Tuesday, 22 December 2009
Saturday, 19 December 2009
I managed to get out for a bit in Dorset the other day and saw about 70 Med Gulls in Weymouth. Couldn't find any Diver or Grebes in Portland harbour or the 500 strong Brent flock on the Fleet until nearly dark and they were miles away so didn't even try to find the Black Brants that are in with them, and tried wthout success to find some Sibe Chiffs in Poole.
Whilst down there it was good to see my old mate Stan, and I managed to frighten his Daughter, seems to happen with most women!!!
I set off back at lunchtime on Fri and made good time despite the weather forecast predicting snow fueled doom and gloom, well until I got to North Cave that was then it all went tits up, 5 hours from Poole to North Cave and 3 and 3/4 to do the next 15 miles!!!! I was pretty sick of it by the time I got in.
Anyway got a bit of work on in the next week but will hopefully get out with the camera over christmas, I'm pretty tempted by the Gyr thats been seen on the Gower so there maybe a lifer in the pipeline.
Monday, 30 November 2009
Sun was a bit of a let down, as usual the forecasters got it wrong and we had light easterlies that had dropped to nothing by early afternoon. At Spurn I managed to see a Great Northern and a Velvet with a few other ducks but not much else. The lads had seen Balearic and a few other things before I got there.
So Monday dawned and it was much stronger but a quick look on the internet said it was westerly so I didn't bother going out. Instead I walked into town, jesus it was cold it must be northerly, it's tricky to tell though as the wind swirls round the buildings. Anyway my mate Tim who lives on the coast confirmed it was so I shot off to Hornsea.
Hornsea used to be a great place for seawatching there was a good shelter, ok so it stank of piss more often than not and you usually had to talk to a drunk for at least part of any seawatch (usually until they passed out) but you could get out of the wind and it was a popular seawatching spot. Then the council pulled it down because the bum brigade kept rutting in the toilets! Nobody goes there now, the only shelter is on a bench behind a wall (ok if its dry) and a small shelter with a roof further along. The old place was low enough but the other spots are almost below sea level!
Hornsea really shouldn't be that good as a seawatch spot, its low down, about as far west in Brid bay as you can get and on a smoth coastline with no bits jutting out. Strange how it can be so good then. Today however wasn't a good day! Don't get me wrong I've had worse days much worse, best stuff today was 10 Eider, 1 Velvet, 2 Goldeneye, 1 Purple Sand, 1 Shag, 500+ Kittiwake.
Friday, 27 November 2009
Thursday, 26 November 2009
Those of you that have seen this ridiculous bird may be surprised to hear I think it's probably the least photogenic bird I've seen since getting the camera. Ok so it might feed around your feet but it never stops moving and always seems to be at the wrong angle. I've taken about a million shots of it this week and none of the sharp ones are in what I'd call a nice pose.
The wind wasn't helping either. I hate birding in strong wind and photography just makes it even worse. On top of that the wind is stopping me working too I haven't been in the air for 2 weeks now! At this rate there will be no beer for me at christmas. Bah humbug.
Monday, 23 November 2009
Had a bit of paperwork and stuff to do first thing this morning so got that out of the way and took a quick trip to Barton for the Red necked Phal. When I set off it was bright and sunny but by the time I found where the bird was the sky was black so getting pics was a case of 1250iso and lots of blur!! later on though it came out a bit sunnier and I managed a few reasonable pics. This is the best one taken at iso800 and about 400/sec. I'll go back later in the week and try again if we get a sunny day as it shows down to less than 10 feet!!!
So I was pretty keen to see them and when Birding World landed on the doormat last week I flicked straight to them. Now to me the article seems a bit egotistical and doesn't read very well but the pics are what matter most and although they aren't the best quality (I'm pretty sure Rebecca Nason would have made a better job of it) they do show features of Brown Shrike. Well the jolly nice fella that has written the article has mentioned that I was the finder which is really good of him but it's a shame he couldn't tell the whole story instead of making out I reported it as a Red backed, to be honest this isn't a million miles from the truth its just it misses the important caveat that I couldn't rule out Brown and some things about it niggled me!!! Oh well everyone already told me he was a prize wanker so I suppose I should have expected it. Anyway the people that matter know what really happened.
WANKER WANKER WANKER WANKER WANKER..................................
Friday, 20 November 2009
Tuesday, 3 November 2009
They can and often do show a yellowish wash in sunlight around the sides of the face look at this one from Spurn http://www.spurnbirdobservatory.co.uk/sightings/september05.html it's only really noticeable in bright sunlight and disappears in dull conditions. I must admit when I saw Martin Elliots notebook paintings I thought it looked good with the amount of Yellow on the breast he'd painted. In the end it was sound recorded and Magnus Robb says it's a Greenish, that's good enough for me! Anyway I think certain quarters will keep the debate going for a little longer before eventually giving up on it!
Then came the Rattray heed Olly. In Aug 95 I was on a 'stag do' in Suffolk and dipped the Kessingland bird whilst dropping some lovely young ladies back at their campsite, even saw the birders cars but knew nothing of the bird and had other things on my mind! So getting sick of waiting for one in Yorks (Spurn must be due one these) I was trying to get a team together. I'm glad I didn't and the less said about the ID the better!
So anyway what did I get upto? Well spent the weekend at Spurn and although it wasn't heaving with stuff in the bushes there was enough to keep you going. Duck passage was good but wanted to make the most of what was left of the bush bashin for this year so didn't look at many. Had this nice shorty come in off on Sat afternoon.
Tuesday, 27 October 2009
Pretty good day today, loads of Thrushes coming in off at Spurn, totals for the day are on the Spurn website http://www.spurnbirdobservatory.co.uk/ these are absolute minimum as so often the case when birds are coming in all down the peninsula loads must be missed. I remember about 4 years ago we had an incredible day when Redwings were everywhere, it was one of my best days birding ever just for the sheer spectacle of it, about 8000 dropped into the Kew/Crown area in the first 30 mins of daylight! That day 47,000 went into the log but everyone there agreed it must have been at least double that present, it was just impossibe to count them.
Also saw the Richards Pipit up Beacon Lane today and the Bluetail at the point which is unbelievably still present after not being seen for a whole week!
Mid afternoon a day visitor found a Red rumped Swallow going south over the Blue bell which turned back north and multiplied into 2. Got good views of them but the pics are shit cos it was really grey and overcast.
Monday, 26 October 2009
It all turned out OK in the end, got stunning views of the bird through the scope, being quite a lethargic feeder for a phylosc it was pretty easy to keep on even when mag was cranked up to 40+.
These really are a bit special, with over a hundred years between the first and second European records and an almost north-south migration route in the very far east its perhaps surprising there's now been 4 records in western Europe in the last 10 years, but I don't think they'll ever become common. I didn't bother with the camera cos with so many people I wouldn't have been able to get close enough to make it worthwhile so just enjoyed watching it. I got a pic of the crowd on my phone, mainly to show this prick in the hi-viz coat! Bet he's got fuckin shit loads of fieldcraft!!!
Oh my god! If you're reading this you'll already know about events of last night but to sumarise, some old cock (bless him) photographed what he thought was a Yellow browed at South Shields and put a pic online. The pic is on the link below.
Mark Newsome displaced West Yorks birder saw the pic and nearly died I should think. Britains first and long predicted Eastern crowned Warbler.
I was doing a training flight out of Liverpool in the morning so couldn't go straight away but intended to set off as soon as we landed.
I was on the ground by half one and set off north up the M6 and across the A66, trouble was the traffic was shite it took me 3 hours 40 and the bird didn't show before it got dark, contrary to the pager reports!
Fortunately my mate Cooky came to the rescue and offered me his sofa for the night so I crashed at his and had a few beers with him and Brett who'd also dipped having left Scilly and driven up from Penzance.
Whilst a Kew Paul caught this Chiff which he' d got down as an 'abietinus' there were a few around approaching this in colour but any that called sounded normal, in the filed the green tones evident in the pic were impossible to see, I'm starting to think these eastern chiffs are as bad as eastern lesserthroats!!!
Thursday, 22 October 2009
25mph doesn't sound fast really does it, it is if it's a south easterly wind! And if it's accompanied by rain we should be tripping over birds, surely. Well not today, went out for about 5 hours on the coast and saw one party of Starlings come in off, one small group of Redwings drop in and a few Blackbirds. Where are all the crests?
I guess the winds aren't coming from that far east being off the bottom of a low thats just come across the Atlantic. Fortunately it's moving east, dropping a bit and with a high over Scandinavia and more rain tonight it should produce stuff tomorrow. Fingers crossed
Sunday, 18 October 2009
I got shit views of the first one on Sat as it was shown to the crowd in canal scrape car park, it was just too busy so I kept back and only saw it's heed. The second bird at the point was only seen by the finder until Sunday morning when Spenner refound it. It showed briefly late morning as it almost trapped itself then finally did the job at around 5pm when it flew back into the heligoland.
Although it may seem ridiculous to suggest this the fact the bird may have been in the trap bushes all day begs the question was there a 3rd bird? There was a sighting half way to the green beacon on the point only 10-15 minutes before it showed in the trap mid morning. Whether this was the same bird being highly mobile then not moving all day or another one we'll probably never know but it makes you wonder.
I was also pleased to learn on sat that the South Gare Pipit had been photographed well and proved to be a Richards after all. I'd rather it was a Blyth's but in all honesty it was never a good candidate.
Friday, 16 October 2009
Anyway the bird flew south for ages and was lost around 10ish. When it flew this last time it looked big and long tailed, to me it was a classic Richards, it did call and I thought it sounded like Richards too, but it was windy and I will admit to finding these two species difficult at the best of times. Looking at the pics it looks large billed, long tailed and the mantle and head streaking are within the range shown by Richards. The adult median covs visible also look pointed so all in all I can't find any reason to supect Blyth's Pipit. The lads who saw it yesterday though are adamant it looked small alongside meadow pipit and looked short tailed and horizintal stance with a good Blyth's call! I did have a nice juv Long tail fly right over my heed at about 30 foot whilst looking for the Pipit early doors.
Seawatching mught be good tomorrow so I should be in the coast early.
Tuesday, 13 October 2009
Speaking of shitty there's a bit of a furore starting to build up over the Hooded Merg that's in Cleveland. Let me first say I've absolutely no interest in this bird it's shit it's also plastic as a bondage suit. The trouble is the bloody BBRC accepted the bird in Fife last year and it looks like this might be the same bird so as I was passing on my way south I had a look for about 4 seconds then fucked off home.
Dodgy plastic duck rubbish!
Monday, 12 October 2009
The bloke I was sharing with was up fron Orkney for a music festival and I didn't see much of him as I was out all day birding and he was out 'fiddling' all night!
Anyway he comes in about half 3 on sun morning, I was asleep but vaguely recall hearing the door, next thing I'm semi awake and feel something touching my arse! I spin round and he's beside my bed getting a drink of water from the sink, I'm not sure if I was just aware of his presence and dreamt it so lie there to see what he's upto. After a while with him moving round the room opening the window and curtains he's at the foot of my bed near the door doing something with the lock, then he proceeds to lean forward and gently lift the duvet off my legs, it's at this point I realise the dirty bastard is knocking one out with his other hand!!! I'm up out of the bed really sharp with rage coursing through me and give the cunt a proper kicking. Somehow he manages to get the door open (he must have put it on the latch) and runs off. I get dressed and go after him but can't find him so wake the warden who chucks the fucker out of the room. I still can't quite believe it happened the dirty twat
Anyway back to the birds I was up and out early to make the most of my last day and started by finding the goldie flock nr mainlands stores north of the turning to Boddam. The yank was soon picked up and showed very well, it was one of the closest birds but still too far for any pics.
With no wind at all I decide to give the Sumburgh area a miss and go straight to Quendale I figure the trees here will be easy to work. I'm pretty pleased with my efforts turning up a Marsh Wrbler and a tristis type Chiff which unfortunatly won't call. as I'm about to leave Paul Harvey and Roger Riddington arrive and a short time later find a Spotted Sand! At least it was at the coast end of the burn where I didn't go.
Typical view of the marsh Warbler!
As near as it gets, without calling?
A quick check of the Virkie willows produces a single Yellow browed but nothing else so I decide to check Geosetter again. About 2/3 of the way up to the steep ravine part I get brief views of a Shrike in the willows, after about 2 hours all I've managed is two closish but mostly obscured views, mega distant views sat on thistles with no scope and a few flight views. I last saw it flying up the ravine and nearly an hour later have lost it so I decide to jack it in. Something is niggling me though so I put news out and sayin prob Red backed but can't rule out Brown and go see the Pechora at Veensgarth which shows well but too brief for any pics, shame cos at one point its sitting on a fence in perfect light.
Bum shrike views!
Saturday, 10 October 2009
I intended to start in the Sumburgh area and gradually work my way north but after seeing no other birders for the first hour sumburgh farm area was suddenly innundated with them so I made my excuses and headed north to look for the yank goldie at Boddam, couldn't even find the flock so when a message came through from Rob Fray about a Bonelli's at Ellister I went for a quick look. A chiff in the same trees had a very smoky grey heed which seemed odd can't remember seeing one quite like that before, didn't get any pics unfortunately it's an interesting bird.
Shame it wasn't going 'chip'
I stumble on some cracking habbo at Geosetter which looks monster but fails to produce the expected first for Britain! I have to make do with a Pied Fly and a few Goldcrest.
Early afternoon the weather closes in and I decide the best way to spend time is by trying to find the goldies, which takes some doing but eventually I have them....at about a mile in pissing rain, the only grey things I can see are the clouds! I have a kick round Quendale but only manage to unearth a lesserthroat.
With the rain easing I go back to Sumburgh which is now birderless, fortunatly it's not birdless and I set about the quarries/farm/hotel/grutness area but only have a couple of lesserthroats, a blackcap, a possible loco and lots of Thrushes, the only trouble is they are all Redwing, Songies and Blackbirds...Surely just one Black throated isn't too much to ask?
Last day tomorrow I've got to go home and sort some work out or I can't eat!
Friday, 9 October 2009
A visit to Kergord is in the cards as there's 2 OBP's there, I quickly realise that the birds are pretty approachable and wait for the crowd of about 6 to fuck off and leave me in peace. In the 20 minutes or so I spend near these lads I realise how used to having birds to myself I've become lately, I'm sure they were really good blokes but I found myself being a grumpy bastard and being relieved when they'd gone, sorry fellas!
Anyway with a bit of patience and fieldcraft I got crippling views down to 15-20 feet. When so close I could hear the birds givign a contact call, like the normal call but really quiet and unhurried lacking the normal explosiveness. Shame the light had gone, I had to whack the ISO up to 1000 to get this shot.
Just realised Tues is missing, not sure what happened there. In the morning it was cracking loads of Thrushes and Brambling arriving but despite a brief scare with an islander claiming a Geat Snipe we failed to find it didn't amount to much. By the afternoon the wind had got up from the west and I got fed up it felt like Foula all over again!
Fair isle isn't really living up to expectations, I manage to refind a Richards Pipit that has been missing for the best part of a week, I think I know why it's become a skulker!
Other than this we struggle to find anything worth writing about.
It's supposed to be going east tomorrow but people keep telling me it's an afternoon island so being booked on the 3.30 flight is slightly nerve wracking!
I get invited to play darts with some of the islanders and the lads building the new obs, it's a good night and I keep thinking I could never imagine it happening on Foula.
Thursday, 8 October 2009
Less migrants around today but maybe the best bird got away from us! Whilst walking down to the shop a loco flushes out of the roadside and lands in the crop at Lower Stoneybreck it wasn't the River Warb being much smaller, normally groppers look olive to me and this thing was clearly brown. We pushed the crop but nothing came out. Walking back from the shop the little bastard comes out of the ditch and again goes straight into the crop. We call Deryk and Si over but nothing comes out, Deryk comments that he'd be surprised if a Gropper didn't flush again, there is a Lancy on Shetland so draw your own conclusions.
I do the trap round with Jack and although we catch nothing of interest he nearly explodes when a Merlin chases a Redwing into one of the dyke traps! I'm totally impressed with the gulley trap it looks rare as fuck!
The foreman gives us a tour round the new obs which looks mega impressive, it's massive.
Spend an hour or so at North Haven with a tame Bluethroat and a nice bright Little Bunt
Later I walk to the southern end of the island and kick out a Barred Warbler and see another of the 3 Little Bunts on the island today.
Arrived on Fair Isle on the first plane of the day and dumped my bag at the chalet before wandering down the road to see a Blyth's Reed which gives great views and calls plenty.
After walking the south end of the island to get my bearings I've seen a few migrants but nothing else really of note. I get back to lower stoneybreck for another look at the Blyth's to be greeted by the news there's a River Warbler in the same garden. Bastard thing has gone to ground so it looks like i've dipped. They manage to catch the Blyth's which has a marginal wing formula, I'm pleased when they take bios and it turns out to be one. I was confident of the ID in the field so would have had to rethink how easy they if it had been a Reed!
ERJack shows me round the island so I get a better idea of where I can go without upsetting the locals, it seems pretty much anywhere is on the cards apart from gardens, quite a difference to Foula.
After ditching Jack to get some peace and quiet I take in lower stoneybreck on the way back. The dog here comes up to me for some attention and repays me making a fuss of it by jumping into the roadside grass and kicking out the River Warbler which sits on top of the wall for a minute, result. Fecking typical I'd left my camera behind cos of the earlier rain! Deryk and Si come armed with nets and although the bird flushes a few times it won't go anywhere near them.
Tuesday, 6 October 2009
Gav is leaving at 3 today so I have to get him to the airport, we decide to do the south mainland.
Whilst wating for the garage to open for fuel we check loch of clickimmin and have 2 scaup, Gav hears a buzzy flava call twice but we can't find it and assume it's just a Starling fuckin about.
After a bit of discussion we decide to check Wester Quarff as I've never been there, turns out to be a cracking move as one of the first birds we see is a superb Arctic Warbler.
Pretty chufffed after scoring a bird we've both mentioned in the previous couple of weeks as something we'd love to find we head south with high expectations of pulling out a mega. Stopping off a Boddam we get a Barred Warbler (second of the day, there's one in the Arctic garden) then move to Sumburgh where I nearly disappear as I sink into the bog underneath the Virkie willows! Can't find the Bluethroat in Rob frays Garden or the Yellow browed in an admitedly quick search so we clear off to the Hotel where another Yellow browed gives itself up instantly, the little git won't sit still for it's picture taking tho!
After dumping Gav at the airport I check Sumburgh head and Grutness then head back to Lerwick. A walk round Seafield produces nothing but 2 more Yellow broweds at Helendale rounds the day off nicely. News coming in of 2 possible eastern .flavas on Shetland makes me think it may not have been a Starling after all! Off to fair isle in the morning so here's hoping it starts getting some birds it's definately been in the shade of Foula and the rest of Shetland the last week, which is surprising
The day started off pretty uneventfully with me and Gav having a lay in whilst the others gett up at stupid o'clock to get the 05.45 boat to yell so they can get to Fetlar and back to Lerwick in time for their ferry back to Aberdeen.
We meet up on Unst after they have crackin views of the Fly and score a Rosefinch at Valyie, there is a mobile Horny poll on Lamba ness but none of us can be bothered to go look and instead split up to check various sites, nothing of interest is forthcoming.
About 3pm we say see ya to the others as they set off south and gav and me go to Uyeasound, I drop him off and drive back up the road to get some phone signal so I can speak to my beloved and WHAM the feckin scouser finds a Pechora in my absence, what a total twat thats right up there on my self found wish list! I don't even have time to look for it as we're booked on the half 4 ferry to Fetlar for the Fly.
We see the Fly in really crap light as its pissing it down the whole time but it looks striking, and useful experience as I've only seen spring birds before.
Got up at first light and quickly got to Ham after a thrash round turned up nowt two of the three of us that hadn't seen the Veery were trudging round dejected after missing the best bird of the trip whilst having endured so much shite weather. We were talking to Frenchy and Kev Shepherd when a bird just materialised on a gate next to the pumping station right in front of us, it was class you could hear the cogs turning as we took in the brightness of the upperparts and then in unison we all remarked variations on 'shit its there!'. The bird performed amazingly showing down to a few feet at times, at one point we were a bit worried as it sat in a ditch for 15 mins as it struggled to swallow a worm 3 times its length and at times appeared to be choking on it! The Pechora also showed a couple of times as usual sitting in the road when it flew out of the irises. A crew arrived from Shetland on a charter boat at half eightish and all managed to score both birds plus the Buff bellied Pipit. When we got to the plane a couple of foreign west pal listers were getting off, at first we thought they'd come from France but it turns out they were already in Shetland!
When we got back to mainland Shetland news came through of a second Veery on Whalsay, unbelievable. Also new in were Pechoras at Virkie and on Whalsay so it looked like game on for trying to find new stuff.
Frenchy, Janne and Hanna went south to the Sumburgh area whilst Gav, Paul and I went to try connect with the ferry to Fetlar for the Taiga Fly (found but slightly overlooked by my mate The F). After a swift journey durung which Mr Eele was nearly sick we realsied the connections didn't work out so we backtracked to Voe for the Blyth's Reed, got pretty good views and a few pics.
Seems strange how these birds really are id'able in the field these days after being nearly mythical not too long ago. After this we were fired for finding something so tried Vidlin in vain meanwhile Janne found a Short-toed Lark at Sumburgh farm which Frenchy tried to poach!
The night was rounded off by a cracking curry with The F and Vaila, then gav and me getting elephants trunk!