Saturday 28 February 2009

Devon - Birthday Cirlibration!

The opportunity of a weekend down in Devon plus B&B with friends was too good to miss - it was my birthday too! The long staying Penduline Tit was my main target and with the year list stalled for the past month, a chance to get moving again!

A golden opportunity to get amongst the Cirl Buntings at Broadsands!

Ladies first:

The gents stole the show - just what I was hoping for!

Reed Buntings amongst the other locals....

These pics have a lot answer for though! The Clennon Valley Pools Penduline Tit had decided to fly at 10.00 (I arrived at 10.10) Three hours of searching vain plus a scour of the nearby Young's Waterpark, where it normally drifted off to! Never mind, it can wait - I'm back down in Devon in two weeks time - but will it stick??

There were at least five overwintering Chiffs providing a little distraction....

There were two Cattle Egrets together with several Little Egrets in the sheep field by the church at Powderham....

Most of the weekend was spent in the company of local birder Joe Ray - great guy , check out his site if you're visiting the area! We got some solid birding in, covering most of the hot spots and cleaning up (bar the Bean Geese at Exminster!) - eventually totting up a creditable 19 year ticks for me!! OK, it was my first trip of the year to the coast but at Dawlish Warren .... ** Surf Scoter ** .... plus plenty of decent other birds including: RB Merganser, RT Diver, BN Grebe, Eider. Then, Bowling Green Marsh and the Clyst estuary yielded Blackwit, Barwit, Knot, Grey Plover, a single Spotted Redshank plus other long overdue species!!

Footnote: guesss what turned up again Monday morning at Clennon Valley pools - NOOOOOOOO, Grrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr

Wednesday 25 February 2009

Priorslee lake - White winged duo

This is a busy time of year for me on the alpines/snowdrop scene and whilst I have had the odd brief session 'out and about' - Jim has been rather unlucky! Whilst Crossbill hunts at Shirlett and Bury Ditches have proved xbill-less, at least lady luck returned today!

A meeting at Telford and brief (very late lunch) call in at Priorslee lake treated me to distant views of not just one but TWO white winged Gulls.

The 1st winter Glaucous gull, presumably the one reported by Jason earlier had moved from the opposite bank to the water (still at only record shot range sadly!)

Scanning the 200 strong group of Gulls then revealed a second white winged Gull - a 2nd winter Iceland Gull. This looked similar to the one found there on Jan 4th!

Sadly no Kumliens Gull present - what a trio that would have made!! Dawn has promised to let me know when she's back in the area - hopefully the Kumliens will follow her back!

Interestingly, Steve Nuttall tells me this Iceland Gull (almost certainly) turned up at Belvide later in the evening - joined by a much darker/dirtier Glaucous Gull. Are there two individuals around - it certainly seems so......

Sunday 15 February 2009

Venus Pool - Kestrel posing

Sunday morning and my only chance to get out and about......I'd hoped to add more images of the VP Bittern today but a Water Rail was all I had to show for over an hour of patience!

If it wasn't for the female Kestrel hunting along the road, the morning would have ended without any more pictures! No Gulls of note at Priorslee and not a sign of Crossbill at Shirlett....

February and March sees (for me) limited opportunities for bird photography but keep looking - you never know what I'll drop in on during those snatched moments!

Sunday 8 February 2009

Venus Pool - Bittern breaks cover

Don't you just hate Bitterns? You know they are there. You scan the reed bed through your Bins or Scope, trying to convince yourself that the 'shape' you see in front of you is the real deal?

Or you turn up at dawn or dusk hoping for that fleeting glimpse of roost activity? You see it in the near darkness and go away satisfied, or do you - I wanted more!

Quite a few folk have reported seeing the VP bird really well, (out in the open even) from the 'Fen hide', so this was to be the morning I had a go - what a cold one too!

Apart from a few Redpoll passing through, not a lot was happening until Yvonne spotted it 'trundling' out of the reed bed through the willows and into view! I missed the 'trundle' or rather there was too much motion blur on the few shots I got and the Bittern promptly stood, just the head visible behind a stump, part hidden, motionless.... for ages......

After an age, there were signs of life (none in my fingers by now though!) and it moved stealthily a little nearer, always behind the vegetation of course.......

Ever nearer and then, amazingly, the head was entirely visible. A few typical Bitterning postures too as it tried vainly to spot something for Breakfast?

Eventually, it was actually out in the open but with it's back to me - an occasional tantalising turn of the head was all I got before...... disappeared back into the reedbed, Bitterns are nothing if not predictable!

Wednesday 4 February 2009

Priorslee lake - Glaucous Gull

A very lucky decision to check out Priorslee lake at lunchtime today certainly paid off! There were good numbers of Gulls too, well over the 1,000 at one stage (in and out though) on the water. I was hoping for a Caspian but next best was to pick out the 1st winter Glaucous Gull on the far side (piccies this time!!) which had opted for a day out in Shropshire! Yvonne who was in the area was soon scoping it plus a mightily relieved Jason putting his new Argo through it's emergency call out' paces!! Mike laid a County bogey bird to rest...

A few anxious moments before everyone got there - the wash and brush up was followed by a brief flight around the lake...

A second flight brought it a bit closer too!

it settled down again though to make sure no-one dipped.....

Reassuring to know that a 'List Police' presence was on site to check out for any scoundrels ticking juv Herrings or suchlike! DC 'Arvey Sparrow no less, from the local branch Flying Squad - fortunately good behaviour and smiles were maintained all round ;-)

Sunday 1 February 2009

Hadnall - 'field' trip

It was a 'no show' from the Lesser spot this morning so didn't spend much time there and went off to hunt for another Shropshire bird, never to be considered 'easy' - the elusive Grey Partridge!

Painsbrook lane leads to ideal habitat for them in the fields adjacent to the lane. The horse paddocks were teeming with thrushes - good opportunity to get up close to some Fieldfare. One advantage of birding from the car on a bitterly cold day like today is the car heater!!

A few portraits of Fieldfare then - they really are dapper birds!

A cruise around, just about managing to keep my exhaust intact (be warned if you try!) failed to locate any Grey Partridge. So, I went back to the Fieldfares!
As I was parking, I noticed, as you do, a shape which for once wasn't a tussock or a stone and no, it wasn't a Red legged either! There in the vehicle tracks next to the horse paddocks were a pair of GPs - only trouble was the distance. Never mind - it was on my list and excuse the indulgence of four record shots!

Joined up with Andy and Dave Western and we finished the day back at Haughmond to tick a couple of Woodcock at that 'well known' place. Tawny Owl heard nearby too but that tick can wait a few weeks when there will be pics......!!