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!
Sunday, 4 October 2009
What a day, didn't see any new birds but got better views of the Pechora and some pics then crippling views and pics of the Buff bellied before seeing 2 Arctic Polls together at Harrier and one in Ham.
After such a cracking day I couldn't imagine anything ruining it, then Janne and Hanna turned everything to rat shit when they found a Veery in the scrap pile on the quay (Gavs words were echoing round my head when I heard where it had been found, why didn't I check there? Well Ok cos its shit and the only bird I ever thought would have such little self respect to feed in that shit pile would be Rock Pipit!). The bird jumped out right in front of them, Janne turned to Hanna and calmly said 'Hanna take fuckin pictures!'. The bird then quickly made its way north along the cliff edge and disappeared. Frenchy connectd with it too so that leaves half of us with long faces! After missing the one on Unst a few years ago when the bastard cat at Northdale ate it before I got there I'm begining to think I'm destined not to see one! I get back to Ristie after checking the likely areas on the island and drawing a blank, We leave the islandat 10.15 in the morning so I'm hoping but not optimistic. I feel like drowning my sorrows but we have no beer left!
Foula finally comes good with everyone getting brief but tickable views of Buff bellied Pipit, well everyone except Gav who only had it fly over him calling, dodgy git is threatening to self find tick it!
Whilst trying to refind it Paul Wright finds a Pechora in Ham, result it's the one I want and the only regular sibe I need. After this double act expectations are high and we thrash Harrier til dusk, with nothing to show for our efforts we retire to Ristie and the massive roast pig Isobel has cooked us.
Last full day on the island tomorrow and expectations are high, we get elephants trunk!
Westerly was crashing round the room all night the little twat woke me up rattling the beer cans we used for the bowling pins and munching on a rug all night lucky bastard!
Birds today included a Corncrake at Hametoun in full view sunning itself and a prob Arctic Poll that flew over calling whilst we failed to refind the Buff bellied Pipit Kev Shepherd has seen, arse.
We helped out the islanders today loading scrap onto the boat that comes and removes it twice a year, judging by the amount lying around they could do with it twice a week! Gav commented that the pile of scrap is now workable habitat and we'll find a Blue Robin in it in a day or two! Anyway the islanders seemed pleased we helped out so should have got birders some brownie points with them, it's worked with Isobel anyway she's lending us her old car for the next few days, result no more walking.
No Sign of Frenchy's Poll today but I managed to find one at Hamnabreck, I thought yesterdays was pale this thing is fuckin stupid it's a proper snedgeball! It flew towards Leraback and what we assumed was the same bird was seen in the garden there, I didn't get views of it there cos I'd wandered off, comparing my pics with Gavs tonight it's clear two birds were involved. Janne and paul had also found a bird at Harrier in the morning and it looks like the Leraback one is their bird. Also got brief views of a rostrata at Hamnabreck.
Last night westerly found his way into the house and spent the night eating the rug next to my bed!
AT LAST something new! Gav found a Hornemanns Redpoll flying over stromness, then Frenchy relocated it at Harrier, it gave us all the run around before finally returning to Stromness and showing stupidly well, it's a stunner and tame as feck it tried to land on my shoulder twice and kept harrassing the photoraphhers! At least now we're not going home without a BB. Whilst watching it Grievious came over and stated talking to Paul about the RSPB, he avoids us for a week then we couldn't shut him up very strange bloke.
Apparently it's going easterly tomorrow night, Gav says if it doesn't he's just gonna turn the pole round that the weather vane is attached to!
The beer has run out, supplies should arrive Tues, if the wind doesn't change we're gonna need some.
Only 3 went out again today still windy enough to knock you over. Frenchy, Gav and me decided it was sports day and listened to footy in 5 live and set up a bowling lane with an old fishing net float and some empty beer cans, god it's dull on here, surely it can't last forever?
If anybody reading this has read the Punkbirders account of their trip to Shetland where they say finding rares in Shetland is as easy as putting on a hat don't believe a fuckin word of it its seriously hard we're all geting a bit pissed off so it makes it worse that the southern crew arrived yesterday, they conprise Kevin Shepherd, Paul and Neil Wright the bastards go out and find a Marsh Warbler today! to be fair they all seem good lads. On balance we all agreed it is one even though it's wings are a little on the short side. At least it's given us a kick up the arse to get out and do more.
Grievious is withdrawing his Booted Warbler claim so maybe his issues with passerines aren't as bad as with Charadriformes!
The mouse is back, it's apparently a Wood Mouse of the endemic Foula race.
Lost interest a bit today stayed in bed til 10 and didn't bother going out birding just kept checking the pool from the window, and cleaned the kitchen! Gav stayed in too and reinstated the oat pile.
After 6 days in the Ristie house we've just noticed the sign above the bog which reads
That fuckin explains it then, whoever was in here last must have been puttin cardboard down there!
Had 4 bits of news today:
It's staying westerly til at least the 28th
It's the same strength til sat
Sandhill Crane on South Ron
and there are birds on Shetland
Can't understand why we have nothing, well almost nothing Paul had an Islandic Redpoll, what I wouldn't give to see a northwestern Redpoll!
I decided tonight was a good night for drinking and got Elephants Trunk!
The oats are depleted but there is neative news on the mouse today
Weather is still the same, westerly and shit. Another team are supposed to be coming in today but according to Geoff nobody arrived on the plane?
Gav has put some of Frenchy's oats outside the window, he figured he wouldn't need all of the 5 kilo's he's brought to last him 2 weeks! We had a mouse on them.
The most notable bird sighting was a Snedge Bunt which flew ito the window at 10pm and sat on the window sill!
The Booted Warbler is the Chiff it's in the same area he had it doing the same thing (feeding on the beach) so thats Stints, Godwits and Warblers he has issues with! He's an odd bloke he seems to be avoiding meeting any of us?
Nothing has changed birdwise.
Hannah was flicking through Sibley tonight and commented that all the Septics have yellow on them, so a phrase has been coined, when we get one it's gonna be radioed out as 'we've got a bird with yellow on it'
Had to keep to the roads and drier areas today my wellies are still soaking from the bastard hametoun burn. Saw the Barred Warler, the only new birds in appeared to be a couple of Crossbills.
Met Geoff (the semi resident birder) and his wife Donna today really nice friendly people. Heard AG has had Yank Goldie last week and a Booted Warbler in Ham valley, I comment to the rest of the team that it will be agrey adult Chiff we saw earlier.
Flew into Foula this morning, looks amazing from the plane, east side of island is flat and low lying then it rises stupidly steeply in the west it's like flying into a wall!
Ristie where we're staying is class kinda like one big room with a massive window looking out over a pool that has to have a yank wader on it.
Found out when we got here there is another birder on the island staying in the annexe part of Ristie....it's Andrew Grieve ex Blacktoft warden and Flamborough supressor, this should be fun! There is also a birder who's semi resident on the island.
Walked all the way to the south end of the island and back this afternoon Ham valley looks shit hot rare, not keen on Hametoun tho too much cover and I fell in the feckin burn, twice.
Really surprised to see more migrants than on the Ron and mainland Shetland, some of team saw a Barred Warbler.