Tuesday, 25 March 2014

A birdie on the putting green

Mon 24th March 2014.
A trip to Kent with birding pal Paul F.
First stop was a golf course in Snodland. We parked on some rough ground at the back of the clubhouse. As I got out of the car I unfortunately flushed our quarry that was no more than 5 meters away. It flew into a tree near the putting green. Then soon dropped down and began feeding along the path. Visibility was not good at this point because of fog. The fog then got worse but eventually the sun broke through and we were able to manage a few pics.
Over to Sandwich Bay and after some searching along the seawall we were able to connect with the 2 Shorelark that were present. Also here 2 Wheatear.
Ramsgate Cemetery next but no luck with Hume's Yellow Browed Warbler. Quite a few noisy Ring-necked  Parakeets here. Don't they know people are trying to sleep?
Then over to Dungeness. A 1st winter Glaucous Gull was the best we could manage here. We didn't go on the reserve as we were out of time.
Some pics below. The Glaucous Gull pics are Paul's.


Sunday, 23 March 2014

Portland Pics

My birding pal Paul Frost captured the images below on our trip to Portland Bill yesterday (22nd March 2014).

Black and White

Sat 22nd March 2014. A trip to Portland with Paul and Ephraim.
A quick stop en route at Radipole, we were hoping there may have been some early Sand Martins around but no luck. As we got out of the car all the gulls got up and left too. We didn't hang around here but did manage; Shelduck, Teal, Gadwall, Great-crested Grebe, Buzzard and a calling Cetti's Warbler.
Ferrybridge, the tide was well in so not much doing here just a hadfull of Red-breasted Merganser for our day list.
Portland Harbour, The long staying Black Guillemot was still present and now coming into summer plumage. Also here good numbers of Red-breasted Merganser.
Portland Bill, Fulmar, Guillemot, Wheatear, Black Redstart, Shag, Peregrine, Raven, Stonechat and Little Owl the highlights here. At Portland Bill we bumped into Ian B and his girlfriend Carey. Ian mentioned the Iceland Gull at Chesil Cove. We decided to have a look for it and soon after a bit of a search we found it on the water close some floating rubbish and weed. It gave us a bit of a runaround by flying up and down the cove. I texted Ian to let him know the Gull was still here. Next up was a short trip across the road to Portland Harbour for another look at the Black Guillemot. While we were looking at the Guillemot Ian rang to say he was looking at the Iceland Gull up the road at Ferrybridge. We had planned to call in at Ferrybridge again anyway so we headed off. We met Ian behind the café and sure enough the Iceland Gull was stood a fair way out on the mud. A few waders were added to our day list here in the form of; Ringed Plover, Little-ringed Plover, Turnstone, Oystercatcher, Dunlin.
From Ferrybridge we headed for home. Our day list kindly compiled by Ephraim below. Then a few pics further down.
Carrion crow
Black headed gull
Mute swan
Canada goose
Stock dove
Grey heron
Great crested grebe
Tufted duck
Herring gull
Cetti's warbler (heard)
Red breasted merganser
Great black backed gull
Pied wagtail
Black guillemot
Meadow pipit
Black Redstart
Lesser black backed gull
Great tit
House sparrow
Blue tit
Little owl
Iceland gull
Little egret
Ringed plover
Little ringed plover

Sunday, 16 March 2014

Flew to Caldey Island.................................

Saturday 15th March 2014.
A trip to Wales to see a Great Spotted Cuckoo. I met up with Paul and Brendan at Maple Lodge at 05:30 and we set of for Penally Station hoping to see a Great Spotted Cuckoo at Giltar Point. Our Friday evening discussion was really whether we should wait for news or "go for it", we chose the latter option. A decent run down to Wales and some encouragement on Twitter via RBN at about 07:00 that the bird was still there. Then again when we were only a few miles away at about 09:00 news that the Cuckoo was "showing well". Surely this bird must be "nailed on"! We arrived at Penally Station and parked up, a few birders had seen it and were leaving. We made our way to where some birders were assembled in the dunes on the golf course. But on route were told the Cuckoo had flown off towards Caldey Island. Oh dear, missed it by ten minutes! We waited for over an  hour to see if it would return but then decided to have a wander around the headland to see what else was on offer. Not a bad haul was to be had for our year list with; Razorbill, Guillemot, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Shag, Stonechat, Rock Pipit and 4 Chough did their best to raise our spirits. Then back to the golf course where the body language of the remaining birders was not good. We stood in the dunes waiting patiently but as the news that someone had seen the Cuckoo fly to Caldey Island we decided to travel to Brierley to see Two-barred Crossbills. We had travelled 47 miles when news came through that the Cuckoo was back. Paul did a U turn and we headed back. On arrival at Penally Station we parked up and did our best "twitchy walks" to where some birders were viewing some brambles amongst the dunes. A quick look through our bins and "gotcha" you little rascal! The pressure now off we enjoyed some really nice scope views for about 15 minutes as the Great Spotted Cuckoo feasted on caterpillars. Although we had really nice views through our scopes the Great Spotted Cuckoo was just a bit too far for any decent photo's even by my standards. We were all hoping the bird would come closer but our hopes were dashed when it was flushed by golfers, one of whom was wearing a nice pink tank top and matching pink checked trousers. The bird flew to the far end of the golf course where we could just make it out perched in a tree but it soon flew out of sight. We hung around for some time but the bird didn't return. We decided to head for home and again on the way home the bird was reported on the news services. Good news for quite a few birders on site that had not connected.
Thanks must go to Paul for an epic bout of driving and to Brendan for wearing his brand new "birding jeans"!
 Some distant Great Spotted Cuckoo pics below.

Sunday, 9 March 2014

Fall Guys..................That's Gotta Hurt!

Sat 8th March 2014.
Another visit to Hampshire with Paul F. First stop was Walpole Park. The Ring-billed Gull showed well in amongst the many Black-headed Gulls and a single Common Gull, on the walkway that separates the two boating lakes. We took a few pics and had a look at the creek at the back of the lakes. Great black-backed Gull, Herring Gull, Brent Goose, Redshank, Little Egret and Rock Pipit of note here. Then another look at the Ring-billed Gull. It was still in the same place but soon took off and landed on the grass near the outdoor exercise equipment. We took a few more pics of it here and then headed off to Southsea Castle.

At Southsea Castle things got a little messy! We were searching for Purple Sandpipers and decided to drop down onto a wide concrete shelf that is bordered by rocks/boulders. The top half of this concrete shelf was clean and dry but the bottom half wet and covered in algae. You know what's coming don't you? Yes of course as soon as I stepped foot on the lower half my legs went from under me and I hit the deck, elbow first, or so I thought. I dragged myself to my feet, half laughing and half effing and blinding. Of course Paul found this rather amusing! I decided to carefully make my way to the dry area but first I decided to check my bins, f*ck it! one of the lens was smashed. Pain in my elbow and now my wallet. A few seconds later Paul decided to upstage me with a more spectacular fall. But being less able bodied than myself he was struggling to get up. His fall knocked the wind out of his sails. Serve him right for laughing at me! However, little did I know this was a cunning plan of his to have some more fun at my expense. He knew I wouldn't leave him lying prone on the ground moaning away. He was driving after all! I took my bins and camera from round my neck and placed them carefully on the ground. I made my towards Paul to help him get up. Yep down I went, this time flat on my back. So now both of us are lying on the deck moaning, groaning and laughing all at the same time! Anyway I dragged myself to my feet, dusted myself down and helped Paul to his feet. We beat a careful retreat to the walkway by the castle. A few yards further along we connected with 8+ Purple Sandpiper. A few pics then off to Hayling Oyster Beds.

A bit of a frustrating time at the Oyster Beds. The tide was right out and there was still some mist around. Everything of interest was also very distant. We couldn't find the Long-tailed Duck but did manage good numbers of Red-breasted Mergansers and 4 Black-necked Grebes. We had possible Slavonian Grebes but very distant so not 100% certain. The best birds here were probably the large number of Mediterranean Gulls that were amongst the Black-headed Gull colony here.

Our last stop of the day was in the New Forest at Acre's Down. Near the car park we noted 4 Brimstone. We headed up to the watchpoint hoping to see Goshawk. We spoke to some other birders on route and they had seen 5 Goshawk displaying earlier but none for over an hour. After about 10 minutes a Goshawk got and displayed for a few minutes giving good scope views. Then after about 45 minutes another got up but briefly and very distantly. We did manage to find it perched in a tree but a long way off. Also from the watchpoint c10 Common Buzzard. We decided to have a wander but only a few Stonechat and 3 or 4 Small Tortoishell were noted. On our walk back to the car we came across 2 Woodlark which was a decent end to an eventful day.
If anyone has any Swarovski, Leica, Zeiss going cheap please let me know.
Some pics below; Ring-billed Gull and Little Egret at Walpole Park, Purple Sandpiper at Southsea Castle. Then Paul F's; Rock Pipit and Ring-billed Gull at Walpole Park, Woodlark at Acre's Down.


Friday, 7 March 2014

What goes around......................

Spring/Summer last year I enjoyed watching a pair of Blackbirds nestbuilding in my back garden. Then sitting on eggs and then the sound of newly hatched chicks coming from the nest, however, I then watched as a Magpie paid repeated visits to the nest until it had emptied the nest of all the chicks. But now after seeing the pics on this blog http://www.bbfo.blogspot.co.uk/ scroll down to March 5th post. I don't feel quite so bad!

Catch Up TV

Apologies for lack of posts, various reasons including laziness.
Weds of last week Blackbirds begun nestbuilding in my back garden. On sunday I went to Lemsford Springs with Brendan, here we connected with a single Mealy Redpoll in a flock with 7 Lessers, there was a work party in progress so we headed off to Amwell. Unfortunately no Bittern or Bearded Tit showed. We did manage; Reed Bunting, Pheasant, Long-tailed Tit, Great Tit, Cetti's Warbler calling but not seen, Lapwing, Snipe, Chaffinch, Goldfinch, Black-headed Gull, Common Gull, Herring  Gull, Lesser black-backed Gull, Goldeneye, Gadwall, Mallard, Pochard Tufted Duck, Great Crested Grebe, Little Grebe, Cormorant, Little Egret. All off the top of my head so not a comprehensive list.
On tues this week I heard a Blackcap singing opposite Tesco's in Rickmansworth. On weds I installed a nestbox cam in my back garden and within 10 minutes a Blue Tit was in to investigate. Yesterday there were two in together having a look around and the same again this morning. Finally yesterday at work 3 Greenfinch in display flight over the yard.

Saturday, 1 March 2014


An hour and a half at Thursley Common with Paul this morning. Bright sunshine and the following showed well; Curlew, Woodlark, Stonechat, Great Grey Shrike, Buzzard.