Sunday, 22 October 2017

21st October 2017

No proper birding today, but had some great views of a Sparrowhawk in my Grandparents back garden.

Tuesday, 17 October 2017

17th October 2017

I checked my phone this afternoon and saw the dreaded mega alert, the possible arctic warbler at St Aldhelm's Head had been reidentified as a two-barred warbler! The 7th British record of this taxon due to be adopted by the BOU next January. With the weather so poor, and only two reports in the last three days, I was torn between going or putting in extra hours at work and hoping it stayed until tomorrow. I made that mistake once already this year so I eventually decided to give it a punt.

I arrived on site, and a birder informed me that the bird was still showing. I walked/ran the mile to St Aldhelm's Quarry where a crowd of 30 or so birders were spaced along the road. As soon as I arrived, another birder was watching the bird, however it was moving quickly. After a couple fleeting view of what was apparently the bird, I locked eyes on something with a supercillium and wing bars. A few seconds later and the TWO-BARRED WARBLER popped up again, this time working its way along the the top of the vegetation. A very striking bird with whiter underparts, brighter upperparts and an even more obvious supercilium than last months greenish.

The weather was getting pretty bad at this point, and with such a tight crowd it would be impossible to set up my scope to get some shots. Having had pretty good views already, I decided to head home. At least one Firecrest was all else of note. Very glad I made the effort to get this, as it's my first mega old-world warbler. When the bird was showing, probably only a third of us managed to get onto the bird, as there is little space to view the quarry, so it could be a bit tricky for the larger crowds in the coming days.

15th October 2017 (Kent)

Got to Oare Marshes around 8:30 this morning, and soon after arrival the WILSON'S PHALAROPE was refound on East Flood. The light was pretty terrible, so I decided to stick around for a bit, in which time I refound the LONG-BILLED DOWITCHER which promptly disappeared into thin air, plus a couple of Little Stints also on East Flood.


Eventually the light started to improve, and I managed some passable record shots of the Phalarope. Also of note were 3 Bearded Reedlings, a Water Rail and an overdue year tick in the form of a Curlew Sandpiper.


Curlew Sandpiper - Oare Marshes

Bearded Reedling - Oare Marshes

My first visit here, but I was impressed with the number of species on offer in such a small area, a very nice little reserve.

14th October 2017 (Gwent)

I headed up to Blorenge this morning to try and grip back rock thrush after not going for the Scilly bird last year. The sat nav took me up a '1st gear slalom' followed by a typical mid-wales track with dizzying drops and nothing in the way of barriers!

After parking the car, I walked up the track. On arrival, I heard there was no sign of the bird yet, but shortly after a birder got a phone call to say he had the bird between the first and second quarry, but once we reached him, he informed us that the bird had flown back towards the first quarry where we had just been standing! We started scanning from the top of the quarry, which produced nothing other than meadow pipits.

Two hours passed before there was another phone call. The bird had shown beyond the second quarry. After a short run, we were told that the bird had again flown! Pretty soon, some birders who had walked up the track waved us other. Another short run and I had close views of the 1st year male ROCK THRUSH! What a fantastic bird!

ROCK THRUSH - Blorenge

Very happy with my views of this bird, and glad I didn't risk a trip after work yesterday.

I was originally planning to head to kent for the wilson's phalarope next, but a rustic bunting at Portland Bill changed those plans! After lunch in Weymouth, I arrived at the bill late afternoon where the bird had not been since about 1pm. A search of Crown Estate Fields produced a year tick in the form of 3 Whinchats which provided me with some compensation for the dip.

Whinchat - Portland

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

7th October 2017

Headed down to Newquay airport this morning with hopes of twitching the cedar waxwing and cliff swallow on Scilly. At the airport, the 8:00am flight was delayed for at least an hour, and the return flight seemed likely to be cancelled. I guess I could have switched the Scillonian for return, but I still didn't want to risk it with there being no way to get back the mainland until Monday - a decision I'm now regretting. I ended up at Lodmoor this afternoon, but had no luck searching for the lesser yellowlegs, and was rewarded with just the Great White Egret and a few Ruff as compensation. Highlight of the day were the cheesy chips I bought in Weymouth.

Sunday, 1 October 2017

30th September 2017 (Glamorgan)

I overslept this morning, but around 8 the first report came in that the booted warbler was still at Rhossili. I headed off and arrived before midday. On arrival, I was put onto the Pied Flycatcher. Also showing were a few Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs to scan through, and then the rain started. After 2 hours of seeing virtually nothing, a few birds started to move through, mostly Goldcrests and Chiffchaffs, then the call went up. I had a few fleeting views, then managed a breif but good 3 second view of the BOOTED WARBLER before it flew off.

I stayed around hoping for a longer view without any luck, but I did get close views of a female Firecrest and heard (but didn't see) a Yellow-Browed Warbler. Also of note were large numbers of Choughs on the slope north of the NT car park.

Choughs - Rhossili

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

24th September 2017

After missing the spot sand at abbotsbury yesterday, I decided to try and get there for the opening time at 10am today. Before I walked out the door, I made one final check on my phone - a greenish warbler had just been trapped and ringed at Portland Bird Obs! i'm pretty keen on my phyloscs, and greenish is a species I've wanted to see for a long while, especially with their rarity in the Southwest. I knew that warblers ringed at the Obs ussually disappear or are extemely elusive after release, but I just had to try.

I arrived at the bill at 10:30. All the spaces near the obs were full so I had to park at the Bill and quickly walk back. Simon was on site when I arrived. Just as I asked him if he'd had any luck, the call went up. I rounded the corner and a few seconds later locked eyes on the GREENISH WARBLER! Result! The supercilium was very distinctive, and the bird was larger and more 'angular' than I had expected. I managed a few record shots and a bit of video of the bird before it disappeared into the back garden of the Obs.

GREENISH WARBLER - Portland Bird Obs

Checking my phone, I saw that a pair of Pied Flycatchers had been seen at Portland Castle. Having only seen one last year plus the fact that I'd never got a decent shot of one, I decided to have a look on the way back. It didn't take me too long to locate one of the birds which showed well at times, and even fed on the ground at one point. I'm pretty sure that I actually had a second bird at the same time, but I'm not 100% sure.

Pied Flycatcher - Portland Castle

The final stop of the day was, somewhat ironically, Abbotsbury. Steve showed me to the route to Helen's Hide. From here I picked out a couple probable Common Sandpipers on the adjacent banks. Eventually, both flew out to the wooden posts in front of the hide, confirming their ID. After quite a wait, I picked up a third sandpiper with short wings, a pale-based bill and yellow legs. It wasn't until it flew closer that I could ID it as the SPOTTED SANDPIPER. It showed well alongside 2 Common Sandpipers both on the deck and in flight, allowing some good opportunity for comparison. The bird eventually took to feeding on the bank just below the hide, perhaps a little too close for my phone-scoping efforts:

SPOTTED SANDPIPER - Abbotsbury Swannery

I headed home after this to get on with the work I should have been doing today, always worth it though!

Saturday, 23 September 2017

23rd September 2017

Headed down to Lodmoor today to look for the rose-coloured starling, a species I haven't seen since 2014. On arrival, I could hear large numbers of starlings in an overgrown ditch on the west side of the car park. Eventually I managed to find a place to view from, though almost of the birds were impossible to see from any public right of way. Eventually a large number of birds flew from here to the reserve, but I couldn't pick out the rosy. I headed over to the reserve where a decent number of starlings occasionally took flight before heading back to the car park - again no sign of the rosy. Of note on West Scrape were singles of Great White Egret and Little Stint.

Great White Egret - Lodmoor

Little Stint - Lodmoor

As I walked back, a few more flocks of starlings flew onto the reserve. One flock landed on the mud on the west side, including one bird which was clearly paler. I managed to scope the Rose-Coloured Starling just in time before the flock flew up. The birds continued to land and fly up several times before splitting, some heading back to the car park and some landing further east. I headed over to the Shelter to check the latter group, and thankfully the bird was there. I managed to get a few record shots of it on the deck before the birds took flight once again and dropped down by the car park.

Rose-Coloured Starling - Lodmoor

After this, I met up with Family for lunch and then had a walk at Ferrybridge. There was no sign of this mornings yellow-legged gull, but I did manage singles of Hobby and Wheatear. I lost track of time a bit and didn't get to Abbotsbury for the spot sand (which I'm hoping to get tomorrow) and the baird's sand was reported as a no-show, so I decided to skip these year ticks and headed home.

Thursday, 21 September 2017

21st September 2017

Got back from work today and was pondering whether to travel to Farmoor to try and defeat my bogey bird; red-necked phalarope, or to settle for a grey phal at Seaton (Not a lifer, but I species I haven't seen since 2014). As luck would have it, I was spared the decision. News broke that both species had been found together at Arne Moors - closer to home than the other phals. I arrived on site just after 5pm, hoping that this wouldn't be a repeat of my last trip to Arne. I arrived at the pool and had a few breif views of the Grey Phalarope. After a tense wait, the I finally locked eyes on my first Red-Necked Phalarope!!! Eventually both birds showed together out in the open, allowing for some decent comparison shots:

Red-Necked Phalarope and Grey Phalarope - Arne Moors