2 Photos of the Brunnich's Guillemot and a record shot of the Black Guillemot
So after nearly 2 months I've finally updated this blog. A mixture of no noteworthy news and lack of inspiration led to some birding doldrums. One highlight was identifying the Welsh Orphean Warbler from photos on the internet but the thought of an 11 hour round trip put me off going! Frustratingly a lack of holiday leave and having my son on alternate weekends meant I couldn't get to see the Merseyside Baikal Teal or the Yorkshire Ivory Gull in time. But just as I'd resigned myself to only having seen 4 new species this year (my worst since starting twitching) I was sat in bed flicking through Twitter when I came across a photo of a Brunnich's Guillemot that had apparently just been taken in Dorset! Minutes later and the mega alert was going off on the pager and sure enough it was true! I quickly phoned my mum to see if Boxing Day dinner could be delayed but she said she would come along with me and the boy! The traffic was a complete nightmare along the M25 and M3 and I was beginning to worry that I would run out of daylight. Fortunately the traffic eased and we arrived at Portland Harbour by 2.30pm. A brisk walk got me to the other birders but there had been no sign for 20 minutes. I bumped into Tony Blake who told me what it had been doing before he walked towards where it had last been seen. While scanning the harbour I noted lots of Red-BreastedMerganser and a few Shag. Next on the list was a nice Black-Throated Diver but then I finally picked up a long awaited tarts tick in the form of a winter plumaged BLACK GUILLEMOT. It was one of the few species I failed to see on my only visit to Scotland and the nearest I got to seeing one was after twitching the Angelsey Sooty Tern but my car broke down on the way. I watched the bird for a while and managed the one photo above before I started heading around to where Tony was. I suddenly got a call from him saying the bird was showing again and heading our way so I set up my scope and up popped my first ever BRUNNICH'S GUILLEMOT just 20ft or so off shore! You could clearly see the off white moustachial stripe it was that close. It dived frequently and after what seemed an age it would pop up again quite a distance away.Even my son got engaged into watching it! So the end of the year has perked up a bit and with it my first 2 tick day since 30th April 2009 when I saw Collared Flycatcher (also on Portland) and Crested Lark (Dungeness).
During my holiday on Scilly in October I bumped into and spent a lot of time with Steve Blake, Ricky Flesher and Brendan Fagan AKA the local birders from nearby Tyttenhanger GP's. Very kindly they invited me along to their annual pre Christmas dinner. A great evening was had and along with those mentioned were Graham Knight and Terry Smith (nice to have met you). And for Brendan who asked me to update this blog more often. Here you go!!
As I had to pop over to see my mum I went into the kitchen to make a cuppa and while waiting for the kettle to boil I noted in the garden 9 Blue Tit (a garden high count), 3 Great Tit, 6+ Long-TailedTit and a nice male Blackcap.
A day spent marking out the borough's footy pitches saw a Grey Wagtail in the yard and down at KGV playing fields a single Fieldfare flew over as did 2 Mistle Thrush and 2 Common Gull were on the pitches. In the afternoon a RN Parakeet flew into Garston Park and a Sparrowhawk went over the yard.
A Grey Wagtail was in the council yard first thing followed by a single Kingfisher, Little Egret and a fly over Skylark near the river. a Meadow Pipit flew over the cricket pitch and on the feeders viewed from the hide were 3 Coal Tit.
Remember remember the 5th of November is the old saying and I shall remember it now as just after lunch news broke of a Glossy Ibis in Herts! 2 years ago Steve Blake witnessed one at Tyttenhanger GP's briefly before it disappeared and a couple of days ago Andrew Steele briefly saw one at the same site before it too headed off. Late morning today and what is most certainly the same bird was re-found but frustratingly just over the county border in Essex. Thankfully it flew off and was discovered at Rye Meads RSPB reserve near Hoddesdon. So I headed that way straight from work and arrived on site fairly quickly. Inside the Lapwing hide were Joan Thompson, Ian Williams and Jason Ward (nice to have finally met you). Luckily the bird was still on show and I soon had it in my scope and on my list. The juvenile bird was the first ever twitchable in Herts and only the second in the county since 1887! So a true Mega. Just then Dominic Mitchell (editor of Birdwatch Magazine fame) entered the hide and got an eyeful of ibis through my scope! It also became my 200th species for the year (at last!).
5 Cormorant flew over in the early morning light on my way to work and once in the park 2 Siskin flew over and a flock of 90 Woodpigeon were the only ones seen from what was a large migration across the rest of middle England.
I was in for the clean up after the fireworks the night before and during the morning 2 Siskin and a Meadow Pipit flew over. And so came to an end to my working in Cassiobury Park after 13 years. Due to the council contracting out the Dust, Street Cleaning and Parks there has been a re-structuring so myself and the guy I've been working with are now on the sports gang so while most of my work will be in the park it will just be on the sports areas so any sightings will be limited from now on.
As I couldn't sleep I woke up and went for a walk around Hilfield. As it turned out I should have just stayed laying in bed! 4 Meadow Pipit were on the dam until they saw me and flew north with 2 more fly overs seen later. Long-Tailed Tits were very much in evidence with over 40 seen in tit flocks. 2 Buzzard were disturbed by crows and 3 Mistle Thrushes flew east. The final bird of note was a Chiffchaff near the view point.
Little Stint, 2 of the Ring-Necked Duck, Blackwit and the Grey Phalablob!!
Every now and then the birding in Herts moves up a gear with 1-2 good county birds turning up. Today was one of those days so I headed up the A41 towards Wilstone Reservoir. I grabbed a parking space and walked up the steps and towards the hide. Just before I got to the hide I bumped into Bill Pegram who informed me that the birds id come to see were still present. With that good news I got to the hide and took a seat and within a minute I was the first of them. Out on the muddy spit to the left of the hide was a juvenile Little Stint. It busily fed along the waters edge occasionally vanishing behind other birds. This was my 5th in Herts and my 3rd on Wilstone. Quite quickly I managed to find the other good bird on the water just off the Drayton Bank. There fast asleep was the female Ring-Necked Duck. After about 10 minutes it woke up and I managed to grab the two photos above. This bird was my 6th in UK and my 2nd in Herts with both being seen on Wilstone. Other birds that were noted were 3 Black-Tailed Godwit and at least 70+ Golden Plover though there were probably more but I didn't count them! I then walked around to the jetty to try and see the Water Pipit but it had disappeared.
Once home I had a spot of lunch and headed over to Hilfield Reservoir where right over the far side was a 1st winter Grey Phalarope bobbing around on the choppy water. I tried my best to get a photo of it but as you can see above its more like an over exposed white blob! This was amazingly my 5th in Herts and my 2nd at Hilfield.
As some of my regular readers (if there are any?!) may notice I have a new photo at the top of my blog. The bird in the photo is a stunning Lawerence's Warbler (hybrid Golden-Winged x Blue-Winged Warbler) that I was fortunate enough to see in Central Park, New York back in August. As you may also be able to tell it's far too good a photo to have been taken by myself! It was in fact taken by Deborah Allen who was leading the guided birding tours I went on while I was there. If you like the look of this photo you can see more of Deborah's wonderful photos at agpix.com and type in Deborah Allen. Alternatively if you type Birding Bob into Google you will find out more about the enjoyable guided walks i.e. where to meet and when. Thanks again Debbie for use of your photo. It looks good!
After breakfast we again said our goodbyes as I wanted to make sure I was home before the storm hit. But not before we visited my Norfolk local patch. After paying to park in the beach car park we walked into the south dunes to the trees below Hermanus holiday park. After a short wait I heard the bird I was hoping for call so I called the other birders over and shortly after out it popped at the lower limbs of a Sycamore. There giving better views than the Lowestoft bird was my 2nd Pallas's Warbler in just over a week! I managed to get Tom on it but I knew his heart lay down at the beach and throwing stones into the sea!! I picked it up another twice before we left which impressed Tom into saying "You're a very good birdwatcher dad"! We went down to the beach and he was happy lobbing his stones into the sea as I looked for the Shorelark that was around. Eventually another birder found it and after a couple of photos I let Tom have a look through my scope. "Nice" he said! A quick scan of the sea saw a Red-Throated Diver flying south and last weeks scoter flock were still present minus the Velevet's. I wasn't done there though as I headed north towards Trimingham. I stopped in Horsey for a quick take away sarnie and then in Walcott for an ice cream for Tom and 29 Pink-Footed Goose that were in the field opposite! These stops though cost me in the end as by the time we reached Trimingham and walked to the cliff top the Pallid Swift had flown out to sea 5 minutes earlier never to be seen again! Even worse news broke by the time I had reach the traffic jam in Thetford that a Black-Browed Albatross had flown north just a mile or two along the coast albeit 3 hours after we'd left!
As it was my weekend to have my son I decided to drive back up to my dads so he could spend some time with him. I was tmpted to head out for a Pallid Swift up the coast but thought better of it so instead we walked along the beach at Gorleston-on-Sea so Tom could visit the arcades. On the way 2 Wheatear and an adult winter Mediterranean Gull were seen and Tom won enough tickets to swap for lots of sweets!
9 Redwing flew over the toilet block before a tit flock flew through which included a Treecreeper and a male Blackcap. 3 Meadow Pipit then flew south and along the canal path near the hide 30 Siskin had already arrived for the winter.
The morning started with 70+ Woodpigeon overhead followed by a Siskin. Up at the bowling green in Oxhey a Skylark flew over minutes before 7 Lesser Redpoll. 3 more Lesser Redpoll flew over the yard after lunch.
So far in 2013 there have been a huge number of potential new birds for me but pretty much all of them have been in Ireland or on far flung Scottish islands and so have been out of my reach due to time and money. So just as my luck would have it while waiting for the Lowestoft warblers the mega alert went off telling us about a mega American wader on Hayling Island. As I couldn't face a 5-6 hour drive straight from Norfolk and the fact that my car was booked in for its annual service I made enquiries about getting a lift down on Saturday morning and as luck would have it Chris Sharp had a space and said I could come along. After initial discussions about a 6am start had been put back to an 8am meet due to tide times I left the house and drove down the road to pick up young Ephraim Perfect and then joined Chris at the place I dropped my car off. We then headed to Maple Cross to pick up Paul Frost and the Sh4rpy birding collective (see Chris's blog in my blog list) were on the way!! A nice clear drive meant we were on site nice and early and after getting the waterproofs on we joined the expectant crowd for the bird to show up. A few Ringed Plover were already present and at one point the shout went up that the mega was amongst them but it wasn't to be. Not long after another shout went up and this time it was there! In amongst the Ringed Plover and Sanderling stood slightly smaller with a shorter stubby bill the 4th UK record and my 1st ever 1st winter SEMIPALMATED PLOVER! I quickly rattled off a few photos and took in the subtle differences of it before the rising tide and noisy wind surfers flushed the whole flock off towards the main seafront. We all stood around waiting for it to come back but then the rain started so we headed back towards the car park. As we did though news spread that it had been found on the beach so we followed the others there found somewhere to park and walked up to join the crowd. Unfortunately viewing was restricted due to where the bird was on the shingle but a few birders allowed views through their scopes. After chatting to a couple of Tring regulars we headed for the Oyster beds on the west side of the island. The first bird in view was an adult Arctic Tern which was a nice surprise. Hundreds more waders were present along with 10 Little Egret and a Rock Pipit. It was then a choice of where to go next. The answer was Thursley Common as time was running away. Over 150 Fieldfare and 50+ Redwing were flying around but the main prize soon gave itself up when the Great Grey Shrike was seen chasing Meadow Pipits. A few distant photos were taken before the heavens opened. On the walk back to the car I bumped into Kit Britten who I hadn't seen for many years (good to see you again if your reading this!) and just as we reached the car park a Crossbill flew over calling.
After a morning cuppa I said my goodbyes and headed up the A12. As I drove over the bridge next to Breydon Water I counted 13 Little Egret! Shortly after I arrived at Hemsby where a Yellow-BrowedWarbler, Ring Ouzel and Brambling had been reported on Twitter. After a 20 minute wander I had only seen a fly over Lesser Redpoll for my troubles. I checked the pager and noticed 4 Glossy Ibis were flying along the north Norfolk coast and heading south along the east coast. I drove up to Winterton Dunes and positioned myself with 3 others who had had the same idea. Messages from Overstrand and then Waxham had us on alert but then the news came that they had headed inland near Waxham and disappeared! How frustrating! A female Marsh Harrier and 3 Buzzard were at the far north end of the dunes and a quick look at the sea produced 8 Brent Geese flying north. I went down onto the beach after being told of a group of Snow Bunting so I carefully walked along the beach when suddenly they flew in and landed 20 feet away. I counted 24 birds and took some photos of them too. On the way back to the car I had a scan over the sea and picked out a group of scoters. There were at least 25 female type Common Scoter but in with them I was surprised to see 5 male Velvet Scoter! After this I headed home via a quick stop at Sandon to try for Grey Partridge and Yellowhammer but only succeeded in seeing 130 Lapwing and a 300 strong flock of Linnet!
As it was my dads birthday I decided to head up to Norfolk to see him. Luckily for me there were a couple of interesting birds to see on the way up so I chose to go up via the A12 and eventually I reached Sizewell where I parked up just beyond Sizewell House and walked a few yards to join a small group of birders. They were busy staring up into the canopy where with patience I finally got onto my 4th UK Red-Flanked Bluetail. It's hard to believe that just over 20 years ago a bird in Dorset attracted thousands of birders as it was still an ultra rare bird. We have been spoilt lately as they have turned up regularly. Spookily this bird becomes my 3rd in Suffolk and all of them have been seen on 17th Oct. I guess my grandparents timed his birthday well!! A Great Grey Shrike was a short walk away but I had just missed it kill a Dunnock which it had disappeared into a bush to eat. I had a few more views of the bluetail before I headed off to Lowestoft. I parked up just a few hundred yards away from where I had seen my last bluetail and walked onto the north denes. I saw 3 birders staring at some bushes on the embankment so I went over and joined them to be told somewhere in a large bush were a Pallas's and Yellow-Browed Warbler but neither had been seen for an hour. I waited and waited but decided to walk along the bank a bit to try and find them. 3 Chiffchaff and a few Robin were seen until I reached the car park. I scanned a few gulls in the car park and found a nice adult winter Mediterranean Gull asleep. I was going to walk along the beach and back to the car but upon checking my pager I saw that the Pallas's had been seen again! I walked back over trying to avoid the dog mess and after another 10 minute wait a small green and yellow bird popped out the front of the bush. It was the Pallas's Warbler. It showed well briefly but remained elusive. Just as I was about to pack up and head to my dads a bird flicked up in the top right of the bush. It was the Yellow-BrowedWarbler! So a hat-trick of sibes were seen and a nice pizza at my dads rounded off a good day.
On the first day of my Scilly trip news broke of a Great White Egret at Tyttenhanger Gp's. This was made even more in interesting when I bumped into 2 of the regular patch workers in the bar on Scilly! Luckily for all concerned it stuck around for the week and they both saw it when they arrived home. I finally dragged myself over there and on arrival was expecting it to be on view from the causeway over the main pit. Luckily for me a birder from Royston told me it was over the other side viewed from the small causeway below the farm. A muddy walk ensued before I arrived and found the bird showing brilliantly a few feet away totally at ease with my presence. While watching it and getting the photos above I had a Sparrowhawk fly through and 25 Fieldfare overhead. Amazingly the GW Egret was my 5th in Herts. Will they be regular and breeding like its Little cousins soon?! A Little Egret was on the main pit on the walk back.
After a weekend of relaxing I decided to head to Essex to see the 4 Parrot Crossbill that had appeared as part of a large movement in Europe. After getting through the M25 roadworks, the never ending speed cameras around Southend and my sat nav trying to take me through dead ends I arrived and parked up only to be told they had flown off about 30 minutes prior. While waiting for them to return I counted 200+ Dark Bellied-Brent Goose on the mud with a single Little Egret. 13 Swallow flew south in 1-2's. I moved around the site in an attempt to pick up the parrots but a tit flock caught my attention so I spent a bit of time looking at them as they flitted between trees. Just then I picked up the top half of a bird that had a very bright eye stripe. I mentioned to a couple of nearby birders that I thought i'd just had a Yellow-Browed Warbler. A few more joined us and then about 5 minutes later I picked up the bird again and yes it was a Yellow-Browed Warbler!! This was the first one i'd found so I was happy. I was then told that there was a Ring Ouzel a short walk away so off I went and after a 15 minute wait two birders got onto a nice male across the water on a grass path. I managed a few photos but only 1 was any good! Shame I dipped the Crossbills but a self found sibe was great compensation!
The excellently named Nowhere, Sunset over the harbour and a still Common Song Thrush.
My last day on Scilly had arrived and my choice was to stay on St.Mary's and walk around the top of the island. I started off walking through Lower Moors and heard Water Rail and Kingfisher and then the first few Redwing that had probably been blown in by the strong northerlies. News that the Yellow-Browed Warbler was still on The Garrison saw me heading that way. Just before I arrived some more Redwing flew over and in with them was my first Fieldfare of the autumn. As I was expecting the YB Warbler didn't show so I grabbed a drink and walked up to Porthloo beach where straight away I picked out a Whimbrel on the rocks. Just below the golf course the field with two black cows didn't hold the Wryneck that had been present for a few days. Eventually I reached Bar Point where I had a quick scan at the sea and picked up an auk sp and 3 Kittiwake. I then got a bit hungry so went to the Strudel House for a piece of the yummy strudel and a drink. I timed it perfectly as I grabbed the last piece!! 15 Fieldfare flew over as I was eating it. Another 30 flew over Carreg Dhu garden as did the only House Martin of the week. A Firecrest got onto the list as it called from just outside the garden. The final bit of birding of the week was a showy Jack Snipe on shooters pool.
In Scilly terms it was a quiet week but I still managed 25 year ticks and 16 Scilly ticks but it was the first time I'd not added a new UK species to my list. But I'm sure I will be back again next year even though had I been on Shetland this autumn I could have had over a dozen new ticks!
During yesterdays pelagic the mega alert went off with the news that Tresco had finally come up with a bird worth seeing in the shape of a Sora. I'd already seen the one in Notts a few years ago so I wasn't too worried with trying to squeeze in a viewing of it so the decision was made to go the next day and spend a longer time on the island. The morning broke and another early boat trip thankfully less stomach churning than the day before! In the Tresco channel I counted 21 Little Egret which is the highest count for me. Upon landing we headed straight for the Great Pool but decided to view from Simpson's Field on the far size apart from Steve who power walked to get prime viewing from the hide as he still needed the bird for his list. After a brief wait news came over the radio that it was on view from the hide but not quite from where we were. Luckily it decided to hop onto the rocks and my second UK Sora showed well for around a minute before heading into some brambles. We had a couple more views as it ventured out of the reeds but remained elusive. We walked off and immediately came across a nice Whinchat perched on the fence. Down on the southern end of the pool a Black-Tailed Godwit was seen and 4 Swallow flew overhead. News of a Woodcock by the old blockhouse saw us heading that way but as we had expected there was no further sign. But undeterred we walked off back towards the pools and saw a very showy Golden Pheasant and a Common Gull was seen in a ploughed field. Just then news broke of a juvenile Red-Backed Shrike by the old blockhouse! but as the last boat off the island was only 50 minutes away and the fact I'd seen one on Tresco before I chose to go and have a look at the juvenile Garganey instead as it would be a Scilly tick. We had good views of it in the end so we wandered back to catch the boat noting 3 Skylark on the heliport field. Once back on St.Mary's I chose to walk up to Telegraph for a Richard's Pipit but what I didn't know was that it had flown off even before I had got off the boat! Instead I had another walk through Lower Moors. This turned out to be a good choice as just before the shooters pool I flushed a Spotted Crake from the ditch right next to the path! So Sora and Spotted Crake in the same day. I doubt I'll do that again!
Great Skua and Jack Snipe. Thanks to Brendan Fagan for his pics.
With the islands being quiet birdwise I (foolishly) agreed to join the lads on the mini pelagic around the islands and out towards Seven Stones. I felt ok for the first 45 minutes but as we got out of the protection of the land it became a bit choppier and I turned a bit greener! The first bird of the day was the winter plumaged Red-Necked Grebe in Crow Sound which was my first for a few years. Next bird of note was a Puffin just off our side of the boat and then a Razorbill flew past. Once one of the crew had started throwing bits of bread and fish overboard the gulls appeared shortly followed by the first of at least 10 Great Skua for the trip. By this time I was regretting going on board as I was feeling rather ill. But thankfully most of those on board felt ok and managed to pick up a few good birds which I lifted the bins to look at! These included 4 Manx Shearwater, 4 Balearic Shearwater and a single Sooty Shearwater. Whilst we were drifting a kind soul on the boat decided to throw up into the wind and blowing his chunks all over the arm of my jacket which didn't really make me feel any better! On the way back to dry land a summer plumage Great Northern Diver flew past and the final bird of note was a 1st winter Yellow-Legged Gull. 6 year ticks in all but unless I'm guaranteed an albatross or tropicbird that will be the last pelagic I go on! On the walk back to my digs I stopped off at Lower Moors and after a bit of a wait the Jack Snipe walked into view and onto the year list.
With news at the log that there were a few good birds on Bryher the 4 of us decided to pay a visit in the hope that some may have stuck. The first place we visited was the vine café as the boat we had got was the early one I'd missed out on my morning cuppa! Suitably refreshed we then wandered around the Hell Bay Hotel in the hope of yesterdays RC Starling but views weren't forthcoming. We then headed to Great Porth and surrounding beaches where 2 female Common Scoter, 2 Common Sandpiper and a Whimbrel were seen closely followed by the 2 Little Stint and a nice juv CurlewSandpiper. As we left news over the radio said that the RC Starling was on the hotel roof but before we could get on it the flock flew off. I did however manage to catch it in flight a couple of times. Where we were stood was a good spot as just behind us the Hooded Crow was showing well. News then broke of a bird at the base of Samson Hill so we made our way there and after a 10 minute wait my third Red-Breasted Flycatcher in three days showed briefly! No sooner had we seen that news then broke of a Common Rosefinch behind the Fraggle Rock bar. Annoyingly we missed it by minutes but did have a Whinchat and a fly over Skylark. Not a bad day but not exactly setting the world alight either.
Turtle Dove by me and Pied Fly, Golden Plover + Lapland Bunting courtesy of Brendan Fagan
Today was spent on my own on St.Mary's. First stop was The Garrison in the hope of the LaplandBunting but that had done a bunk just before I arrived. A Yellow Wagtail was on the footy pitch though and a Reed Warbler was by the kids playground. A quick look around the tennis courts and I picked out a Pied Flycatcher that was probably the same one Steve had found there two days previous. I left and wandered back towards Old Town and another visit to the church. Another Hummingbird Hawkmoth was seen resting on a Palm tree shortly followed by a brief glimpse of my second Red-Breasted Flycatcher in two days. I walked past my digs and round the back to Porth Minnick where in a ploughed field was a very showy Turtle Dove. After a long walk I arrived at the windsock on the airfield where I finally connected with 2 Lapland Bunting. This was followed by an uneventful walk around the east of the island seeing nothing of note bar a couple of Greenshank on Porth Hellick. Eventually I came across something noteworthy when 3 Raven were seen at Parting Carn. News over the radio alerted me to 3 Golden Plover in Old Town bay. Not overly exciting I know but they were an embarrassing year tick! A Kingfisher that flew across the bay was nice.
2 pics of the Purple Heron, Convulvulous + Death's Head Hawkmoths + Short-Toed Lark
After a lovely Full English I headed off out towards The Garrison for a Lapland Bunting that was on the football pitch but just after I had walked past the school news that the Purple Heron was showing well in a field viewed from the school. I quickly re traced my steps and within a couple of minutes I was watching the bird stood still in a grassy field. I rattled off a few photos and even managed a bit of video. It showed for a few minutes and then walked out of view. I'd then almost reached the footy pitch when I bumped into the Tyttenhanger lads. They were off to St.Agnes which was what I had planned. I decided to leave the bunting and joined the lads on the boat. On the crossing a Kittiwake was on a buoy with Sandwich Terns. It turned out to be a good choice as within minutes we reached the fruitcage area and within seconds we had connected with a Red-Breasted Flycatcher. The area was basking in sunshine which in turn meant there were insects everywhere that as well as the RB Fly, 6+ Chiffchaff, 2 Reed Warbler and a Willow Warbler were busy feeding on. We then headed off towards the church but before we reached there a Peregrine was seen perched distantly on rocks. Suddenly myself and Ricky had lost the other two and as we passed a field 3 birders pointed us to a juvenile Rose-Coloured Starling that perched up in the top of a tree for us before flying off. We eventually found the others in the field that had held a Subalpine Warbler for a few days but today it only held a Whitethroat. We carried on our walk and soon had a few Clouded Yellow butterflies flitting about. Our next stop was the famous Parsonage. We spent over half an hour here and saw both Pied and Spotted Flycatcher and the second Yellow-Browed Warbler of the week. After a quick lunch break at the coastguards café we learnt of a ConvulvulousHawkmoth on the wall of the school so we headed back and there was the stunning moth all 2 inches long of it. Someone said there was a Hummingbird Hawkmoth on a nearby house and sure enough there was but then a man said he had caught a moth that I had wanted to see for a long time and that it was on the wall of the school. There in front of me was a massive Death's Head Hawkmoth! After our fill of moths we heard over the radio of a Short-Toed Lark near Troy Town. As Steve needed this as a lifer we went straight there. Luckily the bird was still feeding in a newly sown field and Steve got his lifer. In the bracken on the other side of the field was a Whinchat which was a year tick for me. Back on St.Mary's I popped into Old Town church where a Lesser Whitethroat and another Pied Flycatcher were seen.
After finishing work I went home and tried to sleep but couldn't so I packed my things and at just after midnight set off for Cornwall. Just before dawn I arrived down on the Hayle Estuary and after finding a spot to park I joined a few other birders for a scan over the water for the main target bird an adult female Black-Winged Stilt. No sign on the estuary so we had a look over Ryan's Field. Again no sign of the stilt but I did find a Wheatear and my first Greenshank of the year. Back over to the estuary and suddenly a shout went up and there flying was the stilt. It landed and showed well but annoyingly I'd left my new phone/scope adapter in the boot so could only manage a rubbish handheld shot. A LittleEgret made it onto the list as well.
I then had to head off to Lands End airport for my flight over to Scilly. Once on the islands I walked to my digs for the week as I was only staying round the corner at Tolman Guest House. I dumped my bags switched on the CB radio and grabbed my optics and headed out into the field! First stop was Lower Moors where straight away a Water Rail squealed and a couple of Chiffchaffs were in fine voice enjoying the warm weather. I continued up to the screen at shooters pool where the first year tick of my stay was had when a Yellow-Browed Warbler called and showed briefly. After trying to get better views I gave up and headed out onto the Telegraph Road when the radio burst into life to say that an Arctic Warbler had been found up at Newford Duckpond. A quick check of the map was had only to find it was gonna be a bit of a walk. But just then a few other birders said that the bus would be along in a minute or two! Whilst waiting I met a couple who used to live and bird around SW Herts and they mentioned they used to visit Cassiobury Park! (small world). Eventually the bus arrived and my first ever bus twitch was underway. The driver very kindly dropped us off at the pond even though it was off his route (imagine that on the mainland!). After 20 minutes or so the bird finally showed albeit briefly before another 15 minute wait when it was pinned down inside a bush. I then gave excellent views to the small crowd and became only my second in the UK. A female Blackcap also showed briefly. After filling myself on good views I headed off for a wander and had a Peregrine fly over Juliet's Garden before I reached Porthloo beach where a Wheatear was on the beach with 2 White Wagtail and a Little Egret. On the sea edge 2 1st Winter Med Gulls were spotted. By now the lack of sleep was taking hold so I headed towards the dump clump to pay a visit to the famous Project (Higgo's) Pool. Again the area produced the goods when the long staying Bluethroat flew up from my feet. A Sedge Warbler showed briefly and then the final bird of the day was seen by the dump whilst on the way for dinner when the juvenile Purple Heron another long staying bird flew into the reeds to roost. I had dinner in the Bishop and while sat there 3 blokes walked in. It was Steve Blake, Ricky Flesher and Brendan Fagan of Tyttenhanger GP's fame!!
While sat at the Hunton Bridge roundabout on the way to work 5 Little Egret flew over which was unusual. It was only later that I realised these 5 had taken me through the 1,400 Little Egret in the UK mark!! News from the park consistedsolely of fly over birds including Skylark and Siskin (first of the autumn), Linnet and the first Yellow Wagtail of the year.
I wish for my landmark 1000th post I could report a mega found in the park but unfortunately a GreyWagtail over as well as a Swallow and a Water Rail heard squealing near the hide were all I could report today.
A Kestrel was seen near Hunton Bridge on the way to work and when at work a Red Kite flew over. The Chiffchaff was still singing and around 20 RN Parakeet were in evidence. House Martin were also noted with at least 25 over the cricket outfield.
As I had a couple of hours to spare I popped in for a look at was around and the first bird I noted was a Rock Pipit on the dam showing well with a handful of Pied Wagtail. I then scanned through the gulls that were loafing on the water and I soon picked out a 1st Winter Mediterranean Gull. A Buzzard flew over as did a Meadow Pipit. I wandered round to the hide and as I did a Hobby took flight into a distant tree and the first Redwing of the autumn flew over. Back on the damn a Grey Wagtail was noted and a RN Parakeet flew over a singing Chiffchaff.
Born and bred in Watford,Herts, I started birding when I was just 8 years old because the old next door neighbours garden was very overgrown and attracted birds to his and our gardens! I first went to the Watford RSPB group at 15 and then I joined the Herts Bird Club in the same year. I was on the Herts Bird Club committee for 3 years. I started twitching in September 2001 after i'd bought my RBA pager and within a week of owning it i'd added Red-Necked Stint and American Green Heron! I keep 2 main lists which can be seen above.