Wednesday, November 28, 2007

Great Northern Diver - Clowbridge Reservoir, Lancs - 28th Nov 2007.

Peter Grice rang just before 09:00 with news that he had just discovered yet another Great Northern Diver at Clowbridge Reservoir... his 3rd for the site!
An adult-type, the bird showed mainly in the centre of the reservoir, but did venture to within feet of the opposite bank on a couple of occasions. A magnificent beast! The above images are videograbs through the Leica 77mm in grim conditions of low cloud and rain.
Bill Berry still hadn't seen the Waddington Fell Great Grey Shrike, so we drove there next and were fortunate to eventually see the bird perched on wires immediately south of the Quarry at 13:30 despite the poor visibility with low cloud a problem.
Nothing to report at Fishmoor tonight Gull-wise. I didn't arrive until 15:00 and conditions were terrible for the first c45 mins so the Glauc, if it did come in early could have been on the roosting roof throughout, but certainly didn't appear on the water until c16:10 when i left. 16 Goosander and a Goldeneye present.
Off to the lakes for a couple of nights from tomorrow, staying at the property on the outskirts of Bowness-on-Windemere which has produced Hawfinch fests in past visits. Fingers crossed for another.

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Glaucous Gull - Fishmoor Res, Blackburn - 27th Nov 2007.

Given the demise in the numbers of the larger Gull species in the past two winters due to seemingly very effective bird scaring measures at the local landfill sites, this 1stw Glaucous Gull was a very welcome sight at the local Gull roost from 15:30. The regular adult Med Gull also roosted.

As wonderful a scope that the Leica Apo 62mm is, its times like this in dull, fading, late November light when you just wish you had a larger objective lens to obtain better quality videograbs. I knew I should have put the Leica 77mm in the car boot as well!

Sunday, November 25, 2007

Great Grey Shrike - Waddington Fell, Lancs - 25th Nov 2007.

The 1stw Great Grey Shrike was showing upon arrival at 08:50, but proved more distant and elusive for much of the next hour as it favoured the Quarry side of the road. An hour at Stocks Reservoir followed with highlights of 3 Crossbill > SW over the causeway and 6 Pintail amongst numbers of Teal and Wigeon. A Little Owl was at the usual barn on Champion Moor.

Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Desert Wheatear - Towyn, Conwy - 20th Nov 2007.

Above: Male Desert Wheatear - Towyn, Conwy - 20th Nov 2007.
An early afternoon search for local Hawfinch at Pleasington Old Hall Wood, Blackburn was rudely interrupted with news of this fine male Desert Wheatear in North Wales, the second top draw bird in Conwy in three days following on from the Hume's Warbler at nearby Penrhyn Bay on 18th Nov. Accompanied by Bill Berry, the two of us drove down to Towyn, arriving by 14:15. Following a c1 mile walk down the sea wall we arrived to find the Desert Wheatear showing well along a c50m stretch of the sea defences until our departure back to the car at 15:45 following a rapid deterioration in the already gloomy light. A real beauty!
Above: The Desert Wheatear site. The bird mainly fed over on boulders to the right of this path, but would also feed on the path itself, perch on the railings and feed down to the left on occasion.

Sunday, November 18, 2007

Hume's Warbler - Penrhyn Bay, Conwy - 18th Nov 2007.

Above: Hume's Warbler - Penrhyn Bay, Conwy - 18th Nov 2007.
Above: This blurred image does show the leg colour well.

Above & Below: Hume's Warbler location and twitch - 69 Penrhyn Bay East, Conwy - 18th Nov 2007. The bird frequented the trees in the front garden.

A hastily arranged twitch down to North Wales late morning with Councillor John F. Wright and Dave Bickerton for this, only my third Hume's Warbler, saw us arrive onsite at c13:00hrs. After less than a ten minute wait, the Hume's began calling and proceeded to give very good scope views in trees in the front garden of the above property.
Considered by Councillor Wright, who has seen many abroad, to be at the brighter end of the scale of Hume's, the bird still appeared colder and more washed out on the upperparts, particularly the crown and nape, and tertials than Yellow-browed with a reduced median covert wingbar, largely dark bill (this individual showed a restricted pale area to the base of the lower mandible which apparently some Hume's can show), pale cheeks and dark legs. The bird also showed fairly colourful flanks and vent, both of which contrasted with the off-white belly. The Hume's was extremely vocal at times, calling on c50 occasions whilst we were there.
Afterwards, we called into Llandulas on the way home. Many distant Common Scoter could be seen offshore as well as several Red-breasted Merganser and a single Great Crested Grebe.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Great Grey Shrike - Waddington Fell, Lancs - 17th Nov 2007.

Serial Shrike finder Brian Breaks discovered his second East Lancashire Great Grey Shrike in less than a month with another cracking first winter bird, this time at Waddington Fell. Although typically mobile, the bird showed well on wires by the road around Waddington Fell Quarry for much of the day.

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Spurn - 11th Nov 2007.

Above: Little Auk - Spurn, East Yorks - 11th Nov 2007.
Despite feeling a little under the weather the previous evening, I still awoke early and made a snap decision to drive to Spurn for a few hours seawatching.
From Sandy Beaches Caravan site I recorded the following from 09:00-14:00. Wind N, F4, 4/8 cloud, occasional squally showers.
Black-thoated Diver: 1 juv north close inshore.
Red-throated Diver: 2 > S.
Diver sp: 1 > N.
Little Auk: 13 > N, 62 > S. Multiple birds were also noted on the sea.
Puffin; 2 > S.
Razorbill: 1 > N.
Skua sp: 1 > S distant. Gut feeling was Pom.
Grey Phalarope: 1 1stw > N.
Purple Sandpiper: 2 on concrete tank blocks, then > N.
Brent Goose: 9 > N, 3 > S.
Mallard: 1 > N, 3 > S.
Common Scoter: 1 > N, 2 > S.
Goldeneye: 1 drake on sea.
Red-breasted Merganser: 1 drake > N.
Kittiwake: 9 > S, 4 > N.
Woodcock: 1 > 'in'.
Asio Owl sp: 1 > 'in', distant over Warren.
Starling: 17 > 'in' - Four flocks.
I decided to travel home whilst it was still light and recorded two inland Little Auks in the process. One flew low over the road in front of the car on the outskirts of Ottringham and appeared to crash land in a field on the opposite side of the carriageway, whilst another flew at height over the dual carriageway by the Seven Seas factory nr King George V dock on the outskirts of Hull, heading towards the relative sanctuary of the Humber. If I was (un)fortunate enough to see two from the car, how many more of these poor little blighters must be wrecked inland?

Friday, November 09, 2007

South Gare, Cleveland - Little Auks & Poms - 9th Nov 2007.

With a time shedule meaning we would have to depart home at 14:00, Councillor John F. Wright and I travelled to South Gare, the closest east coast site to home, in the hope of a few hours decent seawatching. We were not to be disappointed.

Above: Little Auks - South Gare, Cleveland - 9th Nov 2007.

Above: Pomarine Skua - South Gare, Cleveland - 9th Nov 2007.

Above: Pomarine Skua - South Gare, Cleveland - 9th Nov 2007.

Above: Three of five Pomarine Skuas - South Gare, Cleveland - 9th Nov 2007.

Above six photos: Two of five Pomarine Skuas - South Gare, Cleveland - 9th Nov 2007.
Upon arrival at the Gare at 08:15, we were immediately struck by the mountainous surf, which would not have looked out of place in Hawaii! - It would have been life threatening to have attempted to walk to the end of the gare as the breakers were crashing right over.
An immediate seawatch was in order. Viewing from as far as we dare venture towards the end produced highlights of 1 Bonxie > S, 1ad light morph Arctic Skua 'in' over the Gare onto the Tees, a few Guillemot, Kittiwake, Red-throated Diver and Common Scoter logged by 09:30.
Three Purple Sandpiper on the seaward side of the Gare were flushed by a fem/imm Merlin. Between 09:30-10:15, we decided to look for Snow Buntings on the edge of the dunes. A Purple Sandpiper feeding amongst tidal debris with Turnstone, and a Rock Pipit was the best I could muster, whilst Councillor Wright ventured further, and was eventually rewarded with a fem/imm Snow Bunting. By this time I had ventured back towards the end of the Gare and had recommenced seawatching from 10:25.
At 10:35, a distant Skua was clearly an adult light morph Pomarine complete with spoons. A quick mobile phone call to Councillor Wright who was still on the beach resulted in him miraculously connecting with the Pom, despite his lower viewing position and looking over the huge surf. Two Little Auk then flew north. Things were looking up.
The Councillor hurried back and we continued seawatching until 13:45hrs recording the following:
Little Auk: 242 > N - Largest flock 12.
Razorbill: 1 > N.
Guillemots: double figures 'blogging'.
Pomarine Skua: 10 (4+5 > N, 1 > S). Both flocks were unexpectedly close, and heading north. The first was a flock of 4 comprising of 1ad and 3 considered sub-ads, whilst the second, a flock of 5 was a superb mix of 1ad with full spoons, 2 sub-ads, 1 dark juv and a superb pale phase juvenile). The single south was a distant adult with full spoons.
Gannet: 2 > N, 3 > S.
Great-northern Diver: 1 > S.
Red-throated Diver: 3 > N, 7 > S.
Long-tailed Duck: 1 juvenile > N.
Eider: 7 > N.
Common Scoter: 15 > N.
Red-breasted Merganser: 4 > N.
Grey Plover: 1 > N.
It was very unfortunate having to leave by 14:00 at the latest and an increase in Little Auk passage during the final minutes of the seawatch made our departure even more painful! - Nontheless, another excellent day was had.
Purple Sandpiper - South Gare, Cleveland - 9th Nov 2007.

Wednesday, November 07, 2007

A bad day on the patch

This NW birder had a lucky escape and must have felt a bit of a numpty in the process. Read the full story with pics here:

Tuesday, November 06, 2007

Spurn - 6th Nov 2007.

Miffed at missing an excellent movement of Pomerine Skuas along the east coast at the weekend, fresh NW winds forecast for Tuesday meant a hastily arranged day at Spurn with Tim & Janet Davie was in order in the hope that if not a repeat of the weekends events, there would be at least some leftover Poms and Little Auks still be had moving up and down the North Sea.

Setting off from Blackburn at 05:15, I was in-situ and staring out at the north sea from the end of Bluebell Lane by 08:00hrs. With the exception of 12:15-13:30, when we tried for the Crown & Anchor Yellow-browed Warbler, seawatching was continuous until 15:30.

A record shot of the first group of Poms I encountered, a flock of four, involving 2 juvs, 1 pale phase sub-ad and one pale phase adult shadowing a flock of Kittiwake. These were the closest birds of the day and this record shot was from a single photo taken in hope with the dSLR. At least the adult Pom is readily identifiable!
Above: A 'close' up of the adult Pom
Red-throated Diver: 26 > S (under recorded).
Diver sp: 3 > S
Gannet: 27 > S, 2 > N.
Bonxie: 1 > S
Pomerine Skua: 20 > S
Kittiwake: 185 > S
Little Auk: 5 > N, 2 > S - Two birds over breakers.
Auk sp: 14 > S.
Common Scoter: 193 > S, 6 > N.
Velvet Scoter: 1 > S.
Greater Scaup: 1 female > S.
Long-tailed Duck: 1 juv > S.
Eider: 1 drake > S.
Teal: 1 > S.
Wigeon: 5 > S.
Goldeneye: 1 > S.
Pink-footed Goose: Skein of c128 > S.
Brent Goose: 3 > S.
Siskin: 2 > 'in'.
Snow Bunting: 1 fem/imm > N, later one/another heard overhead.

Above & Below: Yellow-browed Warbler - Crown & Anchor, Spurn - 6th Nov 2007.

A male Blackcap was also present in the Crown & Anchor bushes.
I returned to the same seawatching position from 13:45-15:30 whilst Tim & Janet walked round the triangle, rejoining me in the latter stages of the seawatch.
Great-northern Diver: 1 > S, close enough to be able to see the 'half-collar' detail on the sides of the neck, then landed on sea between the Bluebell and Warren.
Red-throated diver: 6 >S.
Pomerine Skua: 4 > S.
Gannet: 3 > N, 2 > S.
Kittiwake: 31 > S.
Common Scoter: 4 > S.
Razorbill: 2 > S.
Auk sp: 3 > S.
Left - Right: Myself, Janet & Tim Davie - Seawatching at Spurn, East Yorks - 6th Nov 2007.
With the final hour of light now upon us we embarked on a walk along Kilnsea Cliff then back along Beacon Lane. No sooner had we started walking, we looked offshore to see a superb 1stw Glaucous Gull heading south over the breakers. The walk was quiet with the exception of c20 Blackbird in the hedges bringing a quality days birding to a close.

Sunday, November 04, 2007

Local birding - Long-tailed Duck & Barn Owl - 4th Nov 2007.

The juv Long-tailed Duck on Upper Roddlesworth Reservoir seemingly reappeared today after a few days of either negative visits or no news at all. I assume it has been visiting another water. Sadly, although still appearing healthy, the bird is now entangled in some fishing line, as can be seen in the lower image. As yet, it doesn't appear to be affecting its ability to feed, but it can only be bad news for the bird. A Barn Owl at a local site was a nice way to end the day.