing that walk pretty much every day over the course of the autumn! This find was a monumental reward for a monumental effort, top marks to the lads, you deserve all the glory you get, and I say that with only a smidgen of the bitterest jealousy.
Wryneck at Hengistbury
One of many very tame Stonechats
Ring Ouzel record shot
Friday, September 24, 2010
Bluethroat- 1 of 3 seen in a week, and I think before any others had been seen elsewhere in the country!!
Friday, August 27, 2010
Well, thats pretty much spot on. Autumn on Blakeney Point has been absolutely brilliant. With 2 Icterine Warblers, a Barred Warbler, a Marsh Warbler and a Bluethroat over the last few weeks making this August the best for a long old time.
Searching for the Bluethroat this morning, we were delighted to find a Lapland Bunting, the earliest record ever for The Point. We were pretty chuffed with this and assumed it would be taking the 'bird of the day' slot.
A last gasp tramp around the Long Hills soon trumped this however, when we flushed a small, sandy warbler with white outer tail feathers from the suaeda. Logic decreed that such a bird could only be a Booted or Sykes's Warbler, and soon enough the bird jumped up onto the suaeda tops, showing off its short bill, relatively strong head pattern and contrasty tertials, definately a Booted Warbler, GET IN!!!!!!
The bird proved to be very elusive and mainly only gave flight views, though it did perch up a few times, giving some reasonable looks to the few birders who came along to see it.
My best attempt, possibly qualifiable as a record shot?! This shot is pretty typical of the views we got.
The Lapland Bunting on Far Point
Barred Warbler from a while back.
One of a good number of Pied Flycatchers so far this autumn.
I dont generally twitch these days, but this Lesser Grey Shrike at Kelling made a nice day trip for me and a visiting birding friend from Canada with the excuse that he needed it for his world list.
Monday, May 31, 2010
And as Spring fades into Summer, you start to think, will that moment come, has it happened already, and slid away unnoticed, has it....., but you carry on.
And then, just as you start to lose hope, and just as you least expect it, as you're yakking away on the phone, you glance out of the window, and KA-POW, a pale thing with pink bits on it flits past, and you remember that feeling, the feeling that just has no equal, and it all becomes worthwhile.
Wednesday, March 03, 2010
With a total lack of wind, the bay was mirror calm and produced decent counts of 18 Black-necked and 4 Slavonian Grebes, along with a Common Seal, which I think might be a Dorset mammal tick for me.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
After a promising start to the year i've turned lazy again. Apart from turning my head towards the shoreline whilst jogging along the front at Baiter park i've not been birding at all. Still, the starling roost in Poole has been good value. This evenings gathering wasnt particualrly impressive numbers wise, but there were a few cool little manoueveres and I happened to have nothing else to do at the time so thought i'd try out the video functionon my digital compact on them. this was shot from my bedroom window a few minutes ago.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
Holes Bay was excellent again today. A slightly late start following a heavy night at the mighty Sound Circus got me to the site as the tide was starting to come up. Loads of waders right in close to the path. Luckily I had the compact (just in case i needed a record shot of the Baikal Teal i'm blatantly going to find there before the winters up) so I could resort to digi-binning.
Adult Yellow-legged Gull ,a 1st winter was over at Kerry Foods with a load of mixed commoner gulls who had managed to get into the bins.
2 of the three Spoonbills present
Also had a Jack Snipe and 4 Spotted Redshanks which gave ideal photo opportunites for the DSLR but evaded being digi-binned.
Yesterday I only managed a quick look down Baiter and Poole Park before heading up to campus for a revision session. Nothing unusual down there and no sign of Barney G. Apparently theres been a few other Barnacles turning up along the Dorset coast, potentially wild birds from Holland fleeing the cold. I was counting it anyway but that information helps ease the guilt.
Buzzard causing the whole harbour to go apeshit
This Med Gull should be looking rather fine shortly
Friday, January 08, 2010
Last year, after moving down to Poole/Bournemouth, my birding effort was embarrasingly pathetic. Having spent half the year living on the Farnes, with all sorts of cool seabirds and potential rares literally on my doorstep, it came as a bit of shock to find myself in a situation where I would have to catch a bus or walk for a while to get into a decent bit of habitat, this, along with plenty of other uni-based distraction resulted in me going birding about 5 times in the last 3 months of the year, a very poor show.
Now, i'm not really one for New Years Resolutions, all this bollocks about turning over a new leaf, becoming a better person and shit like that .If youre a rubbish twat in 2009 ,chances are you're going to be a rubbish twat in 2010. However, before I came back down here from Somerset a few days ago, I did promise myself that i would get out and about a bit more, and even decided to do a self-found year list to help motivate me. I got bored of the list somewhere between writing in Great Tit and Blue Tit (probably at Coal Tit come to think of it) so i've sacked that off, but the reasoning is still there.
Yesterday I went out to Holes Bay, where I was happy to see that it was low tide, Dorset birders will know that Holes Bay is never at low tide, somehow, its always lapping around the footpath and hence has shit all waders there, but yesterday it was absolutely rammed with birds. 500 odd blackwits, nearly 300 avocets and crawling with redshanks and dunlins. Unfortunately, I didnt take any gloves and my fingers actually stuck to my tripod so I cried off home earlier than I should have but I had seen enough to tempt me out again this morning.
Avocet at Holes Bay
This morningI went down to Baiter Park, where there were 14 spanking Med Gulls, all but one of which (a 2nd winter) were adults, like this one.
Over the railway line this Barnacle Goose was sat on the ice with Canada Geese at Poole Park. A little bit dodgy maybe, fuck it, if i was still keeping a self-found year list I'd have that straight on there
Probably the worst photo of a Bittern ever, and my first (and still only) shot of this species ,as it dropped into the reeds.
This Goosander wsa fishing close into the edge of the pond, at one point it tried to pikey a fish off a Cormorant, but quickly got told where to go.
And finally, in an attempt to get ove the cold, heres a pair of Scarelt Macaws patrolling the rainforest in a toasty southern Costa Rica pretty much this time last year.
Saturday, January 02, 2010
Conditions on the boat were far from luxury
But were compensated by a nice sunset
First birding stop in Costa Rica was La Fortuna and Arenal Volcano. A day trip up to the grounds of Arenal Observatory Lodge produced a few nice sightings: