Sunday, 29 July 2018

Summertime birding at the pits

Little Grebe brood (M Clarke)
Common Sandpiper
Fallow Deer (M Clarke)
Black-tailed Godwits (M Clarke)
Common Whitethroat (M Clarke)
Red Kite
Swift in the hand
A new way to start the weekend
Head on shot of the Swift
Green Sandpiper
Stunning recent weather
Gloomy Sunday
Plenty of promise but no new arrivals of note
Squire on Swift Duty
Plenty of Butterflies doing well in the sunshine

I've decided to just blog fortnightly during the summer months with sightings being limited. A Greenshank, found by the Squire, on the 27th July was to become our 128th species of the year. I'd actually not added Common Redstart to the patch year list so that's a bonus to and we continue to chase our record of 141 in 2016. 

On the breeding front, three Little Grebe broods have emerged and the same number of Tufted Duck broods. The Greylag flock topped 400 midweek which is an unusual record for July.

Sundays weather looked very promising but only produced a juvenile Redshank. 

Last Saturday the Squire and I took an injured Swift (he had found in desperate trouble in Alcester) to the Rescue Centre in Evesham. Sadly the Swift had fractured his wing so won't continue his journey south. The bird was very comfortable when in the hand and Mr & Mrs H had done a great job caring for the bird overnight. 


17th July - Male Redstart & Hobby
20th July 118 Black-headed Gulls, 2 Snipe, 2 Oystercatcher, 2 female Shoveler, Common Sandpiper, 2 Lesser-blacked Gulls with 2 juveniles, 3 Lapwing
21st July - Male Redstart, 90 Lapwing, 88 Black-headed Gulls, a House Martin, 6 Lesser-blacked Gulls with 2 juveniles, Common Sandpiper
23rd July - 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Green Sandpiper
26th July - 3 Black-tailed Godwits, 2 Common Sandpiper
27th July - Greenshank (128), Green Sandpiper, Common Tern, 92 Lapwing, 22 Lesser-blacked Gulls with 2 juveniles, 405 Greylag
28th July - No new arrivals
29th July - Redshank, Green Sandpiper, 4 Common Sandpiper, nice passage of House & Sand Martin & 12 Swift.

Thanks to Jon B, Paul H & Mark C for contributing to the sightings. 

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.