Sunday, 29 December 2013

More Brunnichs

Awful migrane today. Here are some more Guillemot images.

Saturday, 28 December 2013

Brunnichs Guillemot

News broke of a Brunnichs Guillemot in Portland Harbour on Boxing Day. Unlike the majority of records it had two things going for it a) it was not in the Shetlands and b) it was not dying. Around 100 got there that afternoon including Jay Ward who got some great images. Yesterday the weather was pretty bad with strong winds, though it showed all day, so naturally Colin and I had to get there today. Having not made any big trip since mid October it made a nice change to get out on a major twitch.
We arrived at Portland Castle around 0920 to find a large crowd strung along the quay. A quick scan of the moored boat opposite revealed the winter plumage Black Guillemot along with the usual hoards of Red Breasted Mergansers and Shags. The Brunnichs was further north swimming around the pier so I made my way there bumping into many familiar faces. Ended up watching the bird with Ron Cousins for quite a while. It was often distant, and rarely on the surface for more than a minute at a time but on occasion came very close and posed for us.

A scan from the quay produced a couple of Razorbills and single Great Northern  and Black Throated Divers. Eventually after an hour chasing the Brunnichs up and down the quayside we decided to leave just as the heavy rain arrived.
After a coffee, made our way to the Fleet where a large number of Mediterranean Gulls could be found among the Brents and Dunlin. The harbour was the main attraction. We never found the Red Necked Grebe, but a flock of 16 Black Necked Grebes, a single Slavonian and three or four Black Throated Divers was nice.
Around 1200 we made our way to the north end of Radipole (the RSPB vistors centre a sorry state after the floods) and a playing field where a Glossy Ibis was putting on a show in the sunshine.

We then headed of to West Bexington for a 2w Glaucous Gull. Luckily approaching the turning we found a car load scoping from a lay by on the main road. Although distant, the bird was fairly easy to locate and showed well, particularly when flushed by dog walkers.
Headed home after this-would have been good to get to Brixham and it's White Billed Diver but too far with the time available so we called in at Middlebere Heath near Wareham. Unfortunately it rained heavily and got rather cold and thus we were unable to locate any Dartford Warblers.

Sunday, 22 December 2013

Amwell Parakeet

Forgot to post this one earlier. Blame the wine and brandy.


I was not holding out much hope for today. The windy weather had eased off (with more forecast tomorrow) but I woke up to very heavy rain. This did ease off and the sun came out so a trip to Amwell was on.
I arrived around 0930 to hear one or two Nuthatches in the woods by the lane. Got up to the watch point to find a very depleted Sunday crew-reputedly the weather may have put a few off. Also Bill had reportedly gone up to the Humber to see the Ivory Gull. When everyone started their walk, I went down to the Gladwyn hide and waited for the red head Smew to put in an appearance. Unfortunately when it did show it was a little way off for the 300mm even with the 1.7x converter.

I went back to the watchpoint and waited, but not much seemed to be happening. Checked the autofocus with a flyby 1w Lesser Black Backed. Also one or two Cetti's Warblers were seen flitting from one reed bed to another. Too far away and too quick for the camera.

Phil turned up as did one or two others. A few Greylags flew in, and then Phil spotted two Ring Necked Parakeets flying up the valley the other side of the pit. They circled round and were lost to view, but shortly after we heard them again. Barry has seen the odd one in recent years, and Jay saw one last week, and of course there was that big flock a few months ago that I saw fly over the A10 having been seen earlier at Amwell. Presume that they will be getting more regular.
Plenty of Buzzards up in the sunshine, and a nice Sparrowhawk put the Lapwing up. A big flock of Fieldfare flew over from the woods-small numbers of Redwing and Song Thrushes are present but Fieldfare have been pretty scarce here this winter.

Mick Cotton, Ron Cousins, Colin and his mate arrived and soon after Derek Ling and Sue-nice to see them as it has been quite a while since I last saw them. As if on cue a Peregrine was located above the woods (my one and only previous Amwell Peregrine was over 20 years ago in the company of Derek and Sue). This remained on view for a long time, coming over the pit chasing a Wigeon before flying to the north west end.

To add to the fun, an escaped Harris Hawk was seen hunting over the hill to the west. It remained on view for some time, and on a couple of occasions, the Peregrine took exception to it and we were treated to some amazing aerobatics.
The odd pale white rumped Buzzard then appeared over the fields. Those with scopes noted in the excellent light that it has some rufous tones on the upperparts suggesting it may be a Red Tailed Hawk (one of which used to be seen at Hunsdon some years ago and may have paired up with a Buzzard).

Sunday, 15 December 2013

Bird Pictures For A Change!

The weather men got it wrong. There was another deep low through Scotland yesterday, giving us a very windy night. This was supposed to continue today so I did not plan to go out. Woke up to find bright sunshine, mild and still.
Yesterday I heard a Coal Tit outside-as mentioned before they are not regular here as the nearest expanse of conifers are some way away. Today I spotted one coming down to the feeder and after a bit of a wait managed to get a single image. The regular Goldfinches were a bit easier.

Drove down to Amwell in bright sunshine to find a large crowd-the residents, the Sunday crew and a few others such as Richard Pople. The drake Pintail had to be pointed out to me-it was sleeping under the trees on the island. The Smew was also in the same area though later on returned to it's usual spot at the bottom of the pit.
Not long after the various groups started their circuits, John Bartlett arrived so we had a bit of a chat. The Water Rail put in an appearance again and I managed to get a few shots-had the D3S 300mm and 1.7x converter  this time. The Bittern also showed quite well in one of the newly cut bays near the White Hide. Did not try any shots as it was too far away-though I did post an attempt earlier this year.
Eventually John and I walked down to the Hollycross feeders where everyone else had gathered. Encountered a few Siskins, tits and a Treecreeper on the way.
Not much happening on the feeders while we were there-a few Chaffinch, Goldfinch, one Coal Tit and the Great Spotted Woodpecker (Jay was using a 7D on his Swarowski 95 and got some good shots of it). One or two Redwings here still.
The weather started to go a bit around 1030 with the breeze picking up a bit and the earlier sunshine now a memory so we went back to the watchpoint. Not much else to see-Jay had a Ring Necked Parakeet briefly so after a while I decided to leave, discovering on getting close to home that it was raining in Stevenage.

Sunday, 8 December 2013

Aston End

Went for a walk around Aston End and the river Beane. It was a nice, mild and sunny morning and did not really feel like December.
Walking through the plantation produced a few tits and crests and one or two thrushes were heard as I approached Aston End. The most notable bird though was a very vocal Nuthatch. A small flock of House Sparrows was nice to see-mine seem to have all but gone though one or two visit the garden.
Looking down from the water tower to the river I saw a small flock of Fieldfares-maybe 12 birds with a few Redwings among them. One of the fields held a small flock of gulls-Black Heads and Common along with crows and Starlings.
A Red Kite was nice to see as I made my way up river, but there were few birds in the hedges apart from a few tits and two or three Yellowhammers. Skylarks and Meadow Pipits were present in most of the fields but numbers were small-I never saw more than three or four at a time.
No sign of any Little Owls around the stables but there was a very loud pale Common Buzzard.

A few images from this weekend.

Saturday, 7 December 2013

Water Rail clip

Wrote yesterday that the Baikal Teal had not been reported, and shortly after I published news arrived that it was back on the marsh at Southport. Colin had been busy working and did not fancy going out today, and I am not exactly enamoured of 'rare' ducks of unknown provenance so as usual I ended up at Amwell for the morning.
The Smew is still around near the Gladwyn hide and showing well at times. Two male Bullfinches were in the woods by the towpath. Also present were numerous Redwings, Blackbirds tits and crests. Heard a few Siskin here as well.
Wandered down to the Hollycross feeders-the Marsh Tit was calling but did not show, but there were as usual hoards of Goldfinch and Chaffinch with a few Greenfinches thrown in. The Bramblings have been reported again but as usual failed to appear for me.
Back at the watchpoint things had not changed much. However a Water Rail appeared from time to time so I tried filming it with the RX 100 through the scope.

Friday, 6 December 2013

Friday shopping

Have spent the morning watching the twitter feeds from the east coast. Cley is very bad and looks like most  of the reserves on the east coast have suffered in the storm surge. I was thinking of going up this weekend but there is not much point now. Other alternative was the Baikal Teal at Southport but that's been suffering too and there has not been any news.

Took Mum out to Letchworth today for a spot of Christmas shopping-mainly an excuse to visit a decent wine merchant. While at Harkness garden centre a flock of Redpolls flew over but I did not see anything else on the journey. However when I got home, avoiding the builders (we got a letter saying the paths would be relaid, taking ten days and finishing end November-they stared yesterday!) I looked up and saw a magnificent Red Kite over the garden.