Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Messingham Sand Quarries,Saturday 7th April 2018.

A few hours spare this morning saw me travelling the short journey over to MSQ as Trace was catching up on her sleep after her nightshift.
 As i arrived at the car park,got the gear together and began to explore,that welcome sweet sound of a lovely Willow Warbler singing close to the car,what a great start and my first of the year.
 This was quickly followed by my first record of the year of Blackcap,with a male singing on the edge of the first meadow.He was quickly joined by a female and they both looked intent in finding a suitable nest site and gave some great views.
 Overhead a flock of 16 Siskin passed over towards the pine plantation and as i passed the first dipping platform by,another singing male Blackcap and Willow Warbler were added to the notebook.
 As i carried on my walk,several singing male Chiffchaff were recorded and again an overhead flock of winter visitors flew over,this time it was 27 Fieldfare and 2 Redwing,so certainly a mix of winter and summer visitors today,all making for an interesting variation in species.
 A quick scan of the new fishing lake adjacent to the reserve added another welcome first for the year,with me watching my first Sand Martins hawking their flying prey and giving some really nice views.They are such smart little birds and it is amazing to think these little birds have just crossed the mighty Sahara Desert along with the Willow Warblers,Blackcaps and Chiffchaffs to arrive back here for the summer months,bird migration is just so amazing!.
 I eventually arrived at the Duck Hide overlooking the main lake,but after several scans,nothing really of note could be seen and i decided to walk around to the Wader Hide instead.
 At the Wader Hide plenty of activity was on show from the Black-headed Gulls collecting for the forth coming breeding season,with lots of displaying and territorial disputes as usual.
 Several nice birds were seen from here which included a single Avocet and a lovely pair of Red-crested Pochard,the latter being a bit of a surprise,but i had seen them here in the past on occasion.Further exotica from the world of wildfowl,included a single male Mandarin Duck seen along the edge of the main lake,who knows were these latter two species have originated,but they certainly added some colour to the days sightings.
 As i retraced my footsteps and back around the remainder of the reserve towards the plantation,i looked up to see my final firsts of the year,this time in the form of a single Swallow and 2 House Martins with a small flock of 4 Sand Martin.It is always a great day out when you see your first Swallow of the season and i have always had a soft spot for House Martins as well,since they nested under the eaves of our house when i was a lad.It was a great experience watching them return every summer to raise their noisy little broods,nice memories.
 Non bird sightings today included a few insects at last,with Buff-tailed Bumble Bees,Tawny-mining Bee,Seven-spot Ladybird and hundreds of Back-Swimmers and Whirlgig Beetles being recorded.The only other notable was a single Common Toad.
 What a great visit to this gem of a reserve today and it is always a privilege to come here.
The Red-crested Pochard Pair.

The Lone Avocet.

Monday, 9 April 2018

Stunning Chat Surprise.....Tuesday 3rd April 2018.

After not been able to visit the patch for a few weeks,i was very keen to get out today and see what i could find,little did i know what was in store.
  I began,as usual,by parking at East Halton Skitter for first light and in usual fashion got all my gear together for a full day around the patch,or so that was the plan anyway.
 The tide was rising and little was on show in the Haven as i passed by,but as i turned the corner towards Winter's Pond,an adult male Marsh Harrier hunted the fields here and 6 Roe Deer browsed the rough,grassy field edge.
 A couple of year ticks in the form of my first local Oystercatcher of the year and the not so inspiring sighting of 2 Canada Geese flying east,pretty much summed up my visit so far.
 As i neared Winter's Pond,i could hear a couple of snatches of a scratchy,sylvia like song from the ditch/hedge next to me,but it just didn't register at first,until i stepped off the bank top so i could hear it properly.Then it clicked,i think it's a Bluethroat,i said to myself,but it couldn't be could it?,on my patch at East halton,at this point i was getting a bit excited to be fair.I coolly took my phone out of my pocket,opened up the Collins Birdguide App. and gave a quick blast of White-spotted Bluethroat song,which had the desired affect,as the beautiful culprit duly popped up into the hedge flashing those striking chestnut tail bases at me and promptly turned around to show me his blue gorget and white spot before dropping back down out of sight.I just froze in disbelief at what i had just seen,before the euphoria and buzz of finding a cracking bird took hold of me.
 I spent the next 5 or 10 minutes trying to inform as many people as was possible and put the news out on RBA.
 All the song from the bird had been while the sun was out and now it had gone in he had gone quiet,then the sun came back out and he began to sing just as Chaz Adland arrived.
 Unfortunately there was a male Cetti's Warbler singing in the same ditch now and as Chaz and myself watched the Bluethroat flew out of the ditch into an adjacent hedgerow,obviously not being impressed by the noisy male Cettis singing in his ear,before he dropped onto the ground.Some more brief views of him on the deck in amongst vegetation,before he sang in the open and disappeared again into the hedge.
 This was the scenario for the rest of the 4 hours or so i spent watching this little cracker,along with a few other birders who managed to twitch this first record for my patch.
 The previous few days and following few days,saw other White-spotted Bluethroats being seen in Suffolk,Northumberland and Yorkshire,but it certainly wasn't on my radar for the patch,but just goes to show what can turn up.
 The White spotted form(Luscinia svecica cyanecula)spends the winter in Africa and breeds as close as Holland to the UK,with the birds arriving on their near continent breeding grounds as early as the first week in April,making it a pretty early rare migrant over here and ties in nicely with this occurrance.This is the first sighting of a White-spotted bird for myself,with me finding and seeing several birds of the Red-spotted form in the past.
 Back to the patch and after all the excitement of the star bird,i carried on through the remainder of Winter's adding my first Chiffchaff and calling Water Rail of the year in the process.
 I turned the corner and walked along Skitter Road past Red House Wood where a pair of Common Buzzard showed nicely and further along at Grange Farm,another patch year tick in the form of a Jay kept things ticking over nicely.
 As i had lost time spent with the star bird,i decided to head home after completing the square,but added 6 species today to the patch year list and no doubt some bonus points to my #Patchwatch2018 year list,what a great day out locally!.

The Big Twitch.

Record Shot,First Thing Of The Bluethroat Singing.

Not Easy To Photo At The Best Of Times,But You Can Just About Make Him Out.

Barton Star Aythya.....Sunday 1st April 2018.

After a very kind message from Far-Ings warden Simon Wellock,a quick trip down the A18 to Barton was the order of the day,as a Drake Ring-necked Duck had been found on the Bridge Pit adjacent to the hotel complex.
 It was a number of years since i had seen a Ring-necked Duck,with the last being a 2nd calendar year Drake at Tophill Low in February 2013 and being a fan of the species i decided to go over and take a look.
 After parking at the old visitor centre car park,i got the kit together and had a steady stroll around to where the bird had been seen and sure enough on arrival he was still present with his adopted Pochard flock(Every RND i have seen,has been with or paired to a Pochard).
 Some nice views were gained of the bird as he swam around the pit,mainly actively feeding,interspersed with a few bouts of preening his pristine plumage.
 This is no doubt the bird which has been present for a few weeks prior to this occurrance,at Bagmoor Lake near to Winterton.A nice few hours out today,re-aquainting myself with this smart species of American duck.

Sunday, 1 April 2018

Chough Update,Sunday 1st April 2018.

Going back to our trip to North Wales from a week or so ago and our brilliant encounter with 4 Chough at Braich y Pwll on the Llyn Peninsula.As posted previously we had encountered a colour ringed bird,the following are details which were kindly received from Adrienne Stratford on this individual.
 The bird had been ringed as a male nestling as part of a brood of 3,9km from were we had seen him on our visit and then wandered widely as part of a flock of non breeding birds for the first 2 years of his life into the Nantile mountain range.This area is over 40km inland from his natal area and he spent time here in the summer and autumn months and then spent the rest of the year around Nefyn and Trefor in the winter time.It is highly unusual for Choughs to wander this far from the area they hatched in,with them usually staying closer to their hatching area.
 From 2015 he settled down in the Aberdaron area with an un-ringed partner,the one with him in my photos and successfully reared 2 broods of 3 chicks.
 This just goes to show the invaluable data gathered from colour ringing and ringing birds in general and in particular the rarer species which require strict management and protection measures to help them survive.
 A big thank you must go out to Adrienne and Tony Cross for all their hard work over the past 27 years in studying and ringing over 5,500 individual birds and help secure this stunning Corvids future.
U5 The 5 Year Old Male With His Partner At Braich y Pwll,Llyn Peninsula,23.03.2018.

Sunday, 25 March 2018

North Wales......Monday 19th - Saturday 24th March 2018.

Trace And myself had booked to go away to this beautiful area of the country this week,staying just outside the Snowdonia National Park at Trawsfyndd.The following is an account of some of our days out and birds,wildlife and beautiful scenery we encountered.

Tuesday 20th March

Today we planned to do a circular walk from Beddgelert to Llyn Dinas and back over the mountain Moel y Dyniewyd and finish by walking along the stunning Aber Glaslyn Pass and back to Beddgelert.
 It has to be said that this is the best walk we have ever completed,albeit a bit knackering in places,but what amazing scenery.
 Bird highlights included the expected species associated with upland streams and montane habitat,with 3 Dipper which included a singing male,6 Grey Wagtail,3 Raven,male Stonechat,Common Buzzard,Male Goosander and a singing male Marsh tit.
 An added surprise were my first wild Goats along the side of Llyn Dinas,a tough,hardy species which were first introduced to the country in Neolithic times.Another animal highlight was our first Common Lizard of the year,which Trace spotted sun bathing in the afternoon rays.

Wednesday 21st March

Today we visited South Stack RSPB on the fantastic island of Anglesey.Unfortunately the weather was a bit naff,but the usual suspects were all seen well,which included 5 Chough,7 Raven,a pair of Stonechat,thousands of Razorbills and Guillemots over the sea and my first Wheatear of the year,a male near Helen's Tower.
 The towering sea cliffs are just breathtaking here,what a great place to enjoy the hobby.

Thursday 22nd March

Not really a birding day today,but we still managed to see a confiding Raven near to Llyn Cwellyn and the tamest Goosander i have ever seen at Llyn Padarn at Llanberis.Other birds seen around Llanberis included Common Buzzard,Grey Wags and a couple of bathing Siskins.

Friday 23rd Mar

Today was a good combination of sight seeing and all out birding along the superb Llyn Peninsula.
 While driving to our first destination at Porthdinllaen we managed to see 3 Raven and a Red Kite,2 of the Ravens in a field with some Jackdaws and positively dwarfing them.
 Porthdinllaen was a fantastic area and i managed to find 2 lifers and both not birds!.The first was a cracking male Black Oil Beetle found while walking along the coastal path,the second a long awaited one,a Bottle-nosed Dolphin watched surfacing out in the bay between Porthdinllaen and Nant Gwrtheyrn.The latter was an absolute surprise and obviously made my day.
 Other birds seen here included several Shags,Raven,3 Great-crested Grebe on the sea,8 Sandwich Terns - my first records of the year,a Red-throated Diver and a male Stonechat.
 The next stop was Braich y Pwll at the very tip of the Llyn where i hoped to see some more Choughs and hopefully get some decent pics.
 As we arrived at the car park 2 Choughs were seen straight away on the car park area,but were flushed by a Carrion Crow harassing them,but i refound them feeding alongside another pair and they gave incredible close views.
 Also seen in the area were 3 Raven and off the coast,Gannets,Kittiwakes,Fulmar,Guillemots and another Cetacean,a Harbour Porpoise.
 A quick cuppa at Aberdaron saw a single Peregrine and Common Buzzard overhead.
 The next place we explored was Porth Oer,or Whistling Sands as it is known and the sand actually squeaks more than whistles,due to the composition of the sand grains.
 More great sightings here included my first Chiffchaff of the year,Goldcrest,Raven,a singing male Stonechat and last but not least a male Bloody-nosed Beetle.The latter was found along the edge of the coastal path and was only my second ever sighting of the species.
 The final place we visited on our extensive visit to this brilliant area was the towering cliffs of Nant Gwrtheyrn.Sightings here included another Wild Goat,Peregrine,2 Great-spotted Woodpeckers and an interesting Carrion Crow which looked like a hybrid Carrion x Hooded Crow.

So what a fantastic visit to this beautiful part of the country,with some brilliant scenery and wildlife sightings to boot,i can't wait to go back!.
The Great Orme.

Aber Maw And Cadair Idris.


Male Grey Wagtail,Beddgelert.

The Afon Glaslyn Near To Cygun Copper mine.

Robin,Near To Cygun Copper mine.

Llyn Dinas.

Looking Towards The Carneddau Mountain Range From Moel y Dyniewyd.

The Fantastic Aber Glaslyn Pass.

Common Buzzard,Near Beddgelert.

Llyn Gwynant.

Llyn Cwellyn.

South Stack And Helen's Tower,Anglesey.

Male Stonechat,South Stack,Anglesey.

Record Shot Of The Male Wheatear,South Stack,Anglesey.

Raven In The Gloom,South Stack,Anglesey.

Llyn Peris,Llanberis.

Drake Goosander,Llyn Padarn,Llanberis.

Black Oil Beetle,Porthdinllaen,Llyn Peninsula.

Porthdinllaen,Llyn Peninsula.

Sandwich Tern,Porthdinllaen,Llyn Peninsula.

Ynys Enlli Taken From Braich y Pwll,Llyn Peninsula.

The Tip Of The Llyn At Braich y Pwll,Llyn Peninsula.

Choughs Showing Well,Braich y Pwll,Llyn Peninsula.

Choughs,Braich y Pwll,Llyn Peninsula.

Male Bloody-nosed Beetle,Porth Oer,Llyn Peninsula.

Porth Oer,Llyn Peninsula.

Common Buzzards Near To Aberdaron,Llyn Peninsula.

Wild Goat,Nant Gwrtheyrn,Llyn Peninsula.

Hooded Crow x Carrion Crow Hybrid Nant Gwrtheyrn,Llyn Peninsula.

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Spotted Sandpiper,Holme Pierrepoint,Nottinghamshire,Sunday 18th Feb. 2018.

After not posting for what seems like ages,due to a few health problems,well iam getting on a bit now,i have eventually got around to posting my account of  visiting the superb 1st calendar year Spotted Sandpiper which was residing nicely in its Nottinghamshire riverside home,before the 'Beast From The East' hit.
 As it was only 65 miles from home and the fact i had never seen a 1st winter bird before,only adults,i made the relatively quick journey to the national watersports centre at Holme Pierrepoint alongside the River Trent.
 My target as mentioned above was the wintering Spotted Sandpiper and after getting the scope and camera together it wasn't long before i was watching this cracking little bird.
 At first it was a bit shy,but with patience and when people acted sensibly the bird showed impeccably,usually when there was only a few of us patiently waiting for it to come nearer for some photos.While it was further away,it gave me a great chance to study the subtle features of a 1st winter,with the plain tertials,yellowish legs,more distinct 'super',pale bill with a dark tip and shorter tail than Common sand.
 The bird spent a great period of time just feeding casually along the grass banks of the canoe slalom giving some really good relaxed viewing being disturbed a couple of times by clueless birders,who appeared on the birds skyline and promptly flushed it,but all in all i couldn't complain with my views and a few half decent shots also making for a very worthwhile trip.
 On the way back to the car,a bonus 1st winter drake Long-tailed Duck was really nice to see near the rowing course finish line,a fine way to end the visit,unfortunately too far for my camera.
 I travelled back north towards Lincoln contented in my day out in Nott's for a change.

The Spotted Sandpipers temporary home.