Sunday, 29 January 2017

28th January 2017 (Northumberland, Cleveland and Derbyshire)

Met up with Cliff Smith and Chris Griffin in Frome this morning before heading north. Shortly after setting off, Chris noticed a Tawny Owl from the car window, so we turned the car around and got decent views of it next to the road. I didn't actually get any of these for the last couple year lists so good to catch up with one.

We arrived at Druridge Bay and instantly had the PACIFIC DIVER. We walked around the lake where we got point blank views, probably the closest I've ever got to any diver! Also had a few Tree Sparrows on the feeders near the visitor centre, another species I haven't had in a few years.

PACIFIC DIVER - Druridge Bay
These views were well worth the 6 hour journey! Good to be able to compare this first-winter with the adult in Mount's Bay, which showed darker more uniform upperparts and a more distinctive chin strap.

Tree Sparrows - Druridge Bay

Next stop was Skinningrove in Cleveland for the EASTERN BLACK REDSTART which showed brilliantly, and came ridiculously close to Chris.


Fulmars - Skinningrove

Had a Red Kite from the Car Window on the A1(M) in West Yorkshire.

Last stop of the day was Beeley to get the dusky thrush. We spent a while scanning through the Redwing flock with no luck. I thought we would have seen the bird by now if it was in the flock so I went for a wander. Shortly after, I located a few more Redwings and with them was the DUSKY THRUSH sat on top of a tree! I got out my phone and called Cliff, but when I looked back up it had disappeared. We scanned through the Redwings and eventually it got too dark to ID them.

Not the best end to the day, but still a great trip and well worth the journey times!

Sunday, 22 January 2017

22nd January 2017 (Cornwall)

Lewis and I headed down to Cornwall today. My main aim was to finally see the pacific diver (I dipped twice last winter), though I hadn't seen an eastern black redstart previously so was keen to get this as well.

Arrived at Jubilee Pool in Penzance at 9am. A few scans of Mounts Bay produced a flock of Common Scoters and 3 Velvet Scoters, my first in several years. We also had 2 Purple Sandpipers and some Turnstones on the rocks nearby.

Velvet Scoters - Penzance

Eventually, I located a few divers on the far east side of the Bay. Most of the birds seemed to be Great Northern Divers, though the group's attention was drawn to a black-throated type that lacked the white flank patches. It was too distant to get a firm ID however, and we lost the bird as the sea became more choppy, so me and Lewis decided to move on.

Next stop was Mousehole where the EASTERN BLACK REDSTART was showing on arrival. May not be a species life tick, but what a stunning bird! A grey wagtail was the only other species of note here.


Drove over to Polgigga for the little and lapland buntings, but on arrival we realised what a long walk it would be to Nanjizal (looking on google maps, I think we may have been in the wrong place) and we weren't really sure of the bird's exact location, so we got back in the car and moved on.

A stop off at Hayle produced the male Green-Winged Teal (my first for a couple years), a Spoonbill, 4 Goosanders, some Med Gulls and a good variety of waders and wildfowl.

Green-Winged Teal - Hayle

Spoonbill - Hayle

Last stop of the day was Perranuthnoe to look for the hud whimbrel, however a scan of Boat Cove produced nothing. I remembered that the Diver flock we had been watching from Penzance was over in this direction, so after a couple of scans I picked up a few Great Northern Divers closer in than I was expecting. Shortly after, I found a black-throated type. No white flank patch. And a pretty obvious chin strap! Surely that must be the pacific diver? Thankfully it was accompanied by a Black-Throated Diver, and when the two were side by side it was obvious just how short-bodied and dumpy this bird was, and once I had a line-up of all 3 species together, it was clear that this was indeed the PACIFIC DIVER!!! Finally, after 3 attempts I've managed to nail this bird with decent scope views and side-by-side comparisons!

While we were watching the diver, Lewis picked up a whimbrel flying into the Bay. Looking at the contrast of the head markings, I was pretty sure this was the HUDSONIAN WHIMBREL, but without seeing the rump followed by some confusion with a curlew flying out of the bay, we lost the bird for a while. Thankfully it resurfaced and gave us some flight views to confirm it's identity.

 PACIFIC DIVER - Perranuthnoe
The light was awlful for photographing the divers, but still a great improvement on the shots from Penzance.


2 Megas within the space of minutes, without even having to move all against the beautiful backdrop of Mount's Bay! A fantastic way to end the day and one of my favourite birding experiences to date!

Saturday, 21 January 2017

21st January 2017

Had a pair of Golden Plover fly south over Larkhill early afternoon today. The species is roughly annual in Yeovil (1 flock of 12 last year, just 1 bird the year before) so a good species to get for the patch year list again!

Friday, 20 January 2017


BOU announced today that come next January, they will be using IOC Taxonomy. May as well start using this as the default now then! Unfortunetly, this looses me two ticks; Mealy Redpoll and Hudsonian Whimbrel. It also moves my 300th UK tick from Lesser Yellowlegs to Lesser Grey Shrike. Personally I'm glad this decision was made as I didn't like using a taxonomy that wasn't going to get any updates.

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

15th January 2017

Headed down to the exe with Lewis today. First stop was Topshom Rec where we had the female Long-Tailed Duck, a pair of Goldeneye and a Mediterranean Gull.

Long-Tailed Duck - Topshom Rec

Next stop was Matford Marsh near Countess Wear where, after another short walk, we were watching the American Wigeon. Thankfully it was a bit more co-operative than last winters bird at Exminster and I managed some reasonable record shots. Also present were 2 Chiffchaffs, singles of Great Spotted Woodpecker and Bullfinch and an early singing Blackcap.

American Wigeon - Matford Marsh

Made a diversion to Alphington but we missed the waxwing flock. We decided not to stick around and headed on to Dawlish Warren. A quick scan of the sea produced a flock of Common Scoters, a few Gannets and a Shag but little else. From the hide we had fairly distant views of the adult BONAPARTE'S GULL as well as another Med Gull and a nice selection of waders.

BONAPARTE'S GULL - Dawlish Warren

Stopped off at Cockwood on the way back and had the 2 Slavonian Grebes and a pair of Red-Breasted Mergansers. Also got closer views of the BONAPARTE'S GULL from here, and had good flight views through the scope.

14th Janurary 2017

Headed down to Ninesprings this morning, my first visit here for quite a while. The regular Water Rail was back for the winter plus at least 11 Mandarins. Other highlights included 3 Nuthatches, 2 Sparrowhawks, 3 Little Grebes, 2 Bullfinches and a Grey Wagtail.

Water Rail - Ninesprings Lake

Mandarin - Ninesprings Lake

Mallard - Ninesprings Lake

A walk around Stourhead in the afternoon produced singles of Nuthatch, Treecreeper and Siskin.

Monday, 2 January 2017

2nd Janurary 2017

Dipped on the 2 richard's pipits at Abbotsbury this afternoon. Compensation came in the form of 2 Long-Tailed Ducks, some Pintails and a bunch of year ticks.