Sunday, 29 September 2019

Pectoral Sandpipers with a Malvern view

Pair of Pectoral Sandpiper
Post roost image
Feeding in the rain
Stunning views
Just love Pec Sands !
My favourite image taken
  Video footage
Some birds you can't resist. With weather improving during the morning I headed down the M5 with Mrs D to try and see the pair of reported Pectoral Sandpipers that had been at Clifton Pits for a number of days.

Clifton sits under the stunning Malvern Hills and is a now a really nice place to go birding. We had been this route the previous evening to watch comedian Russel Kane in Malvern which was great but we did re-route to avoid the traffic on the bridge.

We were pleased to find both birds on the flooded field in front of the lake allowing a small group of birders to get stunning views. When I scoped the birds the plumage of the wings & back was amazing & a genuine pleasure.  

We had a catch up with some local Worcestershire & Staffordshire birders before we headed to Pershore for a relaxing lunch over looking the town square.

I was full of hope on Sunday that the pits would finally deliver an Autumn goodie. The morning started badly with heavy rain and I then fell backwards of the gate at Pophills. Thankfully the only thing broken was a bit of pride. Sightings were as follows :- 1700 House Martin south, 1 Sand Martin, 3 Pochard, Kingfisher, 170 grounded Skylark, 470 Greylag, 1 Snipe, 70 Linnet, 1 Wigeon 31 Teal, 26 Tufted Duck, 2 Common Sandpiper, 2 Blackcap & still numberous Chiffchaff.

Great Skua blows into Bartley

Great Skua taking off
Great Skua sat on water off the dam side
Flight shots are very difficult with my camera
And again.........
Great Skua chasing the local gulls

A text on Friday evening from Terry Hinnet saying he had found a Great Skua on Bartley Reservoir changed my plans from a morning at the pits.

With positive news reported early, I made the fifteen mile drive north with Chris Lane for company.  This juvenile Great Skua was sitting on the water about 50 metres off the dam when we arrived which was pleasing enough. Over the next hour this absolute brute of a bird chased & harrassed the local gulls forcing them to drop their own food just to shake off the attention. 

At times the Skua flew seriously close to the dam wall giving us some amazing views. It was interesting to see a bird like this in a habitat away from the sea. It's wing pattern was striking. 

This was my first inland Skua, lets hope I might get another with this bad weather set to continue.

Sunday, 22 September 2019

Wheatear the best on slow week

Storm approaching
Early start
Jon from east bank

Very few sightings to report this week I'm afraid, let's hope nothing got missed ! I was working on Saturday so only managed a visit on Sunday to the pits with Jon.

Heavy rain over night gave us hope of a different passage wader but sadly we had to be content with a Ringed Plover that flew over the main pit early. Highlights of the morning were 8 Wigeon, 55 Teal (increasing slowly), 9 Shoveler, 13 Gadwall, Kingfisher, 5 Snipe, 1 Lapwing, 2 Wheatear, 2 Green Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper, 3 Grey heron, Kestrel, Buzzard, 9 Cormorant, 1 Reed Warbler, 7 Blackcaps, 3 Greater Spotted Woodpecker & a Green Woodpecker.

Friday, 20 September 2019

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler at Farlington Marshes on a very BIG weekend

Eastern Olivaceous Warbler
Eastern Olivaceous Warbler

 I think not
 Boozy Darts
 Arrows Night

After a very big night out in Birmingham on Friday at the new Flight Club (please note I took individual honours) it took me longer than normal to hit the pits on Saturday. With an evening party in Malvern I couldn't act on the news of a very rare Eastern Olivaceous Warbler found in Hampshire. 

With a clear night I didn't expect it to be there the next morning. I was very surprised with positive news and photos released by birders which prompted a quick text to organise a rapid trip down the M40 in the hope of seeing this little beauty. The only downside was dreaded Pompey territory so I opted not to wear my Saints colours.

The car park was total mayhem with cars abandoned everywhere, thankfully we waited for a birder to return to snatch his space as he left. The walk was under ten minutes to the location where we found around seventy birders all set up watching some thick habitat. The bird was kind enough to emerge within five minutes to give a quick view before taking flight.

The bird was very mobile and we had to be patient to get the prolonged views of it feeding at a location where we first saw it. Description wise it was grey with a striking narrow pointed beak. It's tail dipped downwards as it moved through the vegetation and was probably a similar size to a Whitethroat. 

This was the first record on the British main land for seven years and was also a county first for Hampshire

The lagoon held a super selection of waders including a Curlew Sandpiper, Redshank, Dunlin, Black-tailed Godwits and Greenshanks. 

Limited passage & a Green Jersey

Common Buzzard
Little Grebe
Green Jersey
Front row seats on Thursday at Tour of Britain which was local

The pits had three comprehensive visits this week with Chris, Roland, Jon and myself all visiting on seperate occasions. There wasn't alot of variation but plenty to keep us entertained. Best birds were juvenile Shelduck, our first returning Pintail and a Rock Pipit (new for year) on Sunday. 

My personal favourite of the week was a juvenile Peregrine catching a Red-legged Partridge on Saturday giving me stunning views.

The best counts for the week were as follows :- 54 Little Grebe, 5 Cormorant, 15 Mute Swan, 187 Greylag, 50 Canada Goose, 1 juvenile Shelduck, 1 Pintail, 1 Mandarin, 3 Wigeon, 5 Gadwall, 38 Teal, 223 Mallard, 13 Shoveler, 43 Tufted Duck, 10 Buzzard, 2 Sparrowhawk, pair of Kestrel, 19 Moorhen, 117 Coot, 1 Little Ringed Plover, 70 Lapwing, 2 Snipe, 1 Green Sandpiper, 1 Common Sandpiper (both Old workings lagoon), 25 Black-headed Gull, 70 LBBG, 1 Herring Gull, 1 Yellow-legged Gull, 40 Stock Dove, 2 Green Woodpecker, small flocks of Swallows and House Martins, 250 Meadow Pipit, 1 Rock Pipit, Kingfisher, 1 male Yellow Wagtail, 4 Grey Wagtails, 22 alba Wagtails, 1 Redstart, 1 Sedge Warbler, 1 Reed Warbler, 1 Lesser Whitethroat, 7 Blackcap, 15 Chiffchaff, 10 Goldcrest, 1 Treecreeper, 3 Raven, 100 Starling, 70 Linnets & 10 Reed Bunting. 

Hobby reported over Broom again by Ann & Noel, but still no Osprey this year.

Tuesday, 10 September 2019

Perfect timing for Kynance Cove Brown Booby (Cornwall day 1)

Brown Booby (Chris Bromley)
Kynance Cove
The Lizard
St Ives Booby (Paul Freestone)
When in Cornwall

Birding is a funny old game and it's impossible to guess what will be the next rarity that you get to see. For sure, a Brown Booby would have never been on anyones list.

This first British record was discovered by a birder on holiday with no optics whilst sat on the stunning St Ives beach. It proved very illusive until Saturday 31st August when it perched up close to beach giving amazing views. Hugh number of birders then headed to Cornwall hoping to see this fantasstic bird on the Sunday only for the bird to disappear leaving hundreds of birders with nothing but a long drive home. Thankfully for us we decided the traffic would be impossible to beat so it would be just one bird we would miss.

Then on Monday 2nd September, a different bird was discovered at Kynance Cove on the Lizzard also in Cornwall. With two days booked off on the Thursday & Friday would it stick? So we hatched to plan to leave early Thursday and stay over one night giving us a couple of chances.

A 4am alarm clock is never easy on the body but Roland drove us to our destination in quick time and we were blessed with positive news within 30 minutes of our final destination. The walk down to the viewing point was about 300 metres and there were around 50 birders present with numbers growing during the morning. The Brown Booby made us wait for our sighting. It was well over an hour before the sea bird emerged to fly similar to a Gannet and fish in both bays either side giving us some excellent views. The bird was too quick for my camera so I concentrated on watching the bird well. Thankfully the above photos were taken by two birders who I know, credits detailed. 

For those who are not aware the Brown Booby is a large sea bird that is usually found on the far side of the Atlantic around the Caribbean. 

Other sightings included 7 Chough, a Whimbrel, Peregrine, Sparrowhawk & Meadow Pipits. We moved over to Pendeen in the afternoon but other than Gannets, slow movement of Manx Shearwaters & a family of Stonechats. On the evening we met up with our Scilly Captain, Paul Freestone, for a hearty meal and a couple of pints to celebrate a great day. 

Arctic Skua's & Buff-breasted Sandpiper (Cornwall Part 2)

Arctic Skua
Sea watching at St Ives
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper
Buff-breasted Sandpiper

Pressure was off for our second day in Cornwall after sucessfully scoring the Brown Booby the previous day. We debated the best place to head given the winds were westerley in direction and we ended up in St Ives, actually where the first Booby was found. The sea watching spot took some finding, how any one gets any where in the traffic in summer round there I will never know.

The dead ends and blocked roads were well worth the pain as the sea watching proved very enjoyable with at least 7 Arctic Skua chasing Kittiwakes around the bay, only stopping to feed on their prey. In addition there was 3 Great Skua's and a good few thousand Manx Shearwater.

As the weather closed in we started to head north and battle the M5 traffic. We opted for one final stop at Davidstow Airfield. The weather was cold and wet whilst the airfield have a very eery tone given it was deserted. The large holes in the runway surely meant in was not in use. We crept along in the car until we located our target bird a stunning Buff-breasted Sandpiper. The bird was keeping company with a Dunlin but there were also Ringed Plovers, Ruff, Skylark and Pied Wagtail.

I'd only seen one Buff-breasted Sandpiper before which was very distant so to see bird feeding just a few yards from the car was amazing. Highly pleased with our views we headed home, many thanks to RH for driving. 

Early migration break to Spurn

Welcome to Spurn
Love a Pied Flycatcher

Spotted Flycatcher
Grey Plover roost
Sea watching

Pied Flycatcher
Lighthouse on the point

View north from sea watching hut


Curlew Sandpiper


Moths at the point



Waders fest


View from Beacon ponds

Views to the point

With no summer holiday this year I decided to use up a few days leave by heading up to Spurn. Sadly the winds were blowing from the south west so we didn't get that Icterine Warbler which remains very much out of reach.

I team up with the Captain from North Wales who was staying close by. I was staying at the Observatory which was excellent value and offered a warm bed after some very long days birding.

Day 1 - Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Spotted Redshank, big number of Pied Flycatchers, 3 Common Redstart, flocks of Knot, Yellow Wagtails & 5-+ Whinchat.

Day 2 - Walked to the point clocked up 26,000 steps. Quiet day with highlight being a White-rumped Sandpiper.

Day 3 - Very windy so did a 2  1/2 hours sea watch which included a very smart Arctic Skua, Great Skua, Red-throated Diver, Arctic/Common/ Sandwich Terns. The wetland produced 3 Curlew Sandpipers, Spotted Redhank, Spoonbill, 305 roosting Grey Plover, a Wood Sandpiper, 6 Ruff and a juvenile Dotterel.

Day 4 - Headed home after watching the Dotterel outside the Crown & Anchor pub.