Thursday, July 22, 2010

Post-work plover

I saw the White-tailed Plover in Scotland a few years back and have to admit it didn't really do a lot for me; so, when one turned up at Seaforth this spring, aside from it being a nice county tick, I wasn't too fussed that I was 800 miles away. Two weeks ago, I was only 20 miles away from what was presumably the same bird but the prospect of driving through central London gave me a good enough excuse not to bother going for it. However, on Tuesday afternoon I was offered a lift to Dungeness from Mark Grantham, who was taking the long way home from the office via the plover. It would have been rude to refused. The three of us (Mark, Steve Rutt and I) piled into Mark's car and slowly made our way through London rush-hour traffic.
We arrived early evening and it wasn't long before the plover showed itself.

ARC pit. Home to 80 swans, some Little Egrets, a drake Garganey and a White-tailed Plover.

The plover; phone-scoped. Rather Monet-esque.

We finished the evening with close views of one of the adult Purple Herons over Denge Marsh.

Sunday, July 18, 2010

More Hants

Down on the coast at Keyhaven/Pennington this morning. Whimbrel, a few Dunlin and Turnstones, a dozen Eider, 14 Med Gulls, 25 or so Blackwits, a Common Sand and the usual Little Terns etc were about the only things of interest.

Black-tailed Godwits © Joe Stockwell

At Lower Test marshes, we found 14 Yellow-legged Gulls - 11 ads, a 3rd summer and 2 1st summers.

mmm-ichahellis © Joe Stockwell

Back at Joe's, we took a wander around the local area where highlights were pretty much as yesterday morning less the Common Sand and with the addition of an extra Cetti's Warbler and, oddly, a forth GC Grebe chick (presumably nestled away out of sight on the back of one of the parent birds yesterday).

And finally, this pretty much sums up my photography skills. Walking through Brokenhurst, there was a horse wandering down the middle of the road. Being a city gent, this amused me so I took a photo. Here is the actual photo I took, with no adjustments:

The horse was only about 7 m away from me but, somehow, I've managed to completely miss it! Hmmmm...

Saturday, July 17, 2010

Hants: evening update

A bit of time around the north of the county this evening; highlights were a handful of Turtle Doves purring away and plenty of Yellowhammers. None of the hoped for Quail or Corn Bunting, though.

My phonebinned attempts:

And something a little more professional from Joe:


Following on from Thursday's filming trip, I'm back in Hampshire where I have taken over Joe's sofa-bed for the weekend.
I've spent the morning pottering around on a local nature reserve here. Nothing too hardcore but some nice bits 'n' bobs to keep my occupied. A Common Sandpiper was in a tree by the main lake, a Kingfisher was zipping around, a female Sparrowhawk carrying prey and a Buzzard passed over, the pair of Great Crested Grebes had three stripy chicks, and a male Cetti's Warbler was indulging in some sub(ish)-song. A Gadwall with a duckling was interesting - as far as I know, there haven't been any male Gadwalls on the lake since winter, only Mallards, so the youngster could end up looking 'interesting' when it grows up a bit. Also plenty of insects about.
As per, photos taken with phone.
Juv Chiffchaff. One of a few around, with one even attempting (and largely failing) to sing. A quiet "chiff chaff chuff chiff chaff chuff chiff chaff chaff chaff chaff", the last bit reminiscent of ibericus...

Enallagma cyathigerum

Lots of these.

Common Sand.

And some 'fun' ageing Mallards. Probably not such a difficult task at this time of year but knowing what to look for might be interesting later in the year.

NB Shagged tail, already.

NB Lack of primaries...

Friday, July 16, 2010


Yesterday we headed down to Hampshire in an attempt to film some dragonflies on a reserve we had been told about. Access to the reserve required crossing an airfield - not usually a problem but, since there was an airshow on nearby this weekend, the place was swarming with fancy military jets and the airfield had been completely closed off.
Plan B was to make the best of the situation. By the side of the road we found a (Southern) Red Wood Ant nest. With a HD camera and a macro lens in the back of the car, it would have been rude not to film them! Here's Steve Rutt (on the left) and myself in action:

And the finished product:

Wednesday, July 07, 2010

How many species?

Came across this whilst sorting out my photos from Catalonia. A fairly typical view in the 'front garden'. Question is, though, how many species can you spot?

Tuesday, July 06, 2010

New Forest

My weekend was spent down in the New Forest with Joe Stockwell. Saturday night, we met Ash Howe and had fantastic views of at least three Nightjars.
Sunday morning was spent trying to catch up with woodland birds. Most birds were elusive and hard to pin down, though we did manage to find Redstart, Wood Warbler, Tree Pipit, Crossbill and plenty of Siskins.

Silver-studded Blue

Down at Keyhaven, 12 Black-tailed Godwits and seven Little Ringed Plovers were on Fishtail lagoon; 11 Eiders were offshore; and another 19 Black-tailed Godwits were on Keyhaven Lagoon.

Thursday, July 01, 2010

Back in blogging town

For the benefit of the few people who might still check this page, I'm attempting to resurrect my blog. First step, a shiny new header; second step, regular updates with exciting posts. Hopefully I've achieved the former. The latter is work in progress!
It's been a month now since I moved back to the UK from Catalonia. I paid a flying visit to Liverpool before moving down to London. A bit of a shock to the system, from the middle of a marsh to the middle of the big city... Birding since I've been back has been fairly minimal. Working full time puts a stop to any mid-week jollies (well, sort of - see below!) so my birding is now concentrated into weekends.
On Friday 18th June I headed up to Norfolk for a couple of days. It turned out to be something of a dire trip with howling northerly winds and horizontal rain making birding along the coast less than pleasant. In fact, 'highlights' amounted to 6 1st summer Little Gulls and a pair of Red-crested Pochards at Titchwell and two Chilean Flamingos are Cley. The flamingos are actually potentially more interesting than they seem. They first arrived in Suffolk the previous day before moving north to Norfolk. Straight from Holland? Probably. Category C5? Yeeeeah, sure!

Probably not quite Cat C:

...especially since there were a load of white ones the other side of the hedge.

Tuesday 22nd June saw me on my first work outing. Despite technically classing as 'twitching', it was still just about in our work remit since our aim to film a male Red-footed Falcon that had been hanging around for a couple of days in Sussex. I like twitches where you stand there and wait for the bird to fly in and land in front of you...


Armed only with a pair of bins and a mobile phone, my pictures aren't too great. Thankfully, we also had a HD video camera with us. A nice one for the BirdGuides archive!