Monday, 24 June 2019

Confetti fields to Slimbridge Little Bustard

Little Bustard (John Fletcher)
 Little Bustard(Andrew Jordan)
Sunday surprise visit
Early arrivals before the masses arrived
Confetti fields under Bredon Hill

Stunning array of colours
Pre-Slimbridge twitch
After a busy morning, Mrs D at Yoga & myself doing the patch, we headed over to the confetti fields under the shadow of Bredon Hill. After a relaxing walk admiring the blooms we headed into Evesham to pick up some lunch & a bit of shopping. Half way round Tesco my phone had an alert "Little Bustard Slimbridge". I can assure you there was no time for browsing as I kidnapped Mrs D for an afternoon twitch four junctions down the M5.

With a relatives hospital visit still on the agenda later in the afternoon, this was going to have be a rapid visit. After reaching middle point within the reserve, I some what under-estimated the length of the grass and if the bird was going to be visible. Sadly not, this could be interesting. As more and more birders arrived, ringing the cash registers at the visitor centre, the Little Bustard, a stonking male, raised his head and then got spooked by a crow causing it to take flight enabling me to get fantastic views before landing out of sight. With that I picked up my scope and I was off to the car park where I met Mr & Senior Mr Peplow. The 84 year made the long walk to middle point to see the bird which was fantastic & it was wonderful to hear the Slimbridge Range Rover kindly drove him back. A very classy touch indeed. 

Little Bustards are very rare in the UK, I have only seen them in Spain previously. Apart from a number of records in 2014/5 (only one twitchable in Yorkshire) the previous record looks to be 2002 on the Scillies. A super bird to add to the life list. 

Pure patch gold - Avocet on Sunday stroll

Avocet video
Bee Orchid
Prymidal Orchid
Little Owl
Avocet on main pit
Long-tailed Tit
Long-tailed Tit

Saturday turned out to be a very interesting day staring with the Little Owl showing well on the local farm.It was then down to the pits without any expectations. I found it fascinating watching some fledgling Long-tailed Tits but as I turned round to start scanning the island I picked up an Avocet on the back of the main island. It's a species I've wanted to see here since I started patch birding and finally the wait was over. 

The Avocet was getting hassle from the local Lapwings which probably pressured the bird to finally leave that evening. Another one for our year list. 

Only other birds of note were 2 Green Sandpipers, 3 Oystercatcher & a male Yellow Wagtail.

Sunday, 23 June 2019

Feels like summer birding

Male Cuckoo
Grey Heron
Pochard juveniles
Canada brood
Sorry a week late with last weeks sightings. Cetti's Warbler became our 128th species of the year when found calling early on Sunday morning and was present upto lunchtime.

The counts were as follows :- 16 Little Grebe, 2 Cormorant, 3 Grey Heron, 11 Mute Swan (brood of two), 5 Greylag, 72 Canada geese (5 broods 25 young), 16 Gadwall, 164 Mallard ( 4 broods 15 young), 3 juvenile Pochard, 73 Tufted, 1 Hobby, 102 Coot, 5 Ostercatcher (no young seen), 5 little Ringed Plover ( No chicks seen), 6 Lapwing (15 Saturday), 1 Green Sandpiper, 8 Black-headed Gulls (1 juv), 6 Herring Gull, 25 LBBG, 3 male and 1 female Cuckoo, 50 Swift, 50 House Martin, 2 Swallow, Green Woodpecker, Meadow Pipits, 30 pairs of Reed Warbler, singing lesser w & Sedge, 4 Raven (family), singing Corn Bunting with possible more than 1 mate. 

Monday, 17 June 2019

Swallowtail Butterflies Bucket Tick

Rest stop
Strumpshaw Fen


Will I ever see a Swallowtail Butterfly? Britains largest and most beautiful has eluded me for many years as I never go to Norfolk in the summer. When passing through Norwich on Sunday I remembered we were close to Strumpshaw Fen where these mythical butterflies are reported to be seen. So after seeing the Lesser Grey Shrike without any trouble we decided to take a detour on the way home on the hope of seeing one.

The reserve was packed with cars giving the impression there was something good to be seen (actually didn't see that many people) and following a tip off from a very helpful gentleman we made a short walk away from the actual reserve to a wooded track. After heading down the track it opened up to a couple of meadows either side of a stunning house.

As soon as we reached the meadow a Swallowtail came into view, it was just an amazing sight. The butterfly has a wingspan of 9cm and stunning black & yellow markings. The swallowtail is now limited to the Norfolk Broads. It's good to read they are doing well thanks to management of conservation organisations. Other butterflies recorded were Peacock, Painted Lady, Small Tortoiseshell, Large White, Coma & Brimstone. 

Before leaving we grabbed a quick drink at the visitor centre where 1st Bird of Day was recognised at the reserve warden which was highly amusing before we set off on the long journey home.

Monday, 10 June 2019

Horsey Lesser Grey Shrike

Long range video of Lesser Grey Shrike
Shrike in flight
Lesser Grey Shrike perched
Big crowd enjoying the bird
Horsey Mill
As headed back from Yorkshire and reached the edge of the midlands a new sighting emerged of a possible Lesser Grey Shrike in Horsey, Norfolk. To be fair I can't remember twitching anothing is this area of Norfolk but as the evening passed photos were confimed of its identification. We just had to hope it would stick over night as they have reputations for staying one day before moving on.

Positive early news emerged enabling 1st Bird of the Day & I to take off east on the hope of connecting. The weather was excellent and the only trouble was navigating the regular intervals of speed camera's. It just seemed a very long way and we were delighted to stretch our legs for the walk down the track to the bird. A local birder kept us company and told us about the local Cranes and their breeding news this year. A Marsh Harrier hunted close by in the marsh to our north. 

As we turned to the corner to head towards the coast we could see the assembled crowd of 80-100 birders all looking into optics, which is always a good sign. We quickly had our scopes set up and enjoy some fantastic views of the bird flying on and off its favoured perch until it caught it's breakast which was duly deavoured. 

I was really struck with the birds peachy coloured breast and black forecrown which indicated it was an adult bird. Before we left the bird took off and flew around 800 metres along the dunes which made awesome viewing before going out of sight. 

Heading to Flamborough for Blacked-headed Bunting

Black-headed Bunting (Simon Slade)
 Black-headed Bunting (1st Bird of the day)
 Bunting twitch
 Black-headed Bunting hedgeline
Gannet colony
Subalpine Twitching Crowd
It's been a very quiet year on the twitching front but that was going to change last weekend. A Black-headed Bunting was discovered on Friday in Flamborough, Yorkshire. In all seriousness the chances of the bird sticking were unlikely so we were delighted on Saturday morning when news emerged it was still present.  

We were on road for 6.10am for the long trip north. The weather was just horrific all the way making driving very difficult at times. As we rolled over the Yorkshire border the weather cleared remarkably giving way to an amazing morning.

Arriving at the Bunting site, we got a quick view through someone elses scope whilst we set up our own equipment. After a short wait the striking male Bunting from eastern Europe showed well on and off allowing some super scope views. I didn't get any photos myself as I was making sure our new car member the Silver Fox could get a good view.

Highly satisfied with our success, we headed down to the lighthouse where a Subapline Warbler was giving brief but typical views. Originally it was thought to probably be an eastern species however photos taken on the Sunday revealed it could be a Western or even Moltonis. We will await any DNA analysis with interest.

Next stop was the brilliant RSPB Bempton Cliffs which never disappoint. Here we recorded Puffin, Razorbills, Guillemot, Gannet, Kittiwake, Corn Bunting & Tree Sparrow. Feeling the effects on a very early start we had lunch in the cafe before setting sail for home. A cracking day.....

Sunday, 9 June 2019

Osprey on a bike

A couple of mad weeks at work since my two weeks leave so not had any time to update the blog. Mrs D and I had two fantastic days in Rutland cycling and birding. The star attraction were of course the Ospreys that were doing very well in Manton bay with four chicks on the nest. 

The Osprey reserve have installed a new double tier hide with has made viewing even better. Other species of note were 2 Arctic Tern & 6 Egyptian Geese both being year ticks whilst best of the others were 20 Common Tern & a Barn Owl out hunting on our second morning.