Tuesday 14 December 2010

Garden Report – 14th December 2010

As the weather changes so do the birds making visits to one's garden or local park. We always notice that it is only when winter arrives that the Coal Tits feel it necessary to visit our feeders, then as things get colder and snow arrives so do the Black-headed Gulls, picking up scraps left on the ground. Our latest achievement this year when the snow had been around for over a week was a Greater Spotted Woodpecker on the peanuts. In the Park the Siskins have arrived back, in good numbers this year, a flock of 10+, along with an influx of Blackbirds & Wrens. Alas no winter thrushes yet, but with another cold front on its way, this winter could be more interesting week by week.
Life bird count: 399. Year bird count: 253. Month bird count: 32.
Photo: Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

Tuesday 7 December 2010

Suffolk – Ipswich Park – 2nd December 2010

Freezing temperatures, snow and winds gusting in, not the worst weather in the country this week but going up to the north Norfolk coast was going to be a difficult sell!. Walking around a town centre park, now that’s easier. There were plenty of birds around, Robins, Thrushes, Tits & Crows and on the water; Mandarin Duck, in wonderful plumage, Mallard, Moorhen & Black-headed Gulls. Even the light wasn’t too bad for a few photographs.
Life bird count: 399. Year bird count: 253. Month bird count: 25.
Photo: Mandarin Duck (Aix galericulata)

Tuesday 30 November 2010

Suffolk – Ipswich – 28th November 2010

As I’m sure you have heard this November there has been a large influx of Waxwings, hopefully leading to what we know as a “waxwing winter”. We went in to town this weekend to get a view on one of the larger flocks reported so far, about 150 birds congregating around the hospital. They were spectacular, and I strongly advise anyone to take the opportunity to view these hugely attractive birds.
Life bird count: 399 Year bird count: 253 Month bird count: 50
Photo: Waxwing (Bombycilla garrulus)

Thursday 25 November 2010

Essex – Harlow Park – October thru November 2010

I thought I’d bring you up to date with bird activity in the park through the autumn months. Firstly Jays, they were very active through October collecting food, mainly acorns. On lunch time walks I got up to counting six individual birds and they were quite confinding wandering around the path sides. The Magpies population has also grown this year and is the most commonly seen bird seen each day. In mid October a large flock of Redwings passed through and just a week ago there were six Bullfinches feeding high in the trees, Out of interest single Bullfinches are relatively easy to see through most of the year. I saw my last Chiffchaff in the last week of October and about two weeks before that some Swifts passed over! Whilst talking flying through, a Ring-necked Parakeet flew across the car only last week. It has to be said that things have now really settled down, only Blackbirds, Robins & Magpies are seen every day, Of big note is that Chaffinch number have dropped beyond belief, none seen this month. In the pond Mallard & Moorhen have both raised broods and Blue Tits & Great Tits are common. Finally all the Butterflies have gone, but what a year, seventeen species in total.
Life bird count: 399 Year bird count: 252 Month bird count: 45
Photo: Dunnock (Prunella modularus)

Saturday 30 October 2010

Essex – Abberton – 24th October 2010

Another great place to start visiting again as winter approaches is the reservoir at Abberton.  It has all ready been buzzing with reports this month of American migrant Sandpipers.

We started by looking south from the Breton Causeway quite a large collection of wildfowl, Pochard, Tufted Duck, Wigeon & Teal.  Looking north it was a different story, the water was very low, exposing a lot of silt, great for feeding waders; Black-tailed Godwit, Redshank, Green Sandpiper, Ruff & Dunlin.  Along with Gulls, Herring, Black-headed & Common.

Moving along to the Layer Causeway there was a different story, on the bank here were fifteen Grey Herons and four or five Little Egrets, inter dispersed with Teal, Canada Geese, Greylag Geese & Egyptian Geese.  On the water there were a number of Great-crested Grebes & Little Grebes.  Flitting through we saw Pied Wagtail & Meadow Pipit.

All round a very busy environment to visit and one not to be overlooked for the rest of the Autumn and Winter months.

Life bird count: 399  Year bird count: 252  Month bird count: 75

Photo: Black-headed Gull (Larus ridibundus)

Monday 18 October 2010

Suffolk – Southwold – 17th October 2010

East Anglia has been buzzing with migrants over the past few weeks, frustratingly we’d not been able to commit a trip for quite a while, but this Sunday we took a run out to Southwold where both Wryneck and Yellow-browed Warbler has recently been reported. Plus there would be an opportunity to do a spot of sea watching off the prom. The main church ground has often produced so good sightings over the years and this weekend was no exception. We arrived and had a brief chat with a few birders walking around about how confiding the Wryneck had been yesterday, then set about scouring the trees for the Yellow-browed Warbler, after a few circuits we picked up two Chiffchaff and a three Goldcrests, then out it popped, showing very well and allowing for a very clean ID. All was well with the world We assumed the Wryneck had moved on during the previous clear night, so after photographing a couple of spiders (much easier than the birds, hence the rather poor record shot enclosed) we took a walk down to the sea front. Set up the scope and scanned the horizon for just under an hour. Several Guillemots passed, a single Gannet and finally a Brent Goose followed by three Scoters one of them a Velvet, with clear white wing patches showing. All was even better with the world!
Life bird count: 399 Year bird count: 252 Month bird count: 54
Photo: Orb Spider (Araneus diadematus); Yellow-browed Warbler (Phylloscopus inornatus)

Thursday 7 October 2010

N. Cyprus – Round-up

So to summarise, we had a ten day break and tallied 83 species (2 lifers). That was birding for about half our time there and to be honest not at the most productive time of the year, that would be in the Spring. With the exception of the Karpas, every site we visited was less than an hour and half drive away from our hotel on the outskirts of Kyrenia.

As you may know, you can not fly directly into Northern Cyprus, which leaves two options, fly via Turkey or fly direct to the south (Larnaca) and get a road transfer. We opted for the first; Pegasus Airline from Stansted to Istanbul then on to Ercan, (both you and your bags stay on the plane at Istanbul). We then hired a car from the airport and self drove ourselves everywhere, (we used Gunray). Accommodation wise we stayed at the Ship Inn (http://www.theshipinn.com), just outside Kyrenia, highly recommended. We self booked everything and had no issues apart from the car not the most reliable or comfortable!

You’ll find driving easy (they drive on the left) and we had no access problems, though the tarmac does run out rather frequently! The folk are very friendly and leave you alone in what is a very beautiful and stress free destination.

We found Steve Cale’s (http://www.steve-cale-artist.co.uk/) book “Where to watch birds in Northern Cyprus“of great value for site locations and thank him kindly for the chat and the supplementary info on a couple of the sites. For a country map we used Insight Travel Map - Cyprus.

Happy to answer questions with more details if you need them.

Life bird count: 398 Year bird count: 245 Month bird count: 92

Photo: Agama Lizard (Agama agama); Violet Dropwing Dragonfly (Trithemis annulata); Common Sandpiper (Actitis hypoleucos)

Monday 4 October 2010

N. Cyprus – Haspolat Sewage Works – 12th & 14th September 2010

When we were on the Karpas we bumped into another (resident) birder. Naturally conversations led to other areas to bird and the gentleman concerned said that this sewage works was one of, if not the, most important site in North Cyprus. Armed with this expectation we visited on two separate days and for its size and habitat it proved to meet every promise.

Although a controlled area we found access easy and undisturbed, once within the boundary the site is really all about several square pools containing water in various states of purification, you can drive in-between these pools on the grid of interconnecting banks.

On the margins of each pool there were a great variety of waders including Spur-winged Plover (a new bird for me), Greenshank, Spotted Redshank, Common Sandpiper, Wood Sandpiper, Marsh Sandpiper, Curlew Sandpiper, Dunlin, Little Stint, Ruff, Snipe, Black-winged Stilt & Ringed Plover. On the far pools containing the cleanest water there was some wildfowl, namely Mallard, Shoveller, Garganey, Teal & Gadwall with a lot of Little Grebes. Then in the adjacent fields we found Roller, Yellow Wagtail, Linnet, Reed Warbler, Black Francolin & Hooded Crow. Finally over during both days we saw Little Egret, White-winged Black Tern, Kingfisher & Bee-eater. Plus great views of at least 4 species of Dragonfly, identification issues here, but we are working on it.

An absolutely brilliant site if you have a car to use as a hide and some patience for photography. It can be difficult to find a place to scope from because it is very open and once you get out of your car, things get very flighty!

Life bird count: 398 Year bird count: 245 Month bird count: 92

Photo: Spur-winged Plover (Vanellus spinosus); Yellow Wagtail (Motacilla flava); Slender Skimmer (Orthetrum sabina)

Tuesday 28 September 2010

N. Cyprus – Karpas – 9th & 10th September 2010

One of the key attractions to visiting N. Cyprus as a birder is the large expanse of unspoilt, largely unpopulated, scrub on the east called the Karpas. This area points out to the north east corner of the Mediterranean as a large spit of land and as such is obviously very attractive, as a stop over point, for birds migrating in spring and autumn to and from Eastern Europe.

We decided on this visit that whilst the area can be reached in a day from Kyrenia, it would be highly advantageous to base ourselves very close the night before and hit the ground at sun rise. So we took a room for the night in a costal hotel near Yeni Erenkoy.

Our plans did not disappoint; on the trip across we had seen many Lesser Grey Shrikes, Thekla Larks, three inbound Common Buzzards and an echelon of Purple Herons.

On our morning on the Karpas, (we reached the Cape at about 7 O’clock) we saw Black Francolin, Roller, Chuka, Whinchat Northern Wheatear, Cyprus Wheatear, Isabelline Wheatear, Masked Shrike, Bee Eater and several “Phylloscopus” warblers, mainly Willows, but a fairly positive sighting of Wood.

Driving back there were several “over fly’s”, namely Sparrowhawk, Hen Harrier & Little Egrets. The roads may be unmade and the temperatures get unbearably hot, but this area is a must if you bird this island.

Life bird count: 397 Year bird count: 240 Month bird count: 70

Photo: Isabelline Wheatear (Oenanthe isabellina); Lesser Grey Shrike (Lanius minor)

Sunday 26 September 2010

Suffolk – Bawdsey (East Lane) - 25th September 2010

I'm afraid I'm going to ask you to excuse the brief diversion from my sequence  of reports on our N. Cyprus trip, but this weekend we did a run out to see and hopefully photograph the recently reported Red-necked Grebe at Bawdsey. 

I have to say this was totally successful and well worth the early start to get the light and be the only folk there.  As you can see the bird is a juvenile and clearly displaying its markings.  Also on the pits were Garganey, Redshank, Tufted Duck & Wigeon. 

Further down the road to towards the Deben estuary we saw our first Redwing of the autum.

Life bird count: 396   Year bird count: 247  Month bird count: 105 

Photo: Red-necked Grebe (Podiceps grisegena)

Thursday 23 September 2010

N. Cyprus – Acapulco Reservoir - 8th September 2010

Cyprus is a notoriously dry country in summer and reservoirs can run very low. In my experience this means that where these areas of water in another country would be sure places to see birds, the erratic nature of the habitat year to year means they are equally unpredictable for birding and even when there is some water, birds will not naturally appear. We found Acapulco to still contain a lot of water and on it were quite a few Little Grebes, a Black-necked Grebe, Mallard, Moorhen & Coot. In the margins there was a pair of Grey Herons, Kingfishers and at least one Black-winged Stilt.
Surrounding the reservoir there is a lot of scrub, which we found good for Cyprus Wheatear, Red-backed Shrike, Goldfinches, over ten Turtle Doves and a Cyprus Warbler. Also of note, were several Dragonflies a common feature of this trip which made for some good photographic opportunities. From here we headed up into the mountains, which were very productive for Chuka, Blue Rock Thrush, more Cyprus Wheatears & Spotted Flycatcher, not to mention the excellent Buffavento restaurant where we indulged in a lunch time half meze, totally awesome and recommended!
Life bird count: 396 Year bird count: 233 Month bird count: 48
Photo: Red-backed Shrike (Lanius collurio); Violet Dragonfly (Trithemis annulata)

Tuesday 21 September 2010

N. Cyprus – Cape Kormakitis 7th September 2010

With the time difference waking us up quite early and our Hotel balcony giving us a view over an expanse of scrub (“bondo”) it was easy to sit out with a pair of bins and see what turned up with the sun. House Sparrows feeding in a freshly dug trench, a Willow Warbler picking at caterpillars in the olive tree tops, an Eastern Olivaceous Warbler “tecking” away, a lot lower near the scrub line, Hooded Crows, Jackdaws, Magpies & Red-rumped Swallows flying through. A great start to the day. Having sorted the car out, put all the gear together, taken breakfast and done a little shopping we decided to take a run out to the far west tip to Cape Kormakitis. It would be an en route look see, with the only specific place to look out for being the small watering hole at Livera. We saw Hoopoe, Turtle Dove, countless Rock Doves, a large flock of Herons out at sea, a distant Harrier (too far way to identify further) and a single Black-eared Wheatear. As for the water hole… nothing! We returned in the early afternoon, stopping at a shore line restaurant for a plate of sheftalia.
Life bird count: 396 Year bird count: 226 Month bird count: 32
Photo: Willow Warbler (Phylloscopus trochilus)

Saturday 18 September 2010

N. Cyprus – Late Summer 6th to 16th September 2010

We’ve been away for our "summers" and this time we chose to return to Northern Cyprus.

With some insight as to where to go and what to expect from our last trip, we found that Steve Cale had documented his recent annual visits in a book, so after speaking to him and obtaining a copy we felt well prepared.

So once again I ask you to stay tuned whilst I sort the photographs, read through the log that my partner patiently keeps for us every day and I’ll write about what we saw over the next few entries.

Life bird count: 396 Year bird count: 224 Month bird count: 19

Photo: Agama Lizard (Agama…)

Thursday 2 September 2010

Suffolk – Bawdsey (East Lane) – 29th August 2010

There was a bit of a blow on this weekend, always good for bringing in the odd migrant and a few had been reported on the north Norfolk coast. Would the bushes at this spot on the Suffolk coast be productive? Well on arrival there must have been over a hundred Swallow (mixed with a few House Martins and Sand Martins) taking a feed and rest stop on their way back down. On the pits there were four Garganey, all in eclipse and feeding up, plus quite few Little Grebes which I suspect had bred here this year. Looking out to sea there was a distant Gannet, a few Sandwich Terns going through and a single Little Gull. Oh and a gathering of Scoter, hard to sea in the waves. As for the bushes, nothing going I’m afraid.

Life bird count: 396 Year bird count: 224 Month bird count: 85
Photo: Barn Swallow (Hirundo rustica)

Monday 23 August 2010

Norfolk – Cley & Walsey Hills – 14th August 2010

We arrived at Coast Guards just before 8, plenty of folk around and a fair north easterly with good visibility; conditions were good for sea watching. We quickly picked up quite a few Sandwich Terns feeding just off shore, then some Gannets of various ages going east. Way out there was some Gull activity and a closer look produced a couple of Arctic Skuas and a Great Skua harassing them for their catch. Then going past east again, was a juvenile Kittiwake and a Fulmar. After a couple of hours we headed along to the reserve and spent sometime looking out over the scrapes, it was nice to see Green and Wood Sandpipers, Little Stint and a couple of Spotted Redshanks, along with the regular Ringed Plovers, Redshank, Ruff, Avocet and Black-tailed Godwit. Finally we walked along to Walsey Hills and low and behold there was a Crane grazing in the field opposite with an Egyptian Goose and then finally from the Hill I could see the eight or so Spoonbills feeding on their favoured north scrape at Cley. Good day!
Life bird count: 396 Year bird count: 221 Month bird count: 75
Photo: Spoonbill (Platalea leucorodia)

Thursday 19 August 2010

Essex – Harlow Park – 5th August 2010

And finally....... back to birds soon (promise)

Life bird count: 396 Year bird count: 214 Month bird count: 17

Photo: Ringlet (Aphantopus hyperantus); Peacock (Inachis io)

Friday 13 August 2010

Essex – Harlow Park – 4th August 2010

.....and a couple more

Life bird count: 396 Year bird count: 214 Month bird count: 17

Photo: Common Blue (Polyommarus icarus); Comma (Polygonum c-album)

Monday 9 August 2010

Essex – Harlow Park – 3rd August 2010

Thought I’d do a couple of posts focusing on the Butterflies seen in the Park over recent weeks, they do appear to be quite diverse and prolific this year. In the past two weeks I have seen Peacock, Speckled Wood, Small White, Comma, Ringlet, Gatekeeper, Meadow Brown, Common Blue, Essex Skipper and Grayling.
Life bird count: 396 Year bird count: 214 Month bird count: 17
Photo: Speckled Wood (Parage aegeria); Essex Skipper (Thymelicus lincols)

Monday 26 July 2010

Norfolk – Cley – 17th July 2010

Heading on around the coast, we draw into the NWT reserve at Cley, always a good stalking ground this time of year and we were not to be disappointed. Managing to time our arrival impeccably, so that we were at the most exposed point en route to the hides whilst a freak thunder storm let rip, we stumbled in like two drowned rats. Out on the scrapes there were tens of Black-tailed Godwits, several Avocets, Redshanks, Ringed and Little Ringed Plovers. Over were three Marsh Harriers, which put up four Whimbrels, and a couple of Little Egrets. In the deeper northern lagoons were Shellduck, Gadwall and a lone Curlew Sandpiper.
Life bird count: 396 Year bird count: 211 Month bird count: 75
Photo: Avocet (Recurvirostra avosetta); Little Egret (Egretta garzetta)

Friday 23 July 2010

Norfolk – Titchwell – 17th July 2010

Bit of a twitch today, let me explain. There had been a Buff-breasted Sandpiper reported on the fresh marsh for some days and this is one of the regular North American migrants that has eluded me over the years. So off we jolly well went! It wasn’t exactly a turn up and see scenario but it was close, to its credit the bird moved slowly through some cover, but the tiniest bit of patience and a bit of opportunists positioning and there it was, in the scope and text book looking. So what else was there to see; several Knot still in Red summer plumage, Golden Plover, Grey Plover and Dunlin equally summery. Out at sea there were a number of Eider, Great-crested Grebe and a Fulmar flying through.
Life bird count: 396 Year bird count: 211 Month bird count: 75
Photo: Wren (Troglodytes troglodytes)

Tuesday 20 July 2010

France – Paris – 2nd – 5th July 2010

We recently had a very extravagant long weekend in Paris, whilst most of the time was taken up with culture and eating, I can report on a few bird observations. Huge numbers of Swifts are very noticeable in the skies all over the city, Gulls, Cormorants and the occasional Pied Wagtail are common place up and down the river Seine. We then spent a morning in the “Le Bois de Boulogne”. I genuinely thought this would be quite productive, alas we can only report breeding Kestrel, Chiffchaff, Song Thrush, Coot & Moorhen. But hey! Who goes to Paris to bird watch?
Life bird count: 395 Year bird count: 209 Month bird count: 32
Photo: Coot (Fulica atra)

Sunday 27 June 2010

Suffolk – Minsmere – 19th June 2010

Arrive as early as you can is my advice for this premier RSPB site, especially in the summer months.

As we stroll down from the car park, breeding Sand Martins are ever present in the old car park and a speculative Peregrine Falcon hangs around overhead for a brief while, before stooping down on to the reed beds. Further down Cetti's Warbler sings and we briefly see it flash across the bushes. Then as we have the reed beds each side there is a very confiding Sedge Warbler.

We stop at the east hide, the mix of very young Black-headed Gulls & Avocets is interesting to say the least also a couple of Spotted Redshanks, a gathering of Barnacle Geese, odd! Ringed Plover & Common Terns. Walking on and around to the South Hide, two Arctic Terns, I'm thinking its early to see them this far south, they are well mixed in with some Sandwich Terns.

We finally end up at the Island Mere, Reed Bunting & Bearded Tit dart around gathering food and two Marsh Harriers get quite close. Such a diverse site. On the way home we stop at Sizewell for a peek at the breeding Kittiwakes, pity they are just too far to photograph, must get a boat!

Life bird count: 395 Year bird count: 209 Month bird count: 80

Photo: Sedge Warbler (Acrocephalus schoenobaenus)

Tuesday 15 June 2010

Suffolk – Trimley Marsh – 5th June 2010

Walking in from the Levington Marina side, you first come across Loompit Trout Lake. Infamous for its large roost (now nesting) colony of Cormorants, allegedly culled in response to their large appetite for Trout! On the lake there are breeding Mute Swans, Mallard, Pochard & Tufted Duck. We proceed past the lake and walk the footpath to the Marsh, Whitethroat are common place in the trees, along with Chaffinch & Chiffchaff. On the first inlet there are Oystercatchers, Ringed Plover & Shelduck. Finally reaching the reed bed we see Reed Bunting & Reed Warbler and there is Skylark singing over. Its evening time and the sun is on the way down, perfect! On our return there is opportunity to photograph a young Pied Wagtail as it looks for food on the foreshore.
Life bird count: 395 Year bird count: 205 Month bird count: 61
Photo: Pied Wagtail (Motacilla alba)

Friday 11 June 2010

Cheshire – Chester Area – 3rd June 2010

I recently had a week in this area because of work commitments, so never being one to miss an opportunity, I took stock of the birds in the vicinity. High numbers of Swifts, House Martins & Swallows were very apparent, also Kestrels & Buzzards frequently overflew the fields, both disturbing the peace with the swallows and the later upsetting Gulls in the area as well. Along the near by railway I saw Blackcap, Whitethroat & Linnet. Whilst on the canal close to the centre of town were breeding Mallard, Moorhen, Wren & Grey Wagtail.
Life bird count: 395 Year bird count: 205 Month bird count: 48 Photo: Common Whitethroat (Sylvia communis)

Monday 31 May 2010

Cambridgeshire – Ouse Washes – 22nd May 2010

This is a pretty unfamiliar site for me, we'd been here a few years back in deepest winter, but it was quite late in the afternoon and the fading light had restricted our exploration.

Seeing it now was totally different, Swallows all around, Sedge and Reed Warblers singing from the river bank and on the Wash itself Little Egrets, Heron, left over Wigeon & Whooper Swan!, Mute Swan, Lapwing & Redshank.

Of note also were the number of Dragonflies emerging. We saw Hairy Dragonfly, Four -spotted Chaser and Scarce Chaser.

Life bird count: 395 Year bird count: 204 Month bird count: 86

Photo: Little Egret (Egretta garzetta); Scarce Chaser (Libellula fulva)

Monday 24 May 2010

Suffolk – Lakenheath Fen – 22nd May 2010

This time of year you can keep it simple and go where you know certain species are going to be, this often results in exceptional views of birds that otherwise you might only get distantly or fleeting. Last week we did this for Nightingale at Fingringhoe and this week is was to be Hockwold. This site is famed for Golden Oriole, but actually more certain for views of Cuckoo, Hobby and Grasshopper Warbler. We’d seen plenty of Hobbies a couple of weeks back but only heard Cuckoo. This weekend, with the Warblers now nesting the Cuckoos were much more likely to be about in the open, we were not disappointed, getting good views of three birds. The bonus though was a Grasshopper Warbler, a reeling bird just off the path giving great views. On the visit we also saw tens of Reed & Sedge Warblers, Whitethroat, Reed Bunting, Sparrowhawk, Marsh Harrier & Common Tern.
Life bird count: 395 Year bird count: 203 Month bird count: 82
Photo: Grasshopper Warbler (Locustella naevia)

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Essex – Harlow Park – 19th May 2010

Thought I’d keep you abreast of the spring effect in the park. It is safe to say now that all the winter visitors (Redwing, Fieldfare etc), have been gone for about six weeks. The residents have been breading, Magpies most prolifically, there must be getting on for ten pairs, which is not good news for the passerines. Surprise breeders are a pair of Grey Wagtails. With respect to migrant, well I’ve seen Swift, Blackcap, Chiffchaff & Lesser Whitethroat, however all but the Swift & Chiffchaff appear to have moved on. Maybe this is due to all the Magpies being around. On some nearby water, both Moorhen and Mallard have breed, plus I saw a Terrapin sunning its self. The butterflies have been a great surprise, within 4 weeks I have seen Peacock, Brimstone, Orange Tip, Speckled Wood, Small & Large Whites, Small Tortishell and Comma.
Life bird count: 395 Year bird count: 200 Month bird count: 75 Photo: European Robin (Erithacus rubecula)

Monday 17 May 2010

Essex – Fingringhoe – 15th May 2010

This Essex Wildlife Trust reserve is bordered by the river Colne on one side, open salt marsh on another and has rural Essex to the west, is often over looked and to be honest not the easiest place to find, but it does have one of the best visitors centres in East Anglia.
This time of year it is a prime place to see Nightingales, we encountered six singing birds and had great views of three of them. Adding to the woodland birds we also saw Blackcap, Bullfinch, Whitethroat & Chiffchaff. On the estuary there were gatherings of Black-tailed Godwit, Shelduck & Canada Goose, from the reed beds Sedge Warbler.
Life bird count: 395 Year bird count: 200 Month bird count: 74
Photo: Common Nightingale (Luscinia megarhynchos)

Friday 14 May 2010

Suffolk – Lakenheath Fen – 1st May 2010

On our return from the Norfolk coast we decide to drop in to this RSPB reserve and take the long walk right around, rather than our normal “spot the Golden Oriole!” (Ah see that branch… that’s where it was!). We had great views of four Hobbies high above the trees. Heard several calling Cuckoos. Saw Reed & Sedge Warblers, along with quite a lot of wildfowl on the water including nesting Great Crested Grebe, Moorhen & Coot. The Oriole’s… not a chance :-) Life bird count: 395 Year bird count: 199 Month bird count: 67
Photo: Chaffinch (Fringilla coelebs)

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Norfolk – Snettisham – 1st May 2010

We did this visit at the same time last year and found it perfect for seeing the spring arrivals settling into their territories and pairing up.

As you wander off the coastal path into the reeds and small tree areas there is an abundance of passerines calling and moving around. Willow Warbler, Whitethroat, Sedge Warbler & Reed Warbler together with resident Linnet, Stonechat & Reed Bunting.

Moving along and locating wetter areas it is not long before you pick up the reeling call of the Grasshopper Warbler, then it's a sort of stake out between you and the sound in order to get a glimpse.

The site is not all about breeding birds though, in late April and early May there is always quite a large passage through and on this day Whinchat were there in numbers along with Wheatear.

Life bird count: 395 Year bird count: 198 Month bird count: 64

Photo: Northern Wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe)

Tuesday 4 May 2010

Norfolk – Titchwell – 11th April 2010

I’m now way behind reporting trips this year, so after this retrospective report from RSPB Titchwell I’ll try and get myself at least into the right month! This was a great day, plenty to see and great to get the feel of an English spring and all the changes in behaviour it brings. Ducks chasing each other across the reed beds, waders in summer plumage, warblers singing in the trees and a large flock of winter ducks moving through to their breeding grounds up north. Species included; Avocet, Black-tailed Godwit, Scoter, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, Shoveler and Egyptian Goose.
Life bird count: 394 Year bird count: 190 Month bird count: 71
Photo: Shoveler (Anas clypeata)

Wednesday 28 April 2010

Morocco – Round-up

Here is one last Moroccan post to summarise the trip: Travel arrangements; we took a Thompson flight out of Gatwick to Agadir, booked it late in 2009 to get the best deal. With respect to the car hire again we booked in advance but paid when we got there, using the internet we used “Budget” and picked it up at the airport without any problem, though they do take a rather large reservation on your credit card. Driving is not a major issue; vehicles in the towns will go anywhere they choose and motor bikes will come at you on the wrong side of the road, but every thing tends to happen slower than in the UK so you can react accordingly. For Hotels, we used the Petit Sued in Agardir, very friendly, clean, great breakfast and very good value. In the northern Sahara we use the Fort Bou Jerif’s a little more expensive, but look at their web site, they live up to everything they say and more! That’s about it really, change your money out there and only Sterling is accepted in most banks, though cash machine are much more available than last year. Travellers cheques were not good news. Take an international driving licence, we were stopped twice and the IDL did the trick both times. Pay the man who looks after your car when it’s parked on the street at night. Take sweets or pens for the children you will meet everywhere and buy a packet of cigarettes for the kind men who talk to you whilst you are scoping or taking photo’s for the most part they mean very well.
Life bird count: 394 Year bird count: 183 Month bird count: 148
Photo: Cattle Egret (Bubulcus ibis)

Thursday 15 April 2010

Morocco – Return to Agadir – 26th March 2010

After a great day out in the desert it was time to return north to Agadir, so after having a wonder around the grounds, seeing Spectacled Warbler, Spanish Sparrow, Yellow Wagtail & Orphean Warbler we decided on a coastal route back and headed off. Once on the outskirts of Guelmin we too the North west coast bound road to Sidi Ifni and then the coast road up to Aglou-Plage before having to head inland again to the main drag up to Agadir. Along the stretch to Sidi Ifni had distant views of Barbary Falcon and regular Thekla Larks, but it wasn’t till we were looking on the Oued Sous that we saw anything else new and that was a White Stork, by the wash away bridge at Inezgane. It was then a short drive through town back to the hotel.
Life bird count: 396 Year bird count: 176 Month bird count: 142.
Photo: Thekla Lark (Galerida theklae); Spainish Sparrow (Passer hispaniolensis)

Monday 12 April 2010

Morocco – Fort Bou Jerif’s Desert Surrounds – 25th March 2010

For this day, as most of the area to be covered was at best by track, we decided to ask the Hotel to arrange for a local driver to take us out. So by nine in the morning we were enjoying the rest from actually driving and aboard a Landrover heading generally towards the sea.

Crested Larks, Red-rumped Wheatear and Black-eared Wheatear were abundant. We soon reach the river, surprisingly little to see, Ringed Plover, Oystercatcher and Grey Heron. By lunch we were at Plage Blanche with Sandwich Tern & Yellow-legged Gull on the shore line and Cormorant & Gannets offshore.

In the afternoon we had Bar-tailed Lark, Temminck’s Lark and Rufous Bush Robin, along with many Camels before we started to head back with views of a Booted Eagle on the way and Richard’s Pipit on the track side.

Life bird count: 395 Year bird count: 172 Month bird count: 138

Photo: Red-rumped Wheatear (Oenanthe moesta); Black-eared Wheatear (Oenanthe hispanica)