Friday, 19 October 2018

On the list at last!

After some near misses in the past, me and my dad headed straight to Haughton Strother Gravel Pits this evening hoping to catch up with the two Gull-billed Terns and add them to our British and county lists. 

On arrival they were sat on the rocky island with the gulls and lapwings, and after a while took off and started feeding over the nearby fields. The light was fading by this point and combined with the distance to make my attempts at photos pretty poor!

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Back again...

On Sunday we planned to spend the morning on the patch. We were at Druridge Pools just long enough to find a Yellow-browed Warbler in the pine plantation before some good birds were reported from Beal and Holy Island.

We decided to head up there and the first couple of hours proved frustrating with no sign of the scarcities at Beal. We moved onto the island where things did pick up, with the best birds including 7 Yellow-browed Warblers and the incredibly confiding Snow Bunting still on the Crooked Lonnen. The counts included the following...

7 Yellow-browed Warbler
1 Ring Ouzel
1 Pied Flycatcher
1 Redstart
5 Chiffchaff
2 Willow Warbler
1 Lesser Whitethroat
1 Wheatear
40+ Brambling
1 Snow Bunting
1 Swallow 
1 Short-eared Owl

Yellow-browed Warblers in Holy Island village
Yellow-browed Warbler at Druridge Pools

Snow Bunting
Lesser Whitethroat

Friday, 12 October 2018

Holy Island

With the morning free, I decided to head up to Holy Island today with the hope of seeing the Woodlark along with its supporting cast.

In the end there was no sign of the lark but it was still an enjoyable few hours before I had to head to school. The best bits included...

3+ Yellow-browed Warbler
1 Ring Ouzel
3 Chiffchaff
1 Mealy Redpoll
1 Yellowhammer
1 Snow Bunting
1 Treecreeper
1 Long-eared Owl

Very confiding Snow Bunting on the Crooked Lonnen

Sunday, 23 September 2018

More open day birding...

Yesterday we were at another university open day - this time in Edinburgh - and the fact we drove there meant that we could do some birding afterwards...

Musselburgh was our first port of call as we hoped to improve on our views of the White-winged Scoter from the spring. When we first arrived it wasn't looking great as no one on site had seen it, despite good conditions, though I did pick up a Red-necked Grebe in one of the Velvet flocks. We walked further east along the sea wall and eventually my dad located the drake American White-winged Scoter among some more Velvets. We watched the bird for quite a while, and it came closer and closer as time went on. By the time we left we had had some really good scope views.

We also estimated that there were 100+ Velvet Scoters offshore, as well as similar numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers including one very large group, and a single Arctic Skua flew west.

After finishing at Musselburgh we drove a short distance south down the A1 and arrived at Barns Ness. As we were driving down the approach road we saw a couple of birders scoping White Sands Quarry from the north side so joined them and were soon were onto the Buff-breasted Sandpiper on the south shore. The views were very distant but still distinctive.

The light was starting to go now, but we continued down towards the lighthouse and joined a small crowd admiring the first-winter Woodchat Shrike. It wasn't doing much this late on in the day, but at one point it did fly round and land right in front of me and my dad. A nice way to round off an excellent afternoon!

Woodchat Shrike

American White-winged Scoter with Velvet Scoters - video should be viewed at 1080p

Friday, 14 September 2018

A weekend away...

Last weekend we visited a UEA open day, and stayed overnight in Kings Lynn. This allowed us to do a bit of birding the evening after at Titchwell as well as stopping at Frampton on the way home...

Titchwell held a great selection on Saturday evening, including 10 Spoonbills, Great White EgretLittle Stint, 2 Curlew Sandpipers, Bearded Tits, and best of all, 4 adult Turtle Doves sat together...

Turtle Doves

Bearded Tits - adult female and juvenile male (bottom).
Yellow-legged Gull
Curlew Sandpiper
A stop at RSPB Frampton on the way back on Sunday morning was also very enjoyable with highlights including the Long-billed Dowitcher, 16 Spotted Redshanks, Curlew Sandpiper, Spoonbill, Black-necked Grebe and an impressive 1500+ Black-tailed Godwits. 3 Willow Emerald Damselfly were an odonata tick for me.

Black-tailed Godwit
Spotted Redshank
Black-necked Grebe

Willow Emerald Damselfly

Friday, 7 September 2018

Barred Warblers...

Yesterday afternoon I had the opportunity to call into St. Mary's Island for a look at the two Barred Warblers which had been found there. They showed well, regularly perching in the open on the wetland's brambles and providing me with great scope views. Much better than the video below suggests...

Barred Warbler - view in HD at 1080p

Saturday, 1 September 2018

Patch Greenish!

We were just getting ready to head out this morning when news came on of a Greenish Warbler at Chevington. We quickened the pace, although when we arrived the dreaded no sign message came on.

We continued around to the bushes behind the L-shaped hide and it was obvious how difficult it would be to see the bird given the thick vegetation. An hour later we had seen nothing more than a couple of Willow Warblers, but thankfully a slight movement at the back of the bushes proved to be the Greenish Warbler. While not a long view, I was lucky to get a look at the bird as it sat side on in the open. A very welcome patch tick!

A short while later a flock of Long-tailed Tits moved through the same bushes, and a vocal Willow Tit was with them. At the north pool a juvenile Curlew Sandpiper had arrived, along with 3 Pintail, and the 2 Garganey were still around. Another Garganey was at a Bothal Pond on the way home.

For a photo of the Greenish, check out finder Dave Elliot's blog here.

Wednesday, 29 August 2018

Another catch up...

Not much time for words again, so here's a selection of videos and images from the last few weeks...

Videograbs of one of two Honey Buzzards at Wykeham Forest. Also seen were Goshawks, Kestrels, Common Buzzards and a juvenile Marsh Harrier. See the video here
Marsh Tit near Scarborough
Videograb of an Osprey at Rutland Water. Other Birdfair birding highlights included Red-necked Phalarope and Great White Egret

Wood and Common Sandpipers from Druridge Pools
Phonescoped shot of one of two Scaup back at Chevington today (29th). 2 Spotted Redshank were here on the 27th. 

Tuesday, 14 August 2018

Images from Bardsey...

A huge thanks to Bardsey Bird Observatory who hosted their annual Young Birder's Trip last week, and which I was fortunate to attend. We had a great week on the island, and can't wait to return. A bit short of time, I haven't been able to write much about the week, but here's a selection of photos from the island...


Spotted Flycatcher

Wheatears - adult and juveniles.
Marsh Harrier - juvenile.
Grey Seals

There were plenty of Willow Warblers around, as well as smaller numbers of Chiffchaffs.

Manx Shearwaters - adult and chick, as well as a recording of the calls of some of the adults below...

Storm Petrels ringed overnight
Juvenile Herring Gull in front of the Welsh mainland

Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Grayling Butterflies
Small Copper
Autumn Lady's Tresses Orchid

Personally, my highlight of the week were the daily sightings of Risso's Dolphins, including a great display at sunset on the 6th. The above video really fails to do that display justice but it was the best I could get! Please view the video in HD at 1080p.

The Milky Way over the south end. Not the best photo!