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 (, 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 ( 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)