Tuesday, 17 July 2018

North Wales celebration weekend

After a few days at home we all headed to North Wales for my parents 50th Wedding Anniversary celebrations. No real time for birding not that the weather would help as it was still boiling hot all weekend. 

Our hotel was right on the estuary on Conwy so I did managed to record some sightings without leaving the hotel. They included 20+ Redshanks including young, 3 Grey Heron, 6 Mute Swans, 12 Curelow, Little Egret & 2 Oystercatchers. 

Birding Central Park, New York in July

Female American Redstart
Cedar Waxwing
Birding Central Park style
Magnolia Warbler (File shot) - Unable to get clear shot
 Common Crackle
Northern Cardinal
Warbling Vireo 
Baltimore Oriole
Red-bellied Woodpecker 
 Black-crowned Night Heron
 Red-winged Blackbird
 White-throated Sparrow
 Northern Flicker
 Blue Jay
 Grey Catbird Juvenile
 Early morning Racoon
Grey Catbird
 Mourning Dove 
Great Crested Flycatcher
 Eastern Kingbird
 Mrs D getting into the Central Park vibe
Juvenile American Robin

RAfter a great trip last year we decided on a return trip to New York with the lads to share some of the fantastic experiences the city offers. Despite a ballistic schedule I shuffled in a session of birding in Central Park on the Saturday morning. Traditionally, July is a poor month but on occasions if you get a wind blowing from north west you can pick up a returning warbler or two. The forecast did give me hope as I entered the park at 5.15am. The dawn chorus was amazingly loud as I met up with local guide and six other birders from round the world. 

Blue Jay, American Robin, Common Grackel & Mourning Dove started the day list off before leaving the boat house.  There were plenty Starlings at most locations we visited which are having an adverse effect of the tree cavity nesting birds of the park. 

Birds I'd seen on my previous visit recorded again included Northern Cardinal, Chimney Swift, Downey Woodpecker, Double-crested Cormorant, Red-bellied Woodpecker, Grey Catbird, Northern Flicker, House Finch and the common Canada Goose & Mallard.

Eight Barn Swallows were seen over the Great Lawn baseball fields which was a species all of us knew well. In the same area there were at least 2 pairs of Red-winged Blackbirds, I'd only seen them on the way to airport previously.

The first lifer of the morning was one of three Warbling Vireo's singing at Oak Bridge, Maintence Field & Warbler Rock. This was followed by a bird I wasn't expecting to see a Great Crested Flycatcher, originally perched very high but did come down to give us better views. I then picked up a juvenile Baltimore Oriole (another lifer) which was actually in a family group. Another a male was also noted at Warbler Rock.

A species I was really hoping would still be around would be the Cedar Waxwings. A much smaller bird than our visiting Bohiemum species, we observed two adult birds feeding young above the Shakespeare Gardens. 

This was quickly followed up by visiting another pair of nesting lifers which were the Eastern Kingbirds that showed right above us. How I'd like to see one of these in the UK. 

Two White-throated Sparrows have been summering in the park a long way from where they should be and it was great to catch up with the pair deep into the ramble.

With time getting on I thought the chances of getting a new warbler were decreasing by the second. Then suddenly as we were watching another Oriole a female American Redstart popped up ! I was literarily foaming at the mouth as this is one of my most wanted birds. The rest of the group seemed pleased but non plus at the same time.

Then the bird of the morning appeared a magnificent Magnolia Warbler right above us flicking and moving on both sides of the patch. I could have spent an hour watching only this stunning american male warbler. 

After a great session I met up with the family at the boat house to watch the world cup quarter final, England winning 2-0. After the game we checked out the reservoir which had 20 American Herring Gulls & 5 Great Black-backed Gulls bathing in the middle. 

Other species recorded on the trip included Common tern & Laughing Gull on the Staten Island Ferry & an American Crow & Chimney Swift over Yankee Stadium. 

1) Magnolia Warbler
2) American Redstart
3) Cedar Wawing
4) Great Crested Flycatcher
5) Warbling Vireo
6) Baltimore Oriole
7) Eastern Kingbird
8) House Sparrow
9) Common Grackle
10) Red-winged Blackbird
11) American Herring Gull
12) Laughing Gull
13) Great Black-backed Gull
14) Mallard
15) Great Cormarant
16) Double-crested Cormorant
17) American Robin
18) White-throated Sparrow
19) Red-bellied Woodpecker
20) Northern Cardinal
21) Barn Swallow
22) Chimney Swift
23) Black-crowned Night heron
24) Blue Jay
25) Common Tern
26) Red-breasted Nuthatch
27) White-breasted Nuthatch
28) Red-tailed Hawk
29) Downey Woodpecker
30) Northern Flicker
31) American Crow
32) Starling
33) Canada Goose
34) Grey Catbird
35) Mourning Dove

Italic = lifers

Monday, 16 July 2018

Race against sun for Greater Sand Plover

Greater Sand Plover (Tim Cowley)
Greater Sand Plover (Tim Cowley)
Greater Sand Plover (Tim Cowley)
Greater Sand Plover (Tim Cowley)

Long way home
Beach as we were leaving
North end twitchers
My best attempt in fading light

Selfie with the Squire
As per is typical when you have other commitments the news alert buzzed late Friday that there was a Audouin's Gull in Sheffield on Friday. Although seen at first light on Saturday it was not seen again which made the pain a lot easier to deal with.

Then late Saturday the buzz of the phone indicated "MEGA Great Sand Plover - Easington. Being out of action (with parents 50th Anniversary celebrations) I followed the news with interest the following morning when the bird was sighted then disappeared for a number of hours. The reappearance happened during the journey back from Wales. After emptying the car and watching the start of the world cup final, the Squire text and after a couple of mixed messages we hatched an off the wall plan to leave immediately for Spurn to try and see the rare Plover. The positives were we knew it was there, roads would be quieter but we would need to not hang around as the light would start to fade.

The Squire drove like he was on a time trial rallying through Hull and on into Easington. As we got out the car another birder advised us the bird was much further south and whilst it could be viewed it was very distant but if he headed to Beacon Ponds end it would be closer.

With time against us we could have done without a twenty minute walk but it was very much worth it as there on the beach (among the Dunlins) was the Greater Sand Plover.

The Plover was much more striking than I expected, the evening sun made the birds colours really stand out. Migration is an stunning thing, how this bird reached Spurn from central Asia is just amazing. However the species has also been recorded in Iceland and America.

There were six birders stood with us and around twenty at the north end of the beach. Apparently in was total madness when first sighted and again when it reappeared in the afternoon.

Our decision to go late on Sunday looked to have paid dividends on the following day as the bird was not seen. A 1 am get into bed seemed worth it in the end. 

Many thanks to Tim Cowley for use of his fantastic images. Please drop him a follow @tc271, he's a top birder from Spurn who takes some great shots.

July so far at the pits

Hobby (Mark Clarke)
Harvest fast approaching
Small Copper
Old working lagoon
Red Admiral
Common Blue Damselfly
Female Black-tailed Skimmer
Field Grasshopper

To catch up with sightings from last 10 days here are a summary of what's been seen at the pits. 

8th July - Wood Sandpiper (124) on main pit briefly, 3 Green Sandpiper, 2 Oystercatcher, Little Ringed Plover with 2 juveniles, 285 Mallard, 95 Tufted Duck & 8 Teal, Black-backed Gulls, adult & juvenile Little Ringed Plover & a Peregrine. 

11th July - 40 Lapwing, 2 Oystercatcher, 3 LRP, Redshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper & Small Red-eyed Damselfly. 

12th July - 2 Hobby, Peregrine, 30 Lapwing, 3 Osytercatcher. Also Spotted Flycatcher (pm) Bidford Cemetery. 

14th July - Common Sandpiper, 2 LRP's & 2 juveniles, 11 Lapwing, 3 LBBG. Butterflies included Red Admiral, 2 Holly Blue, 2 Gatekeepers, Meadow Brown, Small Copper, Large & Small Whites.

15th July - Juvenile Mediterrean Gull (126), 23 Little Grebe (plus 6 broods), 6 Cormorant, 4 Grey Heron, 11 Mute Swan, 77 Canada Geese, 33 Greylag, 14 Gadwall, 6 Teal, 237 Mallard, 51 Tufted Duck (plus 8 & 3 ducklings), male Sparrowhawk, 18 Moorhen, 216 Coot, 3 Oystercatcher, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 16 Lapwing, 2 Snipe, 2 Green Sandpiper, 4 Common Sandpiper, 25 Black-headed Gulls, 6 Lesser Black-backed Gulls (plus young), 2 Common Tern, 80 Stock Doves, Kingfisher (125), Yellow Wagtail, 2 Sedge Warbler, Jay, 2 Raven, 4 Yellowhammer.

Butterflies included a Clouded Yellow, Small Copper, Holly Blue, Purple Hairstreak & Painted Lady.

16th July - Common Sandpiper, 9 Cormorant, 70 Lapwing. 

Sightings from Jon Bowley, Paul Hands, Mike Inskip, Ann & Noel & Mark Clarke

Red indicates new species for the year.

Friday, 13 July 2018

Wagtails & things

Yellow Wagtail Video
Yellow Wagtail
Meadow Pipit
Yellow Wagtail

Garganey take 2 (P Hands)
Garganey (P Hands)
 Mallard posing as female Garganey
Squire on evening duty
Blogging is harder going in this warm weather. My visits have been less often but we still had some nice birds about. It's interesting the three year listers all turned up following a report on a new Twitter account that actually reported my own survey results that I did for a local farmer. The good news was they were looking in completely the wrong place and the birds have been left alone. To be fair the account has very few followers but this type of reporting doesn't help the species in any way. 

Andy Woodhouse recorded a Great White Egret flying north of the village on 25th June whilst the Squire observed a low flying Osprey over Alcester cemetery.

The water levels have dropped a great deal with the main pit & old works lagoon looking excellent for any waders returning south. The Old Workings has attracted up to 4 Green Sandpipers, a Common Sandpiper & a Snipe. 

Two of our Yellow Wagtails have been showing well and myself and Paul had an enjoyable session on Saturday watching the birds carrying food for young.

The wildfowl numbers continue to creep up with a drake Wigeon & 5 Teal all seen on the main pit. A good contender for a female Garganey was picked up by Paul on Monday. The ID opinions of the bird have been very split. There looked to be two very similar birds both with similar markings but one clearly smaller than the other. The smaller bird was most definitely a Garganey whilst the larger bird looked to be a Mallard. 

50+ Black-headed Gulls are roosting at the pits and the two Common Tern are seen daily flying between Ragley & the main pit. 20 Lapwing & a Redshank were recorded on Monday evening.

On Sunday we drove to Oversley to see the Purple Emperors. The heat had made the bufferflies very active so photos were very difficult. In ninety minutes we recorded 4 Purple Emperors (3 males & a female) and more regular species.