Friday, 26 September 2014

Egrets, Gulls and Old friends

With it being the first few days of August, and with Migration now underway, I was out on patch nice and early to scout the riverbank.

Sadly, despite thrashing the patch for the next 3 hours, other than a few Warblers, such as 2 Garden Warbler, Lesser Whitethroat and a few Willow Warbler it was much the same as always.

Next, I headed into Bewdley town centre, and being obsessed with Birdtrack, I decided to walk along the river, to count the Mute Swans!

What I was not expecting however was to find a Little Egret pottering about below the bridge with a roosting flock of Swans!

As well as this surprise, 4 Mandarin joined the waterbird flock, as did a female Goosander. Not bad for a quick journey to the shops!

Later that day, it was time for a roost shift, and following a look around the Moors pool, which held 3 Little Egrets among the expected species, but otherwhys quiet, so I headed down to the flashes.

It didn't take long for the Gulls to start piling in, but numbers remained fairly low (only about 600). A familiar friend dropped in, as ringed Black-headed Gull '2K44' dropped in. I first saw this Gull back in 2010 as a 1st year, and it was therefore good to see it having reached adulthood!

It wasn't much longer after before the main target of the evening dropped in, as another stunning juvenile Mediterranean Gull dropped in for the evening, giving nice views as it preened on the islands right up until dark, rather than the snoozy bird of the previous weekend.

It switched islands and sat on the read edge of the main island for the remainder of the evening.

A good variety of waders were also present on the pools with 9 species being present, with a decent count of 16 Green Sandpipers being noteworthy. 3 Common Sandpiper, a Dunlin, 10 Snipe and 3 Little-Ringed Plovers made up the list of migrant waders present among the regulars.


Tuesday, 23 September 2014

Midlands Mega day! PGP and Night Heron!


Yikes, it isn't very often I find myself wanting to drive from East Anglia back to the midlands to the inland wader hotspot that is Middleton lakes RSPB! However, when news of a 'Lesser' Golden Plover emerged from the site as we were checking out the Stilts at Cavenham pits a moment of panic arises.

Without doubt the correct decision for the day was to continue on as planned and a brilliant day was had due to that. The worry came as I anxiously slept with the hope it was present the next morning!

And it was!

Just over an hour later, and following the long walk that I remembered from my last, and only other visit to the site, the usual scrum of birders could be seen huddled near the 2nd screen.
Immediately you could tell the bird wasn't playing ball and was feeding in weeds/a channel out of view a considerable distance from the viewpoint. A full 40 minutes passed, filled with chatter with other birders and incessant scanning when from beside me a shout 'It's out'.

And there it was, a spanking summer plumaged PACIFIC GOLDEN PLOVER!!

Surely a male due to its immaculate plumage, the bird then gave nice, but as already mentioned, distant views on the far shoreline. Even from this considerable distance, the bird gave off a very different impression to European Golden Plover, being much darker overall, standing on taller legs. Honestly just a rather smart looking elegant bird.

After a good time giving the crowd a show, it slinked off back into the vegetation, and a huge piece of luck followed as the Night Heron was still present just up the road, and with the patchworker of Seeswood Pool, and midlands photographer extraordinaire Dave Hutton being on site, he kindly offered to show us the 'quick way' to Seeswood through the wilds of Warwickshire, something I am not familiar with at all!

After a short journey we pulled up adjacent to the pool, and a short walk led us to a bank opposite an area of submerged willows, and showing at the base of those willows was a stunning adult NIGHT HERON! Scope views were actually very good as it snoozed in the shadows of the overhanging willows, occasionally opening its stunning scarlet red eye on what was a very hot midsummers day!

After a while however, it became more active, and started fishing actively, in the exact same spot it was roosting in.

Although we hung around for a fair while as the bird had a habit of flying out into the open on a fishermans jetty, time eventually run out and we had to head off, but I left happy having seen two midlands megas, one being a regional first, the other being a very scarce visitor, not the worst of days for the midlands!

Tuesday, 16 September 2014

Pratincole steals the show!


Another day out east I hear you sigh!

Yes! It was time to head east again, and for good reason, with a number of reasonably unusual birds loitering around in Suffolk, and with an offer to visit one of the country's finest RSPB reserves it was hard to say no, so bright and early I met up with Mike, Rachael and Alana as we made our way towards the rising sun!

We first stopped off in the Suffolk breckland, where a family party of Black and white leggy birds had been wading about for the past few days. Only one pit was viewable from the viewpoint location, and the family party of Stilts weren't on it. A single Wood Sandpiper brightened up the visit, and infact was my first of the year! We hung around, but optimism soon faded knowing that the birds were more than content with feeding on the out of view pit, so we moved to a nearby site, where we managed to find 4 Stone Curlew, and a few Redstarts, both making great additions to the days ever increasing list.

Following a walk along a dusty track, we decided to head off again, towards Minsmere RSPB, and I was quite looking forward to it!

It was almost instantaneously we headed for the East hide, overlooking the freshwater scrape where a huge variety of birds were currently residing. A brief look at the Sand Martins, across the north wall and down the beach and soon the hide was in reach (in reality, the last stretch of the journey was a slow, painful trudge across shingle and sand, yuck!).

We had just reached the entrance track towards the hide when a birder coming out told us that the Pratincole was flying about, causing me to look up, and in doing so 3 Spoonbills, necks outstretched, glowing white in the burning East Anglian sun. The two adults and a juvenile circled briefly but there was no sign of any smaller brown and chestnut waders so we headed up to the hide.

Scanning around, we were told the COLLARED PRATINCOLE had again dropped back in, and soon after, really nice scope views were had as it roosted (and honestly, did very little else) on a baked dirt bund across the pool, infact blending in very well!

Despite the distance, the birds yellow throat bordered black could clearly be seen, as could the black and white forked tail. And may I say! What a stunning bird it was!

As I waited for the 'Prat' to fly, I was kept entertained by a plethora of stunning and desirable bird species. Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwit, Little Gull and Common Tern all being present in really stunning numbers! A pair of Wood Sandpipers added to the wader list, as did virtually every common wader species, with Oystercatcher, Avocet, Little Ringed and Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Sanderling, Dunlin, Common Sand, Redshank, Curlew, Whimbrel, Snipe AND Ruff all making an appearance! 
From that rather bulky list however, I must highlight my two favourites. Of the 13 Spotted Redshank, one continued to sport fully black summer plumage, and looking gorgeous as it waded in the shallow water.It was the first time I have seen this plumage, but perhaps even better than that, a mixed flock of around 40! Yes, 40 Little Gulls! These diminutive gulls being a particular favourite of mine, it was absolutely mind-blowing to see most of them still in summer plumage but showing varying amounts of Primary moult.

The large number of Common Terns often preformed a 'dread' as the whole colony flew up together, and both Sandwich and Little Tern made dashing appearances, and as usual, the Avocets did their very best to make them feel most welcomed... By flushing them.

 A adult and a juvenile Kittiwake dropped in briefly, which surprised me until I learned they breed not far away on an offshore rig! Still! The adult dropped very close infront allowing us to admire its stunning plumage!

A Bittern flew across, which had me adding another yeartick for the day and gave a nice flight view until dropping into the extensive reedbed!

Honestly, that hide was perhaps one of the most 'busy' hides I have been in birdwise, with birds moving in and out constantly, making you feel like anything could drop in!

But no! That was not it! Another selection of winged beauties were to be found, so we headed over to the small pools by the visitor centre and to a clump of Buddleia which, rather glamorously, was positioned behind a toilet block to check out some butterflies and damselflies.

And they didn't take long to find, and soon we were enjoying ridiculous views of both Emerald Damselfly and Greyling butterflies, the latter being prone to landing on you!

Not a bad way to finish the visit!

Oh, and by the way! I did finally manage to see the Collared Pratincole flying, for a matter of a few seconds!


Wednesday, 3 September 2014

June and July- The best of the rest

Right, so this isn't going to be wordy. In fact, this is going to be almost the complete opposite, and infact will just show a variety of my photos from the two month period in the middle of the year, covering Orchids, butterflies and the like. Enjoy...

Bee Orchids

Common Spotted Orchids in a true wildflower meadow (Not one of those sown ones!)

Marbled White

Painted Lady

Pyramidal Orchid

Small Coppers

Southern Marsh Orchid

So there you go, probably the least wordy post you will ever see from me!


Tuesday, 2 September 2014

June and July- The Wyre Forest

My last June and July roundup mostly covered some of the avian delights I had seen at Upton Warren, but away from that I spent a long time down in the Wyre forest, looking for and photographing butterflies, but also keeping an eye and an ear out for any passing birds.

By far the rarest thing that I found was a stunning Dark-Green Fritilary, which despite originally identifying it as a female Silver washed, that later changed that evening, and it turned out that this species had gone practically extinct in the Wyre  a number of years ago, and my sighting was followed by a few more, which is great news.

Luckily, I had my Canon DSLR with me, and I was able to get up close and personal to a number of Fritilaries, including this stunningly fresh specimen which repeatedly returned and fed off a  thistle in one of the many flower meadows in the forest.

I also managed to find a Marbled White, which perched really nicely on ferns adjacent to one of the tracks. Although a fairly common butterfly, these still remain up there on my 'favorites' list.

The number of Silver-washed Fritilaries was superb, and they could literally be found throughout the forest. As is in their nature though, they were more content gliding around up in the treetops and tantalisingly dropping down low over the ground to flit around you before flying back up to the canopy.

Needless to say, this proved fairly aggravating, but eventually, a rather dapper female dropped down and perched really well and proceeded to show very nicely, sadly lacking the males gorgeous markings, but rather nice in itself.

Also showing off its silvery green underwing.

A few males chose to perch up distantly though, and I managed a few Digi-binned shots as they perched on nettles, which I'm sure got a  few 'phwarr' notes from me, Look at that!

Red admirals were common throughout the forest, and I eventually managed to track down a very photogenic black and red gem as it perched and warmed up in the sun.

The White Admirals were less than showy unfortunately, and tended to only perch up briefly once I had found them. One did perch up on trackside vegetation, but it was rather tatty, with large chunks taken out of the wings and bright sunshine glowing off its upperwing.

A few very stunning freshly emerged Comma's were also showing, with one choosing to warm up on my bad which proved a nice radiator for it!

I also managed much that I saw but didn't managed to photograph, such as Small Pearl-boardered Fritilaries and most Common butterflies. Dragonflys were represented by Four spotted Chasers, a single Golden-ringed Dragonfly as the highlights, with most of the common 'Dragons' of the forest also seen.



You didn't think i was going to do a post without mentioning birds right!!

Despite most birds been fairly quiet at this time of year, i still managed to 'connect' with all the forest specialities, such a Pied Flycatcher, and a large family party of Spotted Flycatchers. Tree Pipits also made an appearance, and i finally managed to connect with a Redstart, with a male showing in the vicinity of Lodge Hill Orchard. A number of Dippers were located, including a few juveniles, which were great to watch. A Lesser Spotted Woodpecker was a nice surprise as it called loudly while I was watching White Admirals!
All in all a very enjoyable way to spend a number of days!