Sunday, 31 May 2015

Greater Yellowlegs Re-visited

Sat 30th May 2015
Paul had dipped the Greater Yellowlegs at Titchfield Haven the previous Saturday so didn't take much persuading to give it another try. A cunning plan was hatched which meant us visiting Acre's Down in the New Forest and waiting for news. A decent selection of woodland species at Acre's Down the best being Firecrest (heard only), Marsh Tit, Redstart, Tree Pipit and Goshawk. As we got nearer to the car park news of the Greater Yellowlegs came through. So no time to try for Honey Buzzard from the watch-point. At Titchfield Haven we paid our four quid and headed off to the Spurgin Hide. The Greater Yellowlegs was roosting close to some Irises. Then after a few minutes it decided to have a feed and treated all in the hide to some nice views. At the visitor centre we were told there was a summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper at the Meon Shore hide. At the Meon Shore hide we were treated to some nice views of a very dapper summer plumaged Curlew Sandpiper. Some pics and a vid below.

Tuesday, 26 May 2015

Greater Yellowlegs at Titchfield Haven

B/h Mon 25th May 2015.
A days birding with Dave and Brendan. Our plan was to go to Southampton and hopefully see Bonaparte's Gull and hopefully there would be news of Greater Yellowlegs. Over 2 hours at Bonaparte's Gull site with no joy and also no news on Greater Yellowlegs. We decided to go to Acre's Down for a few woodland species. On arrival at Acre's Down we soon connected with a singing Redstart high in a Beech Tree. Then news broke of the Greater Yellowlegs so off to Titchfield Haven we rushed. We started at the far north end of the reserve but missed the Greater Yellowlegs by about 5 minutes. Off to the seaward end of the reserve and we struck lucky here. Heading towards the visitor centre when a birder called us over, the Greater Yellowlegs had just flown onto the pool close to the roadside. Which was nice!

Curlew Sand but no Broad-billed at Southwold

Sun 24th May 2015.
A trip to Southwold in Suffolk. I spent well over 2 hours watching 16 Dunlin and a single Curlew Sandpiper but the Broad-billed Sandpiper didn't show. Minsmere is nearby and I did consider a visit but as it is a popular reserve and this years springwatch is based there I decided to give it a miss. Instead I went to Broom Gravel Pits in Bedfordshire. Better luck at Broom with 2 Temminck's Stint and a Little Stint.

Saturday, 23 May 2015

May 21st Forest Lodge then flight home.

An early morning walk around Forest Lodge. Tree Pipit, Siskin, Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Treecreeper and Crossbill were seen. Then off to Inverness for the flight back to Luton. Tree Pipit and what looks like quite a heavy billed Crossbill? pics below.

May 20th Cairngorm then Aberdeen

An early start with half an hour at the screen on Tulloch Moor. A couple of Black Grouse calling but none showed themselves. A walk along the track opposite and an Osprey holding a fish went over. Tree Pipit and Spotted Flycatcher were also seen. A trek up Cairngorm was next on the agenda. I stopped at the lower car park and a Red Grouse and 3 Ring Ouzel were seen here. Then the trek up the main path that roughly follows the route of the funicular. A Wheatear, Ring Ouzel and 3 Red Grouse were seen.  After about 45 minutes I reached an area just below the snowline. My luck was in as I soon connected with a Ptarmigan. A bit distant but decent views. I sat down on a grassy bank for a rest and a Kit-Kat. Then even better luck as the Ptarmigan flew closer and closer and landed on the fence just a few yards from where I was sitting. Unfortunately it was facing away from me so only good views of it's back end. I walked slowly past and the bird stayed where it was. I took a few photo's and then the bird flew back in the direction it had come from. I started walking back down the track and after about five minutes I saw another Ptarmigan and this one did a similar thing, perching up on a fence. Quite a distance from where I was so I didn't go back up the track. Back down the track on a stream near to the visitors centre was a Grey Wagtail. Back at the car and the news I had been waiting for. The Harlequin Duck was still in Aberdeen. Over to Aberdeen I went and after spending some time on the wrong bridge I managed to find the right bridge and head along the riverside track towards the "Big Wheels". From there the Harlequin Duck was showing well, constantly diving in the middle of the river. I had thought about going to Ythan Estuary for King Eider but I was keen to get back to Aviemore for battered haggis and chips!


Uist's Trip 19th may

A short blog this one as most of day spent travelling from Uist's to the Highlands. Early morning I spent a pleasant couple of hours at Locheynort North. Reasonable views of 3 Golden and 2 White-tailed Eagle. Also a pair of Raven. A pair of Red-throated Diver on the Loch and Chaffinch, Greenfinch and Goldfinch in the small wood. I arrived at Lochmaddy for the ferry in good time and a distant White-tailed eagle kept me entertained as it disappeared in and out of the cloud. The crossing was much quieter bird wise than coming over but still managed; Black Guillemot, Guillemot, Razorbill, Gannet, Fulmar, Arctic Tern, Bonxie, Arctic Skua, Puffin, Great-northern Diver, Kittiwake, Manx Shearwater. Then a long drive over to Netheybridge, running late so no time for birding.

18th May Uist's Trip

A poor start to the day but things did pick up later. I spent the first couple of hours in the pouring rain at a reliable Golden Eagle site. Not sure where to go as it raining heavily but decided to give the Red-necked Phalaropes another try. Almost immediately the rain stopped and a couple of Short-eared Owl on the drive down to Benbecula. On arrival a birder had just had good views of 2 Red-necked Phalarope and showed me some photos. They had flown off and he was leaving. A scan of the pools and I picked up the Phalarope's distantly but decent views through my scope. They then flew even further away. Back to North Uist and a visit to Grenitote. Only reason for my visit was to reminisce about last years Snowy Owl. Parking at the picnic area I noticed a tractor ploughing a field. Lots of Gulls following the tractor so I decided to take a closer look. Viewing from a distance I could see an interesting Gull, a "White Winger"?  I managed to get quite close and my bird was a juvenile Iceland Gull. While watching the Gull a Little Tern also put in an appearance. Last birding of the day was at Locheynort North. Distant views of Golden and White-tailed Eagle and a pair of Red-throated Diver on the Loch. On the drive back to the b & b 2 Short-eared Owl flew alongside the car.

Uist's Trip 17th May

Started the day with a visit to Benbecula hoping for Red-necked Phalarope. No luck with the Phalaropes but 3 Snipe drumming overhead made the trip worthwhile. Over to Stinky Bay next, only went there because I like the name! A couple of Great-northern Diver and a Whimbrel here. Back on to North Uist and a visit to a Golden Eagle site. An organised watch-point has now been set up here. At first a distant view of a chick in the nest and then some decent views of the female, in flight, preening on the hillside and then flew to the nest. A search for Hen Harrier and Short-eared Owl next. I stopped in a layby to chat to a guy who's hobby is filming raptors. A pair of Hen Harrier and a Short-eared Owl were seen while chatting but too distant for filming or photo's. A stop further up the road and another Short-eared Owl and then while looking down the hillside something flying directly over my head caught my attention. A male Hen Harrier! I stayed on the Harrier as it flew away from where I was standing. It dropped down into the heather and emerged with a small rodent. Then as luck would have it flew back in my direction. As the Harrier got closer a female flew up out of the heather and the male dropped the rodent. A food pass, Wow! This happened at least three times over the next 40 minutes. Late in the day now but still time for some more birding. Back to Balranald for another look for Corncrake. On route 2 Whooper Swan. As I got near to Balranald a Corncrake ran across the road. I viewed the same area as before and again was straight on to a Corncrake. Funny shape this one I thought? It soon became clear that there were in fact two Corncrake really close together.

Friday, 22 May 2015

Uist's Trip 16th May 2015

16th may 2015.
First day of a birding trip to North Uist, Benbecula and South Uist.
Flying Easyjet from Luton to Inverness, pick up hire car and head over to the port of Uig on Skye. A bit of a delay picking up hire car due to a long queue. [note to myself; see if Budget or Avis can match Europcar price next year]A bit of a rush over to Uig meant no birding on route. A text from Calmac ferries said ferry was on amber alert so could be cancelled at short notice. So getting a move on for a ferry that might not go! First noteworthy bird of the trip was a Red Kite near the signpost for Tollie Red Kites and then my first Hooded Crow of the trip at Broadford on Skye. Arrived at Uig about 13:15 to be told that the ferry was going but running 30 minutes behind schedule. A quick look around the harbour produced; Shag, Eider, Great Northern Diver, Black Guillemot, Rock Dove. On board the ferry the captain warned of winds up to gale force 6 but seemed quite calm to me. Lots of good stuff to keep me occupied on the crossing; Puffin (c100), Razorbill, Guillemot, Black Guillemot, Fulmar, Kittiwake, Gannet, Manx Shearwater (25), Arctic Tern, Great Skua, Arctic Skua. Checked in at Bonnieview b&b and straight over to Balranald. I was intending to go straight to Air un Runair for Skua passage but decided to have a quick look for Corncrake. Luckily for me I connected with a Corncrake straight away. It wasn't calling so a stroke of luck. At Aird un Runair it was blowing a gale and everyone seemed to be seawatching from their cars. It wasn't raining so I decided to rough it down near the point. On the walk down a group of c25 Pomarine Skua passed by quite close in. I settled on a "comfortable" rock and over the next couple of hours enjoyed over 100 of both Pomarine and Long-tailed Skua. A handful of Bonxie and Arctic made up the fab four. Late in the evening now so time to feed my face. A rainbow over the old church was a nice end to a long but enjoyable day.