Tuesday, 31 August 2010

Wonderful Wildfowl

The only patch birding I've done today was a mid afternoon gander at Black Hole Marsh. I could only see two Curlew Sands amongst the Dunlin and Ringed Plovers, eight Blackwits were roosting on one of the islands. Overhead, three female-type Pintail continually flew up and down the valley looking lost...

Locally these are quite scarce - so very welcome. They are identifiable in this photo if you enlarge it!

This morning, I had an off patch jaunt for a spot of ringing. Radipole Lake was my destination....

Both the species I ringed were new for me; three Mute Swans, and best of all....two Tufted Ducks!! Here's a few pics with captions...

The proper way to overpower and ring a Mute Swan...they are bloody strong!

And this is the Swan between my legs in the top picture, now back with Mum and Dad

Me with my top treat... an adult drake Tuftie :-)

Just look at that eye.... phwoar!!!

I promise the last photo of him!

This is the adult female Tuftie I ringed - as you can see it is in VERY heavy wing moult!

Whilst over this way, I popped in to Ferrybridge with high hopes of either re-finding that stonking stint from last week, or finding a Kentish Plover. Neither became reality, but I did see singles of Little Stint (juv), Sanderling (juv) and Turnstone. Also a few Wheatear around the car park.

Saturday, 28 August 2010

Brilliant Bank Holiday Birding

What a fantastic day - and I normally really hate bank holidays cuz people are just bloody everywhere! I started the day at Beer Head, nice and early at 6am...

Even by 06:05 I knew it was going to be good, as in the gloom I'd already seen four Tree Pipits and two Wheatears! I stayed up here until 09:20, and could have stayed much longer if Blackhole Marsh wasn't beckoning me so much!

As always, Beer Head offered superb scenery...

Look! The moon is still out!!!

And about twenty minutes in, I turned around to see this...

It's Bun! (I tried to hide but he had already seen me!)

These were my totals by the end of my three plus hours here, plus a few hopeless pics...

Redshank - one heard flying over
Great-spotted Woodpecker - two juvs, notable for beer head
Yellow Wagtail - 61 flew west, though many landed with cattle west of the look out

you can just about see six flying west...if you really squint!

alba Wagtail - 18, including at least twelve grounded
Tree Pipit - a good total of nine included (unusually) three grounded birds. Like the others, these flew off NW

A very poor photo of two of the settled Tree Pips

Meadow Pipit - two west
Wheatear - at least 48, some moving through very quickly
Whinchat - one west of the look out

Sorry, I know I really shouldn't post a photo of this quality!

Stonechat - one juvenile near the head
Garden Warbler - two (Summit and The Hollow)
Blackcap - at least eight
Whitethroat - four
Sedge Warbler - one in The Sheepwalk
Willow Warbler - 37+, in reality there were probably twice as many!
Chiffchaff - six
Pied Flycatcher - one in hedge east of Sheepwalk, showed well
Spotted Flycatcher - three
Bullfinch - one at The Summit

Am very pleased with this haul, well worth the early start! And it wasn't just birds that were plentiful at Beer Head this morning...

...this is Bun again

...now this elusive one IS a tricky ID, if the subject was in winter plumage you would see red with this view :-)

Three more distant birders - one being 'old man' Waite

At 09:20 I hot footed it to Blackhole Marsh, hoping that a certain stint had joined our Dunlin flock (this Stint in case you didn't know!). Well it hadn't, in fact nothing had - all looked very samey in the wader department to me!

I had a bit of shock though whilst kicking about in some ditches and reeds, not what I was hoping for but still much appreciated... (by the way it didn't coming out of the ditches, just flew south west over the marsh from Colyford Marsh direction)



I sent a text out saying what I'd seen, but was pleased to re-locate it a few minutes later a little to the south of me, so sent another round of texts out. If you can't work out what it is from the video, this should help...

...say what you see!

It's our first of 2010, but at least the eighth I've found on patch. Isn't it funny how a few years ago everyone was like "they are doing a Little Egret - they will be everywhere soon!" and now they've gone back to being scarce again!

The only other few bits of news I've got to tell for today is of singles of Whimbrel and Wigeon on the Estuary, and three Greenshank and 18 Teal on Colyford Marsh.

What an excellent day - bring on more like this :-)

ps it is a Cattle Egret and remained in the area all day!!

Thursday, 26 August 2010

Another Murky Morning

I woke up to another wet, dull and misty morning....so stayed in bed a little longer than I really wanted to! At just gone seven I finally dragged myself up and headed down to Blackhole Marsh, before the workmen arrived.

It was worthwhile, as with the small wader flock was my first patch Sanderling of 2010 - I think a first for the marsh! Sanderling is a scarce bird on the river, with most of our records concerning birds on/past the beach in late spring. As I've already said, it was misty and drizzly, an excellent excuse for posting a photo of this quality...

Yes I know - crap! Smart bird though :-)

Other birds on the marsh included: 2 Oystercatcher, 39 Ringed Plover, 42 Dunlin, 2 Ruff, 3 Greenshank, 3 Green Sandpiper, 3 Common Sandpiper and a Water Rail which was showing very well in the north west corner. Spotted Crake next please :-)

So how much work did the workforce manage yesterday - a day of almost constant rain. This is how it looked this morning...

Well they've put another pair of posts in the ground!

At about 8am, I suddenly realised the weather had cleared, and the noticeable south west wind lured me to the seafront and my favoured sea watching spot for 'rough but dry conditions' - the Spot On Kiosk. It proved a good move as between 08:20 - 09:40 I notched up the following:

1 Great Crested Grebe - flew west, I always think these look stupid in flight!
2
Common Scoter
4
Balearic Shearwater - 1w at 08:25, 3w at 9am (1 v.dark bird)
2
Great Skua - juv west at 08:35, adult west at 09:20
2
Arctic Skua - 2 west also at 09:20, too distant to age
3
Kittiwake
2
Common Tern
9
Dunlin
1 Curlew

One of the Common Terns passed quite close, so I just HAD to whip the Lumix out...

...just a pity I was a little late in 'whipping it out!'

Numbers of large Gulls on the Estuary during this rough spell of weather have been surprisingly poor, though both sizes of Black-backed Gulls are making up a higher percentage than usual. In the small collection present on the river early this afternoon was this rather black mantled and long-winged Leeb...

intermedius-type!? Although it doesn't look that dark in this pic, it wasn't far off GBBG colour

The more observant blog browsers may have noticed a change in the name of this blog (not to mention a total re-vamp in layout!). I thought I'd go for a short, simple and obvious title - I should have changed it yonks ago really!

If you are a fellow blogger and have my blog in your blog list (for which I am much obliged), if the name change doesn't show up can you remove then re-instate me, that should do it. Thankyou :-)


Wednesday, 25 August 2010

Good Weather For Ducks

Yesterday morning I had an urge to find an Aquatic Warbler, so Bun, Karen and I gave the marshes on the west side of the river a good 'bashing'....did we get one??

Well if we had found one you would have known by now! We did unearth at least 15
Sedge Warblers though so we considered it a worthwhile few hours, and it is something we will certainly do again if a few more Aquatics start appearing on the south coast.

During our wander several ones and twos of
Yellow Wags flew over, along with a couple of Swifts.

Today has been a day of rain, though I was out early before it really started lashing down. Blackhole Marsh showed the same selection of birds as recent days, though the
Little Stints have gone now.

Visiting birders be aware than work has started on the main hide here. The walkway is being built now, with the hide going up once this has been completed. This is the work done by the contractors on day one, not bad I suppose...

Pity it couldn't wait another month though

There were lots of hirundines feeding over the water, with this juvenile Swallow using one of the diggers to rest on...

Interestingly this bird was still being fed by one of its parents

Just as a major rain storm came over, I had a bit of surprise whilst looking out to sea. A flock of seven duck appeared, flew in off and up river - they were Pochard!

...not that you can tell that from this photo!!

Soon after they were floating on the water north of Coronation Corner, but I couldn't see them a couple of hours later. An interesting and surprising record for August!

I had the moth trap out night before last. I won't list what I caught as there was nothing new for the garden or the year. I had 44 of 12 species, with Setaceous Hebrew Character being the most numerous, and singles of Small Waved Umber and Jersey Tiger being the highlights.

Saturday, 21 August 2010

Blackhole Marsh This Afternoon

The only birding I did today was a mid/late afternoon stint at Blackhole Marsh for an hour or so...

Wader numbers have gone up a little. Ringed Plover numbers looked similar, but there were another ten or so more Dunlin than when I was last here. In with them the two Little Stints still, and most notably our first Turnstone of 2010...

First spotted by Sue Smith

A Greenshank was feeding on the marsh along with a Blackwit and the Ruff still, which showed a little better today...

All birds should take a leaf out of this Ruff's book!!

Over the marsh were a nice collection of Swallows, House Martins and Sand Martins with this late(ish) Swift...

After an entire summer season I've FINALLY got a half decent flight shot of a Swift!!

Workies all day tomorrow, roll on next week...

Friday, 20 August 2010

Persistance Pays

I was down the sea front for 06:30 this morning, only to find the conditions rather pants!

Wind wise it was good, and there was only a bit of drizzle to contend with - so that was good too! It was the visibility, with sea fog vastly reducing the view of the sea...

Not good!

It was very frustrating really, I'm sure things were passing beyond the fog. But I kept at it, and at 08:05 got my reward...

I was scanning as I had been with my bins when a juvenile Black Tern came into view! It continued on west in company with a Common Tern and I enjoyed some nice scope views of this little beaut. I did try to get a distant snap of it, and in one photo you can just about make out a dark shape - JUST!

I finished the sea watch at 08:30, and by that time had seen: 8 Common Scoter, 61 Gannet, 9 Kittiwake, 21 Sandwich Tern, 6 Common Tern, 14 Commic Tern (all in one flock, they flew east and were disappearing into the fog when I first spotted them!) and of course the marsh tern :-)

The rest of the day was a bit of a disappointment really - I was expecting good things with this weather.

Blackhole Marsh showed the same wader selection as recent days, plus 14 Teal, and wildfowl on the Estuary included the Red-crested Pochard and a Wigeon. 20 Ringed Plovers and a Whimbrel were the only notable waders here. Four Greenshank remain on Colyford Marsh with two Green Sands.

Thursday, 19 August 2010

An Afternoon Tour Of The Marshes

Had a wander around Blackhole, Stafford and Colyford Marshes this afternoon - no sign of the two Wood Sands seen here last night and this morning. I did see a few bits though...

Ringed Plover numbers doubled whilst I was there, as a flock of 15 flew in from the west (making a total of at least 31). Dunlin numbers remain similar and the two Little Stints also remain. The juvenile came a little closer for me today, it's just a pity the wind was blowing my scope all over the place...

Corking little thing

A Ruff was nice to see - my second of the 'autumn' - and this is an awful flight shot of it...

I said it was awful!

Also on Blackhole three Blackwits and a few Common Sands. Colyford Common gave four Wheatear and a Greenshank, and Colyford Marsh showed four more Greenshank (with the fifth bird joining them from Colyford Common). Also a single Lapwing by the main scrape.

Earlier in the day, a sweep of the Estuary showed the Red-crested Pochard still with us...

Hanging out with two WILD Mallards! :-)

Have got a busy three days coming up, but may be able to get out birding for at least a small part of tomorrow and Saturday. I'll finish this post with this photo...

Little Egret taken with the Lumix

Wednesday, 18 August 2010

Just A Few Moths

I think last night was only the second time I've had a moth trap out so far this month! The conditions haven't been great and I've just had alot else on. But the couple of times I have trapped have shown enough for me to ask "Just where are all the Large Yellow Underwings!???"

Last night got me just 44 moths of 11 species. There was a first for the garden though, one I really should have got at the end of last summer, it just never came...

Rosy Rustic

The other 43 moths were: 15 Setaceous Herbrew Character, 11 Vine's Rustic, 8 Lesser Broad-bordered Yellow Underwing, 2 Shuttle-shaped Dart, 2 Dark Sword Grass, and singles of: Black Arches, Single-dotted Wave, Brimstone, Magpie and Large Yellow Underwing.

To pad this post out just a little more, here's the two immigrants from that list...

Dark Sword Grass x2

Yesterday, a morning wander in the fields behind Beer Cemetery showed there were zilch migrants about!

Later on in the day, Blackhole Marsh offered the same selection of waders as previous days, but now three Greenshank and no dodgy Redshank! (it has probably morphed into its green-legged cousin now!!)

Tuesday, 17 August 2010

Red Faced Thanks To A Redshank!

Here's a few more pics of yesterdays 'Spot Red'...


A nice elegant, long-legged, long-billed bird. Crucially with a dark upper mandible with red only at base of lower mandible.


And this is the photo I posted yesterday. Sooty headed, mostly sooty grey upperparts. Its paler belly I put down to it moulting into 1w plumage.


And this awful photo shows how bright red the legs were. Not the dull orange of a juvenile/first-year Common Redshank.

And SO, I hear you all ask???... Well it was seen to fly last night, and showed off whopping great white trailing edge to the wings and it went "teu-hu-hu".... so it's just a Redshank!

I guess against it on these photos are that the bill looks quite thick and it lacks any downward kink at the tip. But it is the largest, leggiest, lankiest and sootiest Redshank I have ever seen, could it be a bird from an eastern country?

Isn't birding fun, you just never stop learning!!


Monday, 16 August 2010

Crammed Full Of Photos

I've had a excellent day's birding on patch, and as the title suggests, I've taken plenty of photos - and not all are crap for a change! There's a grand total of SEVENTEEN for you to look at in this post!!

To very briefly sum up my day, I've had five patch year ticks, which ain't bad going at all! The non-brief summary looks like this...

My day started rather late really, at 8am, all thanks to a text from Ian McLean informing me of a mixed bag of Flycatchers on Beer Head.

It was odd on Beer Head this morning, overall it was quiet, expect for The Hollow, where the bushes were sheltered from the north wind and the sun made it feel like an oven! A Tree Pipit over was one of today's year ticks, a Garden Warbler with a few Blackcaps and 10+ Willow Warblers was another, and then there were the Flycatchers...

I left after thirty minutes and had seen at least six Spotted and two Pied Flycatchers (the latter year tick number three!). Being Flycatchers they never stayed still for long, but here are some photos...

Pied Flies

Spot Flies

One of each

After a quick stop off at home, I headed down to Blackhole Marsh for high tide. I was hoping to see the two Little Stints Phil had found on Sunday. They were indeed both still here, the juvenile remained distant, but the adult proved much more 'helpful'...

If only the sun was as 'helpful!' Year tick number four

While my scope and camera were trained on close things, I couldn't help but snap a Dunlin too...

That little droplet of water on the end of its bill being enough for me to want to publish this pic!

I thought the Little Stints would be the highlight on the marsh, but that wasn't so...

I spied a wader looking 'pally' with a Greenshank on the southern edge of the marsh....but in direct line of the sun! After a bit of manoevering to view it in more favourable light conditions, this wader showed itself to be a juvenile Spotted Redshank - RESULT! 'Spotshank' is a less than annual visitor to our Estuary, and I think it is the first for the marsh...

As you can see - it stayed distant! Year tick five :-)

There's obviously been a bit of a duck influx too, as my first Wigeon of the year flew around looking lost over Blackhole, before landing on the river (this is much earlier than last year's first - 7th September) and a flock of 28 Teal took off from Colyford Common.

I've not had the moth traps out for what seems like ages, but I'm still gonna sneak a few moth photos into this post...

Jersey Tiger at Blackhole Marsh

Old Lady by our garage door!

Looks like a lot of this week is going to be wet. Not what many people want during the summer holidays - but I like the sound of it!!