Saturday, 23 September 2017

American Redstart!! - 16/17.9.17

American Redstart

The last time an American Redstart put in an appearance in Britain I was 10 years old. I recently turned 42 so us birders had been waiting a long time for another one. So when one was found on Barra, W.Isles I thought it'd be another 32 years until I see one. But after a few days on site Craig Fulcher asked if I'd be interested in going. After last years dip of the Black-billed Cuckoo on the W.Isles I was in two minds but not for long and the evening of the 15th saw me take a drive to Suffolk where I joined Craig, Eddie Marsh and Nathaniel Cant (nice to meet you both) for the long journey up to Oban. We were about 15 minutes from Oban when the news we had been waiting for came through that the bird was still present. Once in Oban we had a couple of hours to kill before the ferry so after a fry up and a quick bit of birding which gave me a couple of year ticks in the shape of Hooded Crow and Black Guillemot we boarded the ferry for the near 5 hour crossing to the island of Barra.

As we passed through the Sound of Barra I got sight of 2 White-tailed Eagle sat on an island. Over Mull itself a Golden Eagle was avoiding the attention of the many corvids around including around half a dozen Raven. Once we had cleared Mull we were in a stretch of water called The Minch which produced some good birds many of which were year ticks. A Manx Shearwater was joined by 5 Great Skua, Arctic Skua, Grey Phalarope and I personally saw 2 of 6 Storm Petrels. Non birding highlights were a Basking Shark, Harbour Porpoise and Common Dolphin.

We finally arrived at Castlebay and after a short while arrived at Eoligarry church. We were greeted by the finder of the bird who kindly informed us of its presence. We got into position and within a couple of minutes 25 of us were watching the 1st Winter female AMERICAN REDSTART as it flitted around a Sycamore tree and twice perching on the wall giving great views and flashing its yellow tail panels. Over the following hour it became more and more elusive as the temperature dropped and the light faded. Happy we went to our digs for the night and headed out for dinner. The only trouble was that the 2 hotels in Castlebay stopped serving food at 8.30 and 8.45pm on a Saturday night! Thankfully a curry house prepared us a takeaway that we ate at our lodgings. The night passed too quickly and at &.50am the ferry left back towards Oban.

The return journey was less eventful birdwise but we did manage 2 more Golden Eagles and a mammal tick with brief views of 4-5 Atlantic White-sided Dolphins. I crawled into bed at 12.20am Monday morning exhausted but with a 6th for Britain on my list! Many thanks go to Craig for the driving and Eddie and Nat for the good company.

Tuesday, 12 September 2017

Herts Tick! - 12.9.17

White-winged Black Tern

During a drink break at work I checked Twitter and read that a Black Tern had been found on the fishing pit at Tyttenhanger GP's. A good record I thought as I'd only seen the one there many years ago. It was while having lunch the first photo appeared on Twitter and I immediately thought that doesn't look right for a Black Tern! Another photo was posted showing a black underwing. It was a White-winged Black Tern! Only trouble was I couldn't get there for another 4 hours so I had to hope it stuck around. Thankfully it did and on arrival I found it sat on one of the islands. It had a brief fly around before landing again. After missing the last 4 or 5 birds due to being at work or in Norfolk it was a relief to finally add it to my Herts list. A Yellow Wagtail flew over as I walked back to the car.
A big thanks to my mate Steve Blake for finding it!

Monday, 11 September 2017

Wilstone - 9,9,17

A wander around failed to produce the Knot, Spotted Flycatcher and Whinchat that I hoped for but there was still an impressive list of species seen.

The Spotted Redshank and Ruff had been joined by 4 Black-tailed Godwit, 2 Dunlin, 2 Greenshank and 4 Redshank. the 4 Black Tern were also still present.

and as I've forgotten to post a visit there on the 31st August I'll mention here the highlights. a Pink-footed Goose that I picked up as it landed infront of the hide was unexpected, 15 Little Egret was a nice count and an eclipse drake Garganey made the notebook.

Wilstone - 6.9.17

Due to the ever increasing amount of mud the reservoir was now attracting good number s of waders. A Spotted Redshank was the highlight albeit distantly and 4 Black Tern were also new in.

Chipping Sodbury + Wilstone - 2.9.17

Woodchat Shrike + Whinchat

A few hours in Gloucestershire with George Moreton produced some great birds. Highlight of which was only my second ever Woodchat Shrike. My first was an adult male in Cornwall 15 years ago but this one was a nice scaly juvenile. It was a lifer for George. Closely following the shrike around were at least half a dozen or more Redstart and Whinchat. It was a pleasure to watch this sort of numbers of birds I don't see all that often.

On the way home George very kindly drove us to Wilstone Reservoir where distantly we viewed the juvenile Ruff that had dropped in that morning.

Back Garden - 28.8.17

Doing the back garden doesn't always pay off but recently Hawfinch and Wheatear have made it worth the while. Todays spot of gardening produced a Yellow Wagtail and the 2nd garden record of Tree Pipit overhead.

Birdfair + Wanlip Meadows - 20.8.17

Osprey + Pec Sand

I went along to the birdfair at Rutland Water with Ricky, Brendon and Steve and amazingly I only spent £18 on a book despite there being things costing a lot more that I wanted! Once we'd walked around we drove round to view an Osprey and get it onto the year list. Next stop was Wanlip Meadows about 18 miles to the west where after a bit of a wait we picked up the Pectoral Sandpiper that had been there for a day or two. Unfortunately due to poor signage and map reading skills the Spotted Crake that had been found earlier in the day was only seen briefly by myself which was a bummer.

College Lake - 30.7.17

Wood Sandpiper

After missing a couple of Wood Sandpipers during the year I was pleased that one had stuck long enough for me to get it on the way home from Norfolk. It was a bit elusive at first but showed well eventually. A female Common Scoter was a nice addition in the note book.

Winterton-on-Sea - 29.7.17

I took my son up to my dads in Norfolk for the weekend and while he was still in bed I popped up the road to have a wander round my Norfolk patch. It was a bit too quiet for my liking with 3 Stonechat and a few Little Tern the only notable birds. I did however get a first in the shape of about 30 Grayling butterflies!

College Lake + Halsey Fields - 15.7.17

Yet another visit to the lake this time for a nice male Common Scoter which was frustratingly very distant.

That evening I joined a small group in north Hemel for an evening mothing and while there I heard my first Tawny Owl of the year.

College Lake - 10.7.17

A return visit again after work was worth the effort with good views of an Avocet on the small island at the far north of the reserve.

College Lake - 26.6.17

An after work twitch saw 8 summer plumaged Black-tailed Godwit make the patch list.

Mega At Church Norton - 10.6.17

Record shot of the Elegant Tern

The day actually started off in the SE corner of Hayling Island where along with Ricky Flesher and Terry Smith we waited with a few others for a an hour or so hoping that the bird we'd come to see would show up. I then received a phone call from Cliff Smith informing me that the bird was now showing at Church Norton. Only an eight mile gap between th
e two sites but by road a 40 minute journey! We parked in Pagham Harbour car park and walked the 1.5 miles down to join the now large group over looking an island in the water. After a couple of minutes I got onto the bird and at last I had a lifer for the year. The adult ELEGANT TERN  had been ringed in France a good few years ago and confirmed as such by DNA results. It showed well in flight before disappearing in the long grass but then flew off west before the other two got a good view. after a long wait it returned and showed brilliantly in full view washing and preening. Other noteworthy birds were a Peregrine strangely nesting on the ground with 3 fluffy chicks and another large group of Mediterranean Gulls this time totalling 43!

Minsmere - 14.5.17

I joined the Watford RSPB group trip to one of my favourite reserves for the day out. Highlights included my first Suffolk Mandarin, a 2nd Winter Caspian Gull, a pair of Stone Curlew and my largest flock of Mediterranean Gulls totalling 51 birds! A pair of Bar-headed Geese added a bit of exotica to the day!