Monday, August 31, 2009

Tit tail

Since I'm currently shackled to my desk (I literally haven't left the house for 4 days now), here's a nice picture to keep things ticking over.

Central tail feathers moulted as part of post-juvenile moult. Everyone say ooooh.

Saturday, August 22, 2009

Dressed to impress

Actual a-mazzin'

Picture 'courtesy of' BirdGuides Twitpic. Twitpic... hmm, appropriate?

Friday, August 21, 2009

Martin Mere WWT

This Wilson's Phalarope thought it was a Teal.

Which is better than half the people in the hide, I guess, who thought it was a summer-plumage female... Views were distant, to say the least, though it was clearly all grey and white with 'tertials browner than mantle', as my notebook so helpfully points out. Other waders included a Redshank, a Greenshank and a Ruff.
More waders on The Mere consisted of another Greenshank, a Black-wit and 10 or so more Ruff. Some lazy Whooper Swans were still there, seemingly unable to fly back to Iceland, probably claiming WWT benefits.

And some pretty Moorhens, of course. Note regrowth of wing feathers following simultaneous moulting...

Added value was, erm, added in the form of captive Nearctic wildfowl.

Thursday, August 20, 2009

not quite maroccanus...

Also at Frodsham today, 150+ Black-tailed Godwits, 30+Ringed Plover, 10+Dunlin and a juv Black-necked Grebe (below).

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Also at Frodsham today, 3 juv LRPs, a Green Sand, a Common Sand, and 2 ad Black-necked Grebes.

Monday, August 10, 2009

Scotland - Eilean nan Ron '09

The boat to the island - the one and only boat to the island - is leaving on Sunday morning. It's Saturday 25th July, the day before the Sunday the boat leaves. It's late Saturday afternoon, in fact. And I'm working....
Thankfully, I finished work at 19:30. Just enough time to scoff some food and pack the last few bits in the car before I headed off to the station to pick up Joe, who'd just suffered a six hour train journey. And then we were off! Heading north, next stop somewhere in Scotland. We made it to a layby somewhere between Pitlochry and Aviemore because I needed a couple of hours sleep. Two hours later, at 04:30, suitably refreshed, we set off north again. Not too far this time, though, since we needed to fill up with petrol in Aviemore. First interesting sightings of the trip came in the form of an Osprey flying over the petrol station carrying a fish. Second interesting sighting came not too long after with a Red Kite over the A9 just south of Inverness.
I remember when I was in Scotland about 10 years ago, crows on the Black Isle just north of Inverness were mostly Hooded - or birds that looked sufficiently like Hooded Crows, at least. Last year I was asleep when we passed through that area... but this year I was (thankfully!) awake. It took us until we were practically at Bonar Bridge (apparently, and disappointingly, pronounced "bonna") before we started seeing anything akin to a pure Hoodie. Even hybrids seemed to be largely confined to north of the Black Isle. So, is this the spread of Carrion Crows north? Interestingly, a lot of crows were in family groups. Some pairs that, on the face of it at least, seemed to be pretty much black all over, had given rise chicks that showed various bits of grey in the plumage. Dominant black genes, like brown-eyed parents giving birth to blue-eyed kids? Or had the Hooded Crow milkman been around while Mr Carrion Crow was away at work? Anyway, enough about crows.
Onwards and upwards. After passing through Lairg, we joined the start of possibly the best A-road in the UK, the A836. What does a road need to be classified as an A-road? One would imagine, at the very least, it should have two lanes...

Clearly not... (note the passing places in the left of each photo)
We made good time and were at the hotel in Tongue where the rest of the team had been stopping just in time to nab some breakfast. Then it was time to head to the harbour and load a week's worth of food, water and camping equipment into Goldcrest. As the name suggests, the boat isn't the biggest in the world (think 4 m, or somewhere in that region...), and two trips had to be made. For those on the first trip, the weather was pretty grim. For those on the second, including myself, the rain had stopped and it was rather pleasant with Black Guillemot, Common Guillemot, Fulmar, Shag and Gannet all seen at close range. A 'Blue' Fulmar was nesting on the island at the mouth of the harbour; interesting, since very few of the nesting birds up there show anything other than the usual 'light' plumage.

Wednesday, August 05, 2009

Frodsham wetlands

Look at this. How bloody amazing does it look?

If this was on the east coast you'd be picking out Broad-billed Sands from flocks of Little Stints and Curlew Sands. But it's not. And there were no Broad-billed Sands. Or Little Stints or Curlew Sands. Or Dunlin, for that matter. There were, though, a single juvenile Redshank and a juvenile Curlew. Mega wader passage.
A pile of manky-looking Mallard, two Shoveler, some Shelduck, some Lapwings and a small flock of Black-headed Gulls were the best 'suporting cast' I could muster. Butterflies were out in force with large numbers of Peacocks and quite a few fresh Painted Ladies. Flocks of Swallows were starting to gather around the farm.

Saturday, August 01, 2009