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!!