Trev Starbucks Garden 19/06/17
First Red Kite sighting in Peckleton on Sat June 10th at 17:30. Also have had amazing activity in the garden: Adult GS Woodpeckers feeding 1 male and 2 female young.
2 families of Robin's, 2 families of Greenfinche's, 2 families of Chaffinche's, 1 family each, of Coal, Great & Blue Tit's. 1 family of House Sparrow's, 1 family of Song Thrush's, 1 family of Blackbird's. Also a juvenile Nuthatch and a pair of Pheasant with 6 chicks.
In view of the threat to our native birds, I find that this obvious sign of successful breeding amazing and welcome. Spring-watch eat your heart out, 'cos it's all happening in Peckleton!!!
Thanks Trev Starbuck
Norfolk and the Nightjars 31/05/17
We are not getting any younger and when I take these afternoon / late evening trips it really does begin to show. So with the clock on Sapcote church striking 12 ... the aged Galaxy full to bursting and a following MPV we set off for our trip to North Norfolk. Our first stop, after collecting Malc Almey, was the Dartford's domain at Kelling Heath. Unfortunately nobody remembered to let them know we were coming so they threw a wobbly and didn't show up ! but we did hear one call !!!
The next location was equally quiet with the Nightingales having received a tip off from the Dartford's of our afternoon plan ! At this point Malc and myself were starting to sweat a little .Even on our way up the coast we were undecided which way to go . Fortunately our decision to make a surprise visit to see one of our rarest birds presented us with excellent views of both male and female passing food .
After collecting our fish and chips we arrived at the final location , Dersingham Bog. So with that memorable result at the last location we were hoping for a "grand finale ". Sure the Nightjars came out ,gave us all a decent show and with the Woodcocks acting in a supporting role finally we had a great, if not a very late, end to a very rewarding afternoon.
Thanks to- Malc, Fred Burton, Heather Zotov, Madeleine Freeman , Nev Weston , Julie Brown, Terry & Alma Peasgood and finally Ellen Sandeman.
Thanks also to the RSPB Monty's team for their dedicated hard work monitoring the very sensitive site.
Lakenheath and Minsmere 24/05/17
It's not often now that I get the chance to get out there and see or hear some of our rarer species. So off I went to try and catch up with the Savi's and Marsh Warbler with five birders from the club. The mystical A14 tried it's best to turn our efforts into a disaster but of course, and with our determination , failed ! Minsmere and Lakenheath were the targets and achieved in style... even though it was damn hot ! Crippling views of Bittern , Marsh Harrier, Hobby, Green Woodpecker , the now expected Sedge, Reed and Cetti's and just the one reel from the Savi's warbler were the highlights at Minsmere.
Lakenheath was definitely a challenge for us advanced years birders now turned marathon "Twitchers". From the Visitor Centre to the singing Marsh Warbler, according to my friends phone , was 3.8 miles and in 24 degrees caused just a little grief to some. However "Cuckoo City" lived up to it's name with sightings of at least six different birds on route before finally catching up the ...sing anything it wants... Marsh Warbler in a nettle / bramble bed by the main river... and boy was I glad about that.
71 Species, 3 tubes of sun cream, 10 bottles of water and fish and chips in Lakenheath, sums up the day. Not our best but still worth every hot mile, well I thought so anyway ! Ken R
Working trip to the Bungalow
Just returned from a flying visit to Norfolk ,( work on the bungalow ), and guess what ! Little Gull, Little Stint, Nightjar, Woodcock, Barn Owl, Dotterel, a sneaky peek at Montys and two singing Nightingales all put in an appearance... How strange !!
Reservoir Sunday 14/05/2017
I decided, after a pretty challenging month, to spend a day
on my own in one of our best , shared county locations... Stanford Reservoir.
The county boundaries of Northamptonshire and Leicestershire divide this stunning site almost down the middle and because of the extensive alterations being carried out, adjacent to the dam, I was only allowed access from the Welford Rd entrance.
( Birders please note—No public access to the
Stanford end , even with a permit )
The reservoir itself has been drained, by at least two
thirds of its normal level to expose very large areas of dried mud flats. This
in turn has created a whole new habitat for the resident and passing birds and
my list from today certainly reflects that.
The surprise were the two Arctic
Terns that joined up with the Common Terns for
20 min's and then flew out over the dam. And the disappointments were no Little
Gull or Common Scoter but then again you
just can’t win them all…or can you?
Mute Swan, Mallard , Common Pochard,
Gadwall, Shelduck, Tufted Duck, Red Crested Pochard, Coot, Moorhen, Greylag
Goose, Canada Goose, Red Legged Partridge, Cormorant, Little Egret, Great
Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Black Headed Gull, Common Gull, Lesser Black Backed
Gull, Herring Gull, Common Tern, Arctic Tern (2), Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon,
Sparrowhawk, Kestrel , Peregrine, Common Buzzard, Red Kite, Carrion Crow,
Jackdaw, Rook, Black Tailed Godwit, Curlew, Common Sandpiper, Little Ringed
Plover, Ringed Plover, Sanderling (3),
Common Swift , Barn Swallow, House Martin, Sand Martin, Cuckoo, Green Woodpecker, Great
Spotted Woodpecker, White Wagtail, Pied Wagtail, Grey Wagtail , Yellow Wagtail,
Kingfisher, House Sparrow, Tree Sparrow, Robin , Dunnock, Greenfinch, Chaffinch,
Linnet, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, Goldfinch , Blue Tit, Great Tit, Long Tailed
Tit, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit, Willow Warbler,
Whitethroat , Lesser Whitethroat , Reed Warbler, Sedge Warbler, Blackcap,
Seventy three species! Not too shabby, on my own, in five hours! Ken R
We started our last days birding on Islay with a
fruitless trip down to Port Ellen with the hope of locating that illusive
After an hours wait, still nothing, so we headed on
to Bunnahabhain and Coal ila.
These two locations gave us three Golden
Eagles plus two White Tailed Sea Eagles,
hunting with some success over on the Jura side of the sound,
and excellent photo opportunities supplied the
resident Otter !
My plan was then to head for Ardnave and the Chough.
On route every flock of geese was checked, still
clinging to the belief that the Cackling would be somewhere in them.
At Ardnave we decided to walk through the farm and
head for the area we know the Chough like to
perform their aerobatic displays.
And ,as always they didn’t disappoint with forty
plus letting the icy blast know just who’s in charge !
The return crossing home was in flat calm conditions
much to the delight of one of our members who really struggles with ocean waves.
We were also pleased with our only sighting of Black
Guillemot with three missing the bow of the ferry, “Isle Or Arran”,
by a mere metre !
A big thanks to the fantastic Isle Of Islay and all
the people who have accepted us into their lives and supported us during our
brief visits over the years.
The memories are now engraved on the members of
Burbagebirders for all time.
Also thanks to Ian and Margaret Brooke for their
dedication to the Islay blog and that bottle of “First Cask” Kilchoman
Thank you all Ken W Reeves
Goose Chase 2014 7/12/14
to the Scilly Isles
Deeping and Frampton Marsh.
Fred & Linda Burton plus Chris Newey 03/03/13
The weather conditions were dry and bright. Average temperature 8°C.
4) LONG EARED OWL (2)
Great Crested Grebe.
White Front Geese.
Grey Lag Geese.
Red Legged Partridge.
Lesser Black backed Gull.
Black headed Gull.
Scilly special report 2012
From Neil Glenn live !
Sat / Sunday 6th / 7th October (at last)
The boat took us straight to Old Grimsby and we were soon
being told by Dick Filby where o stand to see the bird. Overnight rain had
flooded the area, so wellies, boots and in some cases plastic bags were donned
in preparation! It was very windy, and I was worried the bird wouldn't show.
Well it DID show but kept very low in the weeds. It was a strikingly pale bird
with an obvious long, pale bill (no black tipo the lower mandible). I was
worried about the longish primary projection but this seems not to be of concern
according to recent literature. It looked like an elongated Booted
Warbler, very pale underparts but it didn't move its tail. Some were happy it
was a Sykes's while one couple took one look at it and wandered off muttering,
"Booted". The debate will continue...
Meanwhile, after several good views, I caught the next boat
back to Mary's to meet my wife who had flown in this morning (her arms must be
tired!). The only other notable bird today was a
Yellow-browed Warbler at Content Farm. The weather closed in and most
people retired to the shelter of cafes and flats!
The following day was a very dull one. The Buff-bellied
Pipit was finally relocated on the airfield but because of the blustery
conditions, it was very mobile. I failed to see it up there and was getting a
soaking on the way back to my coage at Porth Hellick. Suddenly, a small flock of
pipits landed in front of me in a field at Carn Friars and there facing me was
the Buff-bellied!!! It then flew towards Porth Hellick Down and wasn't seen
again today. I got 'home' and tried to dry off. It belted it down all night, so
as I have said before, I hope it brings some new birds in (it brought down a Grey-cheeked
Thrush on Agnes yesterday but that is proving elusive too).
Brought to you by kind Permission of The Country
Guesthouse who are allowing me to use their computer whenever I am passing.
Birders' specials now on sale daily (pies/pasties, etc) until the season ends at
the end of October.
Also, apologies for any typos but I am typing this without the aid of my reading gss. It will still make more sense than any of Ken's messages, though!!!!
Ken's comment. How the Bloody
Hell does he know my messages don't make sense. He can't read them without his
Sunday 7th October
No news from the our intrepid informer today but I know he has moved locations losing the magic WEB.
Migration is now in full swing with
some fantastic birds gracing our archipelago in the last few days.
Strong winds from the south west and
buckets of rain have sent species reeling around in circles.
At last our beloved Scilly’s is
catching fire, with Ortolan Bunting, Buff Breasted
Sandpiper, Dotterel, Yellow Browed Warblers,
SYKES WARBLER (only the 3rd for the UK ) Lapland Bunting, Firecrest,Wryneck and plenty of passing seabirds.
And now just arrived
today Grey Cheeked Thrush
on St Agnes,
on St Agnes,Marsh Harrier on Samson, American Buff Bellied Pipit St Mary's
and Red Throated Pipit on St Martin's
Other Western locations particularly
Ireland have come good with Belted Kingfisher,
Myrtle Warbler and the fabulous Eastern
This is certainly looking good for
our week on the Scilly’s.!
Apologises to all those who are not
with us but don’t worry I’ll soon GRIP you all off when we return
Keep On Birding Ken R
Friday 5th October
A very wet night and a very wet day. There were new
arrivals of Goldcrests, Blackbirds and Song Thrushes,
so my hopes were high something coming in with them.
The day was spent scouring every small field and hedgerow
for a good bird. And trying to keep dry. The best we could do was 13
Snipes and a Grey Wagtail. When most of the
group had given up and returned to the guesthouse to dry off, I decided to have
one last walk down Holy Vale to Porth Hellick. I heard two Yellow-browed
Warblers and the Great
Spotted Woodpecker. The loop trail was very quiet but I flushed the Rose-coloured
Starling out of a hedgerow. I finally managed to get crippling views of
this elusive bird, down to a few yards!
I had just sat down at the guesthouse when the MEGA alert
sounded: SYKE'S WARBLER TRESCO. It was now too late
for the boats to leave and all panic broke out to sort out arrangements for
tomorrow. My group are leaving on Saturday!!! And so to a restless night for me
wondering if this lifer for me will still be there in the morning (though if the
weather stays like this it wn't be going anywhere apart from the Great Tick List
in the Sky. First boat is at 8.30am and I will be on it!!!!
Incidentally, cafe news is as follows: Old Town is open
until late in Oct, except for Saturdays, The Kaffehaus will be open with
birders' specials 'until at least Oct 23rd. juliet's is open, as is the golf
course clubhouse. Carn Vean, Polreath, Longstones are closed and I think
Tolman's closes at the end of this week. If you are planning to use the shuttle
bus to the heliport from Penzance railway station, don't bother because they
have stopped running but didn't tell anyone!! Just about sums them up really...
The Nottingham Lowlister
Thursday 4th October
As we passed Martin's, we espied the Common
Scoter we had found yesterday. As the boat passed, it took to the air and
was immediately attacked by the resident Peregrine!!!
It dived back down and escaped with its life. A dramatic start to the day!
Gulls were soon coming to the bread being shovelled out the
back of the boat, mostly Herring and GBB. A Kittiwake
joined the throng, followed by an immature Little
Gull, Next up were two Grey
Phalaropes in flight, followed by the first Sooty
Shearwater of the day. It had been a good morning but birding soon died
down. No birds were with us while we fished for fresh bait, though one or two of
the boatload added their own loads to the sea!
A quiet afternoon saw another couple of Sooties and four Great
Skuas plus fleeting glimpses of Harbour Porpoises. As we passed St.
Martin's again, there were quite a few Grey Seals on the rocks plus the
Peregrine wondering where the Scoter was. All in all, not a bad day's birding.
On dry land (where humans should be!!), we met many
bored-looking birders who had seen nothing all day. It seems our pet Ortolan has
done a bunk but the Buff-breast and Dotterel are
still cosying up to each other on Peninnis: aaaah, bless. Oh, and the WBW is
still showing well on Martin's.
The Nottinghamshire Lowlister
Wednesday 3rd October
A strange coloured, orangey peachy sky greeted us at dawn. The weather was trying to decide which way to go right through breakfast, and then made its mind up to rain just as we set off into Hugh Town!! The boat trip to St. Martin's was a bit damp to say the least.
We arrived and walked up to Rose Villa where the Western
Bonelli's Warbler had been showing for a couple of days. The rain stopped
and we waited for the bird to show in its favoured garden. It wasn't looking too
promising until after about twenty minutes out popped this subtly beautiful
Phyllosc. It is a species fieldguides never do justice too: it is a lovely bird!
The sun was now out and birds were feeding voraciously. We
spent the rest of the day exploring this large island. We first found a female
type Common Scoter off Lower Town and then a Tree
Pipit and Lapland Bunting on Tinkler's Hill. Every small bulb field was
scrutinised for goodies lurking in the hedgerows. We didn't find anything
special but I have no doubt there is something on there!!
We had another mouth watering view of the Bonelli's before
heading to the quay. As we reached the cricket pitch, it started to bucket down
with rain again!! Some of us saw the Pied Flycatcher
while others sheltered before boarding the even wetter boat back to Mary's. We
had missed nothing but a Red-breasted Flycatcher on
mainland and there was also a rumour of a Baird's
Sandpiper that didn't seem to come to much. Maybe tomorrow, or shall I go
on the Pelagic instead?!
The Nottinghamshire Lowlister
Tuesday 2nd October
A blustery, dark-cloudy morning that promised rain.
However, it soon brightened, so we made our way through Holy Vale. A Spotted
Flycatcher was a decent start and Goldcrests called
from every ivy-covered tree but they were moving very quickly. As we were
reaching the end of the Porth Hellick loop trail, news came that the Rosy
Starling was showing just a few yards away. We increased pace to find the place
deserted!! We waited a few minutes and the bird hopped onto the top of the
bracken, showed briefly but then flew out of sight again. We never did see the
mysterious birder who called it in!
Yesterday's Buff-breasted Sandpipers
and Dotterel were relocated on Peninnis, quite a walk from our current
position but being as we had dipped last night, we were determined to see them!
It was wild and windy on top and the birds were hunkered down. There was only
one Buff-breast, hiding behind the fatter Dotterel out
of the wind!! The rain then set in and we called time. It was now an exercise in
returning to Sage House while staying as dry as possible. We used the high
hedges as shelter, plus celled in at the hides in Lower Moors. Only four
Snipe brightened the dull afternoon but they are always a joy to see!
We finally made it 'home' in a sightly damp condition. Hot
drinks and an episode of Countdown refreshed some of the group enough
to make it outside for a circuit of Maypole, Borough Farm, Newford Duckpond,
Telegraph & Content Farm. The end result of this walk was no new birds but
now dry coats in the strong wind.
It is lashing it down with rain now. As ever, I hope this
brings in some new birds to look for. We are trying hard to find things but it
is very hard work at the moment!!
The Nottinghamshire Lowlister
Ken R comments-- Just proves it , you can't do it without me and Burbagebirders. GET OUT THERE !!
Heavy rain overnight brought hope of some new
arrivals. It was still cloudy and drizzly before breakfast but it soon
brightened up into a typical sunny Scilly day. Gorgeous! A couple of Northern
Wheatears were new in on a field next to the guesthouse and a Great
Spotted Woodpecker was a surprise flyover at Borough Farm -
probably the rarest bird here at the moment! A stroll round to Newford
Duckpond produced a disappointing tally of ONE Goldcrest!
A Buff-breasted Sandpiper was
found on Agnes but I told my group there was no rush to see it as it
would 'be on Mary's airfield this afternoon'.
We headed for the golf course to scan Samson for
the Spoonbill, thinking there would be
nobody around. We found more golfers here than at the recent Ryder
Cup. Have these people no jobs to go to?! We abandoned that plan and
headed into town via Porthloo. A Whimbrel flew
past and that was about it. The Ortolan was
still showing down to a few feet and its eye seems to be getting
better and the tick is getting bigger so will drop off soon. YUK!!!
After an ice cream on Town Beach, we trudged up
to The Garrison. All we found for our efforts were 6
Goldcrests, two Garden Warblers and 5 Sandwich Terns in 'Cressa
We made the long, hot trek up to the windsock to
find there were now two BBSs along with
the Dotterel. They had just been
disturbed by a plane and had flown towards the terminal building - out
of sight of the windsock!
I went to try and get btter views of the Barred
Warbler nearby while some waited for the waders to reappear. We
drew a blank all round! There were at least 30 Wheatears
on Salakee Down, though.
On the way back to the guesthouse, some of us saw
the elusive Rose-coloured Starling. It
keeps deep in the bracken eating blackberries and only occasionally
flies out. What a pain. And that was the end of a frustrating day. The
birds are not playing easy to get (apart from the Ortolan) and we have
unfinished business with quite a few species...
Yes, Scilly birding fans, here's the first of my infrequent
updates from The Enchanted Isles.
I arrived Saturday morning, courtesy of one of the last
heliopter flights to the islands. Or is it?! A glorious day, so I decded to
first have a go for the very elusive Aquatic Warbler at porthloo. Heard it call
very close but it magically vanished before being tracked down! It was seen
again just after I left the site. Of course.
Into town and was soon watching the Ortolan
Bunting on Porthcressa Beach. It has a poorly eye and looks a bit
dishevelled but otherwise feeding voraciously. News broke that the Buff-bellied
Pipit had been relocated at Giant's Castle and had then flown towarsd the
airfield. I decided to head for Peninnis in case the bird kept coming, back to
its favourite site. Spent at least an hour scanning through the hundreds of
pipits only to find Meadow and Rocks + Skylark and
Just time for a final try for the Aquatic again. People had
seen it briefly and knew exactly where it had gond down in the iris bed. A herd
of cattle had gone through the area but the bird didn't flush. No further
sign. Seems like this little bugger enjoys digging escape tunnels!!!
Sunday dawned bright and breezy. We scanned through
the Starlings near the B&B to try and relocate the Rosy: no luck. A gentle
stroll through Holy Vale produced a flitty Yellow-browed
Warbler: always a welcome bird to find. We trudged up to the airfield
where a showy Dotterel entertained us, followed by
a stake out for an elusive Barred Warbler. I saw it
in flight a couple of times but the wind was increasing. I will return on a
calmer day IF we get one!
A quick visit to Old Town produced a showy Spotted
Flycatcher. I had a slow walk through Salakee where the Rose-coloured
Starling had been seen heading. The aren't usually this flighty but it
had gone to ground again. Neither did I see the Redstart
on Porth Hellick Beach, though spent a pleasant half an hour watching the tid
push Greenshanks and Ringed
plovers closer to the beach.
The weather closed in and I retired to my excellent
Guesthouse: Sage House (The Country Guesthouse) for a welcome hot choclate and
use of a computer!
Hopefully more to follow,
The Nottingham Lowlister
Texas 2011 Brian & Sue Pollard
Tuesday 12th April 2011 found Sue and I at London Heathrow ready for our trip to
Texas.It was to be ten hours before we touched down at Houston Bush
International Airport, where after checking through immigration, were able to
pick up our smart SUV which was to be our transport for the next 17 days.
Hope you had a nice Easter. On Saturday we went to Brandon. We had Cookoo again and Fred saw Kingfisher. Round by the top left walk way we had Grasshopper warbler sitting in the bottom of a bush. Also had Cettis,Ruff,eight Ringed Plovers, Whitethroat, Blackcaps, Willow ,Sedge,and Reed Warblers, Green Woodpecker,
On Sunday we went back with Carl as he had never seen a Cookoo before.
Monday we went to Eyebrook and had 3 Red Kites, Osprey as it was being harassed by Herring Gull Yet again Cookoo,3 Ringed Plovers, Grasshopper Warbler calling by the bridge, 3 Skylark , 4 Yellowhammer's and 5 Tree Sparrows.
On Saturday Stephen picked us up and we went to Sharon's for a barbecue. The highlight of the evening was when the neighbours nearly set fire to their shed when trying to burn some old fence panels.
Today Sharon and I had a little trip into the Shires and guess what, I had a bargain !!!!
see you soon Linda
The Players- 11 members of Burbage birders + Malcolm ( Green Marsh Shank ) Almey. All of mixed ability and that' means Good birders, Birders, and those who struggle with the big and small end of a pair of binoculars!!
Mladen Vasilev joined us for the first day as our local guide. I would recommend him to any party birding this coast. He gave us plenty of help identifying the many raptors as they passed along the Via Pontica flyway plus some excellent advice and locations for the week. You can contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Location- We had B&B at The Hotel Marina Palace in Old Nessebar. A very modern , very clean hotel in a super location overlooking the old town. The holiday was packaged by Balkan Holidays from the East Midlands to Burgas direct.
Our evening meals were at the Romantica restaurant in Old Nessebar. You pay a little more but it's excellent in every way.
The roads- Burgas and south , these are not too bad . Burgas and north , there is a hint of tarmac around the potholes so driving demands quite a bit of concentration to avoid giving your passengers a headache when their head's hit the roof.
The Maps & Guides- We used three maps. Bulgaria Black Sea Coast, rip & Waterproof by Reise from Maps.Com. Burgas and the Black Sea Coast both by Freytag & Berndt from Amazon. Some trip reports were useful and Dave's Where To Watch Birds series on Bulgaria is a bit out of date but still very good. A tip is don't bother with road numbers we hardly found any. Remember or jot down both the names of the place where you want to go and sit a good map reader next to you it's easier.
The transport- Oh dear, anybody hiring in Bulgaria should spend some time examining the transport before they drive. Remember under Bulgarian Law the driver is responsible for it's condition. The Mercedes 9 seater arrived with the front wheel bearing on the verge of collapse and 2 rear tyres to die for! The bearing was rectified the same day and the tyres we did ourselves to avoid wasting valuable birding time. The Corsa arrived without headlights and once again we fixed these ourselves. Good job I was in the motor trade!!
The Money- Currency is the Lev/Leva and is exchanged at the hotels or approved banks. Don't change on the streets you will lose if you do. We got 2:33 leva £ in 2010. Oh yes the smaller denomination is called a "stinky" and you can imagine the comments that created all week , A pint of their own beer ( not bad ) was 2:50 leva in the hotel and a really good two course evening meal with drinks came to 16 Leva.
The Birds- Exceptional and plenty of them including Dalmatian Pelican, Marsh Warbler, Lesser Spotted Eagle, Long Legged Buzzard, Slender Billed Gull and Eastern Olivaceous Warbler and as I write this one has just arrived in Wells Woods . GO FOR IT !!
Plastic Bottles- The one problem we didn't expect was the difficulty taking photo's without a plastic bottle or can being in it somewhere. The main area's of water around the towns are full of them. But I was assured that great efforts had and will be made over the next couple of years to clear the existing waste and install a major re-cycling project for the area. Remember Bulgaria has suffered the ravages of recession and under investment in recent years but now seem's to be on the up at last.
The Old Nessebar causeway that the group staggered over most nights
An early morning walk around the hotel and beach produced a very surprised Quail , 10 White Storks, Red Breasted Flycatcher, Yellow Wag, Sandwich Terns, Caspian Gull's galore and one Whinchat. Breakfast produced Eggs , Sausage, Beans (these created a theme that ran through the week or ran through something) tomatoes and a large selection of cold offerings.
Mladen joined us at 09:00 and decided to cover the Burgas lakes and raptor migration for the day. An educated choice showing the crowd the magnificent lake's that surround Burgas and the Poda Reserve at lake Mandra.
On a fine day the raptor movement starts about 10:30 and by 12:30 vanish into the cloud as the thermals get higher. Predominately the movement contained Lesser Spotted Eagles with a sprinkling of Black Kite, Long Legged Buzzard, Short Toed Eagle, Steppe Buzzard and Levant Sparrow hawk. The early afternoon was spent around the Reserve at Poda that produced Marsh Sandpiper, Kingfisher and a very confiding Short Toed Eagle carrying ( yes you guessed it ) a snake. The day ended at a location around Lake Mandra where the group located Little Crake ,Yellow Wagtail ( ssp dombowski ), an all too brief view of Roller plus a solo Osprey heading for the Turkish border. Our day with Mladen passed all too quickly and ended with a de- briefing at the downstairs hotel bar thanking him for his excellent company and the useful tips for the rest of our stay.
A quiet moment at Poda or are Bern & Zena on the nod!
Our first day on our own so we decided to keep fairly local to see how our dodgy transport performed. Surprisingly it worked well dodging the potholes on our way to Pojoy Woods situated along the road from Sunny Beach to Pojoy. The woods are a sheer delight with woodpeckers and flycatchers everywhere. It wasn't long before we found Great Spotted , Lesser Spotted and Green Woodpeckers. Red Breasted and Semi -Collared flycatchers, Goldie's, Chaffinches, Willow warbler and Chiffchaff. Overhead a lone Marsh Harrier gave us a brief flypast followed by 60 + White Storks heading for there feeding grounds on Atanasovsko Lake. We decided to return later in the week and explore much more of these fabulous woods.
The late afternoon was spent exploring a woodland path in the hills above Sunny Beach that a couple of our group visited in 07. The path produced some great birds including Sombre Tit, Cirl Bunting, Coal Tit, Blue Tit, Reed Bunting and flock of 25 + Yellowhammer and Sparrow hawk.
The day concluded once again with a de-brief but this time at the Sky Bar on the roof of the Marina Palace Hotel. Geoff Busby and Carol Rees, now Mr & Mrs Busby, have taken pity on the lone Malcolm Almey and become his friends. Carol say's Geoff will sent him an invoice from his Rent-A-Friend company later.
At a lively evening meal the night before I offered the ladies a shopping day in Burgas as a break from Birding but surprisingly they only wanted the morning. Funny how the heat can effect you !!
The rest including our other driver Brian Pollard, remember the Corsa with no lights, Geoff, David Carman Malcolm and myself headed for Lake Burgas with a promise to collect the shoppers at 13:00hrs. We covered the whole of Lake Burgas and the surrounding fields collecting White and Dalmatian Pelicans in good numbers, big flocks of White Storks, White , Whiskered and Black Terns, "Frudge", Gadwall, Pintail, Shoveler and Little Bittern . Skylark, Golden Plover, Red Backed Shrike, and by the way these are everywhere, Blackcap, Common Kestrel, Meadow Pipit and Linnet.
After collecting the shoppers on-time we headed for the Ramsar site of Pomorie lake and salt pans. A visit to this reserve is a must on any trip to the Black Sea Coast. There is a newly opened visitor centre with facilities and a large viewing platform that affords panoramic viewing over the lake and the surrounding area. We collected Broad Billed, Green, Curlew and Common Sandpipers. Greenshank, Little Stint's and Dunlin. Sandwich, Little, Whiskered, White Winged and Black Terns. 70+ Black Necked Grebe and Yellow Wag's (flava). The reserve can be little difficult to find but when you enter Pomorie keep looking to your left and locate the new sports stadium and floodlights. Head for this and the signs for the Salt Museum. Pass in front of the stadium entrance and the reserve is at the end of the road.
Once again the lively de-brief took place in the outside bar. Is this now becoming a habit ??? Hope So
This is our day to travel north heading for the river resort of Kamcia with a plan to end the day at Emine Point on the return. Kamcia is a river / beach site that is obviously a tourist attraction for the Varna area however out of season it is a delightful location with excellent woods on both sides of the main road. We saw White Backed , Lesser Spotted, Middle Spotted and Great Spotted Woodpeckers, Short Toed Treecreepers and Sparrow hawk in the Woods. Red Rumped Swallow's, Great White Egret's, Kentish Plover, Red Backed Shrike, Little Ringed Plover and Reed Bunting around the river / beach area . After lunch and coffee at a floating cafe on the river we headed for Emine Point. But whatever you do don't worry about the price in the cafe's my coffee was 70 stinkies , 30p a cup !!
Travelling along the road to Emine we realised perhaps this wasn't such a good idea after all . The road for the last 3 miles was almost impassable with very large sections of loose rocks mud and potholes. It really became a challenge to get to the Point and consumed much more of our time than we expected. This included time for Brian Pollard to change into a clean pair of underpants uttering a promise never to return. However if your are up for the challenge the lighthouse and surrounding area at Emine is superb. We had 15+ Red Backed Shrike, Black Redstart, Northern Wheatear, a very confiding Hobby with lots of Meadow pipits and a lone Tawny Pipit. The evening de-brief was postponed to the following evening owing to our late return and Brian's disgusting underpants !!
The early walk today produced an upset Malcolm pointing to two Hawfinches that had just deposed a Starling flock from the top of his tree! Now I know he's not all the ticket.
To console Malcolm I decided to travel to a coastal point a couple of miles down the road. It definitely looked like it might be OK but seemed very quiet. We did however collect Crested Larks ,Slender Billed Gull and Spanish Sparrow for our trouble.
Our plan today is to travel south calling at the Ropotama River Reserve, the extensive marsh reserve at Djuni and finally the salt pans at Pomorie situated by the main road from Burgas to Varna. The river and reserve at Ropotama is not worth it. Most of the reserve has no access with fences surrounding all the main areas but the marsh and dunes at Djuni are a must. The dunes gave us Crested Lark, Short Toed Lark and the marsh supplied Marsh Harrier, Marsh, Eastern Olivaceous, Willow, Chiffchaff and Great Reed warblers. Be warned you will now need to head for the signposted Djuni as the main road is now a by-pass and the old main road is now a dead end. It took us an hour to find that out so any small contributions will be accepted!!
The salt pans by the roadside at Pomorie will need extra care when parking or crossing the road to them . Bulgarian drivers will have you if they can so be careful. The pans contained Loads of Little Stint, Curlew Sand's, Dunlin, Black Wit's and Ringed Plover's with the odd Knot for good measure. We also had a visit and display from an energetic Levant Sparrow hawk.
De- Brief tonight was round the Restaurant table. Probably not a good idea with the drinks around but we got through it to conclude another superb day's birding.
Our last day and the 9 seater Mercedes is now becoming very delicate. So perhaps it's a good job I decided to give the team a choice either come with me to the woods at Pojoy and Pomorie Lake or discover all the shops and museums in the Old Town of Nessebar and the resort of nearby Sunny Beach. They all had a great day with stories of the little train along the prom not stopping at the place where they wanted it too and a great day's birding at Pojoy Woods and Pomorie Lake that included our first Syrian Woodpecker, Woodchat Shrike and a rumour of Terek Sandpiper at Pomorie. Needless to say our last evening meal was a lively one and if anyone can remember it can you please let me know.
We collected in a week 139 species and I'm not going to bore you with a complete list .
A big thanks for being such a fun group Ken W Reeves
If you want to bird the whole of Bulgaria consider a three centre holiday. One in the mountains south of Sofia, one in Nessebar and one north of Varna. This will cover all the best sites on offer including Cape Kaliakra, Sabla Lake, Dourankoulak Lake and The Sakar Mountains. Otherwise just do what we did book a package and enjoy your first visit to this super country.
Black Tern at Burgas
Had a good day with Fred, first at Beacon Hill where we got Blackcap, Chiffchaff, 3 Bullfinch, Willow warbler, Yellowhammer, Tree and Meadow Pipit, N Wheatear,Jay , GSW/Woodpecker, 3 Common Buzzards.Then on to Burton Lazars Yellow W/Tail, 4 Yellowhammer, Lapwings, Skylarks, Reed bunting, but no RING OUZEL
North arm at Rutland had Goldeneye, Egyptian goose, Buzzard, Red Kite, L Egret. The bridge on the way to Uppingham provided 3 Osprey and a Ruddy Shellduck.
And finally at Eyebrook the ever faithful Green Winged Teal
But no OUZEL. David Carman 9/4/10 ( Comment from the webmaster-- Put your phone on next time. I did try but they were at North Luffenham )
My Sister witnessed a blackbird killing another blackbird yesterday. Even when she appeared on the scene and made a noise, he carried on. I did not know they were so vicious. I knew that perhaps male robins were fighters! Have you heard of this before?
Last night’s dinner at The Lodge (Old Hunstanton) consisted of a delicious bowl
of Carrot and Coriander soup. Yum. After a good night’s sleep, I was ready to
hit the ground running.
Maria from homestead florida - December 6, 2009
Just arrived back after trip to Sussex.
Had day out at Dungeness RSPB which proved to be successful, had two glossy ibis, three black necked grebe on Denge Marsh, my brothers first bittern on ARC pit, 2 Bewick swan, quick showing of yellow-browed warbler, several bearded reedling etc ,and a lovely Barn Owl over car on way home. Missed the Geat White Egret and Penduline tit.
We also had a day out at Pagham Harbour, Sussex, lots of species at three different sites including red-breasted merganser, rock pipit, little egret, black-tailed godwit, golden plover, redshank, red-legged partridge, etc.
Have a great Christmas party, Brian 10/12/9
1999-2009 that's what I thought and as always I was wrong . 2009 has been one of the quietest ever making it tough going to get good results.
But lets face it when you have been on the Islands as many times as I have brushing scopes with some of best Yankee birds ever, it can seem quiet when it doesn't happen.
This year we had 13 members eager to collect as many first's as possible and take in the aura that surrounds this fantastic archipelago
Our First four days were spent in warm sunshine mopping up the birds already on the islands - Yellow Browed W, Rose Coloured Starling, Pied Fly and Jack Snipe being the stars.
Good winds and heavy rain at last arrived for the remaining three days bringing sightings of Sooty and a reported Great Shearwater, Great Skua's, Ring Ouzel, Whimbrel and crippling views of very confiding Radde's Warbler , Lapland Bunting and Red Breasted Flycatcher.
At this point I can picture a very embarrassed David Carman at the Red Breasted Fly site fighting the laws of gravity with his tripod as he slowly sank into the bracken, much to the amusement of Geoff Busby and myself.
All evening meals were taken at the infamous Bishop & Wolf where Mark our excellent host has now moved too.
Accommodation was Self Catering at White Cottage, Greystones and 9/14 Springfield Court
Flights were from St Just with Skybus and return journey by the RAC with my expensive Galaxy on the back of a twin cab truck.
320 MILES at 53 MPH . Seemed like going back to the Orkney's for the Sandhill.
Never mind all I can say is. Bring back the Espace!!!!!
So at this stage I 'm giving the islands a miss for now or am I ??????? Ken R 31/10/2009
Charlie , myself, Vicky and Mo had this great idea to walk the little known footpaths in Norfolk. Sounds good doesn't it. Well I can tell you now it's not so good when you stumble across a Monty sitting on her nest with one chick.
What should we do now I said, the reply was deafening silence surrounded with sheer panic. Just in the nick of time a well known local birder appeared throwing his arms around like a distressed helicopter and indicating to us get down and camouflage ourselves.
This I did collecting 4 fresh piles of sheep s?%t and a small pool of stagnant water on my new trousers and cherished Kaiser Chiefs T shirt.
We were then told by the birder , that the male had deserted his mate 3 days earlier and he was feeding the nest every 4hrs with day old chicks and rat's, with DOE permission of course.
So the dishevelled 4 were fortunate to witness a rare event in the UK by a dedicated few who are prepared to give up their own time to protect and care for one of Britain's rarest breeding birds.
Keep it up lads! and you can bet we'll not give you any more surprise moments. C,K.M.C Ken R 6/09
Thanks for putting brambling on web site, I think the size was a bit mean to get a reasonable image so I am sending you this new one re sized and hope it looks a bit sharper.
Sue and I had a good day at Venus Pool on Sunday, with Brambling, Tree sparrow, Marsh tits,Tree Creeper, female Stonechat, Water Rail in front of feeders, and watched a female Great Spotted Woodpecker trying to prise a grub from a wood pile only to be grabbed by a weasel and killed whilst we watched, not a pretty site.
We are blessed with Siskin on our own feeders at the moment, nothing a Coed y dinas apart from a single male Pintail. Will phone soon, Brian.
PS Off to Venus Pool again tomorrow.
New Galloway in February 2009
Graham & I had a day out at Summer Leys & Pitsford Res, nr Northampton on Dec 31st. Below is our day list.
Little Grebe, Grt Crested Grebe, Cormorant, Gray Heron, Mute Swan, Graylag, Canada Goose, Shelduck, Wigeon, Gadwall, Teal, Mallard, Shoveller,
Red-crested Pochard (Pitsford), Pochard, Tufted Duck, Goldeneye, Buzzard, Kestral, Pheasant, Water rail (S/Leys), Moorhen, Coot, Lapwing, Dunlin,
Snipe, Redshank, Bl’k headed Gull, Common Gull, L.B.B.Gull, Wood Pigeon, GreenWood, Gr’t Spot Wood, Meadow pipit, Pied Wagtail, Wren, Dunnock,
Robin, Stonechat, Blackbird, Fieldfare, Redwing, Songthrush, Goldcrest, L’g tailed Tit, Bluetit, Great Tit, Magpie, Jackdaw, Rook, Carrion Crow,
Starling, H/Sparrow, T/Sparrow, Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Linnet, Bullfinch, Yellowhammer, Reed Bunting.
The reserve had negotiated with a farmer to leave a stretch of crop (we believe to have been oil seed rape) in a field next to the reserve, this patch was
attracting large flocks of Linnet, Yellowhammer & Reed Bunting to great effect.
A great day out, all be it a Bl**dy chilly one, the only is that shame Summer leys is perhaps a little too far for the Sunday morning walk.
Or is it !!!! 31/12/08
With Ken Reeves & Neil Glenn
Day One: Saturday March 1st
Phil Lee kindly picked me up from Nottingham at 2.00am on Saturday morning and we rendezvoused with the rest of the Burbage Birders at Watford Gap services shortly afterwards.
The cars were dumped at Luton airport and we settled in to wait for our 0640 Easyjet flight to Madrid. The seats were surprisingly comfortable and I slept all the way!
In Madrid, we collected three hire vehicles and after a short while were negotiating Madrid’s orbital motorway. Amazingly, all three cars stuck together and were soon heading south-west to Extremadura.
As we went, Spotted Starlings, Red Kites, White Storks, Magpies and a lone Green Woodpecker brightened up the journey. We finally stopped near Saucedilla at Arrocampo Reservoir for a picnic lunch in the warm sunshine.
This was an excellent taster for our week of Spanish birding to come: Spotted Redshank, Black-winged Stilt, Green Sandpiper, Teal, Snipe and White Wagtails kept us entertained while we munched on the food we had purchased from the airport. Several Azure-winged Magpies flitted among the trees in the background but none showed well.
Suddenly, I noticed a stunning male Garganey on the small pool behind us. Where had that come from?! Several Griffon Vultures glided over the farms in the distance.
We drove a little further and found a Purple Swamp-Hen in the reeds and an obliging Zitting Cisticola, which uncharacteristically posed for a few minutes in front of us.
It was time to make the short drive to our accommodation for the week in San Clemente, pausing only to admire the town of Trujillo on the hill to our right. Claudia greeted us at El Recuerdo as did the energetic dog, Morro.
Three of us (Phil, Vicki and I) were staying a few yards up the track at Las Torres but we joined the main group for a lovely evening meal back at Claudia’s at 7.00pm. The local red wine flowed freely, including across Ellen’s nice yellow cardigan! The evening’s bird log was a lively affair to say the least.
Day Two: Sunday March 2nd
I was itching to show the group the delights of Parque Naturel de Monfragűe but it would be crowded on a Sunday so I opted for a local walk to see some of the commoner species in the area combined with an afternoon drive to try and see the last of the wintering Cranes.
The Las Torres contingent set off one way and the San Clemente lot the other, meeting somewhere in the middle. Progress was slow due to the number of birds to sort through!
The fields and bushes were filled with Hoopoes, Serins, Spanish Sparrows, Crested Larks, Sardinian Warblers and gorgeous Azure-winged Magpies. Meanwhile, the main group had found a pair of nest-building Short-toed Treecreepers and a showy pair of White Storks on a nest on the roof of the local church.
Everyone was enjoying the heat of the morning sun but it was time to leave San Clemente and do some birding further afield. We made for a farm track to the south, where we ate our picnic lunches by a small marsh.
The small pools held Green Sandpipers but the real star was a showy Black Kite found by Mike. Many White Storks were seen but lunch was interrupted when a flock of northbound Cranes flew straight over our heads. A larger flock was migrating in front of the distant hills.
Further along the track, we stopped to admire a Hoopoe posing in a dead tree. Vicky found a Little Owl in the same tree! While we were stopped, a pale bird drifted over our car and I alerted the other two vehicles to the Black-shouldered Kite now heading away from us. We later learned that Fred had seen it fly directly over our car!
As we watched this elegant raptor disappear before our very eyes, Phil found a party of ten Cranes in a field just about visible through the strengthening heat haze. And all this because we paused to watch a Hoopoe.
On the return drive along the track, John noticed small flocks of birds being flushed from the side of the track by our car. Some were Goldfinches but we finally managed to get telescope views of the smaller finches to confirm they were Red Avadavats (an exotic species now classed as a self-sustaining species on the Spanish List).
We rejoined the main road but soon stopped gain to scan an area of plains near a reservoir. There was hardly any water in the lake, scuppering our plans to add a few ducks to our trip list but fifteen pairs of eyes soon found a few titbits to keep us occupied.
Simultaneously, Fred and I spotted a large bird flying over the hills in the distance: Great Bustard! Meanwhile, Ken and Brian found a small flock of Little Bustards on the mound behind us, watched by a Little Owl and an Iberian Hare. Two Calandra Larks finally moved away from the glare of the sun sufficiently so we could all see the dark underwings and white trailing edges. Another Great Bustard flew in and landed on the hill in front. We got unsatisfactory telescope views of this impressive bird but I hoped we would see them better than this!
Again, the bird log in the evening was a lively affair, fuelled by more delicious local red wine (it was John’s turn to have his jumper splattered by wine tonight). On the walk back to Las Torres, Vicky, Phil and I heard at least three Little Owls calling and also a distant Scops Owl. While Phil ran (if we can call it that) back to fetch the others, a Long-eared Owl flew silently over Vicky and I!
Day Three: Monday, March 3rd
The group was now getting into a routine. A few hardy souls had a pre-breakfast stroll around the lanes (usually accompanied by the sonar-like call of a Scops Owl) while others preferred a more leisurely start to the day. We met up at El Recuerdo at 9.15am and headed north.
We drove straight to Peñafalcón and spent a very pleasant two and a half hours overlooking this magnificent crag. Griffon, Black and Egyptian Vultures sailed around the pinnacle, a stunning male Rock Bunting fed around our feet, Crag Martins zipped overhead, one or two Black Storks drifted down the valley and a male Blue Rock Thrush posed nicely on its favourite rock. The icing on the cake was a couple of Otters in the river below.
Suddenly, I spotted an eagle species above the pinnacle. It banked and I was able to confirm it as a Spanish Imperial. Everyone managed to see this majestic bird as it circled with the vultures but we needn’t have panicked. This mega-rare bird (maybe only 200 in the world!) landed in a tree across the valley and we were soon admiring it through telescopes. What a bird!
As the eagle drifted away down the valley, our stomachs signalled it was lunch time. We moved a few hundred yards to a picnic site where we could eat and scan at the same time. This proved fruitful, as vultures continually floated overhead. Phil and Fred managed to see a Bonelli’s Eagle as it flew through a gap in the hills behind us!
Another interruption to lunch was a Black-shouldered Kite flapping over the distant hilltop. It changed direction and lazily made its way towards us. It gave unbelievably close views overhead as it passed our picnic site! To round our lunch stop off, a male Rock Bunting picked up our crumbs as we left the area.
Our next stop was an unscheduled one. A Short-toed Eagle was found sitting on wires right next to the road allowing some wonderful photos to be taken. The bird’s piercing eyes occasionally looked at us in between preening sessions. Another fantastic bird.
We next alighted from the vehicles at Portilla del Tietár, another crag famous for raptors. More vultures were seen but the target bird here was Eagle Owl. I set the telescope up on a small cave on the hillside and the outline of one of these impressive owls could just about be made out.
Most people took a few looks to ‘get their eye in’; others strolled to the lens and saw the bird move! This was a most unsatisfactory look at one of Europe’s most impressive species.
Much more showy was yet another Spanish Imperial Eagle that swung around the crag and proceeded to soar overhead flashing its creamy/golden ‘landing lights’: a superb display from a magnificent bird. A distant pair of displaying Bonelli’s Eagles refused to come closer.
On the drive home, we stopped at the Rio Almonte river bridge to bask in the late afternoon sun and to see if any migration was in progress. Several Marsh Frogs heralded our arrival with their incessant croaking.
Black and Red Kites were noted as was a smart-looking Water Pipit. Brian found a Dartford Warbler and the rest of us wrestled with Crested and Thekla Lark identification. Two Theklas responded to Ken’s CD making life much easier for us.
The birdwatching had been so amazing that there was only time for a quick wash before our dinner at 7.00pm. More wine soothed minds and limbs and the log was again a lively affair, especially as Phil orchestrated proceedings this evening (Muscovy Duck and Chicken made the list!).
A couple of Scops Owls called at Las Torres to round off the day nicely.
Day Four: Tuesday, March 4th
Vicky, Phil and I met up with the main group at 9.00am and we headed for a small town to the south. On the way, we found a back road out of Trujillo (i.e. we got lost) where we got our best views yet of Lesser Kestrels. A Black Kite flew up the road towards us before we set off again.
The plains were mostly quiet but a couple of Great Spotted Cuckoos played cat and mouse with us. We finally reached our destination and parked the vehicles in a back street.
We spent quite some time queueing for the single toilet in the market square but the time wasn’t wasted. A pair of Lesser Kestrels displayed around us and a Blue Rock Thrush posed nicely on the clock tower.
We walked up the hill to the castle. The ramparts afforded spectacular views across the town and to the plains beyond. Several people spent the time walking round the church, while others scanned for birds.
Vicky was the first to strike it lucky when a couple of Pallid Swifts glided by. I found a Black Wheatear on the rocks below the castle while Brian found another. They both perched together for a short time before disappearing round the rock face. One target species down, one to go.
I decided to walk back to the first entrance, pausing to admire a male Sardinian Warbler showing in full light on a dead tree. I was joined by Fred and as we neared the first archway, I noticed a sparrow on the wall to our left. The sparrow turned to reveal a bright orange throat and flank patches! This was our target bird and I yelled “Alpine Accentor!!!” into the radio.
Sue came over to see what the excitement was about, and then we heard several people running towards us. Soon, most people were enjoying unbelievable views of this bird before it dived below the rooftops and out of sight. Mike arrived just as it disappeared. We waited for it to return but it wasn’t to be.
We drove out of town and stopped for lunch at a picnic site under some trees by the road. A Short-toed Treecreeper was singing from a nearby tree and Crested Larks chased each other around the site.
After lunch, we had a brief stroll and found a couple of Nuthatches. Ken saw a Wryneck dart away but we couldn’t find any Rock Sparrows. Time was again passing us by so we moved on.
Our next port of call was the plains near Santa Marta Magasca. As soon as we got out of the cars, we found three Black-bellied Sandgrouse on the hillside. With a bit of patience, we could make out the colouring of the males but to be honest the views weren’t that brilliant.
We next found ourselves by a river bridge scanning for Rock Sparrows. Ken somehow managed to find a Hawfinch sat in a tree down the river and one or two others flew overhead. There were no Sparrows but a Kingfisher tried its best to cheer us up.
A slow drive along the plains paid dividends in the form of twenty Great Bustards very close to the road. I had never seen them as close as this so I urged the group to enjoy the show. These beautiful birds strutted along, though the male was too intent on feeding to give us a full ‘foam bath’ display.
Another superb day filled with a range of much sought after species. The group celebrated with yet more local wine at dinner. Not many people could pronounce Alpine Accentor at the log!
Day Five: Wednesday, March 5th
The group were away from the lodgings at 9.15am, bound for the Belen Plains. The area is so extensive that the best way to cover it is by driving slowly along the road, scanning every few yards to see what is about.
In this manner, we managed to find many displaying Calandra Larks, a confiding Hoopoe, distant Great Bustards, a couple of skittish Great Spotted Cuckoos and best of all a flock of Little Bustards that flew over our vehicles. A very productive morning ended at the Rio Almonte road bridge where we settled down for a picnic lunch in unbroken sunshine.
We undertook a stroll along the river bank. A chorus of Crested and Thekla Larks and Marsh Frogs accompanied us on our way interrupted by the occasional Grey and White Wagtails. Ken found a skulking Rock Sparrow that refused to show to the hopeful gathering group.
On the return walk, Phil noticed a young Golden Eagle dipping below the nearby hillside. Fortunately, it reappeared again a few moments later and circled overhead spiralling ever upwards without flapping a single wing beat. Superb!
We drove to Peñafalcón for an afternoon’s relaxing birdwatching. Vultures were already coming in to roost on the rock, giving awesome views. Phil announced that he had found an eagle high above us mixed in with the vultures. It proved to be a Spanish Imperial Eagle and was soon joined by its mate, the size difference being obvious.
Phil and I simultaneously heard a noise above the crag towering over us and cried, “Chough!” Sure enough, a single bird circled once before disappearing back behind the crag. Fred had managed to see two birds from further up the viewing area.
The eagles showed again, high, high above us giving the group neck strain watching them. To ease the pain, we could always glance downwards at the Blue Rock Thrush, Rock Bunting, Wren, Black Redstart, Short-toed Treecreeper, etc in the rocks and trees below the viewpoint. It was hard to tear away to get back to the casa rural for dinner!
Day Six: Thursday, March 6th
The leaders had received a request today: could we go shopping in Trujillo? The town is a lovely place to visit anyway and also the best place to observe Lesser Kestrels and Pallid Swifts to boot, so how could we refuse?!
We parked up at 9.30am and walked through the street market to the impressive square. Some of the girls dropped away from the group on shopping missions whilst others spread out to visit the churches in the town. The rest of us stayed in the square to do a spot of birding.
Lesser Kestrels were displaying overhead giving wonderful views in the perfect morning light. Their strange squeaking calls permeated the bustling noise of the square. Several pairs of White Storks were nesting on rooftops, occasionally announcing their presence with bill-tapping bonding displays. Extremely brief views were obtained of three Pallid Swifts behind the monastery so we decided to trudge up the hill to the castle for a panoramic view of the town.
Sure enough, when we reached the highest point, we could see the Pallid Swifts swooping over the square we had just walked from! After scanning the surrounding area – what looked like distant sewage ponds – we walked back into the square. The swifts had departed so we settled down for a coffee in one of the street cafes.
We still had ninety minutes to kill before we were to meet the shoppers and were deciding what to do when our minds were made up by Ron’s voice on the CB radio: “I’ve no idea where I am”. He told us the name of the street he was on and we located it on our maps. We returned to the vehicles and went on a successful rescue mission to pick Ron up (“just because I didn’t know where I was it doesn’t mean I was lost”).
We decided to try and find the pools we had seen from the castle. We were soon parked up by the bull ring where the pools were situated. It turned out to be a leisure complex rather than a sewage works. Unfortunately, it was devoid of any wintering wildfowl apart from Mallard.
We strolled around the park. Many swallows swooped across the pools and a Grey Wagtail and Green Sandpiper were also noted. Charlie and I got brief views of a very slim looking swift with a narrow tail and bright white chin patch. The only thing I could think of that resembled our bird was White-rumped Swift (later scanning of the fieldguides seemed to confirm our suspicions!).
Some tucked into their lunches by the vans before we made contact with the girls in town. They were shopped out so we drove to pick them up at 1.30pm. Half an hour later we were finishing lunch on the Santa Magasca plains while scanning the hillside for bustards and sandgrouse.
About seventy Little Bustards were found along with a couple of Greats and two Black-bellied Sandgrouse. A stroll along the farm track revealed more Calandra and Crested Larks as well as Meadow Pipits and a handsome male Northern Wheatear.
We returned to the vehicles and had a slow drive along the road scanning for birds along the way. We reached the river bridge to find it had been resurfaced since our last visit! Two or three Kingfishers showed wonderfully well along the river but our birding was cut short when the men returned to finish the job of tarring the road.
We ended the day with a slow drive through the plains. More Calandra Larks were found as well as a large flock of Great Bustards plodding along the hillside. We still failed to see any Pin-tailed Sandgrouse, though.
Another entertaining dinner at Martin and Claudia’s in the evening was followed by a gentle ribbing about the species we had yet to see, which set the itinerary for tomorrow!
Day Seven: Friday, March 7th
It was time to get serious! I appealed for everyone to give off positive vibes for the day’s birdwatching ahead. A tight schedule was in place with a set of target birds laid out before us.
We soon found ourselves staring into the usual field near Santa Marta Magasca. For once, there were hardly any birds to see so we had one final drive up the hillside. Mike spotted movement in a huge ploughed field so we stopped to scan. I thought the bird looked like a Golden Plover and telescope views confirmed the ID. In fact, there were about twenty plovers on the ridge.
Phil suddenly said, “Is that a Dotterel?” And sure enough, it was! Gradually, everyone in the group managed to see this bird as it scuttled in and out of furrows in the field. As we tried to locate the Dotterel for everyone in the telescopes, I heard a familiar noise. Phil tried to quiet the group se we could pinpoint where the calls were coming from and hey presto, there was the flock of Pin-tailed Sandgrouse circling over the field!
They finally landed on the ridge and all ‘scopes were trained on this attractive species. It wasn’t the best views but one or two birds occasionally turned to show the distinctive neck pattern. They had made us work hard but there they were for all to admire: Pin-tailed Sandgrouse!
It was time to move on. The morning’s success buoyed everyone with new found optimism: “What’s next?”
A dash up the motorway brought us to a road passing through dehasa where we could search for Rock Sparrows. Our journey was interrupted by a pair of Short-toed Eagles in a river valley that paused briefly to mate on a crag top! I think this upset the local Great Spotted Woodpecker who quickly made his excuses and left (as the News of the World would say).
We had a lunch stop in the best area for Rock Sparrows but failed miserably to locate any. We did see more Short-toed Treecreepers (on my trip last year I had seen ONE), Azure-winged Magpies, Black Redstarts, a Nuthatch, Spanish Sparrows, Southern Grey Shrikes and several vultures. As we were packing away, a Peregrine soared overhead joined by a pair of passing Black-shouldered Kites.
We drove along the road and parked in a nearby village on a hill. The views were stunning but we were still in birding mode. A Black Redstart posed nicely on wires followed by a pair of stunning Black Wheatears on the rocky hill. A male Cirl Bunting flew past me but it mysteriously vanished behind a farm building. The wheatears were more than enough compensation, though.
Further along the road, we stopped in an area of Cork Oak and had a stroll. Several Nuthatches played hide and seek with us and a dead snake on the road was an unwelcome addition to the day’s list.
Vultures accompanied our walk before Ken shouted the magic word, “eagle!” As it glided from the ridge above over our heads and away, I confirmed that it was a Bonelli’s. A pair of Peregrines made sure the Bonelli’s left their territory at double speed as well as the Short-toed Eagle heading up the valley!
While I was visiting the gent’s toilet, I heard a Crested Tit calling. The group assembled to try and find this elusive bird. It called continually but refused to show. It finally moved down the road and Phil found it a few yards from our position. One or two managed to see it through telescopes and the rest obtained binocular views. Again, this bird had made us work hard but it was worth the effort.
The group had expressed a wish to be back at the lodgings early today so it was time to head back south. What an array of superb birds we had seen but it was still the gaps on the list that stuck in my mind (Stone Curlew, Rock Sparrow)!
At dinner in the evening, Martin and Claudia produced a birthday cake for Sue’s XXXXth birthday! The secret ballot for ‘Best Contributor to the Trip’ initiated by Ken was narrowly won by Brian. Unfortunately, his prize of a bottle of wine couldn’t be presented to him because he was still wearing his photographer’s camouflage gear so we couldn’t actually find him.
Other awards went to: Tart’s Ticker of the Week (Phil – Turkey, Jungle Fowl and Feral Goose - Lee); Wine Spiller of the Week (joint awards to Ron and Vicky); Shopper of the Week (Maureen); Hawk-eye of the Week (Fred); Slave-driver of the Week (Neil); I Know It’s There But I Just Can’t See It Birdwatcher of the Week (joint awards to Ellen and John); There It Is, Oh Bugger It’s Gone Birdwatcher of the Week (Ken); and Trainspotter of the Week (John).
We then settled in front of the log fire in the lounge to choose our three top birds of the trip. Several species were mentioned (including a sad story by Mike as to why he had chosen White Stork as his favourite species) but Griffon Vulture won the vote followed by Spanish Imperial Eagle and White Stork in joint second place. It was interesting to compare the reasons given for each species (rarity, beauty, reading about a species during childhood,
Afterwards, several of us went down to the local taverna for a farewell drink while others retired to their rooms to pack.
Day Eight; Saturday, March 8th
Because our flight from Madrid wasn’t until the evening, we had the opportunity to undertake a full day’s birdwatching before heading home. The vehicles were fully loaded and ready to go by 9.15am.
We briefly stopped to refuel and were treated to our last Great Spotted Cuckoo of the trip flapping across the garage forecourt. Extremadura certainly was proving to be an amazing place!
It was only a short drive to our first stop. We were to make one last attempt at seeing Rock Sparrows around the vineyard where the wine we had been drinking for the last week had been produced.
At last, one Rock Sparrow perched on wires but vanished before we could get a telescope on to it. The lanes here were full of birds: Hawfinches, Chaffinches, a male Bullfinch, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Spanish and House Sparrows but no more Rock Sparrows.
We then drove straight to Monfragűe to try for better views of the Eagle Owl. We succeeded spectacularly with one adult in full sight, soon joined by at least two fluffy chicks! The earlier sighting must have been of the other adult at its daytime roost. Those poor views were soon forgotten once this magnificent bird had been seen by all. The chicks were the icing on the birding cake!
After we had had our fill of the owls, we drove across the northern edge of the park and made our way to Arrocampo Reservoir to finish the trip as we had started it. A new road made navigation difficult but we found it eventually!
The weather was also the same as on the first day and had been throughout the week: unbroken blue skies. We stopped for lunch by the water tower and ate while scanning the Gredos Mountains, pools and fields.
Several wader species were present including Lapwing, Redshank, Greenshank, Green and Common Sandpipers, Ruff, Little Ringed Plover, Black-winged Stilt and Black-tailed Godwit.
Fred suddenly alerted us to a dog Otter that was parading before us on the bank! It soon scuttled back into the reeds but later emerged once more and swam across the pool.
After lunch, we drove the short distance to the causeway. Here, we saw Purple Swamp-Hens, Great Crested and Little Grebes, White Storks and Chiffchaffs but we couldn’t find any Penduline Tits, Little Bitterns or Purple Herons: next time…
It was time to head for the airport. One never knows the state of traffic in the Madrid area. As it turned out, traffic was light and we arrived at the airport in very good time for the evening flight to Luton.
We spent the time chatting, duty free shopping and consuming well-deserved Magnum ice creams. The flight was uneventful and we landed half an hour early at Luton (“please remember you owe us thirty minutes the next time Easy Jet are late”, said the stewardess).
It was the end of an extremely bird-rich trip to an outstandingly beautiful area of Spain. The company made it even more enjoyable and I know I made many friends on the journey and cemented a few existing friendships. And that’s what these tours are all about isn’t it?
To cap it all off, as I drove into my village in Nottinghamshire the local Barn Owl came to say hello as did a Badger in the roadside verge. It was a wonderful end to a superb trip.
The above six pictures were taken on our fantastic 2008 trip to Extremadura !
Bird species seen
Greylag Goose Up to 5 on passage
Mallard Relatively common
Garganey 1 male, Arrocampo
Red-legged Partridge Relatively common
Cattle Egret Common
Little Grebe Several
Great Crested Grebe 1 or 2, Arrocampo
Little Egret 1 or 2
Great Egret 1, Arrocampo
Grey Heron Several
BLACK STORK Up to 5, Monfragűe + 1, Las Torres
White Stork Lots!
GRIFFON VULTURE Common
BLACK VULTURE A few
EGYPTIAN VULTURE A few
Golden Eagle 1 immature, Rio Almonte
SPANISH IMPERIAL EAGLE 3, Monfragűe
Short-toed Eagle A few (20+)
Booted Eagle 1 dark phase, Monfragűe
BONELLI’S EAGLE A total of 4
Red Kite Common
Black Kite Several
Marsh Harrier A few
Black-shouldered Kite A total of 4
Common Buzzard Several
Sparrowhawk Up to 5
Common Kestrel Relatively common
LESSER KESTREL Relatively common
Peregrine A total of 4
(Water Rail 1, Arrocampo – ‘Leader Tick’ only)
Moorhen Relatively common
Purple Swamp-Hen 2 or 3, Arrocampo
Common Crane 200+, Vegas – Altas Track
LITTLE BUSTARD Up to 150 on the plains
GREAT BUSTARD Up to 60 on the plains
Black-winged Stilt Several
Little Ringed Plover 1, Belen Plains; 1, Arrocampo
DOTTEREL 1 winter adult, Magasca Plains
Golden Plover 20, Magasca Plains
Ruff 3, Arrocampo
Common Snipe A few
Black-tailed Godwit 2, Arrocampo
Common Sandpiper A few
Green Sandpiper Several
Spotted Redshank 1, Arrocampo
Greenshank 2, Arrocampo
Redshank A few
Black-headed Gull Several
Lesser Black-backed Gull A handful
Yellow-legged Gull One flock over A5 near Madrid
BLACK-BELLIED SANDGROUSE 6, Magasca Plains
PIN-TAILED SANDGROUSE Approx 20, Magasca Plains
Rock Dove Several pure-looking birds, Monfragűe
(Feral Pigeon Common in towns and villages)
Stock Dove 4, Rio Tamuga
Woodpigeon Relatively common
Collared Dove Common
Common Cuckoo 1 over road from Magasca to Trujillo
GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO Several on plains
SCOPS OWL 2 or 3 heard, San Clemente
Little Owl Up to 10 seen and heard
EAGLE OWL 2 adults, 3 chicks, Monfragűe
Long-eared Owl 1 over San Clemente
Pallid Swift Up to 10 over villages and towns
Kingfisher Up to five on rivers
Green Woodpecker 1 over A5 near Madrid
Great Spotted Woodpecker A total of 3
Calandra Lark Common
Crested Lark Very common
Thekla Lark 2, Rio Almonte
Wood Lark 2 or 3
Sky Lark 2, Belen Plains
Sand Martin Several, Arrocampo
CRAG MARTIN Common in mountains and towns
Barn Swallow Very common
House Martin Common
Red-rumped Swallow Several
Meadow Pipit Relatively common
Water Pipit 1, Rio Almonte
White Wagtail Common
Grey Wagtail 2, Rio Almonte
Wren A handful
ALPINE ACCENTOR 2, Montanchez
Black Redstart Several
Stonechat Relatively common
Northern Wheatear 2 or 3, Magasca Plains
BLACK WHEATEAR 2, Montanchez; 2, Cabañas
Blue Rock Thrush Several
Song Thrush A few
Mistle Thrush A few
Cetti’s Warbler Several heard
Zitting Cisticola Relatively common
Dartford Warbler 1 or 2
Sardinian Warbler Relatively common
Chiffchaff Relatively common
Willow Warbler 1, San Clemente
Long-tailed Tit A handful
Blue Tit Relatively common
Great Tit Relatively common
Crested Tit 1, Cabañas
Nuthatch A few
Short-toed Treecreeper Several
SOUTHERN GREY SHRIKE Several
Jay 3 or 4, Monfragűe
AZURE-WINGED MAGPIE Common
Red-billed Chough 1, Monfragűe
Common Starling 3 or 4, Madrid Airport
Spotless Starling Common
House Sparrow Common
Spanish Sparrow Common
Tree Sparrow 2, Vegas – Altas track
ROCK SPARROW 1, San Clemente + 2 ‘Leader Ticks’
Greenfinch A handful
Linnet A handful
Bullfinch A pair, San Clemente
RED AVADAVAT Several, Vegas –Altas track
(Cirl Bunting 1, Leader Tick only)
ROCK BUNTING A handful, Monfragűe
Reed Bunting 1 or 2, Arrocampo
Corn Bunting Lots!
Butterflies and Moths
Holly Blue (or Penoptes Blue or Green-underside Blue)
Otter 2, Monfragűe; 1, Arrocampo
Iberian Hare 2 or 3 on plains
Oryctes nasicornis (Rhinoceros Beetle) San Clemente
Xylocopa violacea (Carpenter Bee) San Clemente
REPTILES & AMPHIBIANS
Spanish Terrapin Several
Iberian Pool Frog Several
Yes the three musketeers are back on a roll around Norfolk on the first day of 2008 and definitely on a mission. The first bird of the day was an adult Med Gull right outside my bungalow at South Beach Rd Hunstanton.
Recent birding commitments have prevented me spending time in Norfolk and standing on the beach today has made me realise just how much I've missed it. I spent the best part of an hour scoping the Wash between Heacham and the jet ski ramp collecting Bar & Black Wit's, Knot, Sanderling, that adult Med Gull, Turnstone, Ringed Plover and a lone Red B Merganser. Oh yes ! not to mention the 10,000+ Pink Footed Geese making there way to feed on the fields around Ringstead for the day.
Fred Burton arrived at about 8.30 just in time to see me finish off my 4th coffee before departing to collect Charlie Dobbs. Our first decision was abortive as usual with Dersingham triangle giving up nothing." That's it "I said leave it to me Roydon it is for the Great Grey Shrike ," no problem " along with Green Woodpecker, Reed Bunting, Meadow Pipit and Hen Harrier ( Ringtail ). From here we called in at various sites on our way towards the coast including The Millennium Scrape, Mill House, Sandringham, Abbey farm and all the fields in between. This was very productive with Charlie showing off his bird call ID, Fred his super vision and my ability to run the lane's with 2 wheels in the ditch and half an hawthorn bush under the N/S wiper. . Birds on route inc Chaffinch, Greenfinch, Marsh Tit, Goldcrest, Goldfinch, L T Tit, Barnacle , Greylag, Canada and Lesser Snow Goose. Finding the Snow G in 5000+ Pink Feet is easy, must be I did it , just remember it's white and all the others are dark brown, "easy" .
Titchwell for the rest of the day seemed the best option and with the poor weather it proved a good decision . Here we collected Cornish Pastie, Bacon Batch and a very limp Cheese Sandwich ( first winter I thought ) plus Red & Spot Shank's, Water Rail (2), Barn Owl, Marsh Harrier, Common Snipe, Siskin, Redpoll, Golden & Grey P, Red Throated Diver & 4 Bewick's stacking in the mist for a landing at Thornham. In all 89 species no bad for 3 musketeers who's swords wilted many years ago, or have they ??
Keep On Birding Ken R ,Fred and Charlie 01/01/08
Owl's With Phil Lee !
Despite or because of our best efforts Sunday 1st April will always be the day that goes down in the "not too good "column of the Newsletter. Phil and myself did our utmost to make the trip memorable for the members but I feel that the day just beat us ! 57 Species is the lowest total yet and gives you an indication of how cold NE winds can stop all the migrants in their tracks, even the Red Flanked Bluetail passed on before we got there. The road to the point was closed ,we left late, lost Bern and I had a flat tyre after dropping everybody off. Our thanks must go to Phil for his efforts on the day THANKS PHIL FROM US ALL .
We were a week early for
Spurn. The road to the point was open again last
Without a doubt 06 has been the best year on the Scilly's since 1999. The variation in species and direction is stunning. 14 of our members, like my mates garage door business, had their ups and downs ( no change there then ) and enjoyed this magnificent spectacle. Our list includes enough Vagrant's Lifer's and Mega's to make your mouth water-- American Robin, American Golden Plover, Red Eyed Vireo, Blyth's Pipit, Artic Warbler, Aquatic Warbler, Booted Warbler, Firecrest, Yellow Browed Warbler, Tawny Pipit, Lapland Buntings', Bonelli's Warbler' Dotterel, Richards Pipit, Med Gull, Yellow Legged Gull, Wryneck, Bluethroat, Short Toed Lark, Black Redstart, Pied Wheatear plus many many more!! Along with all that came the BBC Wildlife camera unit who filmed the two best looking birders on the Island namely Neil Glenn and of course myself for two day's . We had a great time with them and hopefully the 30min program will be shown early next year ( eat your heart out "Oddie" )
Like I said " Last Time Ever" ( or is it ) Keep On Birding Ken R
Reservoir Report !
What a tremendous day I had swanning around the reservoirs of Northampton with John L + Fred B, Ellen S, Bob and Wendy Roberts and Tony Eaton. We attempted the impossible and did it. Not only did we do it but we did it in STYLE!
Shawell Gravel Pits gave us Green Sand, Common Snipe, Sparrowhawk, Lesser Black Back, Green Woodpecker, Swallow, House Martin, Skylark and common buzzard.
Next stop Stanford Res for Great Spotted Wood, Pochard, Long Tailed Tit, Grey Wag, Coal Tit, Tufted Duck, Greylag G, Canada G and a White Fronted/greylag x G. A short stop at the row of Beech trees on the road to Welford for Brambling was a little optimistic , but you can never tell as the years have proved.
I'll bet there's plenty of you that have never been to Holowell Res. It can be excellent on the right day but this was one of it's average one's. Much of what we had seen before plus flocks of migrating Swallows and House Martins + Common Buzzard. We shall return in the winter months and remember it's only 2 weeks ago when we had Black Tern here.
With time marching on we decided to miss out Ravensthorpe and go straight to flagship of the Northamptonshire's Reservoirs, Pitsford, and just as we arrived the heavens opened. Fortunately it didn't last too long giving us a plenty of time for a superb afternoon in the hides on the reserve. It was a real treat to find A juvenile Little Stint on the waters edge close to the 1st hide along with Black Tailed Godwit, Greater BB, Red Necked Grebe , Black Necked Grebe, Redshank, Common Snipe, Gargany in eclipse, Pintail, Common Teal, Ringed Plover, Common Gull and loads of Pied Wag's.
Just the one day trawling around these Reservoirs can be very rewarding . I will definitely be doing it again this winter." Watch this space"
Keep On Birding Ken R 4/10/06
The Pink Footer!
Norfolk February 18th & 19th, 2006
THE CAST: Neil, Charlie, Fred, Ken, Mike, Archie, Vicky, Ellen, Sue, Rose, Maureen J ,Sarah with a brief appearance by Di
SATURDAY, FEB 18TH
Everyone arrived on time at Ken’s house at 6.00am, just in time to hear a Tawny Owl calling: a good start to the weekend!
After an uneventful ride to Hunstanton via Heacham to pick up the Titchwell Toff, punctuated by more Pheasants than many of us had seen in one trip before, we dropped the luggage at the hotel and met Sarah, the last of the group to be picked up.
We were at Titchwell by 9.00am and decided to march to the beach in time for high tide, when the waders and seaduck would be closer. The only stop was to try and see a Cetti’s Warbler that was singing from the reeds. No such luck!
The sea was covered in sea duck, mostly Common Scoters, and the beach held several species of waders: what to look at first?! Two female Eiders were close inshore but fast asleep. Several Long-tailed Ducks showed well through a telescope and one or two people managed to sort out a Velvet Scoter from the Commons when the former obligingly flashed its white wing bars.
A Slavonian Grebe was found, being hassled by a Great Crested, and then a Red-throated Diver gave adequate views, showing off its ‘snooty’ jizz well. A few Red-breasted Mergansers were displaying out at sea (bobbing their heads up and down and diving frequently) and a lone Razorbill showed for us.
Mike (I think) found the Purple Sandpiper on the beach, conveniently stood by an obvious post making it easy to direct the rest of the group onto it. Not even Rose’s head dive into the sand could distract us from this attractive wader!
We moved into a better position to scan the waders. Several Sanderlings scuttled along the tideline but the Bar-tailed Godwits and Knot were all fast asleep. By this time, hunger was drawing us back to the minibus. The stroll back to the car park produced a few Snipe, Brent Geese, Black-tailed Godwits, Ruff, Avocets and hundreds of Golden Plovers on the pools and a distant Marsh Harrier.
We diverted to see a Woodcock in the thick undergrowth behind the visitor centre before eating a filling picnic lunch in the car park (courtesy of Maureen). We decided to have one more look for the Bramblings on the feeders. We were treated to superb views of a Coal Tit, a Long-tailed Tit, a superb male Siskin, etc but no Brambling.
Just as my deadline neared (2 mins to go!), Charlie spotted a beautiful male Brambling under the feeders allowing everyone a stunning view of this attractive finch. We could now leave this brilliant reserve well and truly sated.
The next stop was Choseley Barns, famous for its winter flocks of buntings and finches. Yellowhammers and Corn Buntings filled the hedges, with one or two showing closer on the farm yard. Charlie found another Brambling with the Chaffinches but the Lapland Bunting refused to play ball (as predicted) and remained hidden in the large stubble field. After negotiating the abysmal parking along the lane, we set off for Dersingham Bog.
The weather was stunning. The sun had shone from first light and continued to do so. Because of this, I was confident The Bog would produce singing Wood Larks and displaying Sparrowhawks and maybe even Goshawk and Crossbill.
The birds had other ideas, though, and only a Green Woodpecker showed well for our expectant band of birders. We headed back to the minibus for a revitalising cup of coffee and were entertained by a couple of Goldcrests, Long-tailed Tits and a Coal Tit. The Golden Pheasants refused to show for us around the Wolferton Triangle.
We dropped in at Heacham to see Charlie’s pet Mandarin. Sure enough, he was behaving himself (the duck, not Charlie) and allowed us to admire him from the comfort of the bus. The next stop was the sewage outfall for the gulls.
There were thousands of gulls on The Wash, mostly Black-headed but many Commons and a few Herring and Great Black-backs were also present. The main target here was Mediterranean Gull, though none were picked out. Archie suddenly shouted “Snow Buntings on the beach” and sure enough, there they were! They were feeding along the tideline on the busiest part of the beach just a few yards away – a real bonus for us! At least one of the males was coming into breeding plumage.
After a few had seen a Barn Owl over by the sewage farm, I attempted to move the van. No matter how I tried, I could not shift the handbrake! Fred made a thwarted attempt followed by Charlie. Just like it looked as if the day may come to an embarrassing, abrupt halt, Mike rescued the day with a bit of brute force!
We dropped Charlie off in Heacham and decided to end the day at Thornham Harbour. We immediately located the small Twite flock but they were very flighty. Only one or two of the group saw them on the ground but everyone managed to see them in flight and hear their distinctive call.
The sunset was developing nicely, and right on cue a few thousand Pink-footed Geese came into view across the orange sky. A few hundred Brent Geese followed to round off a superb day’s birding in perfect weather.
Our lovely evening meal was taken at the Le Strange Arms hotel. We were joined by Ken & Maureen and Charles & Di (not the Charles & Di, obviously). Afterwards, we retreated to the Sunningdales’ lounge for the bird log and Maureen’s greedy Woodpigeon story (HOW MANY PEANUTS?!!!!)
SUNDAY, FEB 19TH
Only five hardy souls opted for the pre-breakfast stroll along Hunstanton prom. We were rewarded with good views of Sanderling, Turnstone, Bar-tailed Godwit, Fulmar and an adult Mediterranean Gull just developing its black hood.
After breakfast, we decided to call in again at Thornham to try and get better views of the Twite. Once again they proved flighty, but with a bit of patience everyone managed to see one or two of these finches through the ‘scopes.
On the way to Holkham NNR, we stopped at Burnham Norton where Charlie had spotted an owl on a post. This turned out to be a Barn Owl that gave us jaw-dropping views as it flew past us just a few yards away. A Peregrine blasted through and a Marsh Harrier settled on a bush in the distance. A nice spot to linger but it was time to move on.
After dispatching Ken to sort the Black Brant from the Brents along Lady Anne’s Drive, we drove down to try and locate the White-fronted Geese. All we saw was ONE Pink-footed Goose (Norman No-mates) and a few Fieldfares. We rejoined Ken who had done his job and found the Brant. Everyone managed to distinguish this American visitor by its darker colour, silver flank patches and thick white neck collar. A Merlin caused some excitement as it zipped over the marsh and disappeared through the trees.
We marched across the saltings in search of the Shore Larks and Snow Buntings. We managed to see plenty of Sky Larks but their rarer cousins just weren’t co-operating. We decided to embark on another seawatch instead.
The dunes afforded a bit of shelter from the cold wind allowing us to scan the sea in relative comfort. The Red-necked Grebes were soon located, one or two Velvet Scoters could be picked out and an immature Eider caused a bit of confusion until it poked its head up to show its white throat and thick bill. The undoubted star of the show was the Black-throated Diver close inshore.
Just as everyone was heading back to the minibus for some warming food and drink, I met someone who had just been watching the Shore Larks. Fred, Sarah and me trudged to the far western end of the saltings and were rewarded with superb views of this attractive lark amongst the Snow Bunting flock.
After a leg-aching walk to Wells, we met up with the rest of the group, busily scoffing their sandwiches (and chocolate muffins, Archie. Yummy!). We had concocted a story that we had seen 7 Crossbills on the walk through Wells Woods, only to be trumped by Ken who claimed 22. Neither believed each other so it was an honourable draw!
After picking our luggage up from the hotel, we continued on to West Newton where a couple of Common Redpolls had been reported. As we arrived, Ken already had them in his scope view but the noise of the minibus scared them off. The flock led us a merry dance for a few minutes before settling in a bush at the end of the field. At least one Common was picked out, being paler than the Lessers, and with a pink flush to its breast.
Unfortunately, only two of us managed to see the Lesser Spotted Woodpecker that flew over the field. As we were about to leave, three Common Buzzards frolicked over the wood and a Barn Owl showed distantly.
The last destination of the weekend was Roydon Common. It was a case of wrap-up-warm as the wind was picking up. Almost immediately, we picked out a female Hen Harrier, followed by a ghostly pale male. Another ‘ring-tail’ joined the fun watched over by an immature male sat in a bush. No Merlins could be found on the usual perches.
Over the weekend, 116 species were recorded plus Feral Pigeon (yes, Feral, Ken!) and Black Brant (currently a sub-species of Brent Goose). The weather on Saturday couldn’t have been better but Sunday was cold and dull (but at least it didn’t rain!).
The group had plenty of laughs on the way and I hope all thoroughly enjoyed their time in this wonderful county and managed to learn a little bit: I know I did!
We covered only a tiny fraction of this huge county. A lot of heart-breaking decisions had to be made as to which sites and birds to miss out of the itinerary. We will just have to return next year!
Neil ‘The Editorial Critic’ Glenn
Scillies 2005 ( Just a little bit quiet!)
Yes and it was, just that little bit quiet. Or perhaps were getting just that little bit older, but one thing is for certain, the Island gets that little bit bigger every time I walk it. So perhaps it's a bloody good job no "biggie" was called during the week or we would have all filled the emergency ward @ St Mary's hospital. We arrived on the Island with the usual ambition to quickly mop up the species you need for the magic life list .First call Lower Moors for Blackpoll Warbler and for those who couldn't save the bus fare for the Nott's Sora Rail there was a quick trip to the Hilda Quick and with a Jack Snipe along the way @ Shooters Pool, a bonus for some. Now it was time to find our own MEGA , if that's at all possible with 4 pensioners, 5 Knackrered Twitchers ,5 cake lovers and 3 has been's. All that aside we still managed to get a respectable total for the week that included, Snow Bunting, Lapland Bunting, Richards Pipit, many Yellow Browed Warblers, Firecrest, Great Northern Diver, Hawfinch, Sooty Shearwater's, Great Skua, Ring Ouzel, Ring Necked Duck, 2 Spoonbills, Peregrine with a touch of Saker in it ( Ian Lewington has been challenged to explain Why!!! ), Merlin ,Hen Harrier, Black Redstart, a shower of Siskins,Razorbill, guillemot, White Wag, Grey Wag, Med Gull, Hooded Crow, Black Wit's and Bar Wit's and Curlew Sand Oh yes not to forget Clouded Yellow ( Photo to follow from Phil Lee) and Humming Bird Hawkmoth. I suppose when you put it that way the Scillies wasn't so bad after all. Well done all 17 of you and I am listing you as well!!
Fred& Linda B, Ellen S & Ron C, Charlie & Di Dobbs, John Lowe, Phil Lee, Stuart Emmerson , Brenda W, Jane Spick, Steve & Denise Holland, Archie & Vicky G and for the very last time myself Keep On Birding Ken R
Members on this trip- Mo ( Credit Card ) Reeves, Fred ( Flusher ) Burton, Rose ( Euro ) Mander, John ( Group Captain) Lowe, Linda ( Where's Fred ) Burton, Mike ( R B Fly) Thomas, Mick ( Channel 5 ) Bagshaw and of course ME ( the good looker ) Reeves.
Six "Res" in one day, can't be done they said, Oh yes it can I said, and 8 members went out to prove it. You would have thought that a cold North Easterly travelling across land gives up some of it's "bite" , well we can assure you it doesn't. It was COLD (BL--DY COLD), so well wrapped, fully flasked up! with coffee and just a hint of RUM we set off for the first stop Shawell Gravel Pits, second stop Stanford Res, third stop Rothersthorpe Res, 4th stop Pitsford Res, 5th stop Earls Barton and finally Draycote Res. Well there it is all six, wait a minuet ,what about the birds we saw, Oh yes ! well here they are- Sparrow H, Common Buzzard Goosander , Barnacle , Canada , Greylag , Brent, Greylag, LBB, GBB, BHG, Common G, BHG, Little G, Med G. Lap, Snipe, Golden P, Grey P, Little Ringed P, Dunlin, Sanderling, Common Sand, Green Pec, Great Pec, Lesser Pec, Chiffchaff, Blackcap Gold C, Marsh Tit, Willow Tit, Siskin, Tree S, House S, Yellow H , Reed B, Red Kite, Golden Eye, Plus-plus-plus All the usual Ducks and Corvids , Hot Soup, Frozen Fingers and a strong North Easterly causing me loads of problems up my left trouser leg!!!! ( can anybody find my string please)
WE WERE THERE , WHERE WERE YOU!
Keep On Birding Ken R 28/2/04
Dec Trip to Norfolk!
Members on this trip- Fred "the flusher", Steve & Denise "inside Lane" Holland, Dave "spindryer" Mason, Jeff & Enid"Mickeyfinally Mouse" Duffy, Bob "The Greasy Chip" Wale, Neil "Sweetbread" Pinkard, Ellen"Claret" Sandeman, Mike"R B Fly "Thomas, Chris& Wendy" Thinking about a name " Ecob, Sue "Never Any Problem" Bygraves, Linda" Where's Fred "Burton , Charlie "The Titchwell Toff "Dobbs and of course the good looking one "ME"!
Our last trip of 04 suffered a last minute change at the hands of a large reserve on the Ouse with loads of wild swans (wonder who that is? ). Every time we go there something's wrong , don't think we will bother with them again. So guess what! we called on our old favourite THE NORTH NORFOLK GRAND PRIX . Seventeen birders fully kitted out and bulging with Christmas spirit, well I think that's what the spirit was ,( Ellen certainly looked like the cork would have been best left in the bottle), headed for our first pit stop @ Dersingham for Bacon Cob, Coffee, Egg roll ,Tea and, Oh yes !Great Spotted Peck, Mistle Thrush, Goldfinch , Linnet and Kestrel around the car park . Here we go, here we go, here we go! And we did . First lap straight to Thornham for super views of Twite (30), Lapland Bunting (bathing) and a very energetic Sparrowhawk giving the Plover flocks on the marsh a hard time. Lap two with plenty of oversteer to Stiffkey Fen and a very confiding Lesser Yellow Legs along with a good looking Ross's Goose ( Pentney's got alot to answer for), load's of Lapwing, a lone Kingfisher and two bohemian Waxwing that called in to tick our members off their list. Lap three, clocking the fastest lap, to the good old standby Titchwell . Great couple of hour's here with everybody enjoying the last hour's of daylight. Sea watching produced- Long Tailed Duck, Red Throated Diver , Goldeneye, Common Scoter, Velvet Scoter(13), Eider and Red Breasted Merganser. The Reserve produced- Black T& Bar T God's, Ruff, Spot Shanks , Red Shank's, Dunlin ,Grey @ Gold Plover's, Avocet Pintail, "Sammy", Merlin, Shelduck, Wigeon, Brent, Pink Feet( Bl--dy Thousands),Curlew , Hen Harrier,Water Rail and not so much as a "tweek" out of the Artic & Lesser red's. Last Lap, Flat out toward's home , the Christmas light's @ Eye and the Chequered Flag.
GREAT CLUB ! GREAT PEOPLE.! GREAT DAY!
MERRY CHRISTMAS TO YOU ALL
The following story is one that just must be told. As a part time betting man I would say the odds on all these things happening on just one trip would be at least 500000 to 1. Who could say that with all my careful preparation, I would lose the airline tickets within half an hour of arriving at Penzance! enlist the help of the local "plod", be overweight with the luggage! thought it would be a quiet year! and be stranded for two day's because of terrible weather, I certainly didn't.
Members on this 7 to 9 day comedy outing were- Phil "man of steel" Lee, John "group captain " Lowe, Charlie "the Titchwell Toff" Dobbs, Fred "the flusher" Burton, Dave&Pauline" spin dryer" Mason , Linda "where's Fred" Burton , Steve & Denise" inside lane" Holland & myself Ken" the good looking one "Reeves, well it is my report!
It all got off to a bad start when an un-named birder at the Hayle insisted a euro Teal with a bit of down showing in the breeze was a green winged, I can't see it, I can't see it I said, trying in a polite way to make him realise his mistake, did he?. did he hell. So after slitting the tyres & smashing the screen on the Espace We made our way to St Ives only to be confronted with a car park attendant at the Lighthouse who had suffered a charisma By-Pass .Full, Full, Full he shouted, then proceeded to give us a super" Gorilla" impression. So picking the dead flies off my glasses, remember the smashed screen! we made our way to meet up with Phil ,that didn't happen either, we missed him twice and had a very quiet day. Even the "wring it's neck " at Lands End didn't show. But the best was left till last when at Sennen we discovered a 2nd winter Med Gull along with 9 Purple Sands ,passing Razorbills, a tasty piece of carrot cake at the cafe and a carpet of Turnstones.
Saturday dawned after a long sleepless night wondering where the tickets had vanished too! And guess what! they were in the bedroom( S-D IT). So with the afterburners glowing and only hours to spare we arrived for our 15 Mins flight to the birders MECCA , the SCILLY'S This must be my ------ time , put it this way I can remember when the Hotel on St Martins was only a glint in the developers eye. Courser, Courser, Courser was the cry and the skybus driver duly obliged by dropping us at the golf course. What a bird ! truly magnificent, a moving experience understood only by the true birder and Steve Young who spent so much time up there he 's been given life membership at the club.
Sunday Courser over, where too now was the cry! Bhryer for Ortolan bunting and Lesser Poll's was the shout, and why not we all said. It turned out to be a really good day with great views of the OB and Poll's along with Buzzard over Tresco, Hoodie's (5 ) 2 good , 1 fair, 1 not so good, 1 definatly crap) and the long staying Artic Skua through the roads .That's it ,back to the Bishop.
Monday The islands had been pretty quiet for the previous week so the boatmen decided to take a 3 island trip for those who thought they could dig out a "Meg". Samson , Annet & Agnes were the targets , good idea we said as we boarded "Britannia" for the day. Negotiating the beach without a jetty turned out to be delicate job .Ask Fred , he took a great dive, one that Emil Heskey would have been proud of. It's now my turn to take to take the pill , or is it ? After walking only 200yds I spotted a small grey thrush with two Songie;s on a path. The idea of covering the island ground immediately to a halt with everybody eagerly waiting for a peep as 4 birders including the ever willing Dick Philby Tried a flush .With time running out and no sighting of the thrush I beat a quiet retreat to the "Brit" and the ride to Annet. Here we go again ,even bigger problems trying to land on rocks ,all good fun though. Annet produced - A Roosting Short Eared Owl, Rock Pipits, Gannets and Seal Pup's on the beach. Back onboard and heading for a favourite island of mine St Agnes.Barred Warbler was the target and without the keen eye of Phil Lee it would have been missed, thank's mate. During the interval a very confiding Firecrest gave us a display worth every penny of the boat fare. Oh Well back to the "bish".
Tuesday On St Marys for the day seemed like a good idea and it started well with Black Redstart@ the Hospital and Short Toed Lark on Penninis and to our delight a Kingfisher skimmed across the bay at Old Town.The next port of call was Porthellic bay for a delightfully confiding Yellow Browed Warb that not only gave us all great views but sang to us as well. Onward on to the down and if we thought the YBW was good , what about the Lapland & Snow bunt's ,they were stunning !! giving views down to 1 metre, needless to say we stayed mesmerised by their antic's On our stroll back to town we collected RB Fly &, yes you guessed it , called in at the " bish"
Wednesday Rain, Rain, and more Rain . We spent the day around the Garrison collecting "Icky" and Firecrest on Lower Broom ,Whimbrel on Porthcressa, Redwings and Skylark's on the football pitch . Lost Fred, he was not a happy chap when we legged it to the dump clump for Pallas Warb still he got the Spot fly instead. From the dump we dragged our wet trainers back to the , wait for it! the good old "Bish".
Thursday Comments are under construction
Friday The day dawned embracing a very strong SW wind so a walk around Porthloo to the Leeward side of Mary's was a must. On our way we collected , 1st winter Med Gull, Black Redstart and a very washed/greenie/pied/no chance cit wag/only to be called next day as the afore mentioned Cit Wag with BIB, never mind Sh-t happens .The walk around Bar Point was very quiet and calm with a number of Shag (134), Femail Blackcap, Goldcrest and more Black Reds. And I am just not telling you where we ended the day but I'm sure you can work that out for yourselves.
Saturday It was pi--ing it down and blowing like an old "barge horse" so absolutely no chance of getting off the island today. This was later confirmed during our abortive trip to the airport the inside of which looked like the A&E department at our local hospital, overcrowded, hot and smelly. Beating a hasty retreat back to town we were confronted with the prospect of finding a roof over our heads for 2 days , in stepped the Knight in shining armour, well Tony Dingley & Island Properties. He gave us 3 super flats in town @ no extra cost. Thank's once again for the help Tony. Our Afternoon was spent around the Garrison and Town beaches with sightings of Gannets , Sooty Shearwater and razorbill and just when we thought the day was over Philby comes up trump's again with Little Bunting , a quick call to the taxi man and off we went. great views of this little gem was had by all. this certainly gave us plenty to talk about back at headquarters.
Sunday What a glorious day , blue sky & sunshine all the way , just the day to visit the great little island of St Martins. The decision proved to be a good one with Sanderling ,Dunlin , Ringed P, Magpie!! Merlin, Raven, Rock Pip's and load's of goldcrest. Although the weather had improved the swell was high ,needless to say our journey back to Mary's was not without it's ups and downs. Bu--er it just when we landed some birder with no consideration for others called Red Back Shrike@ Old Town .With the speed of light and the help of the minibus we arrived @ Old Town for good views of the RBS feeding along the hedge in bright sunshine. I think the lounge bar at the "bish" looks much better when the sun shines.
Monday At last were going home but not till 3.30pm, still in my experience something always turn's up at the last minuit .Sitting quietly on a seat @ Porthmellon this possibilty seemed very remote, wrong , wrong, wrong OVENBIRD , TAXI, RUN LIKE HELL, SWEAR, SWEAT, GASP FOR BREATH , familiar words and with only an hour to spare before the flight home.But we did it , not good , but we did it . This year will go down in history as the week of two ends, Courser one end ,Ovenbird the other and very little to shout about in between. Still there's always next year! And be certain of one thing ,we will be there!!
Ken R 10/12/04
This was the last in a series of educational walks arranged by Hinckley and Bosworth Council to commerate the canal bi-centenary. Our job was to walk the canal towpath from Bosworth to Carlton looking for all the bird life en route. Canal towpaths at this time of the year are not bursting with bird life, but despite this we still managed to see- Common Buzzard, Red Kite, Barn Swallow, House Martin , Garden Warbler, Blackcap, Bullfinch, Goldcrest Mistle Thrush ( family) , Nuthatch and Great Spotted Woodpecker. Because of prior commitments namely waiting for the autumn "MEGA", Legging it around the Scillies for a "MEGA" and cutting the grass for my long suffering wife we will not be leading any walks until Boxing Day. See you then . Keep on Birding! Ken R.
A creditable 11 birders braved the "lousy" weather forecast to boost their life list and see the magnificent Montegue's "arrier". Our first stop on Sat at Blatherwyck was rewarded with close views of Red Kite , Common Buzzard, Common Tern and Black Swan, Who said Black Swan? Needless to say they walked home!
We were invited to the first days opening of the Frampton Marsh "Arrier " watchpoint , pity they didn't show even after we had the courtesy to show up ! With the rain approaching I decided to make a hurried excursion to another site known only to myself and 10,000 other birders on the Wash, we were rewarded with stunning views of an adult Montague's Harrier hunting the fields behind us ( please ask the 10,000 other birders where the site is "cos" i'm not telling you.). After settling ourselves into the Sunningdale Hotel at Hunstanton and a fish & chip meal at 77 South Beach Rd we headed for Dersingham Bog for the Nightjars the Woodcocks and the dreaded Mozie's. It was one of those quiet evenings with only 2 good views of nightjar and 1 of the illusive Woodcock. The night unfolded into a story that will be told (no doubt ) at a later date. Sunday dawned raining first thing only to clear 1hr later into bright sunshine. With my foot to the boards we headed for the "brek's " . What a great day with Golden O's, Hobby, Stone Curlew , woodlark ,Spot Fly, Green Woodpecker, Curlew Sand , Ruff ( with collar ) and Bittern.Dragonflys @ Lakenheath were - Hairy, Brown Hawker ,4Spot, Black Tailed Skimmer and Southern Hawker .
The Nightingale feeding young and Ellen's attempts to see the very rapid Kingfisher flying past the Hide kept us all amused @ Paxton Pits or were we tired , don't ask me I was asleep. Many Thanks to you all , you are all worth your money .
Keep On Birding! Ken R
The day of the famous 5 , yes the famous and why not, we were the silly bu---rs trawling around Norfolk grinding out the raptors in decidedly dodgy weather .Our first stop a little known site near Dersingham gave great views of Short Eared & Barn Owls. we were defiantly on our way. Next stop Flitcham collecting Merlin, Little Owl, Marsh Harrier & Rough Legged Buzzard ( why we then travelled on to Gt Massingham for the afore mentioned RLB will no doubt be told in a later embarrassing story) Upward & onward to the good old standby Titchwell sighting Kestrel,& Common Buzzard on the way
We arrived at Titchwell to discover a binocular blocking Male Hen Harrier giving a flypast for the tired 5. Add to this 3 Ringtails 2 Barns 3 Marsh Harriers and a sound barrier busting Peregrine scattering a terrified flock of 1500 Golden plovers and I don't think we had a bad day! Coffee's gone, sarnie's gone , daylight's gone , it's time to head for the ranch. Thanks to the other 4. Fred (Hawkeye ) Burton, Jeff (Mickey mouse) Duffy, Bob (more chips on his bonnet than from his fish shop ) Whale & Charlie ( the titchwell toff) Dobbs
Keep On Birding Ken R! 16/12/03
It was on a Sunday morning the 10th March 1996 that I saw my first ever Lesser White–fronted Goose. Hempholme near Beverley was the place and as I leant against a wooden fence surveying the geese a chap came up and leant next to me. He proceeded to tell me that he had just returned from a trip to the island of Islay and that it would live forever in his memory for 2 reasons. Firstly for the shear numbers of wild geese there and secondly for the vast array of malt whiskies the island produces. He concluded that its one of those places that a birder must see at least once. Now being a keen birder and an even keener sampler of the ‘malt water of life’ I locked the info away in the ‘to do’ column of my overcrowded memory.
So here we were nearly 6 years on and the Burbage Birders famous five of Ken ‘Mr.fix it’ Reeves, Fred ‘hawk eye’ Burton, John ‘no work tomorrow’ Lowe, Richard ‘digi’ Jackson and yours truly Phil Lee were about to see if the tale was true.
FRIDAY NOV 28th
As we sped along the A83 we noted that the summit rocks on ‘The Cobbler’ (Ben Arthur) were snow covered and we eventually reached Kennacraig at 12 noon along with the rain. (9.5 hours travel) As we waited to board the ferry we watched ‘Tysties’ – Black Guillemot in their unfamiliar winter plumage that caused initial confusion but the white wing patch and red feet soon gave them away. Watching from the deck of the ‘Hebridean Isles’ we saw numerous G.N.Diver, Eider, R.B.Merganser, Shag and a solitary Otter and Little Gull almost made us forget about the rain and the fact that we were having to ‘dance’ to stand still on a deck that was by now rolling in the swell. We sailed into Port Askaig in the late afternoon and drove the full 50 yards from the ferry to the hotel. AftTwite.er checking in we just had daylight enough to drive north to the distillery at Bunnahabhain. Here as I stared at the buildings wondering just how much whisky was inside Richard spotted an adult Iceland Gull sat upon the pier. As the light faded we returned to the hotel and noted that now all the crows were Hooded and Buzzards and Ravens were everywhere.
SAT NOV 29th
We awoke to pouring rain that was to persist all day on what was to prove to be the wettest day on Islay for 5 years according to the locals. Unperturbed we ate our full ‘Scottish’ breakfast watching Song Thrush, Blackbirds and Robin having theirs on the lawn. The espace proved a good hide as we drove along stopping often to scan the vast flocks of barnacle geese for any ‘odd ones’. A scan of Loch Indaal at Blackrock gave us Whooper Swans, at least 3 Slav Grebes, 100’s of Scaup, R.T.Diver, Pintail, Wigeon, Goldeneye and waders included Bar–tailed Godwit, Knot and Grey Plover. At Loch Gruinart we saw huge flocks of truly wild Rock Doves, thousands of Barnacle Geese (16,000 on the reserve), large flocks of Greenland White–fronted Geese and raptors included Sparrowhawk, Hen Harrier and Buzzard. Large finch flocks fed in the fields and included all the common ones and From the hide Richard (again) picked out a drake Green–winged Teal in the Teal flock and flocks of Snipe, Golden Plover and Lapwing were kept active by the 3 patrolling Ringtail Hen Harriers. As we drove alongside Loch Gruinart towards Ardnave, Phil spotted a Red–breasted Goose amongst the Barnacles (good job Richard’s bins had steamed up). Up at Ardnave 6 Choughs were seen close alongside the car. As the rain still poured we sought temporary shelter in the bakery at Bowmore and a visit to the local Spar shop allowed us to buy some of the Islands best malts for winter consumption by the fire. Purely medicinal reasons of course! As the light faded a tour of the back roads around Bowmore produced yet more huge goose flocks amongst which Richard (now becoming annoying) spotted a Pink–footed Goose and a European White–fronted Goose. We returned to the hotel to find that they had had quite a day of their own. A new road was being constructed from the ferry up the steep hill out of Port Askaig past the hotel but due to the dry summer just how the local beck would behave under spate conditions had never been tested. Until today! It flowed straight into the hotel car park and down the dip at the back of the hotel and had come up to within an inch of the kitchen windowsill before the local estate workers managed to build a bank and divert its course.
SUN NOV 30th
The morning dawned clear and calm and we were to have blue skies and sunshine all day. We drove to the Mull of Oa on the SW corner of the Island in search of Eagles. Parking at Upper Killyean Farm we walked to the cliff tops and to the American monument, built to commemorate the loss of 266 Americans from the HMS Tuscania torpedoed by a German sub in 1918 and also the 431 lives lost when the HMS Otranto collided with a boat in a storm, also in 1918. We didn’t see any Eagles but did see Peregrine and Fulmars and the exercise did us good. Returning to Loch Gruinart, we drove up the east side until a gate stopped any further vehicular progress. Walking on we scanned the shoreline spotting Greenshank and Sanderling when somebody (yes, Richard again) shouted Golden Eagle, which we scoped for several minutes over the hilltop. We drove back to Loch Gruinart reserve and used up the remaining light scooping through the thousands of geese including Grey Lags, but again couldn’t pick out any dodgy Canada’s.
MON DEC 1st (White rabbits)
A clear frosty morning and we had to leave the hotel at 8.30am to drive across the Island to Port Ellen to catch the ferry back to Kennacraig, and the long journey home returning to the Sapcote .
The chap at Hempholme all those years ago was right. Islay is a special place, full of geese and malt whiskies and it will live long in the memory. In fact I’m already looking forward to a return visit soon, but setting aside at least 4 full days on the island due to the short winter days. In all we saw almost 100 species of bird as well as Roe and Red Deer, Otter and Grey Seal and Richard had seen the majority first. Ken said this was due to him being the youngest. I think it was because he was the only one to add water to his evening tipple!
We must thank the people who ran the hotel who made us feel most welcome and chatted to us at length. Indeed we will always remember the night that the young barmaid stormed from the kitchen, through the dining room exclaiming, ‘I’m on my way to being an alcoholic’ to which we immediately replied ‘hang on, we’ll come with you’! The food too was excellent with whisky even in the gravy and mixed in with the toffee sauce on our evening desserts.
The little woman who cooked our breakfasts, although at times easily confused also had a dry sense of humour. On the first morning Ken had kippers that caused a slight delay. On the second morning he had haddock poached in milk that caused a longer delay. On the third morning has we awaited Ken’s arrival she enquired in her broad Scottish accent ‘ I wonder what your wee friend will want me to go and catch for him this morning’!
My passion for birding is new in my family but my passion for malt whisky is hereditary. In fact my Fathers last request to my older brother and me was that we should sprinkle whisky over his grave. This we agreed to do on the proviso that we could drink it first!
Don’t forget It’s grim up north. Phil
Scillies OCT 03
Should we, shouldn't we, will we, won't we, these were the questions we asked ourselves, should we stop on the Islands our should we stay on the mainland and Twitch the Islands if one of those mega rarities arrives After much deliberation and a trip to the Building Society for an extension on the mortgage , we decided to spend the extra and stay on those glorious Islands, after all its always the odd years that are the best, remember '79 '87 '97 & '99 and now '03. Arriving on the Island mid morning Thursday we were jogged into immediate action by the arrival of a Bobolink on Bhryer, a great bird that gave excellent views to the gathered throng. Friday was the day to catch up with that stunning Grey Cheek Thrush, and what a little cracker that was , a real classic of a bird , my 5th but a 1st for the other 7 members, not a bad start for the 1st two days. Saturday was definitely a day to look towards the east with Pallas Warbler, Rustic Bunting, Lapland Bunting and Tawny Pipit, throw in as many Firecrests as I have ever seen, a sprinkling of YBW's a well marked Wimbrel, and Liz McCoulgan would have been proud of us on our marathon around St Mary's. Sunday was our dip day, isn't it strange that every year we fall for the same old cry of Great Snipe, but we never see it, wonder why? Still our consolation prize for the day was a superbly marked Siberian Chiffchaff at Carn Friers lane. Surely our luck would not hold, but Monday proved us wrong .What about that Little Crake at Porthhellick is this our best for the day or not, you might think so, but add 150 plus Dolphin, Slavonian Grebe and a Monarch Butterfly and this certainly gave us plenty to talk about in the Bishop and Wolf at our regular nightly meetings over a pint of Guinness. We decided to have a quiet Tuesday shuffling around St. Agnes in search of our own little rarity and all was going to plan with great views of Ringed Ouzel, Firecrest, Y.B.W and Black Redstart, when the proverbial balloon went up. Swainsons was the shout and we dutifully followed but after spending 2 hours searching we failed to connect with the little s-d. Still it certainly made for an exciting finish to the day. Wednesday was the day we decided to go our separate ways, Phil to Bryer, bless him he needs Swainsons for his list, Mike T, John Lowe, and Archie Gilbert headed for Holy Vale and the elusive RB Fly, Fred Mo, and myself spent the day on St.Martins. Our day was a mixture of Richards Pipit, Raven, Peregrine, 157 Sanderling and a Firecrest in every bush, by now I am sure the Club members now know the call of this little bird. Well this is it our day to go home but as always the Scillies has the last word in this case a super Olive Backed Pipit in the same field as Water Pipit at Salakee Farm. That's it folks we all said, just at the same time as an Isabelline Shrike was found on St. Martins, I prefer to think that it had arrived over night and that we did not miss it on our previous days visit to the Island (Bu--er it). Fortunatly a very obliging Pilot on Sky Bus ,with a bit of arm twisting ,flew us along the St. Martins beach which let me , and only me , twitch the Shrike from the rear seat of a Britten-Norman Islander on our way home (you can believe that if you like)!!!
Our Midlands Marathon team consisted of :- Fred Hawkeye Burton, John The Rocket Lowe, Phil the jet Lees, Archie Bring on the Oranges Gilbert, Mike I WILL! see the R.B.Fly Thomas, Ken damn this Tennis Elbow Reeves and the girls Steph and Maureen. Lets face it I dare not say anything about them. Thanks for your company.
Keep on Birding Ken W Reeves.
A great weekend was had by all, if you don't believe me try this for size! Sat night 28th June , Woodcock, Barn Owl, Tawny Owl & superb views of nightjar ,a dozen in all, calling, churring and generally keeping those mozie's down. The insect infested location was Dersingham Bog but with views like that who cares, we certainly didn't. Sun 29th, Whimbrel, Turtle Dove, Peregrine, Stone Curlew, Woodlark, Monty's Harrier with prey, Golden O's & many,many great birds ,over 100 species in all . A really good two day's with three of the best birders I know ,thanks lads you can come again !! , .Perhaps Charlie might even open his wallet next time! ( no damn chance of that in my lifetime)
Thanks to Linda ,for the food , Stella for the Lager & Vauxhall for the Astra.
Keep On Birding
For one weeks intensive birding we based ourselves at the Hotel Anaya in the little village of Puente La Reina about 15km from the town of Jaca. The week was spent revisiting the places found the previous year by our tour leader. These included the viewpoint at Lumbier, Gabardito in the Hecho valley, the sandstone pinnacles at Riglos, the town of Jaca, the woods of Oroel and the high mountain passes of Sanport and Portolet.
The scenery was absolutely stunning. The mountains, the meadows full of flowers, the countless butterflies that I couldn’t name except Swallowtail and Large Tortoiseshell. The birds too were unforgettable and every bird we saw we saw well with close sometimes crippling views. In total we saw about 130 species between the 9 of us and I got 18 lifers. Its too much to list them all but the main ones seen were, Black Kite ( by the hundreds ), Griffon Vulture ( also by the hundreds ), Spotless Starling, Egyptian Vulture ( into the teens ), Crested Lark, Tawny Pipit, Nightingale ( everywhere ), Booted Eagle, Serin, Montagu’s Harrier, White Stork ( nesting on church roofs ), Red Kite ( at nest feeding young ), Bonnelli’s Warbler, Cirl Bunting, Melodious Warbler, Cetti’s Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Honey Buzzard, Crag Martin, Bonnelli’s Eagle, Blue Rock Thrush, Short-toed Eagle, Red Backed Shrike, Woodchat Shrike, Black Woodpecker, Chough, Alpine Chough, Wallcreeper ( pair at nest ), Lammergeier ( 5 together ), Crested Tit, Rock Thrush, Short-toed Treecreeper, Citral Finch, Black-bellied Dipper, Great Reed Warbler, Bee Eater, Marsh Harrier, Sardinian Warbler, Peregrine, Alpine Swift, Black Wheatear, Firecrest, Scops Owl, Eagle Owl, Water Pipit, Rock Bunting, Rock Sparrow, Hoopoe, Pallid Swift, Golden Eagle, Black Vulture and Hobby. The days were long and tiring, the weather started hot and gradually cooled as the week went on. The local people were all patient with us and very few could speak English but luckily nearly all had a sense of humour. Like one old lad in the local shop, when I enquired about the contents of his salad sandwiches I made a chicken like squawk wondering if it was in fact chicken. He just laughed at me and said ‘Si Senor, Pollo’ and then said ‘ you must be English’!
Many thanks must go to Karl Dutton our leader for an unforgettable weeks birding.
Don’t forget – Its grim up North
Phil & Steph
Ring Their Neck Parakeets!
What a day! What a racket! What a sight! If you have never witnessed the evening roost of Ring Neck Parakeets In Surrey you have never lived! Every time I go there's always that moment just before the sun sets over the Esher semis roofs, when panic sets in , will they or wont they, and just when you think they wont, they do! 1500+ of the noisiest, silliest birds return to their traditional roost at Esher Rugby Club . Eight members of the club were once again silenced by the spectacle of these "nutters " charging in from every corner of Esher to spend the night in poplars surrounding the pitch! This was the end of a great days birding around the M25. Mention the LONDON area to us rural types and the shakes set in , why for gods sake, we had a really superb day. Our first site was Virgina Water for the Mandarins, throw in Kingfisher, treecreeper ,nuthatch, Great spots, lesser spot&Green pecks and we think it started well. Moving on to Frensham Little & Great Pools gave us sightings of Woodlark, Stonechat, Swallow , House Martin , Sand Martin, Linnet, Redpoll, and Goldfinch, another not bad! Don't mention staines somebody said, but we did! Our last call was Staines Res, cold & windy, but well worth the effort. We spent an hour ID,ing Common/artic terns, must go ,could not find any Arctic's, try that heavy bill and elongated cap, also bill colour changing on one of them, sorry for that! Oh by the way anybody got a name for that large green parrot wi
Sitting On " Archie " !
Sunday the 17th was a strange day for me when it started with a juvenile Artic Skua in a paper bag being handed in at Holmes Obs. It was given to RSPB Titchwell in the morning after being discovered on the beach exhausted. To get a good view of this bird we had to sit on " Archie " well not exactly sit on him but his new seat outside the obs it's got a plaque on it that states " A Birder NOT a Twitcher " . If he was still here I could remind him of 1999 on "Aggie" running to the post office to see the Whites Thrush. Still, it's a great position to see all the migrants on route so with that in mind we must all just-
Keep On Birding Ken R
Red Veined Darters!
Just phoned Mike Thomas but no reply. Carl Baggott and I had two immature Red-veined Darters at the northern end of Huncote Embankment late this morning. They were in the sheltered area between the bank and the hedge. I put the news out on Birdguides but they don't seem to have included it on their latest page as yet otherwise Birdline midlands, etc might have picked up on the message.
We have also seen grass snakes over the last couple of weeks in the same area as the darters around the piles of chippings where they had to cut down the trees under the power lines last year.
A Great day @Titchwell
Yes it was definitely a superb day @ the UK'S leading reserve Fred B , Charlie D, Tony Eaton and myself did the whole day @ Titchwell . It was one of the best day's we have ever had as a club. Passing all our Knowledge on to the beginners is very rewarding . To witness people walking away from the hides talking about the things they have learnt in our company really make it all worthwhile . Thanks must go to the RSPB for agreeing to let us into their hides and Neil Glenn for his help over the last year
Thank's again Keep On Birding Ken R
Book signing@ Titchwell
Sunday's the day the club members are at Titchwell to support Neil Glenn at his book signing and offer the beginners all the help they need to identify some of the more difficult species on the reserve. It's a great day for the profile of the club with the promise of media coverage for the event and massive satisfaction for our members. Any members who feel they can help should contact me NOW!!
Keep on Birding Ken R
Titchwell for the day !!
When we came up with the idea of going into the hides at Titchwell for the day everything seemed fine . But to spend the day answering all those awkward questions on ID struck total fear into the members hearts.
Just 3 of us were prepared to face the crowds, Charlie, Mike Thomas & myself . It was much better than we expected, no it was better than that, it was fantastic!! with birds and birders coming from all directions. Red Phal, Wood Sand , Green Sand Common Sand, Bearded tits, Water Rail and Garganey all performing for the beginners.
The RSPB were happy , we were happy and the birders we helped were certainly happy. What can I say? that's easy ,were doing it again on August 13th along with Neil Glenn and the latest book signing. I just can't wait.
Keep On Birding Ken R
Damselflies On The Ashby Canal
This last weekend Carl Baggott and I finally got round to doing what we'd been threatening to do for a couple of years and had a good look along a stretch of the canal to see whether White-legged Damselflies were in attendance in any sort of numbers. On Saturday we checked from Stoke Golding to Shenton (parking a car at each end) and on Sunday we did Nutts Lane, Hinckley to Stoke Golding.
We started a fraction too early on Saturday and the weather wasn't so good on Sunday but we still managed to score over 30 individuals just on the towpath side. As there was more continuous vegetation on the other side it's fair to presume that the numbers would have been at least double those that we recorded. Many of the individuals were freshly-emerged tenerals and immatures so the peak numbers are probably yet to occur. Some of the photos we took are on the Surfbirds insect gallery, 2 or 3 pages in, now.
We also had five Red-eyed Damselflies around some of the very few water-lilies on the canal near to Shenton and several Black-tailed Skimmers along with Broad-bodied Chasers. Also we saw a few Water Voles and there was evidence - holes, droppings, etc.- of quite a good population.
All in all a successful survey. The County dragonfly maps show clusters of records of White-legs all along both the Grand Union and Grantham Canals so now we can fill in the gap for our part of the County.
If you know anyone who wants to do something similar - or even the next section onto Snarestone - the parking of cars at each end is really useful. It only took us a few minutes at each end of the morning to drive between Shenton and Stoke but the walk in one direction was three hours (at a leisurely pace, counting, photographing, etc. of course!)
Over Wintering Blackcap!
There has been a Black Cap in my garden in Blaby for the last
three days,he has taken up residence in a bush that has a small container with
crushed peanuts,usually it is various members of the Tit family who use it. He
has become quite territorial, chasing away other small birds who land on the
bush. He seems to just pick small pieces of nut that he can swallow, not pecking
at pieces as the other users of the bush do, has also been seen at
Please contact Pat on email@example.com (Pat has been a friend of mine for many years)
It's interesting to note that studies on the winter diet have shown that the excess fat consumed causes digestive problems leading to early death. " sorry for that " Ken R
on Friday evening just in time to miss the Northern
Waterthrush by half
an hour. I did manage to find the hide, which was a good exercise for tomorrow
morning! 'Follow the path until you see a glove on a pole, turn left at the tree
with polythene wrapped around it'. All very mysterious!
a well-earned night's sleep, I was in position in the tiny, muddy hide by
6.00am. The mosquitoes were very welcoming! As the light came up, a flickering
from the corner of my eye alerted me to the arrival of the waterthrush. It
performed beautifully for 45 minutes. As I left, the first twitchers on the
early helicopter were streaming in. It was time for my slap up breakfast after a
rest of the morning was spent sheltering from the heavy rain. When the sun came
out at midday it was scolding hot! Ticked off two Pectoral
Sandpipers at Porth
Sandpiper on the
airfield and then Ortolan
Bunting back on the
airfield after leaving the site for a meal at Tolman's.
on the Woodchat and didn't really look for the Bee-eater but the perfect, starry
night was a great end to the day!
dawned fine. Still no sign of the
Bee-eater so I
wandered down to the Old Town Churchyard to try for the Red-eyed
Vireo. Called in at
the home made hide again on the way and saw the
Not often can you watch such a mega in Britain completely on your own but that
is exactly what happened! No sign of the vireo and dipped the Woodchat again.
Must be a morning bird.
at the B&B for a much-needed rest and news broke of a
at Porthloo Duckpond! A quick dash down there revealed a very close wader fast
asleep. Must have
been knackered but at least it did move a bit to reveal its yellow legs! The
resident ducks were not impressed by my lack of bread treats!
that is it so far my friends! I will try and keep you up to date to whet your
appetites for your forthcoming trip here. See you soon,
The Nottingham Lowlister NEIL GLENN !
The day started
well when I found an Ortolan Bunting outside my
guesthouse! There it was at on wires over the road. Excellent!
The day warmed
up and birdlife dwindled. Saw the bunting again but missed a Red-eted Vireo by
the school and then an Icky Warbler at Lower Moors.
In the evning, I found a Pec Sand at Lower Moors
and watched two large eels in the water: Scilly tick!! A Whimbrel
on Porthloo beach ended the day nicely. More goodies on here waiting to
be found I'm sure!!
Lowlister NEIL GLENN !
...or should that be a
large Lowlister from Nottingham.
Anyway, early morning
fog cleared to reveal a scorching hot, sunny day. A Whinchat near the guesthouse
was a good start but didn't linger to see 'my' Ortolan. Another failed attempt
to see the Woodchat ensued but still loads of waggies and Wheatears on the
Got a boat to St. Agnes
and just as we left Mary's quay a Honey Buzzard took off from The Garrison and
headed for Tresco over our boat!!
On Aggie, I managed
excellent views of the Aquatic Warbler by The Big Pool. Lovely stuff. Saw my 4th
Pectoral Sandpiper of the trip on Periglis before catching the boatback to
Mary's. After an excellent Marzipan Bread & Butter Pudding at Pilot's Gig, I
walked back to Sage House via Porthloo and found four Mediterranen Gulls.
Not a bad day!!
A very foggy day on Scilly. Only one or two
helicopters and planes managed to get on and off. Lots of people stranded!
'My' Ortolan was still
on wires near the guesthouse this morning. Tramped across a windy, foggy,
drizzly golf course to find something good but only turned up a few Wheatears.
There are flocks of 300+ Goldfinches everywhere:
Strolled around the Garrison and found a couple of Spotted
Flycatchers and then decided to stake out the vireo again. Three hours
later, NOTHING!!!! Gave up and went for a slap up fish and chip supper
overlooking Tresco from Town Beach. Someone must have pinched it because it
wasn't there, just thick fog to be seen.
Still looking for the biggie for when you lot of
reprobates arrive, though the waterthrush,
Solitary Sand, 4 Buff-breasted Sands, a few Pecs, the
Lesser Yellowlegs, the Woodchat and other
goodies are still being seen. And someone tell Ken 'The Murderer of the English
Language' Reeves that there isn't an apostrophe in Scilly's; it's SCILLIES!!!!!
I give up sometimes ;-)
The Nottingham Lowlister NEIL GLENN !
Comment from the accused webmaster. I want to know how he has the audacity to accuse me of murder when he fails to spell Waterthrush with a capital.
And i think the Scilly's looks bloody good with an apostrophe in it . Ken R
answer the editor's waterthrush query, waterthrush is a generic term for a
family of birds so doesn't need a capital 'W'. If I had said Northern
Waterthrush or Louisiana Waterthrush then I would have used a capital letter.
Cleaver GIT. Seems like the only way I'm going to beat him is with a bloody great stick, and I will. Webmaster
Nick Crane is on here filming an episode of Coast!! No sign of the Sandhill yet,
was Pelagic day. As we chugged out of Mary's quay, I kept an eye open for the
Black Kite over Tresco. A farmyard goose in the middle of Tresco Channel
was an odd sight! Saw a very distant raptor perched in a tree but nothing
positive. 7 Little Egrets were nice, though.
immediately after leaving the shelter of the Eastern Islands, we spotted a pod
of dolphins. As they saw us, they hurtled back to join us and we had superb
views as they rode the bow a few feet below us. WONDERFUL!! Soon after, we saw
two Grey Phalaropes and a couple of
Bonxie powered by and then we found a juvenile Sabine's
Gull. Birding then became quiet apart from 6 Grey
Phalaropes together and a flock of Knot flew
by. Birds were few on the ground )on the sea!) and fishing was slow (so we hade
very little to throw over the side to attract more birds. One or two Storm-petrels
flew very close.
we drifted on Seven Stones reef, a Sooty Shearwater shot
through before we started to chug back to Mary's. Very few gulls were attracted
to the chum, meaning it would be harder to aatract the 'better' birds. However,
a stunning Pomarine Skua appeared as if out of
nowhere and posed for photos by the boat for the rest of the afternoon. Magic!!
we steamed towards the islands, the chum line suddenly became alive with birds.
One or two Sooty Shearwaters came in as well as a Balearic
Shearwater. Amazingly, another Pom appeared! More Grey Phals and another
Sabs completed the trip but I was still grateful to step back onto dry land!!
was breaking of a Pallid Harrier over St. Mary's.
As I walked into town, Spider was pulling up and offered me a lift to search for
the bird. The very first place we stopped at produced the bird!!!! A stunning
juvenile Pallid Harrier drifted over the road a few
feet above my head. WHAT A STUNNER!!!!
then drove me to where he had last seen the Black Kite earlier
in the day. I wasn't hopeful but within half an hour, there was the kite above
Holy Vale being mobbed by crows, a Kestrel and a Sparrowhawk!!!
an incredible day. I wish Scilly would turn up some birds for me to see, as
certain well-known birders assured me Scilly's days were OVER!! Hurry up and get
here, you lot!!!
Nottingham Lowlister NEIL GLENN !
this morning to a fog-cloaked Scilly. After breakfast, I set off in search of my
own birds. No sign of 'my' Ortolan in a quick search but there seemed to have
been an arrival of Wheatears and Goldcrests.
this morning to a fog-cloaked Scilly. After breakfast, I set off in search of my
own birds. No sign of 'my' Ortolan in a quick search but there seemed to have
been an arrival of Wheatears and Goldcrests.
Thick fog again this
morning: not good news for my group trying to get over to the islands! Breakfast
was interrupted by a message that the Northern Waterthrush
had been caught by a ringer and would be released at Porth Hellick in 13
A quick dash saw me by
the ringing nets as the bird ringer emerged clutching a bag. And then there it
was a few feet in front of bearing its new bling: the waterthrush!!!! On
release, it shot into the bracken and we left it alone. What a start to the
I wandered into town to
meet The Scillonian which emerged from the fog like a ghost ship at sea. The
rest of my group were still stranded.
Eventually, everyone got
on and managed to see a Lesser Yellowlegs, Black Kite, 4
Buff-breasted Sandpipers, Pallid Harrier and a Short-toed Lark. Another
quiet two hours on Mary's, then!!
I also look forward to being thrashed by Ken's big stick...
start to the day: a Wryneck before breakfast! One
was preening in the hawthorn in the hedge of our guesthouse. I had only put in
one contact lens so I was having to squint with my left eye through someone
else's binoculars to see it, but I did see it!!
We then made a circuit
of the island searching for our own birds. No sign of the Ortolan, so presumed
gone. A few Chiffchaffs had arrived overnight at
Newford Duckpond. News of a Little Bunting came
through on the airfield: another slog up that bloody hill! We were soon watching
Little Bunting, Short-toed Lark, 4 Buff-breasted Sandpipers and the Black Kite,
all in glorious sunshine with a sea breeze. Perfect!!
After an ice cream at
Old Town, we went to Porthloo beach where some of the group saw a Common
Rosefinch, which was flushed by a dog before the rest arrived. Ample
compensation came in the form of a Wryneck on the
beach along with lots of Wheatears and White
Wagtails. A quick rest in the Lower Moors hides produced a roosting
Lesser Yellowleg (it was sleeping with one foot tucked into its body, hence the
new name - can I tick it as a new species?!).
A trudge up the hill to
Carreg Dhu Gardens produced a Spotted Flycatcher
but no Firecrests. The heat of the day was beginning to take its toll and a
lemon drizzle cake and a cold drink would have gone down a treat. But it was
closed (and is closed for the season!!!!!!!). A relaxing end to the day came at
the guesthouse where we sat chatting in the garden before the biggest portion of
trifle known to man was served to us for dessert!!! Don't need to eat now for
the rest of the trip (but I will).
Nottingham Lowlister NEIL
Some of the group were
up ealry to walk down to 'Higgo's Pool' this morning. The waterthrush
didn't turn up but a Common Rosefinch and Lesser
Yellowlegs were some compensation.
It looked like it would
be another beautiful day on Scilly when we set off from the guesthouse after
breakfast. Some of the group went on a seal and wildlife boat trip to the
Eastern Isles, most followed me around the island and one wandered off on his
own. The main party worked hard to find some good birds but only came up with a
Wrynecy at Borough Farm, three Pied Flycatchers, two
Mediterranean Gulls, a Firecrest and lots of Wheatears.
The fog rolled in during the morning and stayed until the evening.
At the group log, the
seal boaters reported that they were pleased with their trip and saw up to
twenty Atlantic Grey Seals and a Bonxie. The lone
birder trotted up to the airfield and saw the American
Golden Plover on one of its rare outings from St. Martin's!
It was the first night
of the Scillonian Club bird log tonight but we were all so tired from the day's
walking that we stayed in!
Nottingham Lowlister NEIL GLENN!
Neil. We do not expect this from the Guru of Nott's Birders. Get down to the
Some of the group had a good start to the day when
they were rewarded for their early start with a sighting of the elusive Northern
Waterthrush in the mosquito infested swamp known as Higgo's Pool!
After a well-earned breakfast in the guesthouse, we
made our way to the quay to catch a boat to St. Agnes. Just as we arrived on
Aggie, news broke of a Least Sandpiper. ON TRESCO!!!
If my group looked crestfallen, Will Wagstaff (on the same boat as us with a
group) looked positively suicidal. It turns out he needs it for his Scilly list!
Anyway, we ambled round Porth Killier. The beach was
alive with birds: Ringed Plovers, Rock Pipits, Wheatears
and wagtails. Porth Coose held a showy Snow Bunting
and then Will called us to say he had found a Wryneck
back at Killier. It showed really well on the rocks in the sunshine!
Near The Parsonage, we found three Firecrests
several Spot & Pied Flys but no
Yellow-browed Warblers. A stroll up Barnaby Lane was frustrating: a YB Warbler
called once and vanished before we could locate it. We wandered onto Wingletang
and soon bumped into a Lapland Bunting and another Snow
Back at Barnaby Lane, the Yellow-browed refused to perform but we heard another by the Gugh Bar. On the walk back up to the Guesthouse, we found another two showy Wrynecks to round off a pleasant day.
The people who regretted
not making the early morning pilgrimage to Higgo's Pool yesterday morning
trudged down today and were rewarded with views of the waterthrush,
Solitary Sandpiper and Lesser Yellowlegs!
After breakfast, we
caught the boat to Tresco and were soon scanning the windswept South Beach. Lots
of waders were present but we couldn't locate the Least
Sandpiper. ews then filtered through that it was
showing on the Great Pool, so we dashed across there. Due to poor
directions/stupidity in understanding the instructions, it took an age to locate
the finder. Eventually we found the Pebble on Legs feeding in the mud at close
range along with about twenty people (still not that many birders on the
island). What a little beauty!
We couldn't find the
reported Red-backed Shrike so we birded the rest of the Great Pool. From the
Swarovski Hide, we saw three Pectoral Sandpipers, Water
Rail, Pintail, two Black-tailed Godwits, a Whimbrel and then the Lesser
Yellowlegs flew close to give a nice comparison with the accompanying
Fraser loved soaking
everyone on the return trip to Mary's. It started to rain so we waited for the
bus. It didn't arrive (and later found out that it has broken down again), so
the group started to walk back to the guesthouse. The rain ceased and news came
through that the Solitary Sandpiper had just flown
in at Higgo's Pool. Some of the group returned to the swamp to catch up with
this rarity before we all met for a huge, tasty dinner at Sabine's!
It is due a Force 8 gale
tonight so watch this space for those Yankees tomorrow!! WILLET, WILLET , WILLET
Nottingham Lowlister NEIL
A wild and rainy night gave way to a
bright and windy morning. My group made a concerted effort to see the Yellow-browed
Warbler at Newford duckpond. Heard it a couple of times but the pesky
blighter wouldn't show for us!!
A bracing walk around the coastal path
followed by a bit of strudel and ice cream at Sage House set us up for a walk
down to Lower Moors for the putative Wilson's Snipe.
It was certainly a cold-looking bird but it maybe had a bit more warm tones in
some of its plumage than I remember from the 1998 bird. Or is that just me?
Anyway, better birders than I will decide and a photos has been taken of its
tail in full spread, so watch this space!
The Black Kite
put in several appearances, there were three Golden
Plovers on the airfield as well as many Wheatears
and we heard the Yellow-browed at Newford again
before retiring for dinner.
Just a not for those coming over soon.
Longstones, Carn Vean and Tollman's cafes are all CLOSED FOR THE SEASON!! Old
Town is open (except Saturdays) until the 23rd. Coastguards on Aggie is open
until the 28th. The Strudelhause at Sage House is open until the end of the
month especially for birders: a friendly welcome is assured!!
Nottingham Lowlister NEIL
A true Scilly weather day today: glorious sunshine,
breezy and not too hot. It doesn't get much better than this!
The morning started with the daily pilgrimage to
Higgo's Pool. The waterthrush dropped in for its
usual breakfast of mosquitos but no sign of the Solitary
After a slap-up breakfast, we wandered down to the
airfield (well, down and then up again) where the American
Golden Plover was showing well with a Eurasian
Golden Plover. The Black Kite drifted over at
regular intervals. We next strolled to Old Town Churchyard, which was very quiet
and then onto Peninnis Head. On the way, one of my sharp-eyed group spotted a Scilly
Shrew!! It scampered into view at regular intervals allowing us to note
that it was a pregnant female!!!
On Peninnis, we saw our 4th or 5th
Wryneck of the trip. We ate lunch on Porthcressa Beach bathed in
sunshine: wonderful! Just as we finished, news came that the Subalpine
Warbler was showing on The Garrison. We scuttled up and got superb views
of this subtly beautiful sylvia warbler. We were deciding what to do next when a
pager announcement came that the putative Wilson's Snipe
had been photographed and confirmed as the rare American rather than the common
or garden Common Snipe. BRUCIE BONUS TIME!!!!!
While on a roll, we decided to try for the pesky Yellow-browed
Warbler one last time. Didn't even hear it this time!
Well what a fortnight it has been! Least
Sandpiper, Northern Waterthrush, Solitary Sandpiper, 2 Lesser Yellowlegs, 4
Buff-breasted Sandpipers, American Golden Plover, 4 Pectoral Sandpipers, Little
Bunting, Aquatic Warbler, Subalpine Warbler, Wilson's Snipe, Black Kite, Pallid
Harrier, Short-toed Lark, several Wrynecks to name but a few. My messages
may become more eratic in their appearance because I am moving out of the
guesthouse and its handy computer tomorrow!!
Please note that if you are booked on the helicopter
between Oct 10th & 14th you are being transferred to Skybus!
The Nottingham Lowlister NEIL