Thursday, 30 June 2011

Owl (In the daytime??)

All was quiet, it was the middle of the year, and the birding doldrums had started,
However to Birghten up the birding front at Upton Warren, was a gorgeous little owl, which obligingly perched on a post in a field for ages.

(Sorry, it doesnt do much)
A cuckoo was seen to fly into a tree with a proccesion of Magpies.
On the Flashes was 3 Green Sandpiper's, heralding the start of return wader passage.

Wednesday, 29 June 2011


I did visit the patch this day to see if the mandarin chicks were still around, however in the week i had been away, it seems the chicks had been predated, and the mother had gone missing, so i left the patch feeling sad about the first breeding attempt failing.
I was dropped off at Blackstone and i searched the area again, And there was loads of activity around the Hedges and riverside willows here, and after about 30 Mins of looking around, i was rewarded by a stunning Spotted Flycatcher Flycatching off an Oak tree, I always struggle to see this bird on a year to year basis, so to have one on the patch was great, the lasr one i had was 4 years previous when i spotted a Juvenile in the Autumn further south on the patch.
The Garden Warbler male that had been singing for week must have slyly Atracted a mate, because In the willows area there were 9 Garden warbler, Obviously a family party, and i was treated to some stunning views as i just stood still on the path. 3 Blackcap were here, including 2 females, but no Juv's were located, Chiffchaffs had started singing again, and The whole area just seemed busy.
However the highlight came when as i walked through a field ( adjoining a caravan site) i noticed a small brown duck in the Goat pen, i raised my bins to see a female Mandarin duck feeding away at the scraps of seed, food that had been left out for the goats and chickins, I checked the wings, and it had a full set, and while talking to the person that looks after the pen, she told me the bird had been visiting for over a week after about 8pm!!
Would the loss of her chicks have forced her to try to seek company with a goat, or has the draw of free food attracted her, as it has done with so many mallards in the past.

Wales- The End

On the journey back from wales, the weather was alot more 'Raptor friendly' and this perfect weather resulted in auite a few raptors.
From Pembrokeshire to The border with England i counted 26 Red Kite, My 2nd highest count ever.
This eclpised the 11+ Buzzard that i had, but tbh, after we left wales i started texting, and so probs missed all the buzzards.
However a Highlight from the journey was a stunning female GOSHAWK seen In a pinewood around Centrel Wales.
A Hobby, and so far my only Hobby of the year, was seen In herefordshire somewhere.
And thats it No more Wales for another year :'(
But some amazing birds to come.

Tuesday, 28 June 2011

Strumble Head

We had planned to visit Skomer Island today, but for the 2nd year running, we were unable to gte over there as they had already filled up the places by the time we were near, so we headed off to Strumble head, where we knew there was some good birding, we got the the centre of the head and it started climbing upwards, we parked in the Middle of think Fog and we had a quick walk of these upland Tracks, there were many Meadow Pipits, but very little else, a buzzard flew through, but the fog was tampering with the viewinf and you couldnt see anything.
A flitillary Sp butterly flew past, but flew into a Bull Paddock and i didnt persure it for obvious reasons, i have still to see any flitilleies (i know its spelt wrong :P)
The Pipits did show quite well though.
We then continued to the lighthouse for a seawatch which proved very rewarding, i had hoped for maybe a late skua as a bonxie had been seen a few days previous, but a skua sisnt fly past.
(I appoligise for the following pics, as you would expect on a seawatch, views were quite far away and photography almost impossible.

A few Kittiwakes were sitting offshore when we first arrived, and many Gannet were fishing, A Chough was calling and a Rock Pipit singing, that was when we picked up 4 Grey Seal popping up in the water.
A few Shags were also fishing offshore, but none really came close enough for a good photo.
A couple of Gannet came quite close.

And the lighthouse just as we arrived, as the fog started to evaporate.

But the highlight of the visit was what we had came to see,
Seabirds, and there was many of them.
Guillemot and Razorbill were flying past almost constantly, and further out, A flock of 50c MANX SHEARWATER were feeding, accompanyed by many Kittiwake, we spent the next 2-3 Hours scanning the sea, and after about 2 hours, the seabirds were joined by a flock/pod/ group of Harber Porpoise, and a couple of dolphin sp, and with these came alot more seabirds, Suddenly we were inundated with over 400!!! MANX SHEARWATER, and also around 50 Kittiwake, i presumed the Porpoise had brought with them lots of smaller fish, and other things Shearwaters, gulls and gannets like to eat, thus boosting the number of many birds that were following the food source.
In the Mayhem, i latched onto 3 Auks flying left (west), Through the scope, it was obvious that i was watching 3 PUFFINS, they actually came in quite close, where you could see their huge bills, however, they quickly wirred around the corner of the headland and was lost to view behind the lighthouse. After this it quietened down, and later we decided to leave.
400+ Manx Shearwater
3 Puffin
100c Guillemot
30c Razorbill
50c Kittiwake
80+ Gannet
1 Chough
1 Fulmar
6 Shag
3 Oyc
as well as sightings of Porpoise, seals and dolphins.
On the way back we stopped at Fishguard Harber where i had the most amazing Ice cream ever, and a Can of Coca cola, we walked up to a pumping station ( or something similar) in the Harber and saw 8 Oyc, There was also another Grey Seal Here.

Thursday, 23 June 2011

Bits N bobs

As where we was staying is close to a military base and a training area, we oftern had flypasts from many military Aircraft, this Sea King flew over while i was photographing Swallows.

And here are the Aformented Swallows.

But it was on the 1st that i noticed that a Pied Wagtail (female) was colour ringed, i tried for ages to read the rings but the views were always inadequet to Id the colours, so when in the morning on the 1st the bird dropped down onto the lawn to feed i took many snaps of the bird, the rings were:
(From top down)
Right Leg- Red then Bto ring
Left Leg- Red, Yellow, Yellow

This bird was seen everyday on site.
Later in the day we checked out a few spots where i visited last year
Carew Castle
We hadnt got out of the car before i picked up a wagtail scuttiling on the car park, a Look at the bird revealed it to be a Male White Wagtail, i Took a few photos of the bird, then wlaked down to the tidal pool.

Which was Dead, only 2 Distant Shelduck out on the Mudflats on the Estury side.
So as we were close, we decided to Drop into Lawrenny, where last year we had a Great Egret, this year we wernt so lucky, But 2 Of their Little Cousions were stalking the banks, there was a good scattering of Shelduck and Gulls and it was while scanning the Flats i picked up a small flock of Waders.
Consisting of 15 Birds, it was headlined by 2 Turnstones, both of which were in summer plumage, A Sanderling run in a close second, which also was in summer plumage, a single Ringed Plover and 11 Dunlin.

Tuesday, 21 June 2011

Stackpole Head- Wales

A visit to my welsh local patchm Stackpole Head was actually rather dissapointing as many of the usual breeding birds numbers were well down on previous years, and all bird species bar Rock Pipit had decreased.
And there was plent of Rock Pipit about, with around 20c Scuttering around the cliff tops, including many Juv type birds. with patience, the Pipits came quite close.

This photo just seems to show the dissapearence of many of the seabirds, this ledge usually is completly covered with Guillemots, but this year only a few were here, and that also includes the birds flying off the cliff, with far less feeding offshore or flying to further distances out, it just seemed less 'Busy'/
And only 3 Wheatear were present, including one male, which is also a low figure..

Fulmars has dropped in numbers slightly with only about 10 birds noted.

A peregrine flew in off the sea from the other side of the bay, and caused abit of chaos.

But a real treat was to see this Tornado Jumpjet wheeling above us and practising bombing runs over Castlemorton Range
A Gannet was feeding close in on the return walk back to the car, and it was while this bird was flying around that i picked up 3 Whimbrels Flying in from the south calling as they went, they flew over the path and north towards pembroke town, i think they may have landed on the estury there, but that is entirely speculation.
10c Fulmar
13+ Gannet
3 Shag
1 Peregrine
3 Whimbrel
2+ Kittiwake
100c Guillemot
30c Razorbill
20c Rock Pipit
3 Wheatear
2 Chough

Tenby Town,- Wales

A trip into the town for a quick spot of time on the beec... looking for seabirds came up trumps with my first Gannet of the year feeding in very close to the shore, oftern only about 30ft out, My first Fulmar of the year sheered past and a calling Rock Pipit flew over.


One of the favorite parts of my yearly holiday in wales is the car journey there
I eagery anticipate the Red kites as we pass through brecon beacons National park.
but we had a long wait, and my first Red kite of the trip came at Sennybridge, as it flew low north along the high street!!
After this, a further 14 Kites were noted, compared to a low figure of only 18 Buzzard for the whole journey.
The weather was quite crap for raptors like last year, so the figures were low..

Monday, 20 June 2011

Patch- A First

I just couldnt leave the patch alone.
I was dropped off at Blackstone and when walking below the bridge, i was amazed to see 3 GOOSANDER sitting on the rocks ( 1 DRK), a single Garden warbler was still around the willows, and there was a couple of Nuthatch, I contiuned downriver scanning the opposite river bank as i went, and after nearly a month, a senorio i had expected had taken place,
A female MANDARIN escorting a party of 11 Little fluffy baby mandarins, the first site breeding. i was extremly happy that my hunch had been right and that breeding would take place, i left the family alone after getting comfirmation on the number of chicks and i quickly latched onto a singing Cuckoo on the opposite side of the river in ribblesford wood, a Kingfisher flew past and there were many Whitethroat juv's around.


A quick evening patch visit revelaed little on the bird side, A Female Mandarin was on the river and a Cuckoo was calling, however the highlight came when i spotted this gorgeous Yellow Dragonfly, which i correctly identified as a Club-Tailed Dragonfly, my first!!


After news Emerged on the early morning of the 15/05 that Matt Griffiths from the Earlswood Blog had found a Night Heron at earlswood lakes i was generally quite pissed off, i had been there the previous evening with little to show for it. and despite in the evening passing within a few miles of the lakes, i was unable to get there, and when news emerged later that evening that the bird was showing as i was driving past left me in even more bad mood.
But as the week passed positive news was released day after day, the bird was still there and some amazing photos were emerging, but i just had a horrible feeling that it would dissapear before i could get there, Saturday came, to be greeted by the news that the bird was still at the lakes, but extremely sporadic reports left me in dought that the bird would show, I walked from the norton lane Garden to the lakes at around 4pm, and preceded to walk to the causeway, where i met Kevin from 'Diary of a birding medic' who was also after the bird, after a chat i walked down towards terrys pool, as some news shown the bird had shown there a few time in the day, but after a walk around the pool, with nothing to show i walked to springbrook lane, where also there was very little of note, i walked back towards the Cway via Windmill Pool and again saw very little Bar the Mandarin which is ever present and was seen to have sexual relations with a mallard..
The Crowd at the Cway was now well into Double Figures, with many 'Famous' Birders/photographers present, most of whom tried to get pictures of the Mandarin, while there i was watching Swifts and Terns And couldnt be bothered to waste the energy to walk to the other side of the road to have a nosy at the worlds most confiding (plasitic) Mandarin.
Time dragged on, with very little to watch. Just me knowing this would be my only chance to see the bird with going on holiday the next week, i was detrmined to see it, however many time from 7:30 onwards i was threatening to leave, and by the looks of it so did most of the crowd, many people dissapeared and it was left to 7 inhumane People to wait for the heron to show. A few of their large grey cousion flew past but at 8:29, nearly 4 1/2 hours after ariving i spotted a heron flying in over windmill pool
You could just feel the instant relief of the long staying crowd to finally lock onto the bird, as it flew south along the pool your could see all its major features and it was great to catch up with this species again, a british lifer.

(This photo was taken in Turkey (April 2010) but i have edited it to make it more like the Earlswood bird by flipping the image and darkening it to make it more like the scene, other than some cropping, there are no other alterations)
The sections of birders set off into two groups, and we ( Andy P, my dad and me) decided to follow Matt along the eastern bank of windmill pool, so we could view the willows on the other side, there wasnt a night heron there so we checked the scrub to the south of windmill pool where we had decent views of a male and female CUCKOO as they flew around, and perched in the area, we decided to not venture onto the Scrubland as to not disturb the bird.
Thanks must be given to Matt for finding this bird on his patch, after spending very long periods 'working the place', and his willingness to show it to other birders, a well deserved patch bird.
Keep it up

Wednesday, 15 June 2011

14/05/11 continued

Upton Warren
To be completly and truily honest, the summer doldrums had started, but a nice summer plumages 'schinzii' race DUNLIN was feeding on the flash during a heavy downpour, and an unseasonal Common Snipe shown well in front of the hide,
Also the sheer amount of Avocet Chicks, some 21 Chicks had hatched with many sitting birds still to hatch.
Other than this, it was quite quiet.

(Dunlin during downpour)


After visiting Earlswood and seeing the Drk Mandarin again, along with 15+ Common tern we decided to head off to nearby Bittel Res where a Black necked Grebe had been found.
We pulled into the Parking spot and walked to the cway of Lower Bittel,
Matt from the Earlswood Blog was already there and watching the almost summer plumaged BLACK NECKED GREBE quite close in, however the sun was always behind it. we watched the bird for some time, swimming, preening and diving with the Tufted ducks, but we didnt want to stay too long due to the Cway being a road with people driving past, so after we had our fill of this new bird, we left for the car, and upton warren.


Monday, 13 June 2011


An evening walk from blackstone to home, on the river at Blackstone A drk Mandarin was seen on the river while another was heard calling from an oak tree along the river bank,
A stunning Pair of Goosander were on the river.
A Garden warbler was holding territory Near Blackstone Farm.
A reed Bunting was feeding in willows at the Wigeon Lake.
And a male Cuckoo was singing in the distance on the opposite side of the river, thanks to the birder i was talking to for picking this up.


After the early morning on the patch, later that day in the afternoon i dropped into Earlswood lakes after the gardening job to see what was about,
From the car park at engine pool i noticed that most of the terns were over windmill pool, so i headed over there. I was standing on the Cway scanning through the terns when i was drawn onto a Gull hawking low over the water.
the 1st bird was quickly joined by a 2nd bird, both of which were in full summer plumage, both birds did regular quite close flypasts, but due to the wind, digi scoping and digi binning was ruled out, so i simply held my little camera up and hoped.
(Photo of little gull and my drawing of the Gull)
We watched the birds as the drk Mandarin once again cae really close to the Cway, Insanely close infact.
(This is the mallard the bird has been seen to have a sexual relationship with)
(Mandarin and drk and fem Mallard on rocks below the cway)
We watched the gulls for some time, and as time progressed, an ARCTIC TERN joined the 10 or so flock of Common tern over the lakes, it wasent seen to leave however it wasnt seen again.
At upton Warren in the evening, the only bird of note was a singing Cuckoo.