Saturday, 14 October 2017

St Agnes - Western Orphean Warbler

I had to return... This time with the big lens and even though the Western Orphean Warbler was unlikely to show within 80-100m at least a few better record shots may have been possible? Here's the business end of the roadside gallery...

Just as well I got the early boat as at least I inherited the pole position spot to sit once spider had 'gone birding' and left his roadside web!  I reckon he'd slept there all night? A long wait then followed until 11.30 when it finally broke cover (the Orphean Warbler - not spider - !!)  destined to put on a distant but prolonged show...

Eating Coprosma berries...

And occasionally showing quite well despite being a dot in the viewfinder!!

A flash of the undertail...

And more flight shots giving a tantalising glimpse of the predominately white outer tail feathers!

A few more moments in the open - it was on show for an amazing 15 minutes...

It showed again just after midday and then briefly at 2.10 but that was that! It's clearly not that faithful to this hedgerow and given the number of berried Coprosmas, could be anywhere!!

Wednesday, 11 October 2017

Porthellick - Wilson's candidate no 1

There was only one bird on the islands today which was a potential tick for me - a probable Wilson's Snipe seen at Porthellick. This became the mission for the morning (or day if necessary), see it, get images and then hope they help in nailing one of the more tricky IDs in birding!

No time for words, just an assortment of images which have gone forward to Bob Flood / Ash Fisher and James Lidster hopefully to get back with opinions?

The probable Wilson's was immediately obvious due to the cold greyish appearance and dark scapulars, much more so in the field than these images portray.

The jizz was also radically different. It was behaving in exactly the same manner a Jack Snipe would. Constantly bobbing and often hunkering down!

Lots of wind stretching and tail fanning in evidence but it was very difficult to see the outermost tail feather!

And wing flaps invariably head on didn't help!

Now a side on chance?

Eventually I got the view I wanted! This image with the raised wing shows quite nicely the narrow white tips to the secondaries which create a white hook like pattern.

Martin Goodey produced this composite image... Image no 1 is a proven Wilson's Snipe, image no 2 is my image from above, flipped to face the same way and image 3 is the pattern of a Common Snipe which is totally different.

Paul Steventon, also in the hide this morning got this image of the spread tail detail. The right hand (as we look at it) outer tail feather has 4 black bars, as broad as the white...

It's a Wilson's for me...

BUT to the best of my knowledge this bird (I'm referring to it as Wilson's no 1) hasn't been seen since the 11th?? A second Wilson's contender has been seen since. The plumage and jizz is different.. I'll try and get some images of this taken on the 16th uploaded soon?

Friday, 6 October 2017

St Mary's - Vagrant Emperor

There wasn't a mega bird on offer today, I'd decided to stay on St. Marys and nothing of note had turned up! But there's always something of interest on these islands and my odonata pulse started racing when Will Scott put out "Vagrant Emperor" on the radio! Two had been seen the previous day but one will do nicely and I made my way towards Telegraph... fingers crossed...

As I entered the enclosed field, Will was walking the set aside with another birder and yes, one of the Vagrants was still there! Even better, it only flew a short distance and dropped down low but in a spot it could be easily viewed... and photographed!!

Despite the overall brown coloration, that amazing bright blue saddle was shining out like a beacon!

 It's a male, the blue saddle is bisected with a black line in females.

And it was going nowhere in a hurry with mid teens temperature allowing some amazing close up views!

Amazing to realise, just like the incredible journeys that birds make, this large insect has flown all the way from Africa (South West Asia is another possibility). It's an out and out mega - on a par with some of the birds already seen!

Friday, 29 September 2017

St Agnes - Rose-breasted Grosbeak

The day look doomed after catching the 10.15 boat to St Agnes and then missing the Grozzer by 10 minutes or so! It had been found, almost certainly fresh in, initially on a rock - Wingletang Down and then again by Scott Reid, briefly feeding on blackberries below a wall at the end of Barnaby Lane. It was not seen again and virtually all the St. Mary's contingent looked like dipping it! I wasn't going to give up and neither was Big Al, we were the last ones checking out the lane near where it was last seen...

It was 2.25, Al had found a gate overlooking the end of a field and there were a few fruity items on offer - blackberries and honeysuckle berries. We were staring into the light, it was becoming a forlorn hope when I picked up an amazingly patterned head peeking out of the foliage! Although I've seen adults in the States, 1st winter Rose-breasted Grosbeak would be a UK lifer for me and I just couldn't believe this amazing head on view... I won't type what I said (ok I will, ffs got it... or words to that effect) and after getting Al onto it, he confirmed I wasn't hallucinating - the vigil was over and radioed the news out...

Chewing a berry!

And just look at that bill!

It soon disappeared and within minutes, a gallery were viewing the scene and it showed again!! This time at the top of one of the taller shrubs and directly into the sun!

I decided to stay on until the last boat and there was a fairytale ending with it being found once more by a local birder as I retraced my steps to the post office!

Record shot distance only but I wasn't complaining :-)

And as I left it was taking a zzzzzz....

Well wouldn't you, having just flown across the Atlantic!

Thursday, 28 September 2017

Scillonian crossing - juv Sab's Gull

It was a quiet crossing with four pods of Common Dolphins joining the boat, the first lot were within a mile of Penzance!

Generally quiet for birds withjust one standout bird along the way - a juv Sabine's Gull. If photography is difficult enough from a Pelagic, it can be nigh on impossible from the Scillonian, small bird, ocean swell and just a few seconds of opportunity...

And going by today's news, it looks like an afternoon spent at Porthellick?

Porthellick - American Golden Plover part one

Hit the ground running today - not literally as a nagging achilles injury will be hampering my daily range. Having met up with the American Golden Plover on the beach, I was in no hurry to leave this confiding bird (as they often are)


Yes, indeed!

And providing you sit still...

Almost curious?

Enough of posing, starting with a ruffle...

A bit of  action, well searching for worms!

And soon to be demonstrating success!