Sunday, 26 June 2016

Chicks galore at Upton Warren

Redshank chick
Redshank chick
Egyptain Geese 
Egyptain Goose
Mute Swans
Common Terns
Coot family

Last day of freedom before my operation (which will take me off my feet for a week), I opted for morning at Upton Warren for a guarantee fest of chicks, good birds & good company.

Starting at the Moors there looked to be six Common Tern chicks on the rafts. As I reached the sailing pool two Egyptain Geese were a welcome addition to my Upton list. They are certainly not an easy species to catch up there however these two showed vey well enabled me to take a few nice shots.

Next stop was the hen hide where Andy Pit and I watched at least three Water Rail chicks with their parents trying to keep them rounded up as best as possible.

Down at the Flashes it was brilliant to witness the recently hatched Redshank chicks exploring the habitat. I do hope they don't wander to far and catch the eye of the large gulls hanging around. Avocet young were recorded at 15 whilst there were seven Shelduck ducklings.

Brufut Woods (Day 7 Gambia) & appeal

Brufut Woods had plenty of birds whatever your interest
Pearl-spotted Owled
Little Bee-eater
African Green Parrot
African Scops Owl
Fine-spotted Woodpecker
Yellow-fronted Tinkerbird
Beautiful Sunbird
Ebrima trying to find another species
Verreuxs Eagle Owl
White-faced Scops Owl
Long-tailed Nightjar
Long-tailed Nightjar
Welcome to Gambia
Cardinal Woodpecker
Woodland Bar

I've just realised I hadn't posted my final blog from the Gambia.  I was very happy of the birding I'd already done during the holiday however Brufut Woods with it's reported Owls was still an attraction. As I was walking across the square a polite guide called Ebrima stopped me for a chat and said he had seen me on twitter and wondered if I had time for any more birding. After a bit of negotiation we agreed to visit the wood the following morning, using my own local transport & Ebrima to guide around the site. Give Ebrima a follow on Twitter at @gambianbirder  .

The Woods were about 40 minutes away to the south which would have been very difficult to find without a guide. The woods were dense scrub land and forest throughout and are protected by West Africa Bird Study Association. On our walk we were also joined by a local ranger who is a long term friend of Ebrima.

Within a few yards I recorded my first new bird a African Green Parrot sitting up before seeing a Africa Harrier Hawk, Skira followed by four species of Owl including African Scops Owl, Pearl Spotted Owlett, White-faced Scops Owl & the impressive Verreuxs Eagle Owl.

I was very impressed with Ebrima's knowledge of the birds habits, calls as well as knowing all their latin names. Ebrima went out of his way to try and find exactly what I wanted to see. Two Woodpeckers I was desperate to see were Fine-spotted & Cardinal Woodpecker. The Cardinal took us a bit longer but with some careful listening we saw a pair very well.

Ebrima had another real treat for me as he put me within a metre of a male & female Long-tailed Nightjar. Hidden within the camouflage of the forest floor it took a couple of seconds to adjust the eye to see this Gambian superstar bird.

Other species recorded included Pin-tailed Whydah, Village Indiobird, African Paradise Flycatcher, Orange-cheeked Waxbill, Yellow-fronted Canary, Copper Sunbird, Yellow-fronted Leaflove, Singing Cisticola, Red Bishop & a Plantive Cisticola.

After a stunning morning we all retreated to the the woodland bar where we chilled with an ice cold drink before heading back to the hotel.

My trip ended seeing a fantastic 155 species in just seven days. We all had a fantastic holiday of a lifeline and met some truly amazing people.

On a very sad note we received word last week our good friend and gambian guide Moses died suddenly. Moses was one of the nicest and genuine people we have all met and we had the pleasure of visiting him & his family in their shared compound. Justine Passey, who introduced to Moses, is trying to raise £2,000 to build a home for his wife & five year old son Little Mo to enable them to try and rebuild their life in a safe environment. A crowd-funding page has been set up to help.

His outlook was to provide a better life for his wife and son so that they could move from their compound. He bought a plot of land and his dream was to build their own house! He put his son into school to better his education but now, all of that will be lost and survival is an unknown. These people have nothing yet they openly share what they have and never stop smiling, their hearts are huge and something we should all learn from.
Moses had plans for his dream house and the costings to build it which is only £2000.00, so Justine decided to put it out there to you all and to ask if anyone is prepared to donate £10.00 (or more at your discretion) - if this is something you feel you can help us with we'd be truly grateful so that we can ensure the safe wellbeing of Moses family following his sad passing. If any can help this would be truly amazing. 

Message from Justine -This has been done from my heart to put it out there to you all to see if you can help this one family to survive, trust me they do deserve it so if you can find it in your heart to help I thank you in advance from the bottom of my heart! Let's change someone's life together- Thank you ❤️X

Thursday, 23 June 2016

Bits & pieces weekend

Quail potential
Grey Heron
Coot numbers increasing weekly
Cheeky fox cub
Banded Demoiselle (Male)
Specked Wood
Meadow Brown
Common Blue

It was pretty much business as usual at Salford Priors. After a few weeks of the water level dropping, some very heavy downpours have seen the levels rise to winter levels around the site. The site has always looked perfect to record Quail so I've been trying all the fields within the patch boundary but no luck to date.

A Common Tern appeared early on Sunday morning but moved on after a quick lap of the main pit. Two Green Sandpipers were on Pophills and were then seen on the main pit later in the day. Three Little Ringed Plovers are still around site but don't appear to be nesting. Two Oystercatchers can continue to be observed but don't appear to be settled.  Raptors are limited to Kestrel, Buzzard and Sparrowhawk.

Big weekend continues with Broad-billed Sandpiper at Newport Wetlands

Broad-billed Sandpiper (left)
Broad-billed Sandpiper (left side on)
Comparision with Dunlin
File image
Little Egret
Wood Sandpiper

At the end of an epic day in Norfolk last Friday, Roland (Major of Warwick) predicted the weekend northerly winds would blow the reported Broad-billed Sandpiper to Slimbridge ready for a morning visit. I could hardly believe my text alert the following morning saying "How right was I about the Broad-billed Sandpiper?" I quickly finished off the patch before assessing the chances of success given the bird was actually in Newport & not Slimbridge. Ptttttttttt, needs to improve accuracy of those predictions.

Roland didn't need much convincing however we knew the time gap would be limited as the birds stay would depend on the tide. Thankfully I'd been to Goldcliff Pools before so we made the journey in quick time. The M50 is certainly one of the nicest motorways to drive down in the UK. 

On arrival, we shuffled as quickly as hernia's would cope with before making the viewing platform where we could be our bogey bird the Broad-billed Sandpiper. These Sandpipers are traditionally seen mostly on the east cost and do move on with tide so very difficult for us midland birders to see. These birds breed up in the taiga and winter in east africa or south Asia. 

The bird fed on the other side of the lagoon island with a small Dunlin flock but could be easily picked out with the scope. The birds bill was very distinctive being longer & straighter than the Dunlin but having an downward kink on the tip. My images are quite distant so I've also added a file photo which then enables you to see the bird better on my shots.

Whilst on site it was good to witness my first Wood Sandpiper of the year, a Greenshank, plenty of Redshank & Little Egrets. Another top morning out allowing me to get home to watch the cricket at Feckenham & Roland time to do his list of chores.

Shelduck breed again at Salford Priors GP

Six ducklings
There is always one
Without a care in the world
Rabbit in evening sunshine

Our hopes of having breeding Shelduck at Salford Priors again were realised on Monday when a brood of six emerged on the reed lagoon. Many thanks to Andy Woodhouse who called me following a morning visit on Monday.

As soon as I finished work I was on site and sludging through the mud down to see our new arrivals. The six ducklings were swimming with the mother on the edge of the reeds clealry enjoying some rare Warwickshire June sunshine. One of the ducklings certainly didn't lack confidence and was seen following his own agenda of exploring the lagoon.

Other additional sightings of note were two Green Sandpipers, a Lapwing & a Little Ringed Plover. 

Sunday, 19 June 2016

Great Knot MEGA twitch to Titchwell

Great Knot
A not so Great Knot hiding
The flock take flight
Twitchers delight
Hard to estimate the number of birders who have connected
Flock close up
Black-tailed Godwits
Stone Curlew

As Wednesdays go, last week was very much as normal until I pressed my RBA app to see the alert reading GREAT KNOT TITCHWELL ! I was only reading the monthy copy of Bird Watching magazine the previous night where they had predicted this bird.

I wouldn't like to estimate how many texts and phone calls were made around the country all saying the same. Have you seen news ? are we going ? if so when ? I'm certainly not a fan of first day twitches so I held fire until Friday as I also wanted to avoid the Saturday twitchers. 

Our tactics were to wait for early morning news and then GO GO GO. Postive news emerged at 6.15am so I was quickly out and on the way to pick up the Warwick Mayor Roland and we made great progress to Norfolk as traffic was very kind. 

As soon as we landed, at a very full Titchell car park, we were marching towards the beach to see a captive auidance focused on a flock of around 200 Knot. There in front of us feeding was Britains fifth Great Knot. A trully mega bird in terms of its rarity but perhaps not in it's beauty.

This north-east Siberian breeder appeared slightly bigger than regular Knots on show, but it was quite distinctive in it's summer plumage. The plummage was in fact similar to a Turstone.  There were many very happy birders and listers coming to and from the reserve unfortnuatley a few did miss out in the afternoon as the flock flew east towards Scolt Head Island.
The reserve was fairly quiet in the morning but we needed stop in to see the regular species of Red-crest Pochard, Black-tailed Godwits, Teal, Avocet and Marsh Harrier. We did get some nice views of a Bar-tailed Godwit in the sea when on the beach. As is now customary we bought a Norfolk pasty that we munched outside the very busy cafe.
On the return jouney we called in at Weeting Heath to see the Stone Curlews with young and a Woodlark wrapped up a cracking day out. 

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