Monday, 30 January 2017

Golden Plover flock on increase

Golden Plover
Goosander on main pit
Pochard flock
Common Buzzard

A very quiet week with no midweek reports. After two non stop days in Cornwall I didn't have the energy to walk every yard of the patch so I will just summarise the sightings. On Pophills there were two Peregrines sat in the front of the barn & three Wigeon being the best of the wildfowl.

On the main pit I had a fantastic count of 25 Pochard and there were also a pair of Goosanders. Only other birds of note were a flock of 310 Golden Plover on Broom turn in the company of 150 Lapwing. Hopefully more to report next week.

Sunday, 29 January 2017

Winter Cornish Capers (Day 2) - Peaky Divers

Sea-watching at Penzanze
 Pacific Diver (File Photo)
Top sea watching stop
Rock Pipit
Eastern Black Redstart
Eastern Black Redstart
Eastern Black Redstart
Drift Reservoir
With the wind having dropped on our second day in Cornwall we were hopeful for much improved views of the Pacific Diver. We headed straight to Jubilee Pools and set up ready for a what could be a lengthy session. There was no need to worry as we found the Diver inside fifteen minutes and it was 100% the same bird we had seen the previous day.  The bird was generally in a line from the right edge of the Mount back to Jubilee Pools. All very satisfied we watched the waders below us including a superb count of 84 Sanderling, 20 Purple Sandpipers, 47 Ringed Plover, 12 Dunlin and we also added Shag, Common Scoter, Mediterranean Gull & Eider to the trip list. 

The Eastern Black Redstart round the bay at Mousehole was our next stop which was a place I'd not been to previously. As we arrived we saw the bird fly into the garden above the steps but it only took a couple of minutes before it returned. The bird had been reported as very confiding however he did keep his distance clearly he wasn't happy we hadn't brought the meal worms which he seems to have grown accustomed to. A Rock Pipit and a Grey Wagtail were both recorded in the vicinity.

The drive to Nanjizal valley left Paul rocking with travel sickness leaving him looking whiter than the Eider duck and he did well to keep up as we tried our luck to find a rare Bunting. No buntings but we picked up a hunting Merlin & a short tailed Peregrine. A rain shower caught us just before we reached the car but we did pick up a Brambling on the edge of the farm. 

Drift Reservoir held a surprise when we found two Cattle Egrets in the field behind. Other scoped views we obtained were a Wigeon flock , two Mandarin (inc an albino) & two Great Crested Grebes.

Before wrapping up our morning we had a quick look at Pendeen before heading back to Hayle where our final trip bird was a Bar-tailed Godwit. 

Winter Cornish Capers (Day 1) - Dawn to dusk

We are off to Cornwall
First stop
Squire bagging Lesser Scaup
Spot the hidden beauty
Grey Plover
Wigeon army 
Dunlin flock
Purple Sandpiper
St Micheal's Mount
Hudsonian Whimbrel
You-tube video
Can't beat a bit of gulling
Closer views

When the eldest lads basketball fixtures were announced with a game at Plymouth in January I thought I'd double it up with a birding trip in Cornwall. These plans went astray when he suffered a grade b ligament tear which ruled him out from the trip however the Squire was keen to step in for a two day birding jolly. A four a.m alarm call got us well ahead of the traffic but it was quite a shock when we got out of the warm car on Bodmin Moor for our first stop at Dozmary Pool. Our target bird was a drake Lesser Scaup which took us around fifteen minutes to locate in the near arctic conditions. Other sightings in the notebook were eight Tufted Duck, nine Pochard, Little Egret, a Snipe & Stonechat. The Lesser Scaup was a lifer for Paul so the frozen fingers & running nose were worth it.

Next stop was Hayle where we found another two of our target birds, a juvenile Spoonbill & a Green-winged Teal that did take a bit of finding. The waders were very close to our causeway viewing spot. Other species included Grey Plover, Dunlin, Curlew, Ringed Plover, Lapwing, Redshank, Teal, Wigeon & a good selection of gulls but not the Iceland we were really after. 

Now for the big target the Pacific Diver, first reported in St Austell 2007, it was a species I'd been wanting to catch up with for a long time. By bizarre coincidence a juvenile was reported up in Northumberland as we were in Cornwall. Conditions were far from ideal but on the plus side there were only two divers to be seen, a Great Northern & the Pacific. The problem was the sea was so rough the views were very limited. A return visit in the morning beckoned. Purple Sandpipers & Turnstones fed on the rocks below us. I'd never seen Purple Sandpipers so close & active.

We then headed round to Hope Cove where the Hudsonian Whimbrel past us calling to land on the beach with four little Egrets. Out at sea a flock of Black-necked Grebes were sheltering in the shadow of the mount. 

Our final stop was back at Hayle where we were staying. With the Squire starting to think Iceland Gulls didn't actually exist he then shouted "I've got one" and for sure as I looked through his scope and it was a spanking juvenile. We got a few other birders on to the bird before walking around for a closer view where I took a few shots as best as I could in the fading light.

After a quick battery re-charge we headed up the road to local pub where we met up with top local birder Paul Freestone who maintains the websites Cornwall & the Scillies as well producing the rare/scarce bird reports. Paul had agreed to show us a few of the local sites the following morning.

Monday, 23 January 2017

White-billed Diver in Woodhall Spa

White-billed Diver

Distant shot showing habitat

A bonus year tick
Kirby-on-Bain Gravel Pits
Ring-necked Duck

With Saturday being just ballistic I didn’t have chance to check any bird news until late into the evening. I certainly didn’t expect to see a White-billed Diver reported at Woodhall Spa, Lincolnshire. This species of Diver is one that I’ve been after for a long time and given when & where they are best seen in Scotland it wouldn’t really be cost effective to go.

After an early breakfast the bird appeared again on the news with photos so fancying my chances I headed north east to Lincolnshire. The first part of the journey was very smooth but the last 30 minutes did appear to take ages and roads were very flat & boring. Sadly no postcode was posted initially and it took me another five minutes to find where everyone else had parked in Ferry Road.

I parked by another local birder who joined me as we headed up the River Witham on the cycle path towards Southery. It was probably a good twenty minute walk until we found the splendid looking Diver from the arctic coasts of Russia being watched by around fifty birders and photographers. The scene was a bit of carry on as the Diver dived and then came up around 100 metres on way or other. Apparently it was heading north first thing but in my time it only headed south. The bird appeared to be in overall good condition. The bird at times was only 30 metres from the bank where all the birders were so everyone managed to get brilliant views. Many locals stopped to see what the fuss was about. Some 3 or 4 years ago an injured bird of the same species was found on the same stretch of river but a mile further south, very strange birding is at times.

Satisfied with first life tick of 2017 I made the five mile drive to Kirby-on-Bain Gravel Pits where there was a very smart drake Ring-necked Duck & a female Scaup among the Wigeons, Tufties & Gadwall. 

Wigeon & more fog

Wigeon on main pit

With all the exciting Gulls around we are all hoping for our own at the pits but no luck as yet. My only visit was early Saturday with a day of more birthday celebrations. 2 Lapwing were in the field with the Greylag & Canada Geese before I checked out Pophills. The first bird to catch my attention was a Male Peregrine sat on the bank below the barn. He treated me to a great fly past as he headed for his breakfast. There was no sign of the Green Sandpiper so I headed over the main pit where only new arrivals were 7 Wigeon on the far side. The good viewing conditions then got worse as the temperature dropped and the fog came down but not before the Squire recorded two Snipe behind the bund.

Midweek birds recorded were three Goosander, two adult Yellow-legged Gulls, 7 Pochard, 72 Lapwing, 2 Green Sandpipers & a Merlin (C Lane & P Hands).

At Abbots Salford there were 5 Goosanders and two Kingfishers reported by A Woodward whilst Mike Inskip found a flock of 50 Golden Plover at Brickmarsh on the other side of the river.

Sunday, 22 January 2017

Birthday birding

 Blue Rock Thrush
Birdy shopping
Spot the Iceland
 Location map
Brake Mill pool close up (Gull seen north & south of pool)
 Scotland Lane 
 Glaucous Gull (phonescoped at long distance)
 Sunset at Bartley
Glaucous Gull (File photo)

Mrs D's big birthday brought with it a couple of extra days off work so we headed to the Cotswolds for relaxing day. The day started in Stow-on-the-Wold where we paid a five minute visit to see Blue Rock Thrush again. The bird was perched on the roof top and did a quick lap of the estate before returned to its favourite tree where I took a quick photo before heading off to the quaint New England Coffee shop. A lovely lunch in Broadway & then evening out with the lads was just perfect. There is continued debate over the birds origins with claim & counter claim, but hey ho there are no prizes either way.

When returning to work I heard from Worcestershire Gull finder Terry Hinnet had found a juvenile Iceland Gull close to Brake Pool near Hagley. Only 15 minutes from work I was duly on the scene however it did take 30 minutes to find this cracker of a bird as it had moved to the northern fields above the stables.  After re-locating the bird the flock were flushed but did land in a better position where it was easier to pick out. Speaking to Terry he thought this was perhaps the second Iceland Gull in the area to go with the Glaucous & Caspain both seen at the local Bartley Reservoir. I'll certainly be heading back  in better light if the opportunity arises to try and get some shots of the bird.

A lorry fire on the M5 / M42 junction on Friday night led me to take a diversion through Bartley Reservoir & Frankley just in time for the evening roost. The roost was smaller than expected however a local football match seemed to unsettle the birds. Just when it looked like no white-wingers were coming in a Glaucous Gull landed towards the dam, a cracking juvenile actually swimming with the black-heads. The Hagley Iceland Gull also came in but was lost from sight in the fading light and was only seen by one observer.

Thursday, 19 January 2017

Burnley & back

Clowbridge Reservoir

Kick off approaching at Turf Moor

A trip was overdue to support our team of Southampton FC so we took the opportunity to visit a great old ground in the shape of Turf Moor, home to Burnley FC. Thankfully the arctic forecast didn't materialise but there was snow on the moors as headed north.

Looking on the map before leaving, I found what looked to be a good size piece of water known as Clowbridge Reservoir just 15 minutes south of our final destination. With Flynn not so keen to experience the Lancashire air I walked down to the north corner where I could see most of the water.

Not knowing what to expect I was delighted to find nine Goosander at first sight with the common Mallards. On the far end there were 30 Cormorants and two Great Crested Grebes. Then came an unexpected sighting as a Scaup emerged from the right hand bank and made it's way towards the centre of the reservoir. The sun made taking images very difficult but a great year tick all the same.

A young family look interest in what I was observing and they took it turns to look at the Goosanders with the Swaro's. They couldn't believe the clarity. With my tour guide session complete it was off to the very friendly Turf Moor where Saints just couldn't score resulting in a 1-0 loss and a long drive drive.