Friday, 29 April 2011

With 270 Arctic Terns flying out of the Humber at Spurn today and birds reported from plenty of inland waters it seemed like Hornsea would be a good bet, I was wrong there were none!  four had been seen earlier in the day but not by me cos I was watching the Pratincole.

There wasn't much else on the Mere to be honest apart from thousands of Sand Martin but I couldn't pull anything out from in amongst them, so I had an ice cream!

The only bird of note was however pretty smart, this "channel type" Wagtail has I think been around a few days and showed pretty well considering the number of people walking round kirkholme point.

I remember a few years ago, before anyone had invented the term channel wagtail, I uploaded a pic to the Spurn website of a bird I didn't see that was thought to be a beema type flava wag, it seems obvious now that  it was one of these.
After dipping the Collared Pratincole at Spurn last Sunday due to being on the way to the Western Isles I decided to make the short trip over to Immingham this morning where it was refound earlier in the week.  It was showing really well at pretty close range being in the air most of the time, unlike the last on I saw at High Eske which was distant and on the ground the whole time.  Getting pics was pretty difficult due to the presence of a few hawthorns between us and the bird but with patience some good pics would have been possible, I don't have any patience so had to make do with this pic which is heavily cropped.

Getting pics wasn't helped by the ongoing problem of having a knackered camera, it still takes pics but keeps locking up and giving an error 30 code.  I really need to buy another camera body and am tempted with a secondhand 1D series maybe a 1Ds mk11.  Then again Bill has a 7D which seems very impressive.  Any opinion which would be best much appreciated.

Thursday, 28 April 2011

Just back from another boat survey off the Western Isles.  This time last year a friend did this survey and had 3 White billed Divers so after the birds last month and the one in Jan we were obviously expecting to see them this month too.  I wasn't really expecting to see as many as we did though.  I have to stress that not all of them will be submitted as there was quite a lot of swell making it difficult to keep on them and even harder to get record shots of them.  We managed 3 definite birds and another 4 that were pretty likely to be White bills but the views were just not quite enough to submit a description for.

Here's a couple of them that Bill Aspin did manage to nail with the camera

This bird stood out at about 700 metres with bins the bill was so obviously long and pale

Even though it was close (about 250 metres) this one wasn't easy due to the light conditions.  We had 3 other birds like this including 2 together but Bill couldn't get anything with the camera to make them worth claiming.

Ken Shaw and Andy Carroll who have pretty much been instrumental in re-writing the status of White billed Diver have told me in the past that they like deeper water than Great Northern, based on birds they have found in spring from land on the west coast of Scotland.  BWP states that the usual depth for Great Northern is probably around 4-10 metres but that birds have been caught in nets up to 70 metres down.  Being on a boat with all sorts of electronic gauges we've checked the depth for Great Northerns and although it's only a small sample size they seem to be in water up to 25 metres deep.  The White bills however, including all the probables have been in water between 36.7 and 46 meters depth.  If the probables were all White bills that's a sample of 10 birds this year in water with shallower areas nearby that they appear to shun, we've also never seen one with a Great Northern, they do seem to keep apart from one another.  OK so it's not Martin Garner's Birding Frontiers blog but it's all interesting stuff.

Wednesday, 20 April 2011

Didn't realise how long it is since I last posted!

I forgot to post up the pics of the White bills from the last western isles survey so here they are.  All the pics are copyright Bill Aspin.

This bird was pretty distant, Bill has cropped these pics out quite a lot but it was still distinctive enough at almost 500 metres to pick out with bins.  Note the really thick based neck which is obvious given reasonable views.  This one held it's bill up at an angle and looked brown even at this distance.

Closer this one and easier to pick out on the brown colour alone, note again the very thick set base to the neck.  We see over 100 Great Northern's on this survey every month and they never give this impression on power in the neck.  This bird didn't hold it's bill above level so this is if a bird isn't it doesn't mnean it's not a White billed.  They should be in Summer plumage by next month.  

Bill also got this stunning pic of a Peregrine, it's awesome.