Monday, 7 March 2016

A few bits from Norfolk

I had a much more successful trip to Norfolk last week than my last visit in December.
With lots of good birds seen including Purple Sandpiper, Spoonbill, a smashing male Hen Harrier, several Lapland Buntings and half a dozen Snow Buntings.
 I also encountered lots of the more common coastal birds that you rarely get in Buckinghamshire including Fulmars, Red-breasted Mergansers, Guillemot and at least 50 Red-throated Divers on the sea at Cley.
one of the cheeky Turnstones at Sheringham

Purple Sandpiper at Sheringham

another Sheringham Turnstone (they follow you around)

Lapland Buntings at Blakeney

Sunday, 14 February 2016

Town Owl

Having done a usual wander around Gayhurst Quarry, where I had been pleased to find my first returning Oystercatcher of the year and three Egyptian Geese that had been absent for the whole shooting season, I decided to cut across the Bury Field on my way back.
 This much dog-walked Common Land usually holds a few Skylarks and Meadow Pipits and when the pools are flooded a few Snipe. Occasionally there will be Stonechats and sometimes a hunting Barn Owl.
 So it was somewhat of a surprise when a large bird flushed out of one of the bushes in the middle of the common .... Short-eared Owl !!

What a marvellous find and only a couple of hundred yards from Newport Pagnell Town Centre.


Monday, 8 February 2016

Ravensthorpe Ressie

I finally found a window to visit Ravensthorpe Reservoir yesterday morning.
There were reports that Otters could be seen from the causeway. I'm a bit of a sucker for these animals so I just had to go. Reports suggested that there had been as many as five but unfortunately one had been run over on the causeway a few days back.
 I arrived about 8 o'clock to be told by the two other guys there that there had been 2 on show about an hour before but they hadn't been seen since.
 That meant all I could do was stand and wait.
Not that this was a problem as it was a reasonable day and there were other things to look at, like the pair of Smew that kept drifting in towards the causeway but then got spooked out into the middle of the small side of the reservoir.

There was also a nice Great White Egret that has made the reservoir its home this winter.

One of the other guys decided to call it a day and the other was just leaving when I noticed some movement in the water on the far side as not one but two Otters swam across to some bushes on the other side. I called him back just in time to see them disappear into the branches but then remarkably another two appeared and followed the same course across the water, one of which scent marked each and every metal post sticking out of the water on its way across. Unfortunately no photos as they were quite a way off and my natural reaction is to watch whats happening rather than reach for the camera.

 A great morning and still back in time for breakfast.


Thursday, 31 December 2015

End of year trip

I usually try to get in a days birding between Christmas and New Year.
This year it was Norfolk as it's always good and there were a few obvious omissions in my year list.

Although the weather was unseasonably warm and bright, near gale force winds put the mockers on most of my days plans as the birds were keeping their heads down. In fact I dipped nearly all the birds I was hoping for.

 Starting off at Fishers Fleet in Kings Lynn the regular Iceland Gull was a no show - I think the nearby shellfish factory may have been closed for the holiday.

 A stop at Hunstanton Cliffs produced several Fulmars - my first for the year and a quite high fly past Red-throated Diver.

 At Thornham Harbour  I think I managed to locate the wintering Twite flock but the strong wind kept them low in the grass and I never did get a definitive view.

News then came through that the crazy Red-rumped Swallow that had been hanging around Holkham for the past fortnight had been sighted so I headed there. Unfortunately that didn't show again.

I decided to park on Lady Anne's Drive and talk a walk down to the sand dunes where I finally had a bit of success, a flock of around 30 very flighty Snow Buntings were found. Another flock of either Linnets or Twite were on the salt flats but again they kept their heads down. I suspect they were Linnets anyway.
 From the Drive there were hundreds of Brent and Pinkfooted Geese some of which were actually quite close.

                                                                                                                                                                                             I then decided I would try to see the 4 Tundra Bean Geese that were in a Sugar Beet field with some Pinkfeet up the road at Kelling. Well I managed to find the field but the Goose flock was enormous and a long way off so it was a needle in a haystack job and I soon gave up.
I decided to spend the rest of the day at Cley which was great but of my target birds Water Pipit, Bearded Tit and Lapland Bunting, none were stupid enough to poke their head above the parapet in such averse conditions. The sea was almost devoid of birds so no chance of a stray Skua or even Eider.
My best bird of the day was a smart Black Brant that was in the Brent flock close to Beach Road.
Black Brant
While I was at Cley the Kelling Pinkfoots dropped onto the grazing marsh along with the Tundra Beans but unfortunately before I could across to the hides they all departed off to roost.
An enjoyable day but very much a case of   'lets see what you could have won !'

Wednesday, 25 November 2015

Farmoor Phal

With a few hours to spare, I decided to pop up to Farmoor Reservoir near Oxford to see a Grey Phalarope that had turned up recently.
 I love these little birds, they are so dainty bobbing around and spinning around on the water and very often very approachable as this one proved to be.

Wednesday, 19 August 2015

Its been a while

I haven't posted for ages as I've been without a computer  for a year or so. Thought I'd just put a few recent photos out.                                                                                     
                                                                                               juvenile Green Woodpecker                

                                                          Turtle Dove at Otmoor


                                                   Corn Bunting at Pitstone Hill

                                                     juvenile Goosanders at Olney Mill

I do hope to update more often so watch this space.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Some Birds from Catalonia

We're just back from our 2 weeks family holiday in the Costa Brava.
Not primarily a birding trip but whenever I got the opportunity I would get out and explore the surrounding area. This would normally be in the couple of hours before breakfast before everyone else got up.
 Our base was the Hotel San Eloy a couple of kilometres outside of the very picturesque and delightful town of Tossa de Mar. The Hotel was situated right on the edge of a vast Pine Forest that spread over some very hilly areas, a stream that went right alongside created some wonderful habitat and the range of birds seen was really impressive.
 Before I even got out of bed I could hear Nightingale, Hoopoe, Cettis Warbler and Golden Orioles.
White Wagtails and Black Redstarts were breeding on the complex.


White Wagtail

Black Redstart
Every time I went out it seemed I would find something else; Serins, Firecrests, Melodious Warblers, Short-toed Treecreepers, Pied Flycatchers, Wood Warblers, Bonellis Warblers, Tree Sparrows Red-rumped Swallows, Crested Tits, Iberian Green Woodpecker, Woodchat Shrike, Subalpine Warbler Whinchat, Cirl Bunting and Hawfinch along with commoner species.                                                                            
Melodious Warbler

Golden Oriole

Birds of Prey seen were Short-toed Eagle ,Booted Eagle, Goshawk and Buzzard.
The castle on the cliffs or Vila Vella in Tossa was a good place to do a bit of seawatching with both Balearic and Levantine Shearwaters in reasonable numbers as well as on or two Shags a Gannet and large numbers of Yellow-legged Gulls. One morning I witnessed the marvellous sight of a straight line of 18 Greater Flamingos migrating Northwards just off the coast.
The Vila Vella itself held a good population of breeding Swifts with the odd Pallid Swift thrown in and a Blue Rock Thrush sang from the castle walls.
Yellow-legged Gull
On my one day devoted entirely to birding I hired a car and travelled the hundred or so kilometres North up the coast to the nature reserve  known as AIGUAMOLLS DE L'EMPORDA near Figueras.
This really was a fantastic place especially for water birds. White Storks were re-introduced here in 1987 and are doing fantastically well with nesting birds all over the place.
Glossy Ibis's, Black-winged Stilts and Squacco Herons were everywhere. Hirundines swarmed around and a man-made earth bank was home to at least a dozen Bee-eaters. A couple of Rollers were seen in the open fields along with Corn Buntings, Crested, Short-toed and Skylarks, lots of Wheatears, a couple of Stone Curlews,  Stonechats and Whinchat. The reedbeds contained Great Reed and Reed Warblers, Fan-tailed Warbler, Nightingales and Cettis Warblers 
A couple of Red-footed Falcon hawked over the reserve and other birds of prey included Marsh Harrier, Peregrine, Buzzard and Kestrel.
I could have spent much longer at this place as there is so much to see - if it hadn't been so windy I'm sure I would have seen even more- but I had to get back in time for our evening meal.
White Stork

Black-winged Stilt

Glossy Ibis

Squacco Heron

Little Egret

Bee Eater

White Stork on it's nest
On another of our days out we visited Barcelona and a bird I wanted to see was Monk Parakeet. Like our own Ring-necked Parakeet it is a former escapee that has done incredibly well in the wild. I did fear that they would be difficult to find but they were everywhere with even a nest colony in the park opposite the Unfinished Church.
Monk Parakeet
Another common bird in this huge city were Alpine Swifts that massed over the main square just before dusk.