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Memories & Bird List From The Isle Of Barra October 6th /12th 2019
Our outgoing Crossing was in good light with a small
swell...... 40+ Common Dolphin
Return Crossing was in very good light with little or no swell,... 50+ Common Dolphin ,
Amazing views of European Storm Petrel , Great and Pomerine Skua plus an adult female
over the boat from the direction of Mull .
Just to clear this up ......"Tysties" are of course ,winter
Total Mileage covered 1226 and the journey time , each way ,with two stops was 9hrs.
Weather was very mixed with Monday , Tuesday and most of Wednesday very wet and windy with 65/ 95 MPH recorded'
Needless to say we spent these days searching through the locations on the sheltered east side of the island .
There were no boat sailings to or from Oban until late on Thursday ,so the supplies at the only Coop on the island
were getting worryingly thin .
Friday's boat from Oban to Barra should have taken 5 hrs but because of the poor weather
and big seas , 5.8 Meter waves, set a course to take cover from the heavy seas by going from island to island
taking over 7 .5 hrs to finally arrive in Castlebay.
The VW Sharan became an excellent Hide and the fire,
food and beer in the bar was well received by all.
In all, a great trip to witness what two small Outer Hebridean Island's offer and exactly what the
islanders suffer in the dire winter months . Superb sightings of resident and migrating birds were enjoyed ,
particularly the very large number of wintering Black Throated Diver in Vatersay sound that gives winter shelter to 18/20 % of the world population.
I will definitely return to see it all again on Barra and Vatersay in the near future.
It was a real pleasure to be with two good birders who supported me really well and the very welcoming Barra residents.
Ever since my last stroke I am now beginning to learn my limitations. Three pints and a large Malt is about it !!
Thanks to Nev Weston & Steve Lister and all those who helped me to make the right decisions .
N/C = Not counted, Some species counts are approximate,
Thanks Ken R
Two flights a day ,weather permitting, that land on the beach .
2, Whooper Swan
19, Light Bellied Brent
Barnacle Goose 400 + migrating South, Canada
Goose N/C , Greylag Goose
Pink Footed Goose N/C, Common Eider N/C,
Red Breasted Merganser N/C,
Egret 1, Common Shelduck N/C, Eurasian Wigeon 10+,
4, Little Grebe
3, Rock Dove
Collared Dove N/C, Red Throated Diver
+, Black Throated Diver
Great Northern Diver 2+, Great Crested Grebe N/C, +, Northern Fulmar N/C,
Oystercatcher, Grey Plover 4+,
200+, Ringed Plover 100 +, Northern Lapwing N/C,
200+, Bar Tailed Godwit
N/C, Common Snipe
N/C, Common Sandpiper 10+, Common Redshank
N/C, Greenshank 2,
N/C, Common Guillemot
N/C, Black Headed Gull
N/C, LBB 2, Herring Gull
N/C, Iceland Gull
1, Great Black Backed Gull
Raven 30 +,
N/C, House Sparrow
N/C, Meadow Pipit
N/C, Rock Pipit
Wagtail N/C, Common Chaffinch N/C, Brambling
4, Common Twite 400+, Common Linnet N/C, Common Redpoll
Greenfinch 3, Goldfinch
1, Great Tit
1, Eurasian Skylark
N/C, Willow Warbler 2, Common Chiffchaff
5, Subalpine Warbler Species
not known until DNA results return.,
N/C, Eurasian Wren N/C, Common Starling
N/C, European Robin
N/C, Northern Wheatear
3, Mistle Thrush
2, Song Thrush
Redwing 1000+, Blackbird N/C,
The Subalpine DNA result returned on November 19th and confirmed it as a Western.
Croft Hill 24/09/19
Acting on a recent report by Carl Baggott. I made a late morning visit to ..local site...
Croft Hill before the heat of the day had
the chance to torture me on the climb.
lower down on the hedgerow .
that spent a little time sitting on the fence
before flying off over the Quarry
and it wasn't the heat but the five pints of Peroni and two glass's of bubbly that carried out the torture.
The Washing Up Trip 08/08/19
Another excellent day's birding along the Linc's coast with my group yesterday.
Frieston ,Frampton and finally Ferry Meadows on the way home.
After an earlier failed attempt, Nev and Graham finally caught up with White Rumped Sandpiper,
not just the one ....but two We all ticked Steve Lister but, disappointingly, I dipped on Toby Carter.
On the return journey I called in at Pererborough to catch up with the Garganey on Lynch Lake at Ferry Meadows.
Many other birds were seen during the day... the highlights being Ring tailed Hen Harrier, 7 Marsh Harrier,
Curlew Sandpiper, Black Necked Grebe, 22 Wood Sandpiper and 9 Spoonbill,
The record by Nev Weston of a probable 16 ft high Giraffe seen in the front of a house in Tallington...
has been excluded for safety reasons.!!!!. Thanks to you all . .
Norfolk, Cambridgeshire and Lincolnshire in a day 09/01/18
Here is my , tongue in cheek , report from todays "last minute birding " .
Out on the road today birding over Norfolk ,Lincolnshire and Cambridgeshire with four birders .
It was a little wet earlier on but the weather finally decided ,after begging, to give us a break about 11:00.
Santon Downham ( I don't want to talk about that ), Lynford... Strangely , I don't want to talk about that either .
And then, as if , touched by the hand of God, our luck suddenly turned as we headed for the Nene Washes. , Barn Owl, Short Eared Owl, Marsh Harrier, 12 + Common Crane, Bewick & Whooper... PLUS many ,many more.
Running with our luck , we headed for the roosting Long Eared Owl and sure enough, and just as the sun , yes i just said sun,. faded ,the little beauty came out ,preening and getting ready for, hopefully, it's first meal of the evening.
Patience ,persistence and respect is the key to a good day out in the field.
Thanks to Nev W, Mad F, Fred B and all the other birders who threw in their pounds worth !
Finally my missing friend, Malc Almey. You were with me mate, and always will be .
Rutland Water & Others 19/11/17 Me, Fred but no Malc !
First day back at the office... counting my way around Rutland Water.
The sun was shining but not as brightly as it used too ! Some nice comments from nice people !
Great Northern Diver, Red Breasted Merganser, Red Necked Grebe, 30+ Red Creasted Pochard,
9 x Great White Egrets and a kind word from TA, were the highlights.
Then a brief glimpse of the Ferruginous Duck and the Burbage Common... Hawfinch on the way home . Thanks Fred.
This trip to the Outer Hebrides was my first time with seven people , one roof box , towing a trailer in my
aged, long suffering, friend ... the Ford Galaxy.
My second time tour of these stunning islands was certainly more challenging to organise than in 2011.
This was mainly due to the massive increase in popularity for all of Scotland but particularly its
outlying Islands. However after four weeks of juggling around, Ferries, Timings, Dates and accommodation ,
the tour finally came together. Myself, Maureen, Fred & Linda Burton, Alma & Terry Peasegood and, our rear gunner,
Lincolnshire birder, Malc Almey set off on the 526 mile journey to Ullapool and the 3hour crossing to Stornoway on the
Isle of Lewis.
The crossing itself on Calmac's latest, very modern , ferry was an eye opener in itself with 50 + White Sided Dolphin, 50+ Black Guillemot,
200+ Guillemot, 60+ Razorbill, 300 + Manx Shearwater, 50 + RT Divers, 100 + BT Divers, rafts of Eider, Bonxies galore,
2o+ Arctic Skua and just a few of my favourite, the diminutive, Storm Petrel.
Now our the has finally started , so here we go.
The first morning on Lewis dawned to heavy rain that continued on and off for most of the morning. However this did not deter us from making
the trip up to the Butt Of Lewis and the shelter of the wall surrounding the lighthouse .
From here , after negotiating the occupants of a 50 seater visiting coach, we managed , Manx Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, Fulmer, Kittiwake, Rock and Meadow Pips.
The afternoon was spent in sunshine on the east side of the island concentrating on the beaches and bays down to . IN PROGRESS !!
Brascote Pits Web Count 23/07/17 David Abbott, Carl Baggott.
Went to Brascote Pits today and met up with our county recorder Carl Baggott .
We both decided to carry out my monthly WEBS count together.
Shelduck had bred with five young .same size as adults; much the same to be said of Oystercatchers with three young.
Three of the Common terns were juveniles of which Carl was able to read the rings.
Comment .... I'll contact Carl and find out where they were rung David Ken R
North Norfolk with Malc Almey.16/07/17
Just lately I've been searching for somewhere to go for a few days.... Outer Brides, Orkney and the Farne's,
were all mentioned ! Can't do that ! Too many appointments, electricians coming, too hot, too cold, too wet !
Anyway, finally I decided to have a change and travel the North Norfolk coast!... Change !.. I'm always there !
It's a quiet time at the moment just waiting around for the migration to start rolling .So we ,that's Malc Almey
and myself, thought we would make our final trip to wave off the Monty's Harriers and their
off-spring before they, once again, leave for their wintering grounds in Africa.
We had just finished our farewells when the pager started .... Long Billed Dowitcher, Cley, East Bank,
Arnolds Marsh, Adult in summer plume ! Here we go ..... and I'm glad we did.
Excellent views of this adult bird in the striking summer plumage we don't normally get to see !
I was happy , Malc was happy. See you in a couple of weeks when Fred Burton and myself are back
down again. This is a flying visit so the ladies can be at Sandringham with Charles and Camilla for the flower show !
Keep On Birding Ken R.
Peckleton Fields with Trev Starbuck.12/07/17
Went to check on the nest today, as I haven't had the chance for a while.
What a fantastic surprise!
They have obviously hatched successfully, as there were 8 Skylarks, simultaneously singing and climbing.
It was an amazing sight and one I have not seen before in that quantity!
What a year!
Cheers Trev Starbuck.
Comment from Ken. The usual nest size of the Skylark is four.
David Wale and myself in the 50s used to camp in Hospital Lane Blaby and often found nests with five eggs in .
So I think there was more than one family enjoying the sunshine Trev. Ken R
Trev Starbucks Garden
Hope you are well. Last Thursday, Jeanette and Pat saw a juvenile Little Owl in Church Field.
On Friday on the electricity pole in the garden was a family of 5, yes 5! Green Woodpeckers.
One adult and four juveniles were clinging to the side of the pole near the top and the other adult was hanging on the wire!
Is this a record?? Also now have a family of Goldcrests visiting daily!
Best year ever for variety in the garden.
The Taylors in Norfolk 29/06/17
Walked to Kessingland from Lowestoft today and came upon a Little Tern nesting site. An RSPB guy was keeping an eye on things and was telling us about two pieces of bad luck which had befallen them in the last 24 hours , the sea had come over the beach head and taken a lot of eggs and lastly, an egg collector breached the electric fence taking another lot of eggs, there were still chicks being fed which was quite reassuring. Johnny Taylor.
Osprey's at Stanford.
22/06/17 Rhys Dandy
Burbagebirders Sightings page !
Osprey 22/06/17 Stanford Res
again ...early evening.
Dandy You've as good as summed it up Ken, both Rutland birds, one is 8f
which as been around several reservoirs in the last couple of years, I believe
he is 5 so would imagine he's looking for potential breeding sites ready for
next year, been several birds over the last few years summering locally
including 3 birds at Cropston 2 years ago
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
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
Thanks also to the RSPB Monty's team
for their dedicated hard work monitoring the very sensitive site.
Lakenheath and Minsmere
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
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
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,
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 Cackling
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
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
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 whiskey!
Thank you all Ken W Reeves www.burbagebirders.co.uk
Goose Chase 2014 7/12/14
Notts Birders to the Scilly Isles
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
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
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
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
Bottles & Potholes."
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
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 email@example.com.
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
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.
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
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
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.
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
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.
Posted by 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
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
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
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
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
PS Off to Venus Pool again tomorrow.
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,
Red-crested Pochard (Pitsford), Pochard, Tufted Duck,
Goldeneye, Buzzard, Kestral, Pheasant, Water rail (S/Leys), Moorhen, Coot,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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.
Bird species seen
Up to 5 on passage
1 male, Arrocampo
Great Crested Grebe
1 or 2, Arrocampo
1 or 2
Up to 5, Monfragűe + 1, Las Torres
1 immature, Rio Almonte
SPANISH IMPERIAL EAGLE
A few (20+)
1 dark phase, Monfragűe
A total of 4
A total of 4
Up to 5
A total of 4
1, Arrocampo – ‘Leader Tick’ only)
2 or 3, Arrocampo
200+, Vegas – Altas Track
Up to 150 on the plains
Up to 60 on the plains
Little Ringed Plover
1, Belen Plains; 1, Arrocampo
1 winter adult, Magasca Plains
20, Magasca Plains
Lesser Black-backed Gull
One flock over A5 near Madrid
BLACK-BELLIED SANDGROUSE 6, Magasca Plains
Approx 20, Magasca Plains
Several pure-looking birds, Monfragűe
Common in towns and villages)
4, Rio Tamuga
1 over road from Magasca to Trujillo
GREAT SPOTTED CUCKOO
Several on plains
2 or 3 heard, San Clemente
Up to 10 seen and heard
2 adults, 3 chicks, Monfragűe
1 over San Clemente
Up to 10 over villages and towns
Up to five on rivers
1 over A5 near Madrid
Great Spotted Woodpecker
A total of 3
2, Rio Almonte
2 or 3
2, Belen Plains
Common in mountains and towns
1, Rio Almonte
2, Rio Almonte
2 or 3, Magasca Plains
2, Montanchez; 2, Cabañas
Blue Rock Thrush
1 or 2
1, San Clemente
SOUTHERN GREY SHRIKE Several
3 or 4, Monfragűe
3 or 4, Madrid Airport
2, Vegas – Altas track
1, San Clemente + 2 ‘Leader Ticks’
A pair, San Clemente
Several, Vegas –Altas track
1, Leader Tick only)
A handful, Monfragűe
1 or 2, Arrocampo
Butterflies and Moths
Holly Blue (or Penoptes Blue or Green-underside Blue)
2, Monfragűe; 1, Arrocampo
2 or 3 on plains
Oryctes nasicornis (Rhinoceros Beetle)
Xylocopa violacea (Carpenter Bee)
REPTILES & AMPHIBIANS
Iberian Pool Frog
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
Eagle 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
Keep On Birding Ken R 4/10/06
The Pink Footer!
Norfolk February 18th & 19th,
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
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
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
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
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
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
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
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 "
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
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
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.
This trip has been the most challenging and without
doubt the most rewarding one to organise. The memories will certainly last for a
long long time Many thanks must go to Sue McGrath & Alison O Hare from
Newburyport Birders for their efforts and attention to detail that made our day
with them unforgettable , Mark Suomala who made what seemed to be an average day
into something quite magical and that motley bunch of hawk watchers for their
Sunday Our first day dawned with everybody totally
bewildered at the calls and songs that surrounded us. Lots of suggestions were
given most of them totally wrong , we found this out as the week
progressed. First call went to Fred Burton who spotted Grey Catbird , Blue Jay,
American Goldfinch , Northern Mockingbird and Tufted Titmouse all just around
the hotel . The first trip of the week took us to the picturesque coastline
around Little Harbour , Double Crested Cormorant, Belted Kingfisher, Spotted
Sand and Black Duck got us up and running. Next stop was the renowned Odiorne
State Park and flushed with the early success's eagerly started out around the
site. We were rewarded with views of Laughing, Ringed Billed &
Bonaparte's Gulls, Great Northern Diver (sorry Common Loon) & Roseate Tern.
Heading back to the mini vans, yes ! they actually call them MINI . God only
knows what the full size one's like , we had super views of House Finch ,
Eastern Kingbird, Eastern Wood Peewee, Green heron, Green Winged Teal & Song
Sparrow. For our first day is that COOL or what??
Monday Now it's our turn to further Anglo-
American relations ,so after an early morning team talk we set off to meet our
two guides Sue McGrath & Alison O'Hare from Newburyport Bird Club. After the
usual formalities we formed an orderly line to the superb Plumb Island Reserve
and crippling views of Saltmarsh Sharp Tailed Sparrow, Seaside Sparrow, Great
Egret, Semi Palmated Sand ,Tree Swallow & Marsh Wren. Sue & Alison were
just getting started and unbeknown to the rest of the crowd, they had arranged
for us to visit the banding station ( ringing to us brits) to see it in action.
Ben the head bander launched into teaching mode mesmerising us his
knowledge & dedication to bird recording. After delving into one bag he
produced a "juvie "Connecticut Warbler ( Mark Samola eat your heart
out) followed by the almost resident Scilly Isles Blackpoll Warbler. After many
photos we bade farewell for there were many birds yet to see ! Further into the
reserve gave us views of Semi-Palmated Plover, Red Knot, Northern Flicker,
Northern Harrier, Bairds Sand, White Rumped Sand , Turkey Vulture, Common
Grackle, Grey Catbird & as promised by the girls the illusive Piping
Plover all this before they produced a great packed lunch, so please will you
come and join our club. A little known site in Newburyport gave up Eastern
Phoebe, American Robin, Coopers Hawk, Northern Cardinal, White Breasted Nuthatch
,Winter Wren, Cedar Waxwing, Downy Woodpecker , Eastern Towhee & an
undecided , not quite sure Red Eyed Vireo. If you think the day is over ,
your wrong ,Sue & Alison said Wood Duck and so we did collecting Hairy
Woodpecker as well. What a great day with two great girls .Thanks a million to
them and the Newburyport Birders for looking after us so well . Please will you
do the same for us in 04 ?
Tuesday The White Mountains are calling us ,pity its
"chucking" it down with rain, never mind its time to meet our guide
for the day , the magic man of the mountains Mark Suomala . Setting off from a
very wet Portsmouth car park we headed for the hills calling on route to the
birders dream site, yes you guessed it, a S--T farm .Mark soon proved his
worth with sightings of Blue Winged Teal, American Wigeon, Killdeer, Pec Sand,
Barn swallow, Solitary Sand, Greater and Lesser Yellow Legs & Savannah
Sparrow. Moving on Mark gave us priceless information about the resident species
and the areas history (obviously not so old as ours of course, couldn't resist
that could I ?) Into the mountains was Marks territory guiding us up
dirt roads to confront a young Moose blocking our path to the top, Marks first
for the area and our first ever!! Now where were those warblers & boreal
birds and with a series of whistles, ticks & calls from Mark out
they came. Kinglets, Blackpoll, Magnolia, Black & White, Yellow Rumped,
Black Throated Green, Red Breasted Nuthatch, American Redstart, Boreal Chickadee
& a very confiding White Throated Sparrow. Our heads were spinning with the
closeness of the birds and our guides talents. Our day ended @ a small pond and
with the majestic Mt Washington as a backdrop we continued to collect Purple
Finch, American Kestrel , Hooded merganser, Common Yellowthroat & wait for
it, Pileated Woodpecker seen by Pauline Mason who for some obscure reason was
looking the other way ( damn). Marks knowledge is beyond doubt and I hope to
meet up with him again when we return in 04
Wednesday I personally don't agree with anybody who
says ladies change your plans, but today one lady named Isabel did, Hurricane
Isabel. The threat of her arrival caused a minor panic @ the Newburyport
Whale Watch, so our Thursday plans got switched. I am sure it was for the better
as she sea swell on Thursday was enough to re-see your breakfast and the
previous nights dinner as well. The trip was magical with sightings of Minke
,Finn & Risso's. Whale/Dolphin. Great Shearwater was the star bird and other
sightings included American Robin , lots of migrating Monarch Butterfly's, a
very tired male Blackpoll warbler that tried to land on the boats railings and
the one we all shouted Northern Gannet. Our day ended @ Seabrook / Hampton
Harbour digging out the last remains of daylight with great views of
Black Bellied Plover, Northern Harrier, Great Blue Heron, Snowy Egret, Least
Sand & Common tern .Not a bad day for a change of plans was it ?
Thursday Hawk watching's the order of the day , so
with a later start on a glorious day we headed for the best mountain in central
Massachusetts , Mt Wachusett , and what a superb place it turned out to be You
can see for ever from the summit & with the much appreciated help from a
dedicated group of Hawk watchers, ( they call all others DICKIE BIRDS ) we
managed to ID most. Hawks & falcons were coming from everywhere, Broad
Winged, Red Tailed, Coopers & Sharp Shinned hawks. Osprey, peregrine,
American Kestrel & Northern Harrier put in an appearance Pity there is
no place in the UK like this ,I would live up there if there was. Unfortunately
we had to leave as our day was running out ,so we headed for the Great Meadow
Wildlife Sanctuary, not a stones throw from Boston. It took a while to find it
but the rewards were defiantly worth it. The reserve is well set out affording
great views over the whole site. Our list was growing longer with sightings of
Brown Headed Cowbird, Snipe (common or Wilson's?) , Sora Rail, Red Winged
Blackbird, Dunlin ,Sanderling & Merlin What about that Sora Rail then
(wicked) Once again with failing light we headed for the ranch and the end of
another great day
Friday I have so far not mentioned our early morning
walks around the hotel that's probably because our early and Fred Burtons are
not in the same time zone. He goes out with a torch, birding in the dark ,that
can't be right can it ?? But on this morning I managed to catch up with him and
found an excellent spot not 500metres from the hotel. Shall I tell them about
the Rose Breasted Grosbeak pair not 2 metres from our bin's or will you I said
,don't worry he said I will ,and he did! That gripped them off didn't it he
said. This was our last day birding so we decided to stick fairly local .A
complete circle of Great Bay and a trip to the Great Bay Wildlife Refuge. The
day was quite wet in fact it was bl---y wet. Undeterred we donned the gear and
set off. House crow along with Belted Kingfisher were our first birds @
Jackson's Landing. Adams Point was the next stop collecting Chipping Sparrow
along the way .This has been re id from American Tree Sparrow after returning
home & checking the song. Our next port of call was the Great Bay Refuge ,
pity about the ladies toilets, they had to wipe their feet when they came out!!
It was here amongst a flock of mixed warblers and Chickadees we discovered
the illusive Bay Breasted Warbler , brief views only but enough to dry out my
wet feet. Returning to our MINI'S 7 American Kestrels were hunting the old ammo
dump along with 2 Northern Flickers needless to say we didn't linger too
long but beat a hasty retreat to Portsmouth for shelter & a well deserved
coffee. This is it, our very last chance birding in the land of plenty and we
chose the gut wrenching, wind swept, high tide @ Hampton Beach and guess what! a
Great Skua appeared and then in a cloud of sea spray , Sand & god knows what
else, vanished ,to be closely followed by the remaining very wet but toughly
satisfied Burbage Birders 12
Saturday Time to pack up and go,and a day for
ourselves.Some opted to sightsee around the heretage trail in Boston,while the
others went to a cookout & our american friends house in Framingham. Without
there help over the year it is doubtful that this trip would have taken place.
This may not be a full bird record .For a full list see
My thanks go to all the ladies ,without whose permission we
could not have gone!
Archie Gilbert - for his quips on the two way radio!
Bob Whale - for his dry wit !
Jeff Duffy - for his navigating , that considerably
improved on the 3rd day when he realised the map was upside-down!
Dave Mason -for his merry-go-round impressions following my
Neil (the smuggler )Pinkard -im not saying why for fear of
a visit from HM CUSTOMS
Fred Burton - who should have been a cattle rancher
,rounding us all up every bl--dy day!
And finally -
Virgin -for going all the way
Sarah Halse @ Ilkeston Co Op Travel ,once again for making
Keep On Birding KEN R
Thursday August 7th.
The decision to go down to Cornwall for the annual
Scillonian Pelagic was made long ago but suddenly we decided to go early,
Thursday actually, and via Hertfordshire. A Least Sandpiper had taken up
residence on one of the Tring reservoirs and Richard still needed this for his
British list. So straight after work Richard followed me home to ditch my car
and we were off, well as far as Bawtry anyway when his brand new Renault Lagunas
dashboard started flashing ‘Stop – puncture’. We wont get a job as Michael
Schumacher’s pit crew but we were on our way again within 15 minutes. Hurtling
down the A1 at a birders 70mph! We made Startop’s reservoir at 8.30pm with
just enough daylight left to enjoy the Least Sandpiper at only 15 yards
distance. Dark at 9pm and so we needed somewhere to sleep. ‘It’s either the
car or Exeter Services’ he said. Didn’t fancy the car and so suitably filled
with fish and chips we set off along the M4 and M5. Arrived at Exeter services
at 1am and when we saw the price for a room the car suddenly felt warm and cosy
( well we are from up North ).
Friday August 8th.
5.30 am, grey,foggy and humid and after 2 laps of the car
park I could actually feel and move all 4 limbs. With a full English breakfast
safely deposited we called into Bowling Green Marsh at Topsham and waited in the
hide for the fog to clear. The Glossy Ibis was eventually found in the ditch by
the viewing platform and other birds of note included 20+ Little Egrets,
Spoonbill, Green Sand, Spotted Sand, Greenshank, Whimbrel and Wheatear with
Garden Tiger moth and Clouded Yellow butterfly.
Lunch on the move and down to Bishopsteignton where we saw
Whinchat, Great spotted and Green Woodpecker, Buzzard and a splendid male Cirl
Bunting singing his head off from a fieldside hedge. For anybody wanting to see
Cirls here the site is along the ‘Old Walls Road ‘ out of Bishopsteignton up
the hill towards the golf course.
The long drive down to Penzance ( thank God for ‘air
con’ ), checked into the B & B and off to Helston boating lake to see the
sub adult Ring-billed Gull with a quick call in at Marazion Marsh on the way
back to Penzance. No sign of the Spotted Crake but Dunlin, Ringed Plover,
Sanderling and Sarnie Terns on the beach.
Saturday August 9th.
Back at Marazion Marsh by 6.30 am to see the Spotted Crake
showing well at the foot of the reeds. Also several Cetti’s Warblers singing
and a Med Gull on the beach. Back for breakfast and a phone call to book a
flight onto the Scillies and the boat back, or so we thought. At Lands End
airport there wasn’t a cloud in the sky but you couldn’t see the Scillies
which were fog bound and flights couldn’t land. This turned out to be a
blessing that saved us £52 as the Semipalmated Sandpiper on St.Mary’s
wasn’t seen anyway. One of 3 Buzzards on the airfield was the whitest we had
ever seen and there were a couple of Ravens also.
Saturday afternoon, temperature in the 80’s and with the
earlier puncture mended and a quiet pager it was back to Marazion Marsh to see
what dragonflies we could find. Lesser Emperor ( that’s a mega ), Golden
Ringed, Red-veined Darter, Beautiful Demoiselle and Emperors had other Pelagic
bound birders arriving for these insectivorous ‘ticks’. We also saw Clouded
Yellow butterfly of the form ‘Helice’ which is very pale. One of the birders
gave a shout ‘look at this monster’ and walked towards us with something
cupped in his hands which he quickly dropped after the 3rd bight. It turned out
to be a Great Green Bush Cricket, 2 inches long and as thick as your thumb. As
we digiscoped it a birder just arriving told us what it was and said ‘don’t
pick it up, they’re nasty sods them’. Timing!
In the evening we sat at Porthgwarra as the fog rolled back
in and saw Fulmar, Rock Dove, Rock Pipit, Shag and Gannets but no visible
Sunday August 10th.
The alarm went off at 3.30 am and it was a quick dress,
swallow our sea legs tablets and off to the harbour to board the Scillonian
which cast off promptly at 5 am. The previous day had been red hot and so I
thought my tee shirt and shorts quite apt. Within half an hour the trousers were
on along with the sweat shirt, fleece and outer skin. It took until 11.15 am to
reach the Wilson’s triangle and we were escorted all the way by Lesser Black
Backed Gulls, Fulmars and Gannets. The larger shearwaters, Cory’s and Great
didn’t show but we saw 2 Sooty’s, 2 Manx Shearwaters, 2 Sabine’s Gull,
Kittiwake, Common Tern, several Bonxies, 2 Arctic Skuas, 50+ Storm Petrels and 3
magical Wilson’s Petrels. The boat returned into Penzance at 9.30 pm and we
hadn’t seen the sun all day. Still, we had seen the Wilson’s well, our
stomach contents remained intact and I’ll never forget Bret Richards sitting
up near the engine air intakes in his own little ‘Flamborough Head for the
Monday August 11th.
The long drive home with only a detour to get around the
closed M5 at Bristol which took us past Chew Valley Lake were we stopped just
long enough to see Ruddy Duck, Barnacle Goose and Gadwall.
In total we saw some 90+ birds in very hot conditions. If
anyone reading this fancies a Pelagic weekend but is not sure – go on you
should do it at least once. I have now!
Don’t forget – ‘It’s grim up North’
Phil and Richard.
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
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
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
firstname.lastname@example.org (Pat has been a friend of mine for many
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
Arrived 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!
After 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 British tick!!
The 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 Hellick, Buff-breasted Sandpiper on the airfield
and then Ortolan Bunting back on the airfield after leaving the site for a meal
Dipped on the Woodchat and didn't really look for the
Bee-eater but the perfect, starry night was a great end to the day!
Sunday 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 Solitary Sandpiper. 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.
Back at the B&B for a much-needed rest and news broke
of a Lesser Yellowlegs 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!
And 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!!
The Nottingham 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 airfield.
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!!
Nottingham Lowlister NEIL GLENN !
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
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
And i think the Scilly's looks bloody good with an
apostrophe in it . Ken R
To 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
Cleaver GIT. Seems like the only way I'm going to beat him
is with a bloody great stick, and I will. Webmaster
Yes, Nick Crane is on here filming an episode of Coast!! No
sign of the Sandhill yet, though!
Today 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.
Almost 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 Black Terns.
A 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.
As 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!!
As 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
News 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
Spider 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!!!
What 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 !
Awoke 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
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 minutes time!
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 day!!
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...
Nottingham Lowlister NEIL GLENN !
Another interesting 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 GLENN !
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!
Come on Neil. We do not expect this from the Guru of Nott's
Birders. Get down to the LOG!!!! Webmaster.
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.
Nottingham Lowlister NEIL GLENN!
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
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 Reds ha nks.
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
It is due a Force 8 gale tonight so watch this space for
those Yankees tomorrow!! WILLET, WILLET , WILLET Please !!!!!!
Nottingham Lowlister NEIL GLENN!
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 GLENN!
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 Sandpiper.
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
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 GLENN!