Monday, 4 May 2015

Georgia - 2015

26th April -  2nd May 2015

Travelled to Tbilisi in Georgia via Istanbul on a tour organised by Birdfinders. From the airport we drove through the Caucasian mountains via the Krestovy pass to our base at Stepantsminder on the Terek river next to Kazbegi. We stopped several times at the pass and soon started picking up our target species such as Caucasian Snowcock on the snow covered slopes and Guldenstadt's Redstart, but by far  the commonest birds were Ring Ouzel and Water pipit on the lower levels. Despite a complete lack of sleep the previous night the adrenalin from seeing so many exciting birds kept us going. After a 5.30am breakfast day 2 began with a check of some areas of bushes not far out of the village. We saw our first Caucasian Black Grouse but struggled to see another target Great Rosefinch. We knew they were around but they were not showing at all. Until, having started to search on my own a male popped up right next to me on top of a bush. What a moment that was. I gently raised the camera and took a few shots. The bird seemed totally unconcerned and started to sing quietly. The rest of the group were some way away but eventually responded to my gestures. It was a great start to the week with all the group seeing 4 out of the 6 target species.During the remainder of the week we visited a number of sites around Kazbegi either in the river valleys or in the foothills of the mountains which towered above us. We saw a number of Raptors including; Griffon Vulture, Golden Eagle, Lammergeier, Black Kite, Steppe Buzzard,and Peregrine soaring overhead and evidence of migration with flocks of Purple Herons and Demoiselle Cranes passing through the mountains. On the whole the weather was good although we did have prolonged rainfall on a couple of occasions. I should at this point mention the local drivers who ferried us about the mountain roads/tracks, which were challenging if not downright hairy.
Having failed to see Wallcreeper at a couple of sites in the pass we revisited the sites again where we found 2 pairs of Wallcreeper this time. I was particularly fortunate in having a close encounter with one of the birds.
The remaining two target species proved to be more difficult. Largely because they hadn't 'arrived' in any great numbers yet and because they weren't so obvious in the leafy habitat and the numbers of Common Chiffchaff and Willow warblers. Eventually by the end of the week Mountain Chiffchaff were arriving and Green warbler was also found on the last day close to Tbilisi.So an excellent weeks birding with quality birds throughout.
Great Rosefinch
Great Rosefinch
Guldenstadt's Redstart
Griffon Vulture
Horned Lark
Rock Thrush
Great Reed Warbler
Red backed Shrike
Off road
Water Pipit
Purple Heron
Thrush Nightingale
Red breasted Flycatcher
Rock Bunting
Alpine Accentor
Finally a big thankyou to the Birdfinders team for their organisation, knowledge and good humour.

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Georgia - 2015

27th April - 2nd May 2015

Just a sample of the birds seen on last week's visit to Georgia with Birdfinders. A more detailed account to follow.

Wallcreeper, near the Krestovy pass, Georgia

Thursday, 23 April 2015

Tame valley Birding - mostly

Thursday 23rd April 2015

A few snaps from the Tame valley over the past couple of days. Finally caught up with Garden warbler and Whinchat in Warks.

Whinchat, Kingsbury

Chiffchaff, Coton

Whimbrel, Middleton Lakes


Tuesday, 21 April 2015

Migrants in the Valleys

21st April 2015

Returned to Middleton Lakes to try and see the Warblers I had missed the previous day. I was partially successful with good views of Sedge and Reed warblers but again missed Garden warbler.
Sedge Warbler, Middleton Lakes

Sedge warbler

Grasshopper warblers were reeling in several areas of damp vegetation around the periphery of the reserve. Perhaps the bird of the day though was a Curlew Sandpier seen from the western screen.
Curlew Sandpiper
In the afternoon I walked around part of the flood valley of the River Anker near Caldecote Hall. The Sheep pastures and weed covered rough ground along this section of the river has often produced Whinchats in the past but none today. What I did see though was at least 9 Yellow Wagtails feeding amongst the Sheep.
Yellow Wagtail, Caldecote

Monday, 20 April 2015

The search for Migrants

Monday 20th April 2015

The search for migrants continued today starting Shustoke Res. and continueing through Lea Marston, Bodymore Heath to Middleton Lakes where I caught up with Whitethroat, Lesser Whitethroat and Grasshopper warbler. According to Steve C. all the breeding warblers of the Tame valley had been seen over the day but Sedge, Cetti's, Reed and Garden had eluded me, as did the Whinchat. On the way home I did what is a regular walk at Mancetter near Atherstone just off the A5. The gentle hills often attract migrants and I was lucky to find a female Redstart, which rounded off the day quite nicely.

Sunday, 19 April 2015

Black winged Stilts in Staffs.

Saturday 18th April 2015
After the disappointment of the previous couple of days Spirits were lifted with a stroll round the Caldecote walk and news of a couple of Black winged Stilts at Middleton Lakes RSPB. The local walk produced surprisingly little although Sand Martin was a new addition to the area list. House Martin was also seen. When I eventually arrived at Middleton the 2 Black winged Stilts showed well in the pleasant sunshine as did many friends and acquaintances. There was also a drake Garganey on the Fishers Mill pit in Warks.

Black winged Stilt, Middleton Lakes, Staffs.

Saturday, 18 April 2015

Dipping near and far.

Saturday 18th April 2015
Rather lost track of my Blog worthy exploits over the last few days. My local migrant searches were interrupted by a day at Rutland Water where I successfully dipped an Alpine Swift but did see Whinchat, Wheatear and Redstart. I was then lured away to the Scillies where I successfully dipped the Great Blue Heron but did manage to see Wryneck and Hoopoe. This was my fourth Dip in a row having now missed out on American Herring Gull, Osprey, Alpine Swift and Great Blue Heron.Yesterday I was back on the local hills, A Whitehroat was heard briefly but that was about it. Hopefully my next post will be a little more cheerful, with reports of interesting migrants, illustrated with great photos, but I rather doubt it. I might get round to a more complete account of the Scillies trip when I'm in the right mood.