Wednesday, 15 September 2021

Pits moves to 131

Ruff digiscoped from F Peplow
Passage waders remain disappointing however Francis added a female Ruff to the yearlist taking us to 131.

Weekend counts conducted by JB included: 34 Little Grebe + 3 late broods, 19 Cormorant, 3 Grey Heron, 24 Mute Swan, 105 Greylags, 101 Canada Geese, 2 Gadwall, 37 Teal, 545 Mallard, 24 Shoveler 28 Tufted Duck, adult Hobby on field, Peregrine, 25 Moorhen, 63 Coot, 1 Lapwing, 1 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Yellow-legged Gulls, 2 Kingfisher, the first southerly movement of Meadow Pipits - 205 in an hour, 2 Grey Wagtail, 1 Whinchat, 4 male Cetti's Warblers now singing, 1 Sedge Warbler, 3 Reed Warbler, 2 Lesser and 1 Common Whitethroats, a few Blackcaps, 20 Chiffchaff, 2 Jays and 6 Bullfinches. 

Monday, 13 September 2021

Green Warbler at Buckton

Green Warbler (David Carr)


When a Green Warbler (recent split from Greenish) was discovered in Buckton, east Yorkshire I was in deepest Cornwall so the chances to see the first twitchable bird of this species on British mainland was zero. It caused a mega twitch which looked to have turned rather messy with birders rushing the bird and getting very shirty with each other. I was glad I was out of the way to be honest. After getting home on Saturday afternoon, I checked social media and it seemed the crowds had reduced so I decided to get up as usual and if reported straight away I'd give it a go. 

With it being a Sunday the roads were pretty quiet and I had no hold ups, the car park was actually ok which was a pleasant surprise. The advertised 1km walk did seem much further but you can hardly complain when you have Gannets streaming past you. 

The ninth record for Britain was in a small copse around 500 metres in front of the costal path. It was a case of find a good view and be patient. There was an early shout of a sighting but I was at the wrong angle and it took over an hour for me to finally spot the bird well enough to see this small warbler that breeds in north Turkey & Iran. I did spend another hour there where I got one further decent view of the bird. The bird had very strong face markings, wing bar and quite bright compared to other autumn warblers. The bird moved very fast which probably was the reason it was so difficult to pin down.

Other birds in and around the copse included a female Redstart, Willow Warblers, Robin, Collared Dove, Wood Pigeon, Wren and a Blackbird. 

This year continues to be an amazing one for rare birds. With Autumn now picking up who knows whats next around the corner.

Many thanks to David Carr who kindly sent me the above images of the bird.

Family Holiday birding in Cornwall



Black-necked Grebe
Stunning coastline in all directions
Red Admiral influx
Southern Migrant Hawker
Little Stint
Little Stint
Ringed Plover
Curlew Sandpiper
Little Stint
Curlew Sandpiper
Just home from a fantastic week away with the family staying just outside St Just in West Cornwall. We spent lots of time enjoying some amazing scenery around the coastal paths and enjoying the most unbelivable house where we stayed.

I managed to get out and do some birding each day of which I'll summarise the sightings. Chough were seen on every costal walk in varying numbers, anyone will do well to miss them.

Hayle - 5 Little Stint, Curlew Sandpiper, Whimbrel, 3 Greenshank, 150 Dunlin

Portgwarra - 5 Fulmar, plent of Gannet, Wheatear, Whinchat & Stonechat

Drift - Juvenile Osprey, 5 Green Sandpiper, 2 Common Sandpiper, Great Crested Grebe

Kelynack - 4 Pied FLycatcher, 10 Spotted Flycatcher, 1 Tree Pipit, 15 Willow Warber, 6 Chiffchaff

St Gothian Sands - Black-necked Grebe, Yellow Wagtail, 2 Little Stint, Swift, Whimbrel & Greenshank.

Godrevy - 24 Grey Seal, 2 Wheatear

2 Sandwich Tern, 9 Wheatear

Friday, 27 August 2021

White-tailed Lapwing is August bonus

 I needed to spend a day in the office this week and as if by magic the alert came up on the phone that there was a White-tailed Lapwing in Lincolnshire. Needless to say it added some extra zip to my productivity to ensure I could undertake an evening twitch with the Squire. 

The last record in Britain (seven in total) was in 2010 where an individual visited a number of counties on an extended stay. This was before I was interested in travelling to see rarer birds. The first record was actually in Warwickshire at the Packington gravel pits back in 1975.

This very rare wader that breeds in central asia to Iraq would be a great addition for us both, what could go wrong? The bird had been visable all day from Townend Hide, it was just a case of ticking off the miles and enjoy the view.

As we walked towards the visitor centre the helpful warden greeted us with "sorry chaps the bird had flown north five minutes ago" . It was like a very bad joke but it wasn't! Still not quite believing the news we headed to a half empty hide which contained a mixture of elated & dispondant birders. We took our seats and hoped for the best convincing ourselves the Lapwing would return, but deep down accepting the reality of it wouldn't.

There was a fantastic selction of birds for us to watch including 5 Ruff, Spotted Redshank, Greenshank, Black-tailed Godwits, loads of Snipe, Bearded Tit, Green Sandpiper, Bittern & Marsh Harrier. 

About 30 minutes passed, when the birder to my right called "its coming back" and he was right. Gliding in from our right was the White-tailed Lapwing that circled the scrapes before landing fifty yards in front of us! Wow !......

We had terrific views of the bird as he fed around the edges of the scrapes. The other waders couldn't quite believe what they were sharing their area of mud with. The hide door slammed once loud making the bird take flight again but thankfully only to the island where most of the Ruff were. 

With positive news being reported again the hide was filling towards its capacity so we decided to leave and let someone else have our box office seats. Quite an evening and proves again you can never guess what the next rarity might be.

Summer blues

Great White Egret (Mark Clarke)

Black-headed Gulls
Black-tailed Godwit

Black-tailed Godwit
Black-tailed Godwits
Little Ringed Plover
Common Darter
Grey Heron
Black-tailed Skimmer
Little Egret
The pits are hard work in the summer months. From the deep sticky mud in winter the ground is now rutted and uneven making it essential you watch every step.

There hasn't been anything to blog about since spring migration. 13 Black-tailed Godwits in summer plummage was the best whilst there has been a Med Gull coming and going. A Great White Egret hung around for two weeks but no sign recently.

I did two visits at the weekend and the below were the best counts of both days.

36 Little Grebe, 9 Cormorant, 16 Mute Swans, 169 Greylags, 340 Canada Geese, 2 Teal, 450 Mallard, 6 Gadwall, 70 Tufted Duck - three broods of various sizes, 100 Coot, 3 Lapwing, 5 Green Sandpiper, 43 Black-headed Gulls, 10 LBB Gull, 2 Herring Gull, 20 Swift, 11 Sand Martin, 15 Swallow, 3 Wheatear (all female), 1 Cetti's Warbler, Jay, Red Kite, Sparrowhawk, broods of Meadow Pipit & Yellowhammer & juv Cuckoo.

Sunday, 8 August 2021

Summer wild findings on the Scillies

Standard summer Scilly view when walking around the coast

View from the top of Bryher
Ringed Plover
Rock Pipit were very common
Song Thrush
Shag flock
Golden Pheasant
View from the top of Tresco
Red Squirrel
Common Blue

Meadow Pipit

Close views guaranteed
St Agnes local
Birding around the islands
Gyr Falcon in pop up museum
Great food all week

Common Terns

Painted Lady

 A stunning evening at the Turks Head

It would be foolish to go on any walk around the Scillies without your binos but in all honesty all the action is on the sea at this time of year. We walked approx 45 miles during our week mainly around the perimeter of St Marys, Bryher, St Martins and Tresco. Despite visiting five times previously this was the first time I had visited St Martins and fully walked around Bryher. 

We undertook a trip out to Bishop's lighthouse where we saw Common Terns, huge numbers of seals, Manx Shearwater, Fulmer, Great Black-backed Gulls and four Sunfish. The Red Squirrels & Golden Phesants at Tresco Abbey Gardens were great to see at close quarters.

Also sightings around the islands were Ringed Plover, Rock & Meadow Pipit, Stonechat, Sandwich Tern, Common Tern, Common Sandpiper, Shag, Cormorant, Chiffchaff, Blackcap, House Sparrow, Swallow, Blackbird, Song Thrush & Linnet.