Thursday, 29 March 2018 are joking

Red Kite
Mute Swan pair 
Shoveler numbers remain strong
Brown Hare
Gloomy Saturday
Sunday Dunlin 
Prospecting Lesser Black-backed Gulls 
Female Goosander

Two good shifts put in over the weekend at the pits. On Saturday I was feeling rather ginger from a late boozy night in Birmingham but some how still managed to be there for 7.30am. Highlight was a Black-tailed Godwit which went straight over heading east whilst a Red Kite was hunting on both sides of the pits. 

On Sunday, I teamed up with Jon aiming to give everywhere a thorough check. A Dunlin was on the main pit early along with 3 Green Sandpiper. 

The central lagoon hosted the regular Tufted Duck flock & 3 Little Grebe which was unusual here. We had to reach the south of the pits until we finally recorded a singing Chiffchaff. A good size flash has emerged on the meadow field which contained 6 Snipe. 
Sadly our faith was not restored as we ideally wanted to find a Wheatear. There was a steady flow of Meadow Pipit passage all morning, we counted 110 but there would have been many more.

Back at the main pit our pair of Lesser Black-backed Gulls were staking their terriorty again and two female Goosander dropped in. As we edged along the pit I picked up two Sand Martin, becoming our 90th species of the year, but they quickly moved on heading north. Other species of note recorded included a Greater Spotted Woodpecker & Siskin (Plantation), 39 Lapwing, 4 Pochard, 17 Little Grebe, 73 Tufted Duck, 8 Gadwall, 11 Cormorant, 3 Mute Swans, Raven, 10 Buzzards & two Grey Heron. After checking Pophills for the second time a Brimstone butterfly flew past us to round off a good morning.

Chris Lane recorded a Little Ringed Plover midweek but there was no sign on both visits at the weekend indicating a passage bird.

The web count from the previous Sunday conducted by Jon resulted in 10 Little Grebe, 2 Cormorant, 2 Grey Heron, 108 Greylag, 41 Canada Geese, 5 Shelduck, 12 Wigeon, 27 Gadwall, 94 Teal, 120 Mallard, 49 Shoveler, 12 Pochard, 69 Tufted Duck, Sparrowhawk, adult male Peregrine, 430 Red-legged Partridge, 86 Coot, 2 Oystercatcher, 64 Golden Plover, 40 Lapwing, 2 Snipe, 2 Green Sandpipers, 400 Black-headed Gulls, 8 Lesser Black-backed Gulls, 30 Skylark, 80 Fieldfare (NE), 74 Redwing (NE) and Raven.

In addition that were new for year on the site:- female Ruff, Great Crested Grebe, Common Gull and 2 Chiffchaff.

Lincolnshire Snowy Owl - The holy grail of birding

Snowy Owl - Simply amazing (@nigelbtaylor)
Landing on the barrel(@nigelbtaylor)
Fantsic image 
The growing crwod
Room for one more
Great spirits on the bank
Footage of the same bird in Norfolk

A second chance came along on Thursday when the first winter female Snowy Owl seen in Norfolk two weeks previously (when I was away in Fuerteventura) was relocated in Wainfleet, Lincolnshire. 

I'd just opened up the office when the news was confirmed so it was a case of cancel meeting and head east. That part of the world is always difficult due to the lack of motorways and everyone seems to drive so slow.

For me personally this was a real MEGA as it was a bird I admired in my books as a child and thought was fantastic. The seven hour round trip was a test of patience in all honesty but once committed to go there was no turning back.

The bird was found by a dog walker and thankfully access roads and parking allowed access for all even though the views were best through the scope.

The striking bird was quite a monster and looked amazing staring straight back at the building audience. The bird was mainly sat by a large barrel and occasional cocking her head as she was listening. What was amazing was the view when she stretched her wings. The crowd seemed to grow every fifteen minutes and it was good to see everyone enjoying bird and behaving. The distance to the bird clearly helped and avoided any rugby scrum scenarios.

Snowy Owls are normally found in the high arctic tundra so to see one in the UK was a special experience. The bird was probably pushed south east from the consistent easterly winds we have all been experiencing. 

Many thanks to Nigel Taylor for his kind permission to use his awesome photographs on the blog.

Sunday, 18 March 2018

Fuerteventura trip list 2018

1) Raven
2) Spanish Sparrow
3) Green Sandpiper
4) Black-winged Stilt
5) Ruddy Shelduck
6) Common Sandpiper
7) Egyptian Vulture
8) Skylark
9) Fuertevntura Chat
10) Hoopoe
11) Grey Heron
12) Yellow-legged Gull
13) Eurasian Collared Dove
14) Southern Grey Shrike
15) Buzzard
16) Song Thrush
17) Turtle Dove
18) African Blue Tit
19) Kestrel
20) Sardinian Warbler
21) Blackcap
22) Redshank
23) Cory's Shearwater
24) Sandwich Tern
25) Gannet
26) Plain Swift
27) Common Swift
28) Dwarf Bittern
29) Spectacled Warbler
30) Kentish Warbler
31) Sanderling
32) Dunlin
33) Whimbrel
34) Greenshank
35) Goldfinch
36) Little Ringed Plover
37) Pied/White Wagtail
38) Mallard
39) Tufted Duck
40) Coot
41) Moorhen
42) Corn Bunting
43) Trumpeter Finch
44) Feral Pigeon
45) Lesser Short-toed Lark
46) Linnet
47) Barbary Partridge
48) Black-bellied Sandgrouse
49) Cream Coloured Courser
50) Hobura Bustard
51) Berthelot's Pipit
52) Little Egret
53) Spoonbill
54) Glossy Ibis
55) Black-headed Gull
56) Teal
57) Yellow-legged Gull
58) Chiffchaff
59) Ringed Plover
60) Great Skua
61) African Collarded Dove
62) Garganey
63) Turnstone

*Red-vented Bulbul seen but not counted

Many thanks to @1stbirdoftheday for his company. Without his navigation skills whilst I was driving some of the places we visited would have taken considerably much longer to find.

Fuerteventura (Spring jolly) - Day 4 Final additions

Dawn at the Salt Pans
Calle de fuste
Yellow-legged Gull
Sanderling & Greenshank
Some of the 170 Terns
Sardwich Tern
Southern Grey Shrike
Distant drake Garganey
Ground hopping
El Cotillo
Windy times
Little Egret

With us not having to get to the airport until late afternoon it gave us another day of birding to try and add to our 59 species. We went down to the bay at Calle de Fuste as despite being the nearest birding spot mentioned in the Gosney guide we hadn't visited it.

From the harbour side we could see there were Sandwich Terns & waders on the rocks near the beach and with it being a few hundred meters from the passing walkers the birds should stick around. Quickly parked up we set ourselves up to watch the birds well. The lava rock pools clearly contained some rich food content for birds. 

Whilst I was trying to take some shots of the terns, @1stbirdoftheday picked up two Great Skua's harassing a flock of terns off shore. The Skua's seemed to disappear after a successful raid but would then be back charging at great pace before bullying the Terns into submission of their breakfast. There was at least eight Cory's Shearwaters offshore. 

Among the rocks there were 170 Sandwich Terns, 2 Whimbrel, 5 Kentish Plover, 3 Sanderling, 2 Ringed Plover, Greenshank & a Common Sandpiper. Walking back to the car African Collard Dove was added coming out of the rough ground by the side of hotel before perching up in the distance. 

We were still keen to try and see a Barbary Falcon after we had handed our keys off to our hosts. First stop would be Tindaya where we added 4 Cream-coloured Coursers to our haul but there no Bustards despite an extensive search for 90 minutes. There seemed to be regular sightings of the falcon at Los Molinos so we headed back there. A stunning Shrike showed off roadside but the only addition of a distant drake Garganey. 

As we were leaving a couple from UK mentioned they had a Falcon at El Cotillo so we put the foot down and headed north. The stunning landscape was amazing but no such luck with the falcon. When looking around we found Gannets at sea & 2 Whimbrel, a Ringed Plover , Little Egret & our final bird a Turnstone. 

Fuerteventura (Spring jolly) - Day 3 Day of the Dwarf Bittern

Well used road signs
Dwarf Bittern (@Midlandbirder)
Dwarf Bittern
Dwarf Bittern (@Midlandbirder)
It's in the bag !
Ruddy Shelducks with Black-winged Stilts
Fuerteventura Chat
Immature Egyptian Vulture
Adult Egyptian Vulture
Adult Egyptian Vulture
Turtle Dove
Yet another beach
Friendly local
Barbary Ground Squirrel
Common Sandpiper
ID's welcome

Little-ringed Plover
Red-vented Bulbul

We decided our best strategy would be to head to Barranco de Rio Cabras early in the hope the Dwarf Bittern would be out feeding in favourable conditions. We were surprised we were the only birders on site and we duly marched across the barren fields to the Barranco with everything crossed. First scan around the dam wall…….nothing….then I saw the pesky fellow marching across the shallow pools. Amazing ! I was at the perfect angle and once @1stbirdoftheday was on the Bittern I edged to get an improved angle. The bird then stood very still looking further away from us until he took off giving us a superb flight view. The bird had gone into deep cover but I took some images of the location incase we saw anyone else. Dwarf Bitterns are one of the worlds smallest herons and generally occurs in north Africa. This bird was only the fifth to cross the line between Afrotropical & Western Paleararctic bird regions. 

The sightings in this location were similar to our previous visit except for a calling African Blue Tit and two Egyptain Vultures. The first was a scruffy first year bird whilst the second was a cracking adult fighting with a Raven.

We then headed to the site where a Tristram's Warbler had been reported in previous weeks. We gave this area a real grilling but we could only find Spectacled Warblers and 4 calling Turtle Doves. It was then back to our original plan to head south for some waders.

Around the beaches of Costa Calma we found a flock of 30 Sandwich Tern, 3 Cory's Shearwater, 4 Kentish Plover, a Sanderling, 2 Whimbrel, Common Sandpiper and the surprise additions were 2 Crows & a flock of Goldfinch up the side of one of the hotels.

On the journey back north we called in at La Pared for some more desert species and Sand Grouse. Whether we timed in wrong or this wasn't still a regular place but there were no Sand Grouse or desert species as hard as we looked. 4 Little Ringed Plover were setting up territory for the spring and the only other birds was a Ringed Plover, Common Sandpiper & a Pied Wagtail. 

Our final stop was the Oasis Zoo car park where the best wild bird was Chiffchaff close to the camel rides whilst there was 5 Red-vented Bulbul being very vocal. Total trip species had moved on to a very respectable 59, could we make it 60 ?

Saturday, 17 March 2018

Fuerteventura (Spring jolly) - Day 2 Los Molinos & Betancuria

Little Egret on reservoir bank
Black-winged Stilt
Glossy Ibis
Local Lizard
Fuerteventura Chat
Fuerteventura Chat
Los Molinos
Sewage Works
Coffee Stop
Trumpeter Finch
Windmill in stunning terrain
Resting up at Los Molinos
Betancuria (view from south)
Betancuria (view from north)
Salt Pans
Southern Grey Shrike
Turtle Dove
African Blue Tit (File photo)

Each days agenda was set the previous evening. So after a great dawn session on the plains we headed to Los Molinos via Oliva where we found yet another Shrike and a single Corn Bunting. In the town square we had coffee & tortilla with the locals. If  you are going be warned there are no signs, guide books and tips are essential. 

Los Molinos Reservoir is the largest fresh water area on the island so it promised to deliver us some good birding. There was a super range of species including 12+ Black-winged Stilt, 4 Spoonbill, Glossy Ibis, 20+ Little Egret, 5 Teal, 4 Mallard, 30 Yellow-legged Gulls, Grey Heron, 2 Hoopoe, 40+ Ruddy Shelduck, Greenshank, 2 Common Sandpiper, 30+ Coot, a Black-headed Gull & a Tufted Duck.  A pair of Fuerteventura Chat showed very well on the track watching us without a care in the world. 

Our next location of the day was Betancuria a stunning village where our target bird was the African Blue Tit. We had to work particually hard for this species in rising tempatures. A Blackcap was a welcome addition to the trip list and a male Kestrel was hunting non stop throughout the village. A refreshing ice cream on the move did the trick as we finally found the high pitched tweeting Blue Tit showing its bright & bold plumage. 

We did try a small Barranco south of the village hoping to find a Canary. Whilst we had no luck with the Canary, two Turtle Doves came into view. Other sightings included a singing Sardinian Warbler, Collared Doves and two Song Thrush.

We wrapped the day up at the Salt Pans just south of our apartment. Two Redshank were on the lagoons whilst a Green Sandpiper was on the rocks. Out at sea we picked up 5 Sandwich Tern, two Corys Shearwater and 7 Gannet. 

A circuit of the golf course was unsuccessful before 2 Plain Swifts and 5 Common Swifts emerged over the hotel. 

Quite a day…….the trip list now stood at a pleasing 50 species. Just as we were planning our next days agenda news reached Twitter that the Dwarf Bittern had been seen again. Our pints in the restaurant tasted mighty good as perhaps we could well get to see this stunning bird after all.