Sunday, June 29, 2008

Rose coloured Starling - Lytham St. Annes, Lancs - 28th June 2008.

After the bird at Inskip earlier in the month, who would have thought another Rose-Coloured Starling would be found in the county, and within 10 or so miles of Inskip as the RCS flies! This absolutely beautiful adult showed down to 25ft on feeders in a back garden at 69 Highbury Road East. Many thanks to the owner for access to the driveway.

Friday, June 20, 2008

Melodious Warbler - Jackhouse Reservoir, Oswaldtwistle, Lancs - 20th June 2008.

A day of mixed feelings began from mid-morning with a real sense of personal disappointment as the grim dawn of realisation set in that Myself and others assembled at the site in the early morning had failed to realise the Hippolais Warbler singing and showing well was in fact a Melodious Warbler and not an Icterine Warbler as assumed the day before.

Despite some mumblings and thoughts amongst those gathered that the primary projection did appear short and the leg colour appeared brownish, it seems that birders, Myself included, were 'blinkered' by the obvious wing panel and the identification was not questioned until later in the morning when Gavin Thomas enquired if anyone had queried the ID. As a result, phone calls were made, research of available literature, study of available photos and some soul-searching by several of those assembled earlier began in earnest!
The bird shows an obvious secondary panel, unusual for a spring Melodious, but confirmation of the short primary length, six evenly spaced primary tips, primaries being only 1/2-2/3 tertial length, and brownish, not blue/grey leg colour visible in the photos kindly emailed to me were the most damning, undeniable pro-Melodious features.
Buoyed by the fact I was now satisfied with my own conclusion that the bird was indeed a Melodious, a degree of contentment descended as the afternoon wore on. Indeed, it was refreshing to do some serious reading on the two species, something I have not done for quite a number of years. But all in all, another harsh, self inflicted, but ultimately rewarding learning curve and salutory lesson to take on board and move on! - Great bird!
UPDATE, 21st June: Bird trapped and ringed at c05:15. This in my view was completely unneccessary as the ID was no longer in doubt.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Rose coloured Starling - Inskip, Lancs - 12th June 2008.

A county tick for me, this Rose Coloured Starling initially proved mobile and elusive until the owner of one of the gardens it frequented kindly allowed us in from where the bird showed well in an adj back garden. I departed the site at 16:00 and learned later that the bird was not seen again after 18:10. A Peregrine overhead was the only other bird of any note.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Spurn, East Yorkshire: 29th-31st May 2008.

I got more than I bargained for during three days at Spurn in the form of an appalling allergic reaction to the plague of Brown-tail Moth larvae currently consuming the Buckthorn along the Peninsula, covering not only my neck, but also, arms, hands, thighs, chest, sides.... and thankfully to a lesser extent, the 'crown jewels'!

It is the hairs from the Caterpillars that are responsible for the most irritating rash I have ever had, despite no known contact with the Caterpillars and my skin. The hairs are also blown on the wind so anyone vulnerable to this allergy would be lucky to visit the worst affected areas of the Peninsula and remain unscathed I reckon. If someone had offered decapitation as a remedy for the rash on my neck at the peak of the irritation, I would gladly have taken it! No doubt this will remain a problem for Myself and undoubtedly many other people in future years as long as this Moth remains a problem at Spurn, not a pleasant prospect! And to top things off, I also found a disgusting Tic embedded in my shin!

To further highlight the problem, I also heard of two small children who were hospitalised over the weekend due to this.

Nevertheless, in between the itching and scratching some excellent birds were had at what is in my opinion the best mainland spring & autumn birding site on the British mainland, with highlights of an overdue life tick in the form of a Thrush Nightingale, a female Montagu's Harrier that flew along the Humber shoreline at the Crown & Anchor, 4 Marsh Harrier, Osprey, Hobby, Ortolan Bunting (Sammys), 5 Red-backed Shrike, Golden Oriole, 4 Marsh Warbler (2 seen), 3 Icterine Warbler (Point, Palm, Rose Cottage), male 'Blue-headed' Wagtail type (briefly, flushed from the road at the Lighthouse), Wood Warbler ( a superb singing male in the Crown car park), Avocet (flew in-off the sea at the Point, then flew back out), 2 Turtle Dove and three species of Owl; Long Eared, Short-eared and Barn. Additionally, commoner migrants were also represented with nice numbers of Whinchat (inc. 10 together south of Sammys Point), several Cuckoo, 2 Redstart, 1 Tree Pipit, c15 Spotted Flycatcher, 2 Chiffchaff and a Goldcrest. Notable birds missed included 2 Nightjar, male Montagu's Harrier, Bluethroat and Grey-headed Wagtail.

Above: 1st summer Thrush Nightingale - Trapped and released back at Chalk Bank.

Above: Marsh Warbler, Sammys Point. This superb singing male was the most showy individual of this species during my stay. The same couldn't be said of the Ortolan in the same area which I finally connected with at the 5th attempt, and then only a close flight view was had.

Above: Icterine Warbler. Frequenting an isolated Gorse patch nr the Palm tree just south of the Point Car Park, this bird showed well for 30 mins until a Roe Deer ploughed right through the centre of the Gorse! - From conversation with Barry Spence, the previous spring record day total for Icky's at Spurn was 'just' two. The previous day, 28th, the observatory day total was an astonishing 10, truly record breaking!

Above: Golden Oriole, Wire Dump. Typically mostly showing only in flight, I fell lucky when the bird landed on the side of an Elder and remained in view for a couple of minutes.

Above & below: Red-backed Shrikes: Female in the triangle and a male at Wire Dump.

Above: What was presumably the same Hobby twice flew north over Rose Cottage within an hour as I scanned for more Raptors following the movement of 1 Osprey , 2 Monties and two Marsh Harriers earlier in the afternoon.

Above & below: Long-eared Owl. This bird was found roosting in the hedge on the Humber side of Rose Cottage, viewable distantly from the Canal Zone footpath at 21:30.

Above: This Short-eared Owl showed well as it sat on the Humber saltmarsh off the Warren mid-morning of 31st.