Saturday, 20 August 2016

Scilly Pelagics - August 2016

Another August, another set of pelagics. This year I did 7 pelagics with the first pelagic of the year being a private 'charter' for Scott's stag do, or a 'Staglagic'. This was without a doubt the best of the 7 and we were lucky to get 22 Cory's Shearwater and a couple of Great Shearwater (The only Cory's we saw on the trip). However, the star bird, and the species that has taken me back to the islands 3 times so far is Wilson's Storm-petrel. We were treated to at least 5 of these wonderful seabirds and they were on view from 18:25-c9pm. Just absolutely everything I had hoped for and it made for a fantastic evening! We ended up in the Mermaid in celebration and that's about all I can remember!

Later on the trip the weather wasn't quite on my side so there were several extremely quiet pelagics. Saturday's was the best of the further 6 pelagics though. A summary list includes:
Monday 8th - Sooty Shearwater.
Thursday 11th - Sooty Shearwater.
Friday 12th - Wilson's Storm-petrel, Sooty Shearwater, 4 Risso's Dolphin,
Saturday 13th - adult Sabine's Gull (self-found), Great Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater, Sooty Shearwater, dark Arctic Skua, 5 Risso's Dolphin, 10+ Common Dolphin, 2 Minke Whale, Greenfinch! Also a Hooded Crow on St. Martin's.
Sunday 14th - 2 Sooty Shearwater, c40 Common Dolphin, Ocean Sunfish
Monday 15th - 1st summer Long-tailed Skua (self-found), 3 Common Dolphin

Sunday, 31 July 2016

The F Word

 Broad-billed Sandpiper
Pectoral Sandpiper, Dunlin and Broad-billed Sandpiper

Frampton Marsh is superb! Wader passage is in full swing now and the interesting waders are starting to show in amongst them. A couple of Pectoral Sandpipers in Lincs started to spark my interest and when a Broad-billed Sandpiper joined a Pectoral Sandpiper at Frampton last weekend, I had to twitch it with Jonnie Fisk. The view from the 360 hide was excellent with a lot of wader mud right in front of the hide. Both birds were only about 60 feet out from the hide and eventually the Pec came to 50ft and the Broad-billed only about 40ft. Really exceptional views of two fabulous waders. Pectoral Sandpiper in particular is a bird I've always thought were one of the smartest looking waders to occur in Britain. Never tire of seeing them. This is also the second Broad-billed Sandpiper I've seen and the second I've seen at Frampton this year! In addition to the two stars, a Little Stint, 2 Curlew Sandpiper Spotted Redshank and several Ruff made for a lovely passage as well as loads of juvenile Little Ringed Plover, again, in front of the hide which made for great viewing.

Later in the week, an adult White-rumped Sandpiper, presumably from Snettisham, appeared on the same pool, but a little further back. I managed to fit in a flying visit and the scope views were decent as it fed amongst Dunlin. The weather was poor and photography was very difficult, so I won't insult you with hideous record video grabs that could be anything. I have only seen one White-rumped Sandpiper before, at Hoylake in 2012, and I was struck by how skinny that was. The same can be said with this bird. Compared to the Dunlin, they are so slender and with the massive long primary projection, they just look so long. The full supercillium stood out even at that range and the monotonal cold grey stood out against the ginger juvenile Dunlin and brown and black-bellied adults Dunlin. Very smart bird

Sunday, 5 June 2016

Chamber's Farm Wood - 5th June 2016

Enjoying the wonderful weather, I headed to Chamber's Farm Woods in Lincs with the dog looking for Grizzled Skipper, plus the other specialities such as Wood White, Marsh Fritillary and Dingy Skipper. 
Marsh Fritillary
Marsh Fritillary
mating Marsh Fritillary
Mother Shipton moth
Dingy Skipper

Having dipped my only lifer, Grizzled Skipper, I went to the butterfly garden by the car park and was rewarded with two Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoths. Having missed out on these several times, it was excellent to get great views of this enchanting species. 
Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth
Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth
Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth
Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth
Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth
Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth
Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth
Broad-bordered Bee Hawkmoth

On the way home, I came across two Corn Buntings singing on the edge of patch. A lovely bird to have breeding so close to home.
Corn Bunting

Saturday, 23 January 2016

Patch bird race - 23rd January 2016

 The view south from Hall Hill towards West Keal and part of Lincolnshire Aviation Museum runway at East Kirkby (along with the two biggest bodies of water visible from the patch boundary
Speaking between friends recently, we've all adopted inland patches this year of which the is relatively limited habitat and therefore pose little potential for finding anything good. With this in mind, not many people would persist, but considering how many times we've all been on twitches to unlikely locations and think 'How on earth did someone find this!?', perhaps it's the way forward to adopt a #CrapInlandPatch. 
To spur us on to get out into the field and cover it, we've decided to do occasional bird races to compete against eachother to see what we can pull out of otherwise nondescript locations. As you may have read below, my new patch is my new village and surrounding farmland. I started today with a patch life list of 62, so I thought a target of 55 for the day was both ambitious and achievable. 
I got up early on and headed SE from the house and onto the highest point in the area - Hall Hill to the south of the village. From here you can see across most of the patch and also directly south as far as the Wash on the extremely flat landscape. There's two relatively large bodies of water just south of the patch boundary and here I picked up Coot, Lapwing and a patch tick of 4 Tufted Ducks. Also from here you can see the whole airfield at Lincs Aviation Museum, which I'm looking forward to seeing the Lancaster and Dakota working in the Spring. Peregrine and Sparrowhawk were picked up here which certainly can never be guaranteed on bird races! I went onto see a further 4 sightings of Sparrowhawk of at least 2 individuals. By 09:00, I was on 40 species.
Next I headed to the north east of my boundary, which meant heading 'off piste' along the road to East Keal and then north to Wheelabout Wood. I joined back onto my patch along the public footpath here and managed to pick up Teal and Mallard on the ponds at Bunker's Plantation. Standing next to Wheelabout Wood, hoping for Nuthatch (my nemesis), I was alerted to the sound of another nemesis, a Jay, which called three times, followed by a familiar sound in an unfamiliar location. A Kingfisher was calling from inside the woodland along a small stream running within - Two patch ticks. In addition, Lesser Redpoll, Skylark and Great Black-backed Gull were all good to get here. Having avoided breakfast in order to get out, I headed back to home for lunch on a startlingly high 58 species.
Follwing lunch, I headed to Sow Dale, which is an area of fields and woodland running along a small brook only a few hundred metres from the house. I'd not visited here before as I've always had the dog and they're not allowed in due to sheep stock. In here I picked up a couple of flocks of Siskin and flushed THREE Woodcock, which was great to see. That was me on 60, which I really wasn't expecting. I headed south again and past the castle, looking at the fields. I was over the moon to pick up a Chiffchaff feeding in a tiny brook just south of the castle. 
It slowed down enormously after this, It ended just after dusk with a calling Tawny Owl seeing me finish on 62 species for the day and 65 species for the year. Cormorant, Lesser Black-backed Gull and Golden Plover were the only birds not to crop up again despite a lot of time spent vis-migging.

All in all, I was over the moon with 62 species from my 'Crap Inland Patch'. My last patch birdrace was at Brockholes in November 2014 and I managed 75 species, so considering the multitude of habitats there, I should be very proud with my humble replacement! 

Let's see what the year brings!

Thursday, 21 January 2016

Old Bolingbroke - The new patch #PWC2016

2016 is a new year and I'm in a new location, with hopefully a new job starting very soon. With this in mind, I had to find myself a new patch. There's plenty of great sites within short driving distance of our new house in south Lincolnshire, such as Kirkby on Bain, Frampton Marsh and Gibraltar Point, however with the new dog, I'm walking her almost every single day in our village, so I'm basically patching this whether I like it or not. It means I can get my birding fix, without spending any money and for a currently jobless birder, this is perfect.
It may not be much, but it's a new county and a good one at that, so there's always potential for something juicy. As of today, I'm on 61 species for the year and with the Patchwork Challenge scoring system, all are 1 pointers  bar a flyover Peregrine. It's mainly farmland, with some small woodland plantations and a couple of barely accessible ponds and streams. Waterbirds are thin on the ground, but so far have 2 ducks, a goose and 3 species of wader. Old Bolingbroke is just inside the wolds and to the south of us is nothing but flat, so the two small hills in my PWC boundary must surely hold vis-migging potential.
Speaking to a few mates who also have inland patches in area without too much promise have decided to have our own little mini league for 2016, to see who can find the most interesting local rarity. For the Greater Manchester birders, that might be something as simple as Yellow Wagtail!

I'm given to understand that Turtle Doves and Corn Bunting are in the area and there are recent records of Lesser Spotted Woodpecker in the village, so I'm extremely hopeful for something good to turn up if I put the effort in  and go green this year in my birding.