Wednesday, 24 June 2015

American waders on the South coast

Monday 23rd June 2015
When Julian Allen rang and suggested a day's birding on the south coast I jumped at the chance. I'd seen the three waders on offer before but only once and many, many years ago. In the event the Terek Sandpiper didnt linger but the two long staying 'yanks' were still around. Trouble was, 'around' covered quite a lot of esturine habitat (if thats a word) It was a question of being in the right place at the right time. Julian had it sussed. Go for the Greater Yellowlegs first at Titchfield Haven and move on to Pagham later, an hour or so before High tide. The plan worked a treat. The Greater Yellowlegs flew in just as we settled in at Suffern hide giving excellent views. We had plenty of time to wander round the rest of the reserve and see what else we could find. Avocets almost outnumbered Black headed Gulls and had clearly had a good breeding season judging from the number of chicks on the reserve. After coffee and cake we drove on to Pagham harbour. The tide was now coming in quite quickly and we scanned the mud banks of the estuary with 8 or 10 other birders. We scrutinised several Whimbrel until we picked out one with a much more striking head pattern than the others. Finally it flew in reasonably close to confirm it was indeed the Hudsonian Whimbrel we had been looking for. So 2 out of three targets seen very well. We had had a good day.

Greater Yellowlegs, Titchfield Haven, Hants.

Hudsonian Whimbrel, Pagham harbour, West Sussex

Hudsonian Whimbrel well hidden in the vegetation

Mediterranean Gull feeding chick (photo courtesy of Julian Allen)

Monday, 22 June 2015

The Fishing Match

Sunday 21st June 2015

The competitors - A motley crew

Its a wonder they caught anything at all - hang on a bit, they DIDN'T catch anything

The happy Angler - good name for a pub

'I've caught bigger....'

'what a lovely day.'

part of a winning catch

A nice Carp
Well what can I say, I was invited to help at the annual Charles Brookes Memorial fishing match. Not because I have any great knowledge or expertise in the world of Fish or Fishing but because I did it last year and they couldn't think of anyone else.  Anyway I was happy to do it and, like I always say any activity that begins and ends in a pub can't be bad. So these are just a few snaps I took between charging (shuffling) around the pond with me scales to weigh and record the 'specimen' fish.The sun shone and a good day was had by all.

Bits and Bobs

A couple of images from last week
Robin, garden
Melodious warbler, Mercote Mill Farm
Great Tit, garden

Also last week; Hobby- Mercote Hill Farm and Yellow wagtail, Common Whitethroat, Skylark and Linnet on Caldecote patch walk.

Friday, 19 June 2015

Twitching - a reflection

Tuesday 16th June 2015
 I twitch when I get the opportunity and I get a lot of pleasure from it. I'd like to think my Birding goes beyond that, but twitching or the quest to see rare or unusual species is part of my Birding psyche.
You dont have to know anything about birds to be a successful twitcher, its a question of logistics as much as anything else.They can tell you what was turned up where and who else was there to see it, a complete history of rare birds in Britain. Having said that many twitchers are very good field birders as well but not all. Theres a bit of the twitcher in all of us if we care to admit it. We all keep lists we collect, we log information about the species we see around us.we travel to see something different in our own region Its just the degree of  time and money we are prepared to invest.
Yesterday I travelled to Bardsey Island off the North Welsh coast to see a Cretzschmar's Bunting in company with John Holtham, John Boden and Steve Nuttall. We travelled through the night arriving in the early hours but still found the Car Park at Porth Meudwy almost full. After walking down to the small quay we signed in. The process was well organised and we were assigned to Boat 5. This meant a wait of some 10 hours. Eventually  we boarded the 12 seater boat and set off on a flat calm sea. On arrival we were ushered to the Lighthouse compound where the bird was seen regularly feeding on seed which had been put down. When I say regularly I mean regularly every hour or so. So we waited and we waited very patiently and very quietly. Sure enough the bird appeared on the seeded area amongst the flowers. For a minute  the bird showed itself reasonably well from where I was standing. At least you could identify it, but then it moved behind the concrete slab only showing the top of its head as it continued to feed, and then it was off. Again we waited for almost another hour before it was time to leave the island. To add insult to injury as we left the bird came back, calling. All too late. It would have been good to have a longer look at this MEGA but I was grateful for the views I did get. Having said all that Bardsey Is is a lovely place, particularly when the sun shines. On the crossing there are a number of Auk species and Manx Shearwaters, always a treat for the Midlands birder as are the Chough on the Mainland cliffs.
Chough, Porth Meudwy

Friday, 12 June 2015

The West Midlands Melodious Warbler

Thursday 11th June 2015
Its taken a few days to get back to any serious local birding. Playing catch up really looking for species like Spotted Flycatcher and Cuckoo that weren't 'in' before I went away. Yesterday I spent a good deal of time in the Tame valley ending up with my first look at the Avocets at Middleton Lakes. The canal walk from Broomey Croft didnt do my Plantar fasciitis any good but at least I saw Hobby on the way. Back at the car I got a well timed message about a probable Marsh warbler near Marsh Lane N.R. I dithered about going as I had to collect some compost from Atherstone. Luckily I had my Pork pie lunch with me so at least I wouldn't be hungry as I dithered. More messages came, the bird was now thought to be either an Icterine or a Melodious warbler. Intriguing, the gardening would have to wait and after a short journey I arrived on site. The bird was in some trees and gorse on the edge of a recycling plant. Though singing almost continuously the bird was very difficult to see. Alan Dean who found the bird  had recorded the bird's song and had come to the opinion that it was a Melodious warbler.  As the bird gave better and more prolonged views it was agreed by the other 'local' birders on site that it was indeed a Melodious warbler. Only the 3rd record for the West Midlands region.

Melodious Warbler

Melodious Warbler

Melodious Warbler

Melodious Warbler

Wednesday, 3 June 2015

Grey Phalarope - Brandon Marsh

2nd June 2015
I needed a bit of a jolt to shake me out of my post holiday lethargy and a message saying there was a  female summer plummaged Grey Phalarope on East Marsh, Brandon certainly did the trick. In windy conditions the bird showed well from the east Marsh hide spending its time on a small stoney island. Not surprisingly this rare spring migrant proved a big attraction and a real treat for local and a few not so local birders.
Grey Phalarope, Brandon Marsh

Grey Phalarope

Gray Phalarope

Later I found myself heading for Shustoke Res. where a Little Tern had been seen earlier in the day.No Little Tern but some compensation in the form of an interesting 1st summer Arctic Tern.