Friday 30 October 2015

' Who Dares Wins'

Friday 39th October 2015

Missed a lot of good birds this year for one reason or another. So when John Holtham rang suggesting a Charter flight to the Orkney Isles, after a moments hesitation I went for it. It was a routine I'd experienced before: Drive to Yorkshire first thing and wait for news that the bird in question, a Chestnut Bunting was still on Papa Westray. It wasn't till I saw the size of the plane, a four seater Piper Cherokee I think, and discussed the deteriorating weather conditions up north that I and my fellow passengers began to have doubts. Serious doubts. A weather front was moving in and both visability and wind speed would be marginal in the afternoon. The pilot gathered as much info as could on the weather and explained the difficulty would be landing the plane on Papa Westray with strong crosswinds. To say we were concerned was an understatement. Having put in the effort to get to North Yorkshire and for many it was now or never to see the bird it was a tricky decision. We knew we couldn't compromise on safety but the pilot was prepared to give it a go. As we pondered, news that the Chestnut Bunting was still there came through. It was then that someone said 'Who Dares Wins'. We went for it on news that the visability was ok and the wind was within limits but it would be bumpy. I do not like bumpy.
With a strong tail wind we made good progress and eventually made a text book landing in the field that was the airport.
Papa Westray 'airport'

 We made the relatively short walk along the farm track to the bird's favoured area. It was feeding on the track in front of the small group already there. A little cracker.
The site
The twitch

The bird - 1w Chestnut Bunting

1w Chestnut Bunting
After getting excellent views of the smart little bird and even a couple of snaps it was soon time to retreat, conscious that the weather would soon be worsening.
A bit fresh

Tuesday 27 October 2015

More Stonechats

Tuesday 27th October 2015

Another busy week of not seeing much. Not for the want of trying though. Anythings better than raking leaves in the garden. Done my local sites a few times + Alvecote, Middleton Lakes and Napton Reservoir. Looked at countless trees/bushes etc. all to no avail and even inspected a few patches of Reeds but with no luck.
In fact I've been particularly busy at not seeing Bearded Tits. There's been something of an influx into Warwickshire recently but Ive managed to avoid them. Its been close, I watched people watch the birds yesterday at Middleton but didnt make the effort to walk the 150 yards to join them. So no sympathy there then. Today I did make a little more effort and searched both sides of the river but never a peep was heard.
So apologies for yet another image of a Stonechat but I promise it will be the last this year.

Stonechat, Middleton Lakes RSPB

I think that's clear enough
or Birding on the edge

Saturday 17 October 2015

Staying local

Friday 16th October 2015

With easterly winds throughout the week I went out with the faint hope of finding something more unusual in the little patches of suitable habitat around and about. On Friday I did the Caldecote bit of the Anker valley. The winter wheat fields along the track had 4 Fieldfares, 19+ Skylarks, a handful of Meadow pipits and a large flock of mixed Corvids. 9 Redwings flew over near the Hall and the usual couple of Cormorants flew along the river but no sign of any Tree Sparrows.
Moving on to Alvecote I started a leisurely stroll around Mill pool only to find a Stonechat on top of a small bush next to the path. I went back for my camera and met Roy and his pack of dogs who had just arrived, what chance of a decent photo now? Roy said there had been 3 Stonechats around the spit for several days and sure enough they were still around.

Female Stonechat

Male Stonechat

Tuesday 13 October 2015

Mainly local

4th - 13th October 2015

Since returning from the Shetland Isles the Birding focus has been on the local area, particularly the Anker valley between Caldecote and Mancetter with the odd 'day out' to Middleton RSPB and Draycote Water. At Middleton there was a Ruff and a couple of Redwing, at Draycote a Ruff, a Common Sandpiper and a Rock pipit. The Mancetter 'hills' and nearby canal walks have been equally unrewarding in terms of migrants but good to see small parties of Tree sparrows, in 'new' hedges along the A5 - Anker corridor.

Wednesday 7 October 2015

Shetland Isles 2015 Part 3

Wednesday 7th October 2015

After the positive comments on the Bluethroat images, thought I'd post a couple more:

Bluethroat, Quendale



Tuesday 6 October 2015

The Shetland Isles - 2015 Part 2

26th Sept. - 3rd Oct. 2015

A few more images from a week on the Shetland Isles:

Yellow browed warbler, Levenwick

Yellow wagtail sp., Grutness

Snow Bunting, Lamba Ness

Wheatear, Grutness

Bonxies, Lamba Ness

Common Seal with 1 Grey Seal

Red breasted Flycatcher, Hestingott

Bluethroat, Quendale quarry

Monday 5 October 2015

Shetland Isles - 2015

Monday 5th October 2015
Well it was that time of the year again, the much anticipated visit to the Shetland Isles. In company with Julian Allen, Tom Perrins, Pete Forbes and Keith Wimbush we settled in to our accommodation in Lerwick. Not much of a view but we did have Sycamores in the front and back gardens which were regularly visited by both Lesser Whitethroat and Yellow browed warbler throughout the week.

Yellow browed Warbler - viewable from my bedroom window.

Large numbers of Yellow broweds were seen throughout the week at almost every location with a suitable Sycamore tree/bush.
The weather was varied, from very pleasant sunshine to strong winds and squalls. Time in the field was divided between checking out likely habitat for ourselves and following up information of new birds. The week started on a high note with a number of 'good' 'Shetland birds' soon  'in the bag'. Lanceolated warbler was undoutedly the bird of the day with Blyth's reed warbler and American Golden plover good back up birds. The day was slightly spoiled though by England losing to Wales in the World Cup.
Day 3 saw us heading up to Unst which turned out to be an unwise decision. Despite the beauty of the landscape we missed out on the Pallid Harrier and the Arctic warbler. A couple of Barred warblers seemed scant reward.
Barred warbler, Skaw
Barred warbler
Even more so when a Grey checked Thrush made a one day appearance on the Mainland.
Day 5 was notable for a Pechora Pipit at Norby and a sprained ankle at Quendale. A Bluethroat at Deregarth also showed well.
Day 6 was notable for an Arctic warbler at Gott, Fish and Chips (again) and 2 excellent Rugby matches
Bird of the day on day 7 was a toss up between a very showy Red breasted Flycatcher at Hestingott and a confiding male Bluethroat at Quendale quarry. 

Red breasted Flycatcher, Hestingott

Bluethroat, Quendale Quarry

So, my recollections of a very enjoyable week on the Shetland Isles. Good company, and good birds.Some of the places have been omitted because I cant remember them but you get the general idea. An assortment of other images will appear in the next post including more shots of the Bluethroat.