Saturday, 31 May 2008

The dust settles and a pair of Garganey 30th May 2008.

Crap shoot of a male Garganey

Crap shoot of a pair of Garganey

Nice shoot of Plover Hide

After running around like a headless chicken on the Tuesday at Rutland Water, today it was at a more leisurely pace.
The Marsh Sandpiper was still showing from Harrier hide and distantly from the visitor centre and had a constant stream of admirers.
Checking out other parts of the reserve, I first received a text message from Jim Graham to tell me that a pair of Garganey had been found on the scrape at Wanlip Meadows LRWT, and then Steve Lister phoned me that a Marsh Harrier had dropped into the reedbed on lagoon 3.
Walking over to Shoveler hide, I joined Steve in the hide, and it wasn't long before the Marsh Harrier reappeared over the reedbed.
The bird looked like a first summer/female bird as it slowly quartered the reedbed.
Hopefully in the near future, this will become a regular sight in Leicestershire, if the numbers of breeding birds in the UK continue its steady improvement.
Following further directions via a phonecall from Jim Graham, I drove back to Leicester to check out Wanlip Meadows for the Garganeys.
Viewing from the footpath next to Wanlip Lane, I quickly picked up the pair of Garganey which were feeding on the scrape. What was notable about the male was that the bird was now moulting into eclipse plumage.
Joined by Allen Pocock and John Hague we then watched the birds for the next half an hour as there feed on the scrape.
Over the last few years Garganey has become a regular visitor to the Soar Valley, and is always nice to see this delightful little duck.
On the way home, I picked up John's spare Nikon 4500 Coolpix, as mine had recently become faulty and hopefully get it fixed in the next few weeks.

Wednesday, 28 May 2008

Stilt Sand and Marsh Sand in Leicestershire, what the F**K!! 27th May 2008.

Stilt Sandpiper what the fu*k part 1

Marsh Sandpiper what the fu*k part 2

Part 1:
The day started quietly, as I was working at home downloading my orchid photos from the previous day exclusion to Kent.
When suddenly at around 11.00am, Andy Mackay phoned me on my mobile to say that Steve Lister had just seen a Stilt Sandpiper on lagoon1 at Rutland Water, "WHAT THE F**K!" I shouted, I thanked Andy for the message, and said I would meet him at Rutland Water asap.
To put this into context, this sighting was a first for the county, a first for the midlands region, and probably only the 25Th time this rare American wader had been recorded in Britain.
Driving reasonable quick to Rutland Water, it only took me half an hour to get to the site from my house,where I was told that the bird was showing from Harrier and Mallard hide.
Stopping briefly at Mallard hide, I spoke to Andrew Harrop who was watching the bird,and kindly put me onto the bird, which was showing distantly from edge of the scrape near Harrier hide.
Thanking Andrew for putting me on the bird, I then moved on to Harrier hide to get a better view of the Sandpiper.
Arriving at the hide, as you can imagine, it was pretty pack with a good number of the local birders viewing the bird.
Although the Sandpiper was still a bit distant, you could clearly see all the distinctive features of this good looking Yankee wader.
With the pressure off I watched the bird for the next half an hour, and noted down the features of the bird.
Whilst talking to the other birders I found out that one of the Fulmars, from the previous day was still in South Arm 3.
So myself and Allen Pocock decided to move down to Gadwall hide to look for the Fulmar.
Reaching Gadwall hide, we scanned the nearby water, and picked up the Fulmar just off a fisherman's boat in the middle of the reservoir.
Like Sunday's sighting this was a county tick for Allen as like myself he had missed the last three twitchable Fulmars recorded in the county.
Walking back to the centre, I picked up another year tick in the form of a Turtle Dove which calling from a nearby tree between Tern and Harrier hide.
After speaking to Jez Robson who was watching the Turtle Dove as well, he informing me that the Temminck's Stint was still down at Cossington Meadows, which he had seen earlier in the morning.
So on leaving Rutland Water, I drove back to home via Cossington Meadows to look for the Stint.
Reaching Cossington, I was soon at Plover Meadow, and found the Stint almost straight the way, as it feed over the muddy pools. Other notable sightings on the meadow included a single Common Sandpiper, and six tundra-type Ringed Plovers.
A quick search around the rest of the reserve I saw a Greenshank on the Upper Marsh and a "Gropper" still reeling by Lower Marsh.
Returning to my car, I got home around 4.00pm, and decided to have an afternoon siesta after I had been running around like a blue arsed fly for the last few hours.

Part 2:
I was suddenly woken up by my pager going off at around 6.30pm and I looked at the message, Marsh Sandpiper on Lagoon 1 at Rutland Water!, What? was I dreaming, rubbing my eyes again, the message definitely said Marsh Sandpiper at Rutland Water.
This was when the headless chicken syndrome kicked in, I first phoned Andy Mackay for him to say yes it was one, as Matthew Berriman had just phoned him about the sandpiper, I then told him I would pick him up from house as it was on the way to Rutland, then phoned John Hague to let him know about the sandpiper (who almost choked on his pasta when been told of the bird).
Picking up Andy at his house, we were at Rutland Water again by 7.15pm.
Arriving at Harrier hide, the hide was full with all the usual faces and the sandpiper was feeding well on the scrape. RESULT and another county tick to boot!
Watching the Sandpiper for the next half hour, it was joined by three Black tailed Godwits,a summer plumaged brick red Knot, three Dunlins and at least sixteen Tundra-type Ringed Plovers all feeding around the scrape.
Walking slowly back to the car, with John and Andy, we commented that this day will go done in history as Leicestershire was the place to be on 27Th May 2008, well in ornithological terms any way!
To put this in context, I don't think Leicestershire birding has ever had two county first on the same day, let alone at the same site or from the same hide on a truly remarkable day.

I would like to thanks Matthew Berriman for the supplying the photos of the Sandpipers and for finding the Marsh Sand!

Monday, 26 May 2008

Indiana Dave and Raiders of the Lost Monkey 26th May 2008.

man oh man

aye up Monkey!

"I'm Lady you know"

Field of Monkeys

Setting off around 6.45am from home, myself, Sean and Stan (Fellow Orchid Hunters) arrived in Kent just after 9.30am to the sight of constant rain and very strong winds, maybe not a good omen to search for orchids.
Checking out the first site of the day for the distinctive Fly Orchid, we soon realised that maybe climbing down a very steep path in not great weather conditions, was probably not the best idea, and I think even Indiana Jones would have had second thoughts!
So we decided to head to Chatham, for our next site and hopefully a nice cooked breakfast.
Checking out Asda and Tesco in Chatham, to our amazement none of these superstore had a cafe!
Driving round Chatham, we finally found a greasy spoon cafe just around the corner from the next orchid site.
After finishing breakfast, we moved on to the next site at Darland Bank NR. The site it self was situated right next to a suburban housing estate, and opens out into classical meadow land habitat. The target here was Man Orchid, as in the past the site has had up to 10,000 of these corking orchids.
Walking on to the hillside, after a couple of minutes searching we started to find large groups of Man Orchids in the surrounding grassland.
Over the next hour or so we took numerous photos of the Man Orchids and to improve the day it stopped raining and the wind dropped.
I made a conservative count of the orchids, and we must have seen at least 500+ on the hillside.
Moving on from Darland Bank, our next stop was a site near Faversham, with my main target of the day, the rare Monkey Orchid.
This site was right next to the road, but as Sean and Stan said the security for this site was quite shocking in electric sense!!
Walking round the enclosure we walked up a small incline, and then into a small clearing, where a small group of Monkey and Lady Orchids were situated.
As you can imagine I took a number of photos of these exquisite orchids.
Moving into the enclosure, we then counted another ten Monkey and Lady Orchids and found at least another three Man Orchids.
Leaving this site we progress to another orchid site a few miles away near Barham village.
This site was totally different to the previous ones, as it was situated in a large wood.
After leaving the car, almost straight away we started to view orchids in the surrounding woodland.
Orchids noted included Common Twayblade (1000+), Lady Orchid (100+), Fly Orchid (10+), Common Spotted Orchid (5+), and a single Bird's Nest Orchid and White Helleborine.
At around this time, something happened to my camera, as the camera could not focus, and the telephoto lens would not work, bloody typical!!
The next site we visited was the well known Park Gate Down NR, and home to over 200+ Monkey Orchids. As we walk through the entrance gate most of the Monkey Orchids were situated on the grassland to our right.
Although my camera was playing up I did take a few shots of the groups of Monkeys Orchids.
Other Orchids we noted at this site included Common Twayblade (500+), Pyramidal Orchid (5+ coming into flower), Early Purple Orchid (20+), Fly Orchid (2), a single Fragrant Orchid coming into flower and at least 10+ Common Spotted Orchids.
Moving on from this site, the next site we checked was Wye Down NNR, to look for Late Spider Orchid.
Arriving at this site, we soon found at least ten of these Orchids coming into flower on the steep hillside.
I took a few record shots of the Orchids,and then checked the site to see if any Bee Orchids were emerging. After a good scout around of the site we couldn't find any Bee Orchids, but it was two weeks early for them to usually appear so I wasn't too disappointed on not finding any Bee Orchids.
As it was early evening by now,we checked one more site for Orchids. However this site was strangely devoid of any orchids (maybe something to do with the local rabbit population?),so we decided to make our way home.
In total it was a great day out, I saw five new Orchid species for my British list in the shape of Monkey, Lady, Bird's Nest, White Helleborine and Late Spider Orchid.
I would also like to thank Sean for doing the driving, and Jane at TomTom for her great directions!

Fulmar OMFL!! 25th May 2008.

Fulmar Lyndon-by-the-Sea

Following a message on my birdnet pager of a Fulmar off Manton Bridge, I hot footed it over to Rutland Water.

Parking just up from the bridge, I quickly joined Matthew Berriman on the bridge who was scanning the bay for the bird.Over the next few minutes we scanned the surrounding area, but there was no sign of the bird.

Scanning through the crashing waves I suddenly picked up a bird which looked like a Fulmar just off from Shallow Water Hide, slowly the bird moved round so we could see its distinctive tube nose, and confirm my hopes that it was the Fulmar. RESULT!

Driving round to Lyndon, I quickly walked down to the shallow water hide, to join the dudes watching the plastic Ospreys, and the keen local birders watching the FULMAR!

Over the last fifteen years I have missed at least three twitchable Fulmars in Leicestershire, so I was pleased that I finally added this bird to my county list.

After watching the Fulmar for a good half an hour, I moved onto Eyebrook Reservoir to briefly see a group of seven Sanderlings at the inflow end before driving home in between the squally showers.

Thanks to Matthew Berriman for supplying the photo of the Fulmar.

Sunday, 25 May 2008

Another Temminck's in the valley and a Red Foot under 5 miles from Leicestershire! 24th May 2008.

-} Leicestershire this way please!

peek a boo!

nice shots bob!

Following a text message from Andy Mackay, that someone had reported a Temminck's Stint at Cossington Meadows, I drove down to the reserve to check it out.

Walking round to the Plover Meadow, I met up with Roger Brett and his wife, who was watching the Temminck's Stint on the muddy pools.
This bird was much more striking in plumage that the previous bird at Wanlip Meadows, but two records in the Soar Valley in the year, just shows what potential this area can produce when it is watched regularly.
I took a number of record shots of the bird, and noted that over the last day or so at least five "Tundra-type" Ringed Plovers had also joined the Stint in this section of the reserve.
Checking out the rest of the reserve, two Greenshanks were on the Upper Marsh section, and a Grasshopper Warbler was still reeling on and off by the Lower Marsh section.

While talking to other birders at Cossington, there let me known that the female Red footed Falcon at Ingleby, just over the county boundary in Derbyshire was showing and performing very well in fields not far from the village. So I decided to do a slighty detour into Derbyshire, to have a look at the Falcon.

Parking my car not to far past Ingleby village, I walked down the public footpath towards the River Trent.
Viewing the ploughed field on the opposite side to the main group of birders, I could not see the bird, as it was hidden behind a small metal shed.
So I slowly walked along the footpath, until I reached the line of birders, were there told me that the bird was sitting on post by the shed, but you could only see the head of the bird!
Moving back along the footpath, I could see the bird clearly sitting on a post, although it was too distant to digiscope due to the heat haze, I made a mental note of the shape and size of the falcon and hopefully over the next few weeks one is find in Leicestershire. After watching the falcon for twenty minutes and happy with the views I saw, I decided to drive back home to Leicestershire and pleased on good day's birding.

Thanks is due to Bob Duckhouse for supplying the Red Footed Falcon photos.

Friday, 23 May 2008

Mad dash for a Grey Plover! 22nd May 2008.

A quick phone call from John yesterday morning had me running around the office like a headless chicken, as a Grey Plover was on the upper marsh section at Cossington Meadows.
As my time was very limited in the afternoon and evening ( I had to see a client in the community and then work the late shift at the General hospital!), I made a mad dash to Cossington after finishing work in the community. With only half an hour spare between work commitments, parking by the reserve entrance, I jogged down the main track towards the upper marsh section. Stopping very briefly to look at a Four spotted Chaser (my first dragonfly of the year), I reached the upper marsh section in less than in ten minutes, and realised that I needed to get fit over the summer months and how stupid I was running for a Grey Plover on my local patch!
Scanning the pools at the Upper Marsh I quickly located the Grey Plover in the right hand corner,as it was trying to hide behind some vegetation. RESULT!
Walking back to the car at a slightly slower pace , I phoned John and Allen Pocock to let them know that the Plover was still on the marsh, and pleased that my year list for the Soar Valley was now just under 125 species ( 123 to be extact).

Monday, 19 May 2008

My first Orchids of the year. 18th May 2008.

After checking out Burley fishponds in the morning for the very elusive Purple Heron, I drove over to Merry's Meadow LRWT near Cottesmore, to look for Green winged Orchid.
Walking up the track to the reserve, I spotted a small group of Grey Partridge and a fly over Yellow Wagtail (Hopefully breeding in the surrounding area).
Walking into the first field of the reserve, you could clearly see good numbers of Green winged Orchids, and I must have counted at least 500+ of these good looking plants.
As you would expect I took a few shots of the nearby orchids, and hopefully over the next three months I will try and find a few more orchids on my travels around the UK.

Friday, 9 May 2008

Cossington Meadows Osprey and Wood Sand Hooray!!

Yesterday evening was a good time to be down at Cossington Meadows, as at around 6.00pm I had an Osprey flying over Plover meadow being mobbed by a number of birds. The Osprey slowly drifted south towards Cossington South/Wanlip North GPs, and was noted to briefly hover over the pits trying to catch a fish! (This sighting was a local patch tick for yours truly).Following this sighting, ten minutes later while scanning the Plover meadow, I found a summer-plumaged Wood Sandpiper feeding at the muddy edges.
Wood Sand's is one of my favourite waders, so to find one in summer plumage on your local patch is an added bonus.
Other sightings on Plover meadow included the usual waders, and up to five recently hatched Lapwing chicks which was good to see.
In conclusion, this was probably the best half an hour of birding down Cossington Meadows I've had for a couple years, and continues the Soar Valley excellent run of form of turning up unusual birds!

Sunday, 4 May 2008

Anything for the bank holiday weekend sir?...Black Terns and a Temminck's Stint. 4th May 2008.

Arriving at Eyebrook Res at around 7.00am in the morning, I scanned the reservoir to note that three Greenshanks, a single Oystercatcher and a flock of twelve( yes twelve!) Common Sandpipers had arrived overnight.
During the next hour, an Arctic Tern and Six Common Terns went through, but nothing much else of note, so I decided to move on Rutland Water for my annual six months visit.

Starting at the Lyndon reserve, I quickly found a couple of Nightingales singing along the track at Gibbet Gorse. Although Nightingales are not the most prettiest bird, there probably have the best song around for any passerine.
Walking slowly back to my car, I scanned the reservoir from the Lyndon reserve, and noticed at least thirty Black Terns flying into Manton Bay, RESULT!!
Watching the Terns hawking over the water for a few minutes, I then let the visitor centre and Birdnet pager services know of the presence of the Black Terns, and then I moved on to towards the Egleton reserve.
As usual there wasn't much to report from the centre except for a Green Sandpiper on lagoon 1, and another flock of 25+ Black Terns communting between lagoon 1 and south arm 3.
Driving round to the north arm, I met up with Ben Croxtall and Matthew Berriman, and asked if there was much about, to which there stated it was pretty quiet, except for the regular Yellow legged Gull, and a single Black Tern over the reservoir and a few Ringed Plovers feeding along the shoreline.
Just before I left Rutland Water we watched a Hobby flew over the north arm towards the lagoons.
After my visit to the east of the county, I returned to my local patch, the Soar Valley.

My first stop was Wanlip Meadows, parking my car at the nearby Watermead CP North, I slowly walked towards Plover Hide, when I met another birder coming out of the hide, and he said to me that he had just seen a Temminck's Stint on the scrape!
Viewing from the hide, I could clearly see the Temminck's Stint was on the far side of the scrape slowly feeding on the shoreline. I congratulated the birder on finding the Stint, and then phoned the news out about the Stint.
Over the last five years Wanlip Meadows has had a very good track record for attracting Temminck's Stints and this was the fifth Temminck's I had seen on the meadows in the last four years!
Waiting for the local birders to arrive, the Temminck's flew off to the small flash in the next field, which could not be seen from the Plover hide, so I let out the news that the Stint had moved and best viewed from the public footpath at the back of Wanlip Lane.
Meeting up with the Groby crew (Allen, Andy and Paul), after driving round to the lane we watched the Stint for the next half and hour, as it feed on the edge of the flash.
The Stint then flew back to the main scrape and I thought it was a good time to make my way home.
So in conclusion an excellent morning birding and the Soar Valley comes up trumps again for an unusual sighting.

Cheers to John and Allen for the photos of the Temminck's and Black Tern.