Sunday 30 June 2013

birds and beer - well beer anyway

Saturday 30th June 2013
After the excitement of the Little terns at Middleton lakes its been a quiet week bird wise as birds get on with what birds do at this time of the year, except a few non breeders floating about. Probable Crossbill heard at Bentley Woods and good to see signs of successful breeding for Common terns at Kingsbury W.P., but nothing like the density there used to be.
Watching the Lions lose in Australia was a good excuse for visiting the Beer Fest at the Griffin Inn, near Shustoke. Great atmosphere, although had to retreat to the pub to save my ageing eardrums. Great sounds but even better from 3 fields away. Sampled three beers, the Griffins own 'Kick up the arse', a superb unnamed beer from the Mayfield Brewery and Tom Long. The Lions defeat was soon forgotten.

Wednesday 26 June 2013

Little Terns - Middleton Lakes RSPB

Wednesday 26th June 2013

Outer Hebrides or Inner Middleton Lakes, Hum? Difficult one that. In the event inertia won and the impressive Jubilee Wetlands was the preferred choice. The pair of Little tern, reported earlier, were still there on a shingle spit. While I was there, presumably the male would on several occasions fly down to Fishers Mill (Warks.) and then turn back into the wind to feed in the reedy pools just to the north of Fishers Mill(Staffs.) and then fly back to 'present' the fish to the female. On the same spit there was also a  Whimbrel, a welcome bonus.
Little Tern, Middleton Lakes, RSPB
Little tern
Little tern
Little tern

Monday 24 June 2013

Melodious warbler in Notts - again

Monday 24th June 2013
A selection of distant but fairly typical views of the Melodious warbler today
Melodious Warbler, Tiln, Notts
Melodious warbler
Melodious warbler
Melodious warbler
Melodious warbler
Melodious warbler

Saturday 22 June 2013

Melodious Warbler in Notts.

Having spent the morning looking round furniture shops the excuse of a Midlands 'tick' was a good   escape route to to the countryside, even if it did involve a bit of a drive to North Notts. As I arrived at midday many birders were leaving, not a good sign. In the event the bird became very elusive in the afternoon. At this point everyone was happy they were getting glimpses of an Icterine warbler and certainly in the brief views I got it was impossible to study the primary projection. I assumed the the bird had been IDed on song and that the 'showing well' people had good visual confirmation. Certainly the song was an unfamiliar sound in the English countryside and for me the most interesting part of the whole experience. The bird sang in a plantation of young Conifers often quite close, usually staying low but occasionally glimpsed flitting through the top of the Gorse and even more occasionally at the top of one of the small pines.

Tuesday 18 June 2013

Loose ends

Few loose ends to tidy up. One or two birds I missed from the Finland trip and some local stuff. The local stuff includes a couple of trips to the Tame valley and a walk round 'the patch' at Caldecote. Very little to report from any of the local trips. The best birds have been fly over Hobbies, one over the garden and one over fields near Higham on the hill, which could well be the same bird.
As regards the Finland trip there are a few images to complete the photo record of the trip and a few thankyous. To Birdfinders and Finnature for their faultless organisation, to our guide Ari and to the other members of our group for making it such a good humoured and enjoyable experience.
Three toed Woodpecker
Three toed Woodpecker
Lesser spotted Woodpecker.
Spot the Phalarope
Sunny Finland

Sunday 16 June 2013

Pacific Swift in Suffolk

The Birding Gods have been kind this year. With 2 good birds turning up either side of various excursions and not during them. The Dusky Thrush and particularly the Pacific Swift had the good grace to be 'available' at the right time, giving not only myself and many other birders the chance of catching up with these Mega rarities. I say particularly the Swift because I, like many others of a certain age missed the Cley bird. In fact the Pacific Swift in Norfolk was one of my first 'Twitches' and clearly one of the first, if not the first 'dips'. I well remember arriving at Cley beach car park late in the afternoon and staring hopelessly into the skies at what seemed like thousands of high altitude Common Swifts. Yesterday as my fellow travellers and I made our way to Trimley Marsh along a track with no end, we passed a string of satisfied birders who passed you trying to hide a slightly smug smile or giving you an encouraging word, 'only another 1/2 hour to go', or 'still there, it looks settled'
It was with some confidence therefore that we approached the gallery on the bank. The fact that people were looking in different directions didn't alarm me unduly but as it became clear no one was 'on the bird' and the fact it hadn't really been seen for 20 minutes raised doubts. The phrase hear we go again came to mind. The 20 minutes became 35 minutes and to make matters worse the weather was deteriorating rapidly. The rain started and gloom was in danger of descending when the cry went up. 'Its there', or something more imaginative. Where? as directions became more frenzied I caught a glimpse of a large swift with a white rump. Yes, you beauty. Not a very long look but its amazing what you can take in in a second and a half - and then the storm hit. I managed to cram into a hide during the worst of the torrential rain. After half an hour or so the rains eased and the sun returned and with the warm air the Swifts also returned. The Pacific Swift put on a wonderful display low over the lagoons in front of the hide. Memorable birding, with other birds at this well maintained site including: Marsh Harrier, Avocet and Spotted Redshank.

Wednesday 12 June 2013

Finland and Norway 2013 - the return journey

We left Varanger and the Arctic Ocean behind and headed back south. We made a few birding stops along the way and added Shorelark, prob. Arctic Redpoll, Ptarmigan and Goshawk to our trip lists. We also had great views of Ural Owl back near Oulu. A large flock of Crossbills proved frustrating as the birds never 'settled' to enable us to pick out any Parrots among them.
Willow/Red Grouse
Willow/Red Grouse, female
Ural Owl

Tuesday 11 June 2013

Hornoya island

We reached the fishing port of Vardo on the north east of the Varanger peninsula. The hotel was a magnet for Japanese tourists but beyond a 100metre radius the town seemed almost deserted with typically little activity around the brightly coloured wooden houses. The hotel overlooked the harbour so it was a short walk to the ferry and an even shorter crossing by jet boat to Hornoya bird reserve. The cliffs were covered with nesting Kittiwakes, Puffins, Guillemots, Razorbills and Shags. Among the Guillemots were groups of Brunnich's Guillemots one of the must see birds of the area. Photographers from around the world gorged themselves with the birds just a few metres away from the footpath.
Brunnich's Guillemot
Brunnich's Guillemot
Shag, Razorbill
Shag, Guillemots
On our final day in Norway we travelled  NW to  Hamningberg, the last village on the road from Vardo. Wild country with steep craggy cliffs on the shores of the Arctic Ocean. It would be difficult to imagine a more inhospitable place in the depths of winter. We scanned the cliffs in the hope of seeing a Gyr falcon but only came up with more White tailed Eagles and our first Rough legged Buzzards of the trip. In fact there was quite a movement of Buzzards with over 20 passing over in a short space of time. Other birds included Pomerine Skua, White billed Diver, King Eider, Glaucous Gull, Merlin, Red throated Diver, Lapland Bunting and 100s of Long tailed Ducks offshore.
Glaucous Gull
King Eider with Common Eider
Lapland Bunting
Rough legged Buzzard
Rough legged Buzzard

Monday 10 June 2013

Norway and Finland - into the Arctic.

Day 7 saw another long drive as we crossed the Arctic circle but birding as we went saw White tailed and Golden Eagles, Broad billed  Sandpiper displaying, Spotted Redshank, Whimbrel and Dotterel. The next day was equally long but the scenery was spectacular as we crossed the Tana river into Norway having 'collected' Pine Grosbeak and Common Redpoll along the way. At Varso we picked out a male Steller's Eider with a small group of Common Eiders. We moved northwards up the Varanger coastline stopping regularly for anything of interest such as a group of 5 White tailed Eagles or the increasing numbers of Skuas mainly Arctic and Long tailed. Two stops were particularly interesting, one to look at a group of Red necked Phalaropes and Red throated Pipit at close quarters and the other to watch a Lek of Ruff. Amazing experiences both.
Pine Grosbeak
White tailed Eagle
White tailed Eagles
Steller's Eider
Red necked Phalarope
Red throated Pipit

Finland and Norway - The Drive East

We headed east towards Kuusamo through a typical landscape of Pine forest and lakes. We made frequent stops searching likely habitat for Rustic Bunting, Hazelhen and Red flanked Bluetail all of which eluded us but there were plenty of other birds to enjoy, including Greenish warbler, Waxwing, Osprey, Smew, Common Crane and Taiga Bean goose. Wood Sandpipers became regular features of the boggy terrain as they displayed and called high up in the clear blue skies. It was an early start the next day though that proved to be particularly rewarding. The early morning drive right up to the Russian border zone produced amazing views of Hazelhen, and male and female Capercaille, as well as Little Bunting, Velvet Scoter, Red necked Grebe and Siberian Tit.
Siberian Tit
Honey Buzzard
Honey Buzzard
Hazelhen, thru the bus window!
Red necked Grebe
The next day started early to have another crack at Red flanked Bluetail before the long drive to Ivalo. A steep climb up a wooded hillside was eventually rewarded with views of a singing Red flanked Bluetail with the added bonus of Siberian Jay. Every lake had something of interest as we continued north, with Little Gulls, and Arctic terns in perpetual motion taking insects from the surface. Black throated Divers glided gracefully over the water and a variety of Ducks decorated the fringe areas.
Little Gull
Little Gull
Little Gull
Black throated Diver
Black throated Diver