Tuesday, 12 September 2017

The Mere - Arctic Tern

There's still a sniff of a decent shire yearlist so maybe it's time to peg back some of the birds I failed to catch up with in the Spring? Like Arctic Tern!  So when Rob Dowley had one in the roost, I guessed it would still be there first thing today?

I wasn't wrong and through the scope, short legs / all red bill were easy to see...


In the early sunlight and most of the views were sidelit or into the sun, despite the distance, what shone through (literally) was the translucence of primaries / secondaries - peculiar to Arctic Tern when ruling out Common!

But whatever the lighting, translucence shines through nicely, whether it's an under or upperwing view!

It was only in view for a few minutes once flying, showing a nice clean upperwing and then disappeared down the south end...

And I disappeared to check  Whitemere and Colemere (nothing of note) and Wood Lane (just 1 Dunlin of note)

Sunday, 10 September 2017

Shrewsbury Dingle - American Night Heron

I haven't been to see the Shrewsbury American Night Heron since 4th May! I'd kinda lost interest given the location, crowds, etc. but I hadn't forgotten about it! Mainly because it's on 'everyone's? list apart from a few out of county disbelievers and to validate it (if you are of the BOU persuasion) , it needs acceptance by BBRC/BOURC? And of course there is no proven 'finder' apart from mysterious unknown visitors / birders in the 'Woodland' Hide at VP back on 7th April. So, if you were sat in the hide during that afternoon, please come forward... The rarity form will go in, whatever... I've already been in contact with Martyn Owen (County recorder) and we will ensure it moves forward (* see end note). Also, there have been claims the bird is wasting away and I wanted to see for my own two eyes...

Yep, nothing changes?

Apart from the choice of vantage / launch point!

Say ahhhh - I hadn't seen his tongue before? He looks well doesn't he!!

And still actively catching (usually) fish!

I think he missed this time!

And I finally got a decent flight sequence which eluded me in May, so here it is from start to finish...

A bit of a splash in the middle!

Before landing out of view.

* Back to the 'record'... It's morphed from European to American Night Heron and loose feathers which were collected after preening (thanks Simon Slade) during the summer have now been sent for DNA analysis. Whilst on head pattern it's perfect for hoactli, it would be nice to have this backed up! Then the question of origin arises? I'm adopting a 'wild unless proven captive' stance. There is no ring, there is no ring mark. It was incredibly skulking whilst at VP (going missing for days in the twiggery) and now has settled into a location which provides safety, plenty of food and he's learnt to make the most of it all! There's plenty of evidence on the web that US birds do exactly the same thing over there! Night Herons are intelligent birds and seem to 'learn' better than some humans methinks? They become 'Town Birds' in gardens parks etc. Question is, what's his next move...

Saturday, 9 September 2017

Chipping Sodbury - Woodchat Shrike

It's been a long time, a twitch that is... An overnight stay after a talk  in Chippenham acted as the perfect foil for a journey I would probably not have bothered with from home! A juvenile Woodchat Shrike was on the cards, or should I say the 'Common' in nearby Chipping Sodbury. I'd only seen adult Woodchats before, so it was in a sense 'new' :-)

There was quite a lot going on with quite a few migrants moving, like Whinchat...

Yellow wagtail..

And Redstart...

Almost immediately after a walk of some 400m from the car, I could see birders and the Woodchat Shrike :-)

Anything from 50 - 150m distant, it was quite mobile but quite a showy bird (as Shrikes are!) always perching up on a good choice of bushes...

After a while, I could see a pattern forming and staked out a small clump of bushes which gave an element of cover!

It was coming nearer!

Until eventually, it was perched head on, probably about 30m away, close enough to see a bit more detail!

One brief perch in an adjacent bush ensuring all the angles were covered!

The pale scapulars showing really well, even from afar, somewhat scaly and nothing like a Red-backed juv!

And then the heavens opened! The forecast of heavy showers and thunder didn't exactly sound welcome, so it was an early finish at around 12.30, job done!

Friday, 1 September 2017

Venus Pool - returning Snipe

In addition to passage birds, Venus Pool is pretty 'fluid' at the moment with the return of some winter visitors. Here's my first returning Common Snipe...


What you can't see - he's a 'bobber' bouncing up and down like a Jack whilst feeding, scuppering the myth that only Jack Snipe do it!

Plus a quick preen for the camera?

A welcome addition to the prospective 'big day' list tomorrow!

Thursday, 31 August 2017

Venus Pool - Southern Hawker and passenger!

A funny thing happened as I was walking up to the car park today!  I noticed a male Southern Hawker flying nearby and even better, it landed in one of the wild roses. It was quite high up and only a side on angle was possible but at least I was carrying the 500mm lens...

Inching a bit closer...

Then suddenly, I noticed something else flying in, a shield bug! And amazingly it landed on the Hawkers wing!! Squatters rights or what?

All I needed was an aphid to land on the shield bug! The food chain in reverse :-)

Tighter crop...

Well Shield Bugs do feed on other small insects but surely this was a mouthful too far!! The pair flew off immediately out of site and I have no doubt the squatter was evicted!

Wednesday, 30 August 2017

Venus Pool - a lucky 13 Black-tailed Godwits!

Not a lot happening today and I was just about to leave when this little lot dropped in! (Two of them anyway)

At first, I couldn't fit them all in the frame but here's five of a flock of  thirteen Black-tailed Godwits...

Doubling that up, here's ten together!

And finally, got all thirteen (is that meant to be unlucky?)  as they settled in for a communal preen!

Eventually something spooked them and off they went!

Evening view of another three which dropped in during the evening!

It might not be 'quality' but certainly a good 'quantity' to keep spirits up :-)