Monday, 31 May 2010

Up in Notts

A walk around Attenborough Nature Reserve in Nottinghamshire this afternoon.
Lots of Warblers, breeding Terns, Black-headed Gulls and assorted Waterbirds. Grey Heron
Stock Dove

The obligatory Mallard Duckling.

Pair of Pheasants at the feeding station.

Egyptian Goose

Sunday, 30 May 2010

Wilstone Redfoot

I decided that I ought to get up to Wilstone Reservoir this morning as there had been a Red-footed Falcon present since Wednesday (there had been 2 on Thursday)
Parking at Cemetery Corner I was prepared to put in around 3 or 4 hours to see this bird, but as I got out of the car I could see half a dozen people with scopes and cameras trained on a fully blossomed Hawthorn just a hundred yards away.
It wasn't going to be that easy was it ?
Sure enough it was and for the next half hour we enjoyed excellent views of the very handsome first summer male bird as it sat and preened itself.
Having had my fill I decided I would move on and not carry on to the reservoir as there were lots of other birders around to check it out. The Falcon still hadn't moved and I heard later on that it stayed in that same bush nearly all morning.

As I hadn't been up to the Hills this year, Pistone Hill was my next destination. It was a wonderful place to be on such a fine morning even if was a bit windy.
Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were everywhere and all in full song. Linnets and Goldfinches fed on flowerheads. A Yellowhammer sang from overhead wires and a single Corn Bunting jangled from a fence post. A Kestrel hovered over the car-park as I returned, very satisfied with my morning.

Friday, 28 May 2010

Willen Sands

Not exactly a holiday resort, but two of the birds present this lunchtime.
First of all a Common SANDpiper that was strutting down the side of the island and a SANDerling that was resting on one of the Tern Rafts. The latter bird was presumably the one found by Rob H the night before, but as they don't usually linger overnight maybe not.
The seven Terns nesting on the raft didn't seem bothered by it's presence and it seemed quite settled. A Hobby flew around the lake, the two Oystercatchers were again on the spit and a couple of Little Egrets were in the trees on the island

Thursday, 27 May 2010

On the Bridge

 Having seen my first Hobby last night, I decided to visit Tyringham Bridge at lunchtime. Sure enough 4 Hobbies were putting on a show as they hawked insects along the river and over the meadows. It was comical to see quite a few Jackdaws trying to copy them, however they must have been successful,  albeit with their beaks rather than their claws.

 Working in Lathbury I was pleased to see a Spotted Flycatcher back at the Rectory. It seemed to be reacting to another bird but I failed to see a second one.

Wednesday, 26 May 2010

Hobby at last

I stopped off at  Linford late tonight as it was raining and I thought something might drop in.
As I drove up the drive a Cuckoo flew over.
I met Rob and Lucy on the track and while chatting to them the male Barn Owl flew over us.
On to the near hide where there didn't seem to be much on show other than a pair of Wigeon and an Oystercatcher.
It was then that I noticed a Hobby flying across the lake at great speed. As it reached the bund it stooped  and just missed a small wader that had been sat there that I had been totally unaware of. I believe it was a Little Ringed Plover but can't be sure as it flew off very rapidly, not to return.
Quite a spectacle and my first Hobby of the year.

Tuesday, 25 May 2010

Up for a Stint

When news of a Temminck's Stint that Rob H had found on the spit at Willen came through I was just about to set off for work. My first thought was Damn!, that won't stick around and I can't get there for a good while yet.
 Come lunchtime there had been no negative news ( but none positive either since 10 o'clock) so I found the time to get up there.
 Looking out from the hide, there were 2 small waders out on the spit, - the first a 'tundra' Ringed Plover and the second a very tiny Temminck's Stint! Yes it had lingered ( and in fact was still there until late on). A very smart bird and only my second in the county.
 Also on the spit was a pair of Oystercatchers and on the Tern Rafts it looked like 7 sitting Common Terns.
Two Little Egrets fed in front of the hide and the Heronry was alive with young Herons.
 A pair of Swans were proudly showing off their 5 recently hatched cygnets and a Cettis Warbler blasted out from right of the hide

Sunday, 23 May 2010

Catching Up

Despite the last fortnights birding extravagansa, I had missed my local patch and headed for Gayhurst Quarry first thing to see what had been going on in my absence.
 Truth be told not a lot. The Common Terns had built up to around 25 birds on their island, which has re-emerged now the water has gone down again. There were 2 pairs of Oystercatchers, none of which looked as though they were involved in breeding.
 Ducks present were maybe 50 Mallard - some with young, around 20 Tufteds, 8 Gadwall and a drake Shoveler. There were about 10 pairs of Great crested Grebe and 8 Cormorants were on the fishing lake.
Warblers were in the form of Reed, Willow, Blackcap, Lesser Whitethroat and Chiffchaff and a Marsh Tit was in the wood.
 I saw my first Banded Damesoilles and Speckled Woods of the year here today.

 I moved on to Linford Reserve, where the Nightingale was still in full song as was the Cuckoo.
From the hide a lone Little Ringed Plover and a couple of Lapwings were the only waders on the bund. A single drake Wigeon looks as though it is set to spend the summer with us and several pairs of  Black-headed Gulls threaten to breed ( but they never do).
 A very bizarre event took place in front of the hide, when a Common Tern landed on one of the posts. Suddenly a Great crested Grebe appeared from under the water and then began displaying to it for a couple of minutes. The Tern looked very bemused especially when  the Grebe dived and came up with some weed and presented it to it. I can only presume something has happened to the Grebes mate and has now become a bit confused.

Saturday, 22 May 2010

Magic Mallorca

The reason for the lack of updates recently is because I have been in Mallorca for the last 2 weeks.
I will not do a day by day report as it may get monotonous but will break it down into areas I visited.

 Angela, Becky and I stayed at the Aparthotel Playa Mar, an excellent family hotel right on the northern end of Porto Pollenca.
 Most of my birding was done early mornings between 6:30 and 9:00, when I wandered back for breakfast.
On leaving the Hotel I could almost guarantee that my first ten birds of the day would be,- Blackbird, House Sparrow, Collared Dove, Woodpigeon, Crossbill (very common around the hotel), Swift, Yellow-legged Gull, Greenfinch, Wren, Spotted Flycatcher (there seemed to be a pair every 100 yards or so).
 The pines around the Military Base usually produce good birds and Firecrest and Golden Oriole were the stars this time, both giving exceptional views and a Hoopoe called from within the grounds.
 Opposite the adjacent Football ground is some scrubland which is worth watching, as Sardinian Warbler ( a very common bird here), a Woodchat Shrike and quite a few passage Whinchats showed at times. Spotted Flycatcher

Serins were common birds around the weedy areas of undeveloped backstreets and several Stonechats were encountered


Woodchat Shrike

The fertile meadows along the side of the Bypass were very rich in bird life and held several jangling Corn Buntings and the repetitive 'zitting' of Fan-tailed Warblers. Lots of House Sparrows, Goldfinches, Greenfinches, Spotted Flycatchers in every tree, Swallows, House Martins and Swifts zipping along at head-height and on a couple of mornings a spangly Bee-Eater.


This Stone Curlew was seen about 100 yards from the Eroski supermarket on the outskirts of town.

Stone Curlew (click on the picture )

 It was on a trip to this supermarket one morning that we were treated to 2 Honey Buzzards slowly circling northwards over the town.


This was an area I always checked when I was in town. It  is always mentioned in bird reports, but never seems to produce much.
 Mallards and Moorhens are always present as are House Martins that gather mud for their nests. Occaisionally there would be a Little Egret.
The best birds despite being obviously wing clipped were this pair of Wood Ducks and well worth a photo.
Wood Ducks

Some people hate Muscovy Ducks but I think this one was quite smart

Mucovy Duck


I covered the northern part of Pollenca Bay known as the PineWalk nearly every daywithout seeing too much.
House Sparrows and Spotted Flycatchers were very common. Occaisonally ther was a lone Little Egret and a couple of times an Osprey flew over the Bay.

Little Egret

Yellow-legged and Audouins Gulls were seen regularly

Audouin's Gull

Yellow-legged Gull

The southern end of the bay as you head out of town towards Alcudia was better.
Shags were usually seen, often on the rocky islands just off-shore.

 About half a mile out of town where a large stream meets the sea is a place where small waders seem to gather. On one visit I had 5 Common Sandpipers, 8 Kentish Plovers, 2 Little ringed Plovers, a Ringed Plover and a Sanderling.

Kentish Plover


On the morning of Wednesday the 12th, I decided to walk up to the Mirador Albercutx on the Formentor Peninsular. This was some 5km from the Hotel and quite a climb up the precarious mountain road and I would not recommend anyone to do it later in the day when the traffic builds up.
 Very few birds were seen on the climb other than several Sardinian Warblers and a Kestrel. Goats were everywhere and every crag seemed to hold one on lookout duty.
 Nearing the Mirador a Crag Martin skimmed low over the rocks and Swifts flew overhead.
On reaching the viewpoint a constant piercing scream filled the air. I knew it was a Bird of Prey, but couldn't locate where the sound was coming from. Eventually I located it just below me and saw it was a juvenile Peregrine obviously screaming for food. 

Juvenile Peregrine

 Further along the more melodious song of a Blue Rock Thrush filled the air as it sat on a wall briefly. Around 30 Pallid Swifts flew around their colony in the cliffs below and 4 Cory's Shearwaters glided over the calm sea.
 The walk back down was quite uneventful although I did spot some droppings on a wall which I would guess were probably from a Pine Martin.


Friday the 14th was my day out at the Parc Natural S'albufera.
A mere 1.50 euros on the bus from Porto Pollenca, which is great value, it's just a shame the first bus isn't until a quarter to nine.

Walking down the entrance track Cettis Warblers and Nightingales were  everywhere. Halfway down you come across the huge Cattle and Little Egret and Night Heron Colony. It was while looking at this that a Spoonbill flew out and onto the marsh.

Part of the large Cattle Egret, Little Egret and Night Heron Colony. ( If you look closely you will see an adult and a juvenile Night heron.

Cettis Warbler

Black-winged Stilt

Walking aroundto the visitor centre, a look over the wooden gate, gave views of 2 Stone Curlews.
Onto the C.I.M. hide, where numerous Red-crested Pochards were seen, along with several Black-winged Stilts and a couple of Purple Heron flyovers.Kentish Plovers and Little Ringed Plovers squabbled amongst themselves. A couple of common Terns were on the islands, but better still was a Whiskered one that flew around.
Biggest disappointment was not seeing the Marbled Ducks that had been seen a few minutes earlier but had gone into hiding.
 From the nearby watchpoint a couple of Marsh Harriers and an Eleanora's Falcon were observed in the distance.

The Stone Bridge in the centre of the reserve is usually a good place to see the recently re-introduced Red-knobbed or Crested Coot and this was no exception.

Red-Knobbed Coot

It's also good for Purple Gallinule, but this one would just not put it's head up.

Purple Gallinule

The walk down to Tower Hide has proved very fruitful in the past, but this time 7 Eleanora's Falcons hawking over the wetlands were the best on offer.
 The area in front of Bishop hides was flooded out so very little was on show there other than a few Black-winged Stilts and Little Egrets, although on the walk back up an Eleanora's Falcon was sat on the path with an unfortunate young bird which it must have plucked from the top of the water and an Osprey hunted  over the wetlands.
 Finally I talk a walk up to the observation deck at the top of the Es Ras area and from here observed 2 Purple Gallinules having a bit of a 'set-to' out in the field, a Woodchat Shrike, a fantastic male Little Bittern that flew along the top of the reeds, some Black-winged Stilts and a Hoopoe. On the walk back down a Great Reed Warbler showed as it sang, but a Moustached Warbler was not so obliging.


Eleanora's Falcon

Squacco Heron

Cattle Egret


Corn Bunting.


These two rocks are the impressive Guardians of the start of the Boquer Valley. You need to pass through these on your journey towards the sea.

Sardinian Warbler

Blue Rock Thrush

Cirl Bunting

Balearic Warbler

Friday, 7 May 2010

Songbird Central

Or in other words, Linford Reserve.
Popped in at lunchtime as there had been reports of a singing Nightingale. Nik Maynard was already there and Paul turned up a few moments later.
Birds were singing everywhere: Garden Warblers, Blackcaps, Whitethroats, Lesser Whitethroats, Willow Warblers and Chiffchaffs, and then yes the unmistakeable sound of the master... Nightingale.
It was as if all the other birds had risen to the challenge. The songbirds X-Factor. Obviously there was only one winner, but the others were putting on a very good show.
There was one very unreal moment when it seemed someone had turned off a switch and every bird went silent for maybe 10 seconds or so and then out of the quiet a Wren sang out at the top of his voice as if to declare himself the winner.
We didn't actually see the Nightingale, but who cares ! the song is good enough on it's own.

Wednesday, 5 May 2010

Junkyard Dove

A slight diversion on the way to work saw me call in at Stewartby Lake to see if I could find the Turtle dove that had been reported in 'Breakers Corner'
Turning off of the A421 towards Stewartby a bird sat on the wires, - a Turtle Dove - That was easy ! In fact this bird never moved from this spot for at least the twenty minutes I was there.
Looking over the Lake, very little was present, just 10 Common Terns, 4 Great crested Grebe and a Cormorant.

Monday, 3 May 2010

Lots of Effort - Little Reward

A bit of a wander around this morning to see if I could stumble upon any migrants.

First up was Gayhurst Quarry, where as everywhere else Warblers were in full song - Willow, Reed, Garden as well as Blackcap,Chiffchaff and Common and Lesser Whitethroat.
The two Oystercatchers were still there, as well as seven Common Terns. The Swan flock numbered 85 and 'Pinky' was here as well with some Greylags and Canadas. One pair of Greylags had about four Goslings and a couple of Mallards had young ducklings in tow. Then onto Linford, where again Warblers were everywhere, this time with some Sedge and a couple of Cetti's as add ons.
The Bund was very quiet with no waders at all, athough 3 Common Terns were present, also a pair of Teal, a pair of Gadwall and a drake Wigeon.
I had quite a fright when a pair of Canada Geese suddenly landed on top of the Hide and started walking around, - they made quite a noise!
Forty or fifty Swifts flew above the lake and the Cuckoo was calling accross the field.

Next stop was Willen which was 'Heron City', as it seemed all the youngsters had left their nests.
I counted 19 Herons along with one Little Egret on the island. On the spit were 2 Oystercatchers and my first Bucks Dunlin of the year. Nine Common Terns were either on the rafts or flying around.
On South Lake were another 11 Common Terns, lots of Swifts, Swallows, House and Sand Martins and the water ski dinghy chased a Common Sandpiper along the boardwalk

Sunday, 2 May 2010

Red-rumped Swallow

A typical Bank Holiday Sunday with strong easterly winds and heavy rain scuppered my plans to head off to Welney, so I decided to stay local.
 The storm the previous night had brought down an incredible 26 Black Terns onto Willen Lake and I decided to go and see if any were still there.
 The answer was of course No. Just 13 Common Terns were flying around the two lakes with quite a few Swallows and a few Sand Martins.
Warblers were very much in evidence with Reed, Sedge, Cetti's, Garden, Blackcap, Chiffchaff, Whitethroat and Lesser Whitethroat all in full song.
On the spit were a pair of Little ringed Plover, a pair of Oystercatcher and Pinky Pinkfoot.

I had just about finished my lap of the two lakes, when a text from Simon came through with news that a Red-rumped Swallow had been found at Wilstone Reservoir in nearby Herts. As it was still only 8 o'clock and I had only ever seen one before in this country, I decided I still had time to go for this.
So half an later I was climbing up the bank at Wilstone to see an assembled crowd on the eastern side of the Reservoir.
After walking round it was quite amazing to see a flock of about a hundred Swallow and House Martins flying low around the bank. Well to know the Red-rumped was in amongst this flock was one thing but to pick it out was another. It took me at least ten minutes to see it, and then the view was very brief. Eventually goods views were had as it flew above the hedge past us a couple of times and then to the top of a tree where a good part of the flock had settled.
A couple of Dunlin were on the side of the reservoir and 30 or 40 Swifts flew overhead.
After half an hour or so I decided that it was just too cold to hang around any longer and called it a day.