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!).