Sunday, 19 July 2015

No Quail-Orwell let's look for Butterflies

Sat 18th July 2015
A trip to the village of Orwell on Herts/Cambs borders with Paul F. We were hoping to see the Quail that had been showing very well during the week. Not over confident of seeing this bird we joined a few other birders and viewed what had been it's favoured area. We arrived about 07:00 and the Quail had not been seen so far. We stayed for a couple of hours enjoying the sound of Corn Bunting, Skylark and Yellowhammer then decided to head off somewhere else. Where else could we go? I had some time constraints so we decided to go to Bricketwood Common for butterflies. Similar results as last week when I visited with Brendan with good numbers of White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary. Comma's and Peacock's were much more in evidence than previous week.
Painted Lady, Comma and Peacock pics below.

Bite Night

Sat 11th July 2015
A trip to Chobham Common with Paul and Brendan. We were hoping to see Woodcock and Nightjar but on this occasion Woodcock failed to show. We stood in our usual position waiting for the Nightjars to start churring but as the light failed a male Nightjar showed briefly. Then one. two or maybe three Nightjar started churring. After a few minutes a female put on a good show flying quite close to us before perching briefly in a small birch. Then a few minutes later possibly the same Nightjar circled us and on a couple of occasions hovered in front of us as if it was giving us the "once over". Pitch black now so time to leave, further along the footpath we managed to see another Nightjar. The midges here tonight were fierce, I've still got the lumps and bumps on my baldy head over a week later. Well worth it though!

Sunday, 12 July 2015

White Admirals and Silver-washed Fritillaries at Bricketwood Common.

Sat 11th July 2015.
A short trip to Brickwood Common with Brendan. Butterflies were the reason for our visit and although we didn't see two of our four target species we did see a total of seventeen species. On route Brendan had been chatting to Ian B who coincidently was on his way to Bricketwood, small world! We arrived on the common and a local gave us some directions. We soon started racking up a few butterfly species with a single Painted Lady about the best. Then off in search of the "old gas pipeline" We found it without too much of a problem and also bumped into Ian B and "mad Bob" We had a wander around together and made good use of "mad Bob's" expertise and site knowledge. After a visit to the pond where we saw a few damselflies and an Emperor Dragonfly we headed back to the "old gas pipeline" This is a really good area for White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary. White Admiral and Silver-washed Fritillary were seen in decent numbers in this area. Bob took us to a good area for Purple Emperor and Purple Hairstreak but we were out of luck. Time to go and Ian and Bob went one way and myself and Brendan went the other. Brendan dropped me home and after a well earned cup of tea I decided to head back to Bricketwood. This time I made more of an effort to take some photo's. I've only got a 150-500 zoom so far from ideal for butterfly photography. Our butterfly trip list below and then some photos.
1. Small Skipper
2. Large Skipper
3. Meadow Brown
4. Peacock
5. Painted Lady
6. Large White
7. Brimstone
8. Green-veined White
9. Marbled White
10. Speckled Wood
11. Silver-washed Fritillary
12. White Admiral
13. Comma
14. Gatekeeper
15. Ringlet
16. Small Copper
17. Small Tortoiseshell
White Admiral

Silver-washed Fritillary

Marbled White
Meadow Brown
Large Skipper
Small Skipper
Large White

Otmoor 27th June 2015

A visit to RSPB Otmoor with Paul F. Lots of warblers singing but not too many could be seen. Our target bird was Turtle Dove but no luck on the outward section of our walk. Plenty to keep us occupied including; Bullfinch, Marsh Harrier, Raven and Hobby in the bird department. Quite a few butterflies and dragonflies too. Heading back to the car park we struck lucky when we saw a lone Turtle Dove purring away. We stopped and took a few photos before it flew off towards the car park. We connected with the Turtle Dove again this time on the wires not far from the feeding station. So a few more pics and a short vid. Back to the car park and a chat with a local birder proved fruitful. He alerted us to the location of a Spotted Flycatcher and also where we might a rare butterfly in the form of Black Hairstreak. Only a few hundred yards from the car park and we soon connected with Black Hairstreak. It was quite elusive to begin with so we left it to look for the Spotted Flycatcher. Again we were in luck and soon found the Spotted Flycatcher, a few photos and back for another bash at the Black Hairstreak. Better views of the Hairstreak this time although I didn't manage any photos. Some photos  and a short video below.

Sunday, 5 July 2015

Carry On Up the Cretzschmar's

After failing miserably with the Cretzschmar's Bunting on Saturday 13th June it was re-found on Sunday 14th. As news broke Dave was straight on the case and organised himself a lift to Bardsey for Monday (15th June). It took a little while but Brendan cracked soon after and sorted himself a lift out for Monday too.

Mon 15th June, Brendan arrived on Bardsey first and after an agonising wait connected with the Cretzschmar's Bunting. Brendan's 500th BOU/BTO bird so well done Brendan!! Dave's boat was not leaving until 16:30 so he had a long wait watching all those smiling faces leaving Porth Meudwy. Eventually Dave got onto Bardsey and much the same as everyone else throughout Monday he had brief but decent views of the Cretzschmar's Bunting.
LGRE has now taken control of ferry bookings up to Wednesday.

Tuesday 16th, Cretzschmar's still showing every hour or so.

Wednesday 17th, Cretzschmar's still showing and LGRE taking bookings up to Friday only. From this point things start to get a bit messy, confusing, frustrating, annoying.............
Late Wednesday morning I phone Paul and say if LGRE starts taking bookings for Saturday shall I reserve us 2 spaces? Paul agrees.
Someone tweets LGRE if any sailings on Saturday could he swap his Friday for Saturday?
Then another tweet to LGRE from someone asking if any sailings on Saturday could he have spaces?
I tweet LGRE asking for 2 spaces on Saturday if any sailings?
A few more tweets from people requesting spaces for Saturday sailings bearing in mind no sailings planned or announced at this point.
Announced a bit later on Weds five boats running on Saturday from 05:30, 60 spaces in total.
Later same day a list on LGRE's blog but no spaces for me and Paul. I was a bit surprised but never mind the bird will probably have gone by then anyway. Weds evening a general tweet from LGRE "2 spaces for Saturday now available phone me now" I phone and engaged, phone again a couple of minutes later enquire about 2 spaces for Saturday? LGRE abrupt response "no chance" "Ok Lee only I did tweet for spaces a while ago" LGRE "I filled them all up this morning" So a bit miffed, confused and at work so no time to do much about it and in the back of my mind, make a big fuss, p*ss myself off and birds gone by Saturday anyway. After work (late shift) I start randomly checking the passenger list for Saturday. Some of the names I recognised, so decided to check what time they tweeted LGRE for spaces on Saturday. The first 3 people I checked had all tweeted LGRE after I had and coupled with fact that I thought he had "fobbed me off" by saying all spaces had gone early in the morning I tweeted LGRE "asked for 2 spaces for Saturday but people that tweeted after me got spaces?" LGRE replied "what were the names?" "didn't supply names just asked for 2 spaces" LGRE "you can have ****** *****'s spaces for sunday?" "can't do sunday only Saturday" no reply from LGRE

Thursday 18th, Cretzschmar's still being seen and this boat booking thing eating away at me but I resist winding myself up any more by contacting LGRE.

Friday 19th, Phone Paul and he is still interested in going. LGRE tweets "tomorrow's sailings final list now on my (his) blog" I tweet again "wanted 2 for tomorrow requested them at 13:20 weds 17th looks like people tweeted after me but got places" LGRE "maybe because you didn't supply names?" "Ok but keep me in mind for late cancelations?"
Later at work on Friday evening I check twitter when I should be working and a message from LGRE asking to phone him immediately. Posted 15 mins ago so quickly searched his previous tweets for his mob number and rang him. He confirms 2 spaces for myself and Paul for 09:30 sailing in the morning. That's the shortened version, what a palaver! Stupid, flipping, bloody Cretzschmar's Buntingthingy better be there!!
I phone Paul and tell him we have spaces on 09:30 sailing.

Saturday 20th. Paul picks me up from my house at 03:30 so a nice lie in compared to previous Saturday. No real problems on the journey down to Porth Meudwy usual cones and one diversion.
Walking down the track towards the quay we encounter some non birders who assure us the bird is still on the island, hmm really? Arriving at the quay we joined a few other expectant birders. Nothing on the news services about the Bunting but it was before 08:30 and  the hardworking "Colin the Boatman" soon arrived and assured us the Cretzschmar's Bunting had been seen by everyone he had taken over that morning. The bird was there, the weather was really nice so everything was in place. An hour later Colin returned to pick us up and still good news on the bird. Nice calm sea and fair weather on our crossing to Bardsey but a few minutes before we landed a few spots of rain but nothing too serious. We hurried up to where Steve the warden was waiting for us. The 08:30 boat people had not yet connected with the Bunting. We joined the assembled birders most of which had not seen the bird. Myself and Paul found a decent perch on top of a low wall. As we got settled the rain got heavier and heavier and soon we were drenched. Should we seek some shelter or wait for the bird to show. No contest really we couldn't get any wetter! Over an hour in the pouring rain and then as it started to ease off, BOOM! the Cretzschmar's Bunting flew in. Although it showed quite well the views weren't that great due to my optics being soaking wet and a bit steamed up. The bird fed on the scattered seed for a few minutes before flying off. Although the usual pattern for this bird was to feed for a few minutes and then fly off for over an hour, we decided to stay where we were. It had stopped raining now and didn't take long for our optics to dry out. Then the bird flew back in and landed for a couple of seconds on the nearest concrete pad, unfortunately for me it was obscured by a gatepost. It then flew to it's usual feeding spot where we were able to get some decent views. So what to do next? If in doubt drink tea! Off to the café we wandered and enjoyed a well earned cup of tea, encountering a family party of Chough on the way. The sun was now shining brightly and all was good in the world! With the exception of my baldy head that was starting to burn and I had no hat as I had left it at home. From the café we headed down to the quay for more rest and recuperation. Paul started snoring so I went for a bit of a wander as I did a noisy and somewhat ragged Raven put in an appearance as did a few Chough. I also stumbled upon a juvenile Chough at it's nest site so a quick pic and off I went. Still time before our boat so another bash at the Cretzschmar's Bunting. We didn't have to wait long before it put in appearance, again in it's usual spot and as usual it didn't hang around for too long. This was the cue for the occupants of the second from last boat to head for the quay. We stayed a bit longer and the Cretzschmar's Bunting showed again for us. This time suddenly appearing on the wall of the compound before dropping down and going on a tour of the compound including a look around the garage before a quick feed and off again. As the bird was not reported on Sunday this could well have been the last time it showed. We headed down to the quay for our boat back to Porth Meudwy.
On our journey back home we stopped at "the Knockin Shop" Paul insisted it was a service station and to be honest it was, just not the kind of "service" I was expecting. Did enjoy my  Pukka pie!
A big thank you to Colin "the boatman" who's hard work ensured so many grateful birders got over to Bardsey safely and efficiently.
Finally, what a fantastic effort by Steve and all at Bardsey Bird Observatory! Very much appreciated.

13th June unlucky for some

June 13th 2015.
On arriving home from a couple of nice relaxing days away with my better half I received a phone call from Brendan insisting I went Bardsey Island the very next morning. Dave J and Paul F were already or soon recruited and they all agreed it was best if I did the driving. Paul and Brendan met at my house at 1 am and we picked up Dave a few minutes later. Nothing much in the way of traffic but lots of cones and a couple of diversions meant it took a little longer to get to Porth Meudwy than anticipated. Oops forgot to mention the reason for our trip was to see a Cretzschmar's Bunting.  On arrival Porth Meudwy we parked up and wandered down the track to the small port. A few birders were already here and one boat to Bardsey had just left. No news of the Cretzschmar's Bunting was on any of the news services. A pair of Chough kept us entertained as we waited in light rain for the boat to return. After about an hour the boat returned and luckily for us "Colin the Boatman" already had our names on his passenger list, so we climbed aboard. Plenty to see on the 30 minute crossing including; Gannet, Kittiwake, Fulmar, Razorbill, Guillemot, Puffin, Manx Shearwater, Shag. We were met on Bardsey by the warden Steve. He told us the Cretzschmar's Bunting had not been seen so far that morning. Over the next few hours we and 30 or 40 other birders searched the island but no sign of our target bird. The best we could manage was a Cuckoo! We admitted defeat and went for a consolation pot of tea. Time to leave Bardsey now and although we didn't see the Cretzschmar's Bunting a more than worthwhile visit to such a beautiful place. As "Colin the Boatman" manoeuvred the boat out of the port some of the Grey Seal colony appeared to be waving goodbye, flipping p*ss takers! Back at the car park and we decided to break our trip homewards with a stop in the midlands, hopefully to see a Melodious Warbler. On route and somewhere on the moors of North Wales a female Hen Harrier was seen from the car. We eventually arrived at Mercote Mill Farm, Cornets End. A half mile walk and we were straight onto the singing male Melodious Warbler. A new bird for Paul and myself. We spent some time enjoying this very showy bird and then headed for home.  A long day and although we didn't see the Cretzschmar's Bunting a most enjoyable trip.