Thursday, 9 August 2012

Highlights- Kestrels and Whinchat

Butterflies had emerged, so i went up and checked Moorhall meadow, and luckilly enough, i quickly spotted my target, the Marbled Whites had emerged. I got a total count of 11, which after the horrible spring/summer isnt a bad count! A single Common Blue, 5 Small Tortoiseshell and loads of Ringlet were the only other notables.

Sheepwash Urban park.
A very quiet visit birdise, with 5 Common Tern the only birds of note. Insect wise however, there was tons. 3 Male Black-Tailed Skimmer were around the site, as were 2 Brown Hawkers. 3 Red-eyed Damselflies were on the same pool as last time, and Azure, Common blue and Blue tailed were in abundance.

Patch again.
A much more birdy patch visit. Soon upon reaching the river, i located 2 Kestrels, one of which was showing very well from the footpath, where i was able to get some decent photos as it perched on a hawthorn hedge.
A great experiance to have a Bird of prey so close, one which in my birding is quite rare, as there usually on the opposite side of the field or in the air.

I also soon relocated the male MANDARIN DUCK, now in full eclipse plumage, with red bill indicating its true sex despite its female like plumage. And soon after that, i once again relocated the female Mandarin, which again, only had one chick in tow, but the remaining chcik was now almost fully grown, with only its flight feathers to develop.

A quick stop into Shenstone to try and find the Whinchat which had been found was rewarded with decent views of this moulting male bird as it fed in a flowery field, In habitat that you should see a migrant Whinchat in. So therefore there is no suprise that this field produced two birds in a space of a few days.
For me, Male Whinchat is one of the better looking british birds, that striking white supercillium and peach tinge to the upper breast just look so stunning.

The bird perched preening for much of the time we were there, atop one of the many ragwort plants in this field.

We decided to stop on the roadside and view as we didnt have much time, and didnt want to desturb the bird, however, we were still treated to very reasonable scope views.

It was also nice to see 6 YELLOWHAMMER, including a couple singing birds, which was a nice change, as we never get them on any of my local patches!
Weirdly, a G S woodpecker flushed from a tree as we walked back, in an area with very few trees in it.

Wednesday, 8 August 2012

Mediterranean Gull influx- The aftermath

As per the last week, large numbers of Med Gulls still remained around Upton Warren for the week after, in gradually decreasing amounts.
Firstly, we dropped into the Moors, where birdwise it was rather quiet, however, the small 'colony' of Bee Orchids remained in their usual plase. Also, there was a single Phyramidial Orchid.

Then we moved to the flashes, where it really didnt take long to find 3 MEDITERRANEAN GULL'S. 2 adults were around the first flash. Perching on posts with the BHG's.
However, a 2nd summer was showing much closer to the hide, however, somehow, the inside of my scope had fogged up (inside the eyepiece) and all my images came out 'foggy'. I had no idea what caused it. It has never happened before, and the scope was perfectly fine at the moors before.

2nd summer Meds must be one of the best ages, with that primary pattern!

The adults, also, are pritty aswome looking gulls, one of the best in britain in fact (Persoanlly). Tjose bright white primary's really stand out amongst the BHG around it.

Unfortunatly, the birds spent an awful lot of time asleap, so trying to get awake photos of them was quite difficult. But even with its bill tucked away, they are still incredibly distinctive birds, The actually black hood which is more extensive than BHG, those 'clown' eyelids, bright red legs, and in this bird, that alternating black/white pattern.

As the 2nd summer was almost always asleap (it is a teenager after all!), i exited the hide, and wlaked back along the path, so i would be closer to the adult Meds.

One bird was particularly fond of a certain post, and spent much of the nigh perched on it, chasing and fighting any BHG that came anywhere near. Always the bully!

Moving back to the hide, the 2nd summer Med Gull had decided to wake up for a short period, so i took a video.

Eventually, all 3 of the birds left, presumably to feed on flooded fields with the BHG flocks, and we were left a long period of time of 'nothing doing' in the hide before the roost built up.

First in, was the 2nd adult bird, which was moulting its head feathers around the base of the bill. I picked the bird up on call as it flew in before circling low in front of the hide, before pitching down on one of the close islands, affording great views!

Sadly however, it did fly back to its original area of the 1st flash, and remained there the remainder of the night, constantly posing on one of the posts in the water.
It had a little preen.....

And a little lookout.....

Before adopting this posture when calling or displaying to another bird......

And then returning to its original 'chilled out' stance.

Next in was the 2nd summer, who again landed on the close island, affording great views.

To liven things up abit, the 4th bird to fly in was a new one, as this 1st summer bird pitched down infront of the hide, before being chased into the water by its older 2nd year rival.

A much more subtle plumage than the others, but still very distinctive, the bill is huge and thick (compared to BHG) and is much redder. In flight the bird is very obvious though, with that great med gull pattern.

Lastly, we were joined by a 5th Med Gull, also a 1st summer, however, this bird was obviously different! A very dark individual, with obvious dark mask and much less worn primarys/tertials.

With the light now gone, i tried a last few attempts to photograph the birds.
The 2nd summer was still showing closest to the hide, so i concentrated on that.

Med Gull is one of my favorite birds, so to see a nice number is a real treat!

(Sorry about the videos in this post, i tried the constant focus setting on my camera, and thats whats making that horrible 'buzzing' sound, i am no longer going to use this feature)


A friday evening walk produced the exact same birds as the last visit, firstly i refound the female MANDARIN with chicks in tow. As observent readers will have noticed it said 'chicks'. And thats right. Last time i had been watching the female, she only had the one chick, however, somehow, another chick was now in attendence, and she was now escorting two birds.
How that happened i have no idea?

While walking past the riverside fields again, i noticed a falcon swooping on a Swallow. A stunning adult HOBBY hawked over the fields for a few minuites before flying off towards burlish top and being lost to view.