Sunday, 27 December 2009

Review of the Year 2009.

Iceland Gulls saw loads in the year!

Orchid of the Year-
Bee Orchid in a Leicester Park!

Pec Sand at Cosso

and finally the highlight of the year for me
21 Killer Whales in Biscay!

As I have been at work for the whole of the Christmas period, I probably won't be doing any more birding this year except for my annual trip to Caerlaverock WWT via my brother's home in Glasgow. So I thought I would have a review of the year of the sightings and my finds of the year.
A good start to the year included a lifer in the form the Glaucous-winged Gull at Cowpen Landfill, Co.Durham. Other highlights in the month included a patch tick with a dark bellied Brent Goose at "Wanlip North Lakes" with the large mixed goose flock.
The only other rarity for Leicestershire I saw was the mobile Great White Egret at Sheepy Magna, West Leicestershire on the 18th.
February was all about me finding loads of white-winged Gulls at different sites in the county. It started with me finding a 1st winter bird Iceland Gull at Stanford Reservoir (a different bird to the one which was at Shawell tip the previous day!), then three at Albert Village Lake (an adult, 1st winter and a 2nd Winter bird) in the space of an hour and then to complete the picture a 2nd winter Glaucous Gull in the same gull flock.
The other major highlight of the month was large snow falls covering most of the UK.

Wednesday, 23 December 2009

Xmas Caption competition

Well as its that time of the year again, here is the Xmas Caption competition and includes Mr Drunkbirder and Mr Llama!?
As usual the best quote will win a magic teabag and Merry Xmas and Happy New Year!

Monday, 21 December 2009

Gyr bugger dipped again!

Birding Taliban!?!

No sign of the Gyr Falcon!

With a Gyr Falcon staying put for a few days on the Gower, South Wales, me, John Hague and Colin Green decided to twitch the bird.
Well to cut a long story short and after five hours staring at the same fields the bird did not show!
So the moral of this story is that I should not twitch birds of prey as now this is the third Gyr I have dipped, other raptors I have missed included four WT Eagles, and thankfully now the rejected Booted Eagle!
John and Colin were excellent company all day in sub zero conditions (that's why I looked like a Birding Taliban!??) but maybe sometimes I should make a few more jokes about Yorkshire and Leicester people!! ;-) [ See the Drunkbirder blog for more info].

Sunday, 13 December 2009

Gulls at Shawell again.............

Adult Caspian Gull.

2nd-winter Iceland Gull.

Yesterday morning I nipped down to Shawell GPs to check out the Gulls, as the previous day Neil Hagley had found an Immature Iceland Gull on one of the balancing pools.
Arriving at the site I noticed that were a good number of gulls on the pools. So over the next couple of hours I picked out at least one adult Caspian Gull and two adult Yellow-legged Gulls among the assortment of large and small gulls.
Then around midday I finally noticed the immature Iceland Gull which must have flown in just minutes earlier.
Scoping the bird I noticed straight away that it was a 1st winter type due to its plumage and dark eye (actually looking at the photos it's probably a 2nd winter bird!)
As usual I took a few record shots of the bird and then phoned out the news of the bird via Birdnet and John Hague.
By this time my feet were now starting to get very cold so decided to call time at this site, dodge the traffic on the A5 and then home for a spot of lunch.

In the afternoon I went down to Cossington Meadows after John told me he had just seen a female Merlin over Swan Meadow, but as usual the bird was not seen again.
The Owls which showed in the evening included a very close Barn Owl and the two Short-eared Owls.

Postscript: Looking at my records over the year this is probably the seventh Iceland Gull I have seen in the county this year!!

Friday, 11 December 2009

Quality day in Norfu*k

Great Grey Shrike

Views of Dersingham Bog NNR
With another day off in the week I decided with John Hague that a day out to Norfolk was a good idea.
So leaving a chilly Leicester at around 6.30am the first port of call via breakfast was Dersingham Bog NNR, near Wolferton. This site has hosted a Great Grey Shrike for the last few weeks so hopefully it would show and possible get some decent digishots?
Walking from the car onto the Le Hair trail we were soon onto the main heathland just west of the boardwalk were the Shrike had been reported from. Scanning a silver birch on the nearby ridge I noticed the Great Grey Shrike straight away on top of the tree and then got John onto the bird.
Digscoping the bird we took a few record shots and although the light was brilliant the bird was just too much bleached out by the low sun.
Next stop was Snettisham RSPB and after the 1.5km march from the car park we finally reached the hides and the wash shoreline.
Viewing the shoreline it was soon found the two Shorelarks but strangely took flight as John tried to get a few decent shots.
A bit more to follow soon...............

Monday, 7 December 2009

More Whoopers..........

Via a message yesterday on my birdnet pager of 6 Whooper Swans at Swithland Reservoir had me driving over to the reservoir just before my late shift.
With the minutes ticking away before I had to be on duty I finally saw the group in the south section of the reservoir and not the north section as the pager and website had said!?
So as usual I took a few record digishots of the Swans and then drove like Sebastien Loeb in the country lanes of Charnwood to get to work on time!

Sunday, 6 December 2009

Caption Competition No 3:

Here is the new weekly Caption competition:
It shows the formation of the Drunkbirders at the Pechora Pipit site at Toab in Shetland in 2007.
Best quote wins a teabag!!

Basically Blackcaps in the garden!

As it says on the tin, I had a couple of male Blackcaps in my garden yesterday. This is the first time I've seen Blackcaps winter in my garden for over five years so is there an influx of these Eastern European birds or did I just get lucky?
Answers at the bottom please!

Saturday, 5 December 2009

Basically some Gulls, Owls and a Great White Egret!

On my day off from work I thought I would potter around a few sites in the county. So I started in the far south of the county at Shawell GPs and Tip to look at the gulls. Over the couple of hours I was at this site the sightings included a nice looking adult Yellow-legged Gull in the large gull flock, a small group of six Tree Sparrows and up to forty Skylarks in a stubble field next to the tip. Whilst at the tip I received a text from John Hague to let me know that a male Black Redstart had been find by Carl Baggott at Old John in Bradgate Park. So you can guess were I was going next?!
Reaching Old John it came apparent that I was too late and bird had disappeared as I meet up with Jim Graham, Ben Croxtall and Carl as the birds hadn't been seen for a good half an hour.
With the no show of the Black Redstart I decided to nip home for a spot of lunch and then move onto Cossington Meadows for the Owls.
Arriving at Cossington just after 3.15pm, I met up with Jim again and Steve Campsell who were also waiting for the Owls.
Over the next hour as it got dark we saw three Barn Owls hunting over the Swan Meadow, Wood Meadow and the Moor. Then around 4.00pm we picked up a large white bird as it slowly flew over the Moor and Swan Meadow. When I first saw it I thought it was a swan but then realised that it was actually a Great White Egret!!
Shouting to the other birders nearby we all watching the Egret slowly fly over Swan Meadow and then drift low off towards Cossington South GPs to probably roost.
I then phoned the news out of the sighting of the Great White and then on cue Two Short-eared Owls appeared and started to quarter the Swan Meadow.
So on the whole a good end to the day and another county rarity on potentially the best site in Leicestershire! (I did say Leicestershire and not Vc55!).

Sunday, 29 November 2009

Good Day at Rutty!

Although I'm not a big fan of Rutland Water due to fact that its just to big to do some birding, sometimes it can be brilliant!
Starting at Whitwell and meeting up with Ben Croxtall, Andy Forryan( part of the Groby crew) and Matt Berriman mid morning we were soon looking at 3 Great Northern Divers and 2 Red-throated Divers viewed between Whitwell, the Dam and the North Arm.
Moving on to the North Arm by Tim's cottage and meeting up with the Bretts, the group started to scan the nearby water and a number of sightings included a small flock of "wild" Barnacle Geese, a Little Egret, 5 Red-crested Pochards (3 males and 2 females) and then suddenly Andy Brett shouted out that he had found a Grey Phalarope flying down the North Arm!
With in a minute or so the whole group had connected with the bird as it flew around the north arm and then briefly resting on the water in the large flock of ducks. At this point a Peregrine tried to have it for lunch but strangely enough the Phalarope escaped the clutches of the Peregrine and flew off towards the Lagoons never to be see again.
Although this wasn't a year tick for me as I had seen loads in Biscay this autumn, I was pleased to see a Grey Phalarope in county for the first time in over five years!
Next stop was a food stop in Oakham and a few phone calls about the Phalarope and then onto the reserve and the possibility of a couple of roosting Long-eared Owls or LEO's for short.
Walking up to Fieldfare hide I soon rejoined Matthew, Ben and Andy who were scoping the Owls.
OK so the views weren't great and you can forget any digishots of the Owls, but hey it was year tick so nothing to sniff about!
At this point we then decided to have a look for the Black-necked Grebes off Gadwall hide and soon picked up five birds feeding between Goldeneye and Gadwall hides.
After a small detour to Exton to look for the non-showing Black Redstart it was back onto the reserve to check on the Gull roost on Lagoon 4.
So over the next forty minutes we picked up two Med Gulls (1st winter and a nice looking adult bird) and an interesting looking 1st winter Caspian Gull (well done to Andy for finding it!) to finish off an excellent day and I forgot to say that the Med Gulls were also year ticks as well, so a great way to finish the day!

Saturday, 28 November 2009

Caption Competition!

Here is the latest caption competition of a group of butterfly twitchers photographing a corking purple emperor!
The best quote will win a prize of a magic tea-bag!?!

More shots of "Harold" Whooper Swan!

Here is a few more shots of "Harold" the Whooper Swan at Watermead CP South.

Tuesday, 24 November 2009

Wildfowl Count: Watermead CP North& Birstall section 22nd November 2009.

On the Sunday I did the monthly wildfowl count around Watermead CP North and Birstall section.
So here is the scores on the doors!:
Great Crested Grebe:27, Cormorant: 32, Grey Heron: 10, Mute Swan: 91, Canada Goose: 91, Wigeon: 205, Gadwall: 114, Teal: 184, Mallard: 184, Shoveler: 33, Pochard: 2, Tufted Duck: 92, Little Grebe: 3, Moorhen: 26, Coot: 277, Kingfisher: 3, Greylag Goose: 3, Lapwing: 136, Golden Plover: 213, Water Rail:2 and Goosander: 8.
The highlights were the returning Goosanders, a excellent count of Coots and a nice flock of over 200 Golden Plovers on Wanlip Meadows.

Monday, 23 November 2009

Whooper Swan at Watermead CP 22nd November 2009.

Here is a couple of shots of the Whooper Swan which arrived at Watermead CP South in the last couple of days.

Friday, 20 November 2009

New Feature: Caption Competition!

Looking at some photos I took at the Common Rosefinch twitch, I thought I would start a new feature the "Caption Competition".
So here is the first one, and the person who comes up the best caption will win a prize!.................

Monday, 16 November 2009

Cossington Meadows this evening............

After finishing my early shift today I nipped down to Cossington Meadows and saw three Short-eared Owls hunting over the Swan Meadow and the Moor from 16.30pm. One Barn Owl was also seen hunting over the nearby Wood Meadow and I heard at least three Little Owls calling in the nearby trees.
Whilst waiting for the appearance of the Owls I noted that at least 2,000+ Starlings roosted in the reedbed by the Moor Pool.

Friday, 13 November 2009

Look at the weather?

Over the week I have been on nights at the General Hospital, so very little birding has been done. But looking at the weather for the next few days I predict that Leicestershire and Rutland might have a few pelagic species gracing this landlocked county?
As it's quite late in the year I predict a twitchable Grey Phalarope or even a Leach's Petrel on one of the local reservoirs or gravel pits, but then again I might just be talking a lot of old bull?! Here's hoping...........................

Saturday, 7 November 2009

Cheating All Blacks!!!!

Once again the cheating All Blacks beat Wales 12-19 and the hype of Dan Carter was over the top from the BBC!
Dan Carter is a good player but he did a cheap shot high tackle on Martin Roberts, so why didn't the referee penalise him, because the All Blacks played the referee( ie Sledging, passing the ball forward and Richie McCaw as usual cheating in the breakdown).
I'm passionate Welsh supporter so you can see why I get very frustrated when Wales play the All Blacks and one day Wales will beat New Zealand and finally swipe the arrogant smiles off the All Black faces!

Cossington Owls update

Over the week I have been down at Cossington a couple of times and talking to other birders the total of Owls reads like this: Up to 4 Short-eared Owls (2 pale types and 2 dark types), 4 Barn Owls, 3 Little Owls and a single Tawny Owl.
As Autumn finishes and Winter begins in earnest hopefully the numbers of Owls will increase even more and maybe even a Hen Harrier will winter in the area? (which the drunkbirder is wishing for!)

Finally a mental nurse!?!

This week I got news via the post that I am now a Registered Mental Health Nurse (RMN). So finally after three and bit years of training It's pleasing that I completed the course minus the odd hiccup!
With my new career beginning I shouldn't have to think of a new career change for the forseeable future?!

Monday, 2 November 2009

Owls at Cossington again and a Swallow!

Over the weekend and tonight I checked out Cossington Meadows with the Owls usually showing from 4.30pm. Up to 3 Short eared Owls, 4 Barn Owls and maybe 4 Little Owls have been recorded in the Swan Meadow area.
If anybody gets a photo of the Owls can you let me know so I can put on the Soar Valley blog!
One other highlight of the weekend was the sighting of a Swallow over Cossington churchyard.This was the latest sighting I ever had down the Soar Valley and Leicestershire so a nice surprise to say the least.
As the Shorties seem to be the only one's inland at the moment I would imagine a constant flow of birders will be down at Cossington for the next couple of weeks?

Friday, 30 October 2009

Vis-mig this morning- very quiet!

Got up early this morning to do some vis-migging before my late shift at the General.
Reaching Deans Lane at around 7.20am I noticed that the visibility was shite and you could only see about a mile distance in all directions!
So over the two hours I was at Deans Lane, the highlight of the morning was a flock of 14 Crossbills in the nearby conifers just after 7.30am.
Other sightings over included 630 Starlings, 248 Redwings, 4 Fieldfares, 156 Wood Pigeons, 39 Chaffinches, 19 Siskins, 8 Redpoll Sp, 12 Meadow Pipits, 13 Skylarks, 13 Finch Sp, 1 Stock Dove, 1 Blackbird, 2 Yellowhammers and 1 Grey Heron migrating South-West.
As the weather looks pants for the weekend, strong winds and rain showers I will probably spent a bit more time in bed this weekend?

Thursday, 29 October 2009

More Owls at Cosso!

After yesterday's discovery at Cossington Meadows I went down again this evening. I met up with John, Roger Davis and Steve Campsell on the reserve. So over the next hour we scanned the Swan Meadow and the surrounding fields and found at least 3 Barn Owls (maybe even four?!), 2 Short-eared Owls, 3 Little Owls and a single Tawny Owl calling.
Although it's only the end of October, I think its been an excellent year down the Soar Valley sites and just shows what potential this area can produce!

Wednesday, 28 October 2009

Owl-tastic Cossington Meadows this evening!

After finishing my night shifts this morning and a few hours sleep in the morning I decided to check out Cossington Meadows in the afternoon to see the long staying Barn Owls.
Arriving at the site around 4.00pm it was pretty quiet for a half an hour as I scanned the Swan Meadow, but then briefly I saw a Barn Owl flying over the nearby "Moor" for a couple of minutes.
I then meet up with Steve Campsell and his wife who had also seen the Barn Owl briefly.
Over the next 20 minutes there was no sign of any Owls, Steve and his wife left me just before it started to get dark, and then suddenly I picked up two Short-eared Owls hunting over the northern end of the Swan Meadow. This was followed by at least one Barn Owl hunting over the same meadow. Then finally as I just about to leave for home I had two Little Owls calling in the nearby trees and the large hedge between Swan Meadow and the Moor.
So an excellent fifteen minutes of sightings before dusk and I would imagine that a few more birders will be at this site in the next day or so?!

Visible Migration at Work!?

Once again I'm on nights but what is interesting is that I can hear Redwings and Fieldfares calling as their go over the General Hospital and this is at 1.30am in the morning.
Checking out the Trektellen website it looks like a major movement of winter thrushes is occurring as large numbers were recorded on the east coast between Norfolk and Flamborough Head and the West coast of Holland and Belgium.
Although I will be asleep later this morning I would imagine good numbers of winter thrushes will be recorded at a number of inland sites via some visible migration?!......

Saturday, 24 October 2009

Arse stuck at work!! and a Blowout?!................

Two photos of the Little Bittern
at Cossington Meadows LRWT.
(copyright of Jim Graham).

As usual after taking a week off from work, and back to work on the Monday the megas turn up!
Firstly, Jim Graham found a Little Bittern down at Cossington Meadows, the first live sighting in Leicestershire period and a mega tick for the local patch. But as I was stuck at work I couldn't do anything about until the next day at the earliest. So to cut a long story short I spent the next two days at this site trying to re find the Bittern, but as usual the bird had probably flown the previous night? (I did however get a Soar Valley Tick though in the form of a Barn Owl hunting over the swan meadow, which was small compensation!).
Following this two days later after I checked out Rutland Water for the Red-throated Divers and a variety of wildfowl in the north arm(Whooper Swans and Common Scoters), I had a major blowout on my front left tyre driving towards Preston village on my way to Eyebrook Res!
So as I didn't have the back-up team for Sebastian Loeb rally car it took me the next two hours to change the wheel.
So when I returned home later in the evening, what goes and happens but the bloody MEGA alert goes off and an Eastern Crowned Warbler (first record for the UK- see link above) has been found at South Shields in Geordieland!!, and I knew that I couldn't do anything about it as I was stuck at work until the Monday at least.

Update on Sunday morning:
So as I write this I know that the warbler has buggered off saturday night and pleased that I don't have to make the journey up to geordieland, fight the twitching masses to see the bird and hopefully in a year or so time the drunkbirders will find one on Shetland?! He's hoping.....................

Saturday, 17 October 2009

Vis Mig over the week..........................

Over the last week I been doing a lot of Vis Migging (Visible Migration) at Deans Lane, Beacon Hill, near Loughborough.
The highlights over the week have included a Ringtail Hen Harrier flying SW over the lane on Wednesday. Large numbers of Redwings and Fieldfares have steadily increased over the week, with excellent count of Redwings on Friday and Saturday (1261 on Friday and 1485 Saturday).
Other highlights have included small numbers of Crossbills, Bramblings and good numbers of birds of prey over this site.
Like with seawatching Vis-migging can be very addicted and would I recommend it to any birder who interested in migration and hopefully in the next couple of weeks more exciting sightings to come?................

Tuesday, 13 October 2009

Brown Shrike OMFL!!

Above: Two record shots of the
Brown Shrike at Staines Moor.

Twitchers at the Brown Shrike!

On Tuesday following info the previous day, that a Red-backed Shrike had been re-id as a 1st winter Brown Shrike at Staines Moor, near Heathrow, West London.
So following news via my Birdnet pager it took me a couple of hours to drive to the site after leaving Leicester around 9.30am.
Arriving at the moor, it was only a matter of time until I finally saw the Brown Shrike in the nearby hawthorn bushes. Over the next hour or so, I watched the shrike as it flew around the nearby bushes and as usual I took a few record shots of the Shrike.
Happy with seeing the Shrike and it firmly on my tick list I drove home with no hold up on the motorways except for a couple of Tw*ts in a BMW and White Van Man driving like arseholes!!

Caspian Gull Watermead CP South 12th October 2009.

Hi all, here is a couple of digishots of the adult Caspian Gull at Watermead CP South yesterday afternoon.
I first saw it on the largest pit next to the car park and then on the large "sprint" building roof with other Lesser BB Gulls, before flying off north.
I relocated the Casper later on at Birstall Meadows as the gulls came into pre roost at this site at around 5.00pm.
Although its not a major rarity I think this is probably the first record for the Soar Valley?
* Foot note* As Steve Lister thinks this bird is not a Caspian Gull I just wondered what other people think of the above Gull, I look forward to your comments..........................

Saturday, 10 October 2009

Vis Mig again............. Redwings and Fieldfares!

Before my late shift today at the General I had time to do a bit of vis-migging at Dean's Lane, Beacon Hill in the morning.
Meeting Steve Lister at the viewpoint at around 8.00am, it wasn't long before we started to pick up small groups of Redwings as there flew over the lane.
Over the next two hours we saw good numbers of Redwings, an assortment of Finches, 4 local Crossbills and the probably the first two Fieldfares recorded this autumn in the county.
Taken from the Trektellen website here is the count for the morning:
Common Snipe 1
Song Thrush 1
Black-headed Gull 5
Redwing 119
Lesser Black-backed Gull 1
Starling 136
Skylark 14
Chaffinch 43
Meadow Pipit 7
Greenfinch 21
alba wagtail sp. 7
Goldfinch 3
Fieldfare 2
Totals: 360 individuals, 13 species, 2:35 hours

With the movement of winter thrushes I can say that Autumn has finally arrived and hopefully some decent sightings in Leicestershire for the next few weeks?!

Thursday, 8 October 2009

Lists..............slightly worrying!!

As I'm currently on my last night shift for the week and to pass the boredom I thought I would look up the different lists I keep. I don't know if its me or not but most birders or even males seem to have an Asperger's syndrome trait when collecting different lists.
Looking up the different lists which I keep range from my current BOU list through to the number of orchids species I have seen in the UK and finishing with the list of Cetaceans I have seen in European and UK Waters.
Here is a list of the current lists I keep!!
Bird Lists:
BOU List: 435 species
Leicestershire (VC 55) List: 247+ two heard only (Bearded Tit and Lapland Bunting).
Local Patch List: Soar Valley, Leicestershire 183 species.
Midlands Region List: Not sure but probably close to 300 species?
Leicestershire Day List: 110 species seen on 29th April 2007 with help from Mr Rob Fray (county record).
Orchid Lists:
UK Orchid List: up to the present day 38 species + numerous varieties and hybrids seen out of a possible 56 species recorded in the UK.
Leicestershire Orchid List: 15 species out of a possible 23 species recorded on the VC plant list.
Cetacean Lists:
UK waters Cetacean List: 9 species seen in the UK.
European Waters Cetacean List: 21 species mostly seen in Biscay and off the Canaries.
Dragonfly List:
UK Dragonfly List: Not sure how many I have seen but probably in the mid forties?
Butterfly List:
UK Butterfly List: Again not sure how many I have seen in the UK but probably around 40 species seen.

So looking at the list I keep at least 11different lists of the birds, animals and plants I have recorded over the last thirty years I have been interested in wildlife. Possible due to my lack of sleep I think this is slightly worrying?!

Monday, 5 October 2009

I spoke too soon............Pec Sand at EBR!

After finishing my latest entry(see below) and what goes and happens but a Pectoral Sandpiper is found at Eyebrook Reservoir! (Thanks to John and Colin for letting me of the bird).

Although I didn't need it for the year as I had connected with the two spring birds at Cossington Meadows, you never say no to a Yankee wader in the county. So after finishing my early shift at the general hospital, I was soon at EBR, but one slightly problem happen as I got out of car, the bloody thing flew off!, Bugger!!
So over the next half an hour I searched for the bird around the island but of course I should have just gone to the inflow end as the bird reappeared there in the matter of a few minutes.
Reaching the inflow end I meet up with Dave Mack and his daughter Hilde and spoke about next week if a biggy was found on the Scillies?
Scoping from the roadside I picked up the Sandpiper in a large group of Lapwings as it feed on the muddy shoreline, and as usual I took a few crappy record shots of the bird.
The only other notable sightings I saw at the inflow end included one male Red-crested Pochard and a couple of Pintails before driving home to watch the Ospreys play Edinburgh via BBC Wales to gem myself up for the forthcoming Tigers v Ospreys game next weekend.
So on the whole not a bad afternoon and I just wondered if any county in the UK has had three Pec Sands in one year?

Sunday, 4 October 2009

All quiet on the Leicestershire front!

With the proverbial fan going off in the Northern Isles, Leicestershite has been very quiet by comparison over the last week.
As usual we had a couple non twitchable Arctic Skuas fly through Rutty Water, but the rest of the county has been devoid of any note able birdlife!
I've flogged the Soar Valley to death over the week and the only highlight has been a single Little Egret at Cossington Meadows ,and a few Golden Plovers on the scrape at Wanlip Meadows.
On the vis-migging front the highlight so far has been a late Yellow Wagtail over Dean's Lane and a good passage of Meadow Pipits over the week at this site.
As I have got nights this week, I will hopefully get out in the afternoons to see if anything unusual have been reported in the county?! Here's hoping.........................

Thursday, 1 October 2009

Student no more.............

On Wednesday I finally found out that I had passed my last assignment for my nurse training.
So now my job title will be changing to Staff Nurse and the end of the era as I will not be a student any more!!
I will still be working at the General Hospital but I will have more responsibilities like giving out medication and stabbing people legally with needles and hopefully a bright future in my new job role?!

Saturday, 26 September 2009

MEGA for Leicestershire: Common Rosefinch OMFL 26th September 2009.

Common Rosefinch OMFL!!

For most of the early morning, myself, John Hague, Steve Lister and Allen Pocock had been doing some vis miging (Visible Migration) at Dean's Lane, Beacon Hill. The only highlight of the early morning was seeing a good passage of over 800+ Meadow Pipits and small numbers of Siskins.

However this all changed when John received a phonecall from Andy Mackay whilst in the local Mcdonalds to let us know that Andy Smith had just rung a Common Rosefinch in his back garden.
Finishing our Mc D's breakfast in Loughborough we were soon parking up in Thornton village as the first birders on the seen.
Meeting Andy Smith in his back garden he let us know were the bird had been seen and it was only a matter of time before the bird returns?
Joined by Steve and Allen again, it wasn't long before a few familiar faces appeared in Andy's garden.
At this point Steve refound the Rosefinch in a nearby tree and panic suddenly set in as we tried to get on the bird!
In reality we didn't need to worry as the bird showed well for the next few minutes before disappearing again in nearby gardens.
Over the next hour or so the bird showed on and off and I got a couple of record shots of the rosefinch (see above).
So the Common Rosefinch was firmly on my county list and I would just like to say a big thanks to Andy Smith and family for being excellent hosts and opening up his back garden to view this Mega county tick.

Thursday, 24 September 2009

Recent Megas -bugger!!

With my pager megaing almost daily for the last week for the Tufted Puffin, Sandhill Crane and formerly the Blackburnian Warbler.I just wished that these birds were closer or would stay put for more than just a couple of days.
Over the last few years I have reduced my twitching trips and I have always said that I won't twitch off island, but I must admit the Sandhill Crane is very tempting even if it's on Orkney!!
Let just hope over the next month the Mega's are on the mainland or within driving distance of Leicestershire?!
But then again I just probably tempting fate?!?.................

Tuesday, 22 September 2009

Watermead CP North Wildfowl Count 19th September 2009.

On Saturday after working the early shift, I counted Ducks, Geese and Swans down at Watermead CP North(+ Birstall) for the start of the winter season wildfowl counts.
Here is a list of the birds I recorded:
Mute Swan: 33, Canada Goose: 110,Wigeon: 63,Gadwall: 56, Teal: 5, Mallard: 72, Shoveler: 4, Red-crested Pochard: 1 (Eclipse male:first record for the count!),Tufted Duck: 36, Little Grebe: 5, Great crested Grebe: 21, Cormorant: 31, Grey Heron: 5, Moorhen: 28, Coot: 112, Lapwing: 88, Kingfisher: 2, Greylag Goose(domestic):4, Sparrowhawk: 1, Kestrel: 2.

Highlight of the count was of course the first record of an eclipse male Red-crested Pochard and good numbers of returning Wigeons.

Thursday, 17 September 2009

Cut End Seawatch, Lincs 16th Sept 2009.

After finishing my early shift at the general, I drove over to Cut End, which is the Witham/Wash river mouth(Basically were the river meets the sea!), near Boston, Lincs.
I was told that the the best time to go was around hide tide with a north-east blow to push the birds close towards the river mouth.
Arriving at the Cut End Hide at around 5.00pm in the middle of high tide, I joined the group of birders who watching the sea.
My sightings of the next couple of hours included:
16 Arctic Skuas, 1 Bonxie, 1 Fulmar, 10+ Sandwich Terns, at least 30+ Eiders, a single Common Scoter (10 metres off the hide!) and good numbers of the usual waders.
Scanning the nearby salt marshes I also picked up at least 7 Marsh Harriers, and over 40 Little Egrets.
Although I couldn't pick up the long staying King Eider at this site due to the choppy conditions I was pleased what I had seen at this new site for me and would visit it again as soon as possible.
As I walked back to the car the final sighting of the day was a nice Pied Flycatcher noted on the sea wall fence next to the car park.

Monday, 14 September 2009

Gibraltar Point NNR, Lincs 12th September 2009.

Views from Mill Hill viewpoint
looking towards the visitor centre

The East Dunes
As the weather looked good for a movement of migrants from the continent, me and John decided to check out Gibraltar Point NNR, near Skegness in Lincolnshire.
Although over the last three times I have been to Gib I've had a shite time dipping the main target species, this time it felt different. For a start the reserve was devoid of twitchers (not birders) and you could find your own birds.
Starting at the Beach car park we slowly walked towards to the Mill Hill viewpoint and tried to find the previous day's Common Rosefinch (which in fact was in a totally different part of the reserve!).
Reaching the viewpoint, the only birds of notes along the path was a group of Linnets and Goldfinches but no sign of the Rosefinch.
At the viewpoint we scanned the surrounding sea buckthorn for migrants and noted good numbers of Chiffchaffs, Blackcaps,Lesser Whitethroats a couple of Marsh Harriers passing through.
Retracing our footsteps we checked out the Mere Hide on the way back to the car park and found 4 Spotted Redshanks, 2 Black tailed Godwits, a single Reeve and at least 8 Little Egrets feeding on the muddy scrape.
Parking by the visitor centre, we were soon walking down the road as a small group of birders were looking into the nearby sycamores(via seeing a Black Darter in a road side hedge!!).
Joining the group we were soon watching an elusive Pied Flycatcher and then a little later Kev Wilson (Site manager)then found a Yellow-browed Warbler in nearby trees, which promptly disappeared, which John then re found as it feed in trees in the West Dunes (which was across the road really!).
The Yellow-browed showed well for the next ten minutes but it was just too active for any photos to be taken.
After a spot of lunch,(OK a late brunch) we then checked out the East Dunes and the Wash Shoreline for more bird finding.
Checking the dunes we found more of the same in the form Lesser Whitethroats, Chiffys and the odd Blackcap. Scanning the sea we picked up at least 3 Arctic Skuas harrying the local Sandwich Terns and one of the highlights of the day was of a skein of 50+ Pink-footed Geese flying south towards Norfolk.
After searching the dunes myself and John were starting to flag so we decided to call it a day and reflected on an excellent day out to Lincs coast on the way home.

Sunday, 13 September 2009

Sightings over the week 6th-11th Sept 2009.

Great White blob at Saddington Reservoir.

Possibly due to lack of motivation after my Biscay trips and me being on night shifts in the week I didn't go out birding until late afternoon on most days.
So the highlights I saw included see the Great White blob at Saddington Reservoir, a couple of trips to Eyebrook Reservoir for an assortment of waders, a covert operation to Rutland Water to see Curlew Sandpiper and eleven Red-crested Pochards and finally a few trips down the Soar Valley to see nothing except for a couple nice looking Hobbies.

Sunday, 6 September 2009

Killer, Killer (Biscay trips 27th August to 6th September 2009).

photos by Gillian Mackie and Glenn Overington and
the Autumn Ladies Tresses by me!

After nine days at sea guiding for the "Company of Whales" I arrived home in the early hours of Sunday morning.
The highlight of the trip was me finding the family group of 21 Killer Whales in front of the ship and of course a few expletives which the guests didn't mind due to the excitement of the moment!!
In over twelve years of doing the Biscay trips this was almost certainly the best Cetacean sighting I have ever had in the bay.
On the birding front we had an excellent count of seabirds during the three trips with in excess of 100+ Cory's and Great Shearwaters, at least seven Little Shearwaters, 38 Sabine's Gulls, numerous Sooty, Manx and Balearic Shearwaters and at least five Long-tailed Skuas.
Highlights in Bilbao (Mt Serantes area, Santurzi) included a few firsts on the hillside for me, these included Red-rumped Swallow, Savi's Warbler, Firecrest,good numbers of Cirl Buntings, 4 Iberian Rock Lizards, 2 Preying Mantis and at least 16 Autumn Ladies Tresses spikes in the surrounding foothills.

Also I would just like to say a big thank to all the guests of Company of Whales who I guided for and my fellow guides Glenn, Dave and Judd for such an enjoyable time on the high seas!!

Wednesday, 26 August 2009

Biscay for ten days!!

As of tomorrow evening I will be on my annual Biscay trip and will be on the Pride of Bilbao for the next ten days.
I'm hoping for some excellent sightings and will let you know what I see over the next ten days in the Bay of Biscay.

Tuesday, 25 August 2009

The Full Monty!

A juvenile Monty's Harrier honest!!
Following info via the LROS website, a text from Andy Mackay and a phone call from John Hague I drove over to Burrough Hill CP, as Andy was watching a Harrier Sp flying over the hill.
As I got to the hill fort I saw Andy scoping the bird over the nearby pines, joining him I picked up the Harrier as it flew away down the valley.
Although it was a Harrier but what species could it be, was it a Juvenile Monty's Harrier or even possibly a Pallid Harrier?!
Andy had taken a few record shots of the bird and it looked pretty good for a Pallid Harrier, which was good for me as it would have been a county tick.
At this point we were joined by Steve Lister and Andrew Harrop who had just missed the bird as it flew over the ridge.
Over the next half an hour or so the bird didn't show and we thought that maybe the bird had buggered off to the south. Andy left us to go home and check his photos of the Harrier to see if it was a Pallid Harrier?
Then all of a sudden I noticed a Harrier Sp flying just behind the nearby ridge of the hill and I got Steve and Andrew on to the bird, but the id was still inconclusive!!
At this time Ben Croxtall and Iain Tidmarsh turned up and I told them that the Harrier had been seen again over the nearby ridge and within five minutes the bird reappeared below us in the cornfields at the bottom of the hill.
This time the ID was finally clinched as the group happily watched a Juvenile Montagu's Harrier flying slowly and then landing in the nearby fields.
For the next twenty minutes the Monty's sat in the field eating some carrion and then slowly flying around the fields until we lost it from view.
As it was a county tick for most of the group everybody were pretty happy at the sighting.
The bird wasn't a county tick for me but I must admit Montagu's Harrier is probably my favourite Raptor.
I phoned John again to let him know that the Harrier had reappeared and he would be on his way after he finished work.
So in conclusion an excellent bird for Leicestershire and I must in the future check Burrough Hill CP more often as it seems to produce some excellent sightings from very little coverage by the local birders.

Woody and a Sandwich: Soar Valley sightings 24th August 2009.

Hi all, here is a list of sightings I saw yesterday down the Soar Valley.
Wanlip Meadows LRWT: Most of the sightings were on the scrape (except for the Hobby!)
1 Juvenile Wood Sandpiper
1 Greenshank
4 Green Sandpipers
6+ Snipe
1 Hobby
Watermead CP North:
1 Juvenile Sandwich Tern seen on King Lear's Lake between 16.10 and 17.45pm when it flew off low east.
8 Common Terns (including 3 juveniles) over King's Lear's Lake.

So looking at the sightings I had a pretty good afternoon down the valley finding a Wood Sand on the scrape and then putting the icing on the cake by the sighting of the Juv Sandwich Tern flying around King Lear's Lake!! Some times local patch working does have it rewards.

Saturday, 22 August 2009

British Birdfair

Alex Horne enteraining the Birdfair crowd
(thanks John for the photo!)
Myself, John and my Dad visited the British Birdfair yesterday at Rutland Water, and for once it was an enjoyable experience.
Highlights of the day included meeting comedian Alex Horne( who was doing a shorten version of his excellent live show on Birdwatching Watching),chatting to BBC "One Show" David Lindo about Urban Birding, collecting the new Leicestershire and Rutland Bird Avifauna and Bird report from the LROS stand, playing football with the ORCA team(Whale Madrid) and meeting new and old friends at the social birding event of the year.
My Dad was also happy because he spent loads of money on a new camera (Canon D5) and got a good deal, £400 off the usual price!!

Saturday, 15 August 2009

Bird Sightings over the last week or so.......

Two sleeping Garganeys honest!
As the orchid season is coming to a close, I've started Birding again and here is a list of birds I have seen over the last week.

6th August: Eyebrook Res
Female/Immature Marsh Harrier
2 Little Egrets
1Black Tern
1 Green Sandpiper and usual raptors!

7th August: Eyebrook Res
Juvenile Spotted Redshank
Juvenile Wood Sandpiper
Eclipse Drake Garganey
4 Green Sandpipers
2 Common Sandpipers and lots of rain!

13th August: Swithland Res
Black-necked Grebe

Cossington churchyard
5 Spotted Flycatcher

Eyebrook Res
Wood Sandpiper
Juvenile Peregrine
2 Eclipse Garganeys
2 Greenshanks
3 Dunlins
7 Ringed Plovers.

Friday, 14 August 2009

More Violet Helleborines......

I checked out a secret site in the north-west of the county (well a wood near Cloud Wood LRWT) and found at least 23 Violet Helleborines in the south-east corner of the wood.
Most were around the public footpath which cuts across the wood, but I did find a few off the beaten track.

Saturday, 8 August 2009

Violet Helleborines at Great Merrible Wood LRWT.

On Thursday during the rain showers I checking out the Violet Helleborines at Great Merrible Wood LRWT. In between the light and very heavy rain I found at least 74 flowering spikes, with one impressive plant near the path had 18 spikes!!
The Helleborines were coming into flower so there should be at there best for a week or so?

Friday, 31 July 2009

Creeping Ladies Tresses OMFL! 30th July 2009.

Views of the Creeping-Ladies Tresses and sleeping Spoonbills.
As I had the day off from work I spent the day in Norfolk with Dave Mack, looking at a Pacific Golden Plover at Breydon Water next to Great Yarmouth. Seeing thirteen sleeping Spoonbills, a probable "Baltic Gull", and a free pasty at Cley NWT, and finally finding some Creeping Ladies Tresses in Holkham Woods.
Not far from the nudist beach at Holkham we found at least eight flowering spikes of these small orchids and about ten rosettes under the pines.
So a new orchid for my British list and just another 15 species until I've seen all the British Orchids!

Wednesday, 29 July 2009

More Broad-leaved Helleborines at Cloud Wood LRWT.

Over the last couple of weeks I have been checking out Cloud Wood LRWT for the different varieties of Broad-leaved Helleborines. I found at least 140 flowering spikes around the rides of the wood. The Helleborines are highly variable ranging from the "normal type"to the rare form "Var.viridiflora" and some even looking like the very rare Young's Helleborine!
I did notice that most of the plants were along the rides but the more interesting varieties occurred on the nearby spoil heaps or were major coppicing had taken part in the wood.