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Welcome Aboard! Below is my live twitter feed & Diary entries. ~ LATEST DIARY UPDATE..... Diary Entry #64 Monday November 12th ABERDEENSHIRE HOLIDAY THUS FAR!......

Monday, November 12, 2018

πŸ“– #64 ~ Aberdeenshire, Scotland 🍁

Our home for the next week is a delightful cottage overlooking Cruden Bay, Aberdeenshire Scotland, arriving on Saturday evening. We spent our first day just chilling out locally, enjoying a long beach walk in the morning and heading just a few miles further up the coast to explore the harbours of Peterhead.

Juvenile Eider Duck ~ Plenty around here!
This area has some excellent sea watching opportunities and also holds large concentrations of Eider Ducks and there was certainly plenty around the bay during our walk.

Possible Scandinavian Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus littoralis)
Also of note was a possible Scandinavian Rock Pipit (Anthus petrosus littoralis) found by Dazza along the inlet at Cruden Bay but I'm no expert!

Purple Sandpipers at Gadel Braes

Today we visited RSPB Loch of Strathbeg, only a short drive from the cottage. Firstly, a stop at the rocky sandstone shoreline along Gadel Braes, Peterhead. This is a great spot to sea watch from the comfort of the car and along with two Red-throated Divers more Eiders and Shags offshore at least a dozen Purple Sandpipers with the foraging OystercatchersTurnstones and Redshanks.

Gorgeous Hen Harrier passing the Dunbar Hide
RSPB Loch of Strathbeg has a large population of Tree Sparrows around the small visitor centre and well worth a look. At this time of year too, there are good numbers of Pink-footed Geese and Whooper Swans. It's also a great place to find wintering Hen Harriers and we were not disappointed. Huge flocks of Golden Plover and Wigeon seemed to be constantly on the move, mostly put up by at least six Common Buzzards, Marsh Harrier and Hen Harrier. We also managed a quick view of Merlin, which flashed through while chasing a flock of Linnet.

More Images of the Day!

Golden Plover

Pink-footed Geese

Whooper Swan in the evening light

Thursday, November 08, 2018

πŸ“– #63 ~Brandon Marsh 🍁

A quick pictorial update on visits to Brandon Marsh over the past few weeks. 

Eclipse Pintail ~ Likely a Drake ~ Note the two-tone bill
The now long staying eclipse Pintail (most likely a Drake) was still on site during a visit yesterday, along with a couple of waders, quite a rarity for Brandon these days, with a single Dunlin on East Marsh and single Green Sandpiper on Teal Pool. While in East Marsh Hide circa 30 Golden Plover were noted in flight towards the east but never dropped in. Wigeon counts remain high with a few exceeding 200 and Shoveler numbers have finally begun to rise!


All the usual winter visitors can now be found with small numbers of Lesser Redpoll, best seen in the Alders near the 'Mouse Maze' and metal gates, plus Siskin, Redwing and Fieldfare. Keep an eye out when walking along the path towards the right hide, where I was lucky enough to find three Bramblings feeding on the leaf litter. A Little Egret is also a regular visitor and despite its colour and size can be quite elusive. So too a pair of Stonechat from the Ted Jury hide, just the male noted on a recent visit.

Record shot of Caspian Gull (Saturday, November 3rd), East Marsh by Bob Lee
Yellow-legged Gull (Friday, November 2nd)
Gull numbers, in particular, Common Gulls are beginning to rise with lots arriving to wash off after feeding before heading on to roost. Rarer species to Brandon such as Caspian Gull and Yellow-legged Gull have been noted recently too!

Away from the birding, a Red Fox performed well on Wigeon Bank, offering some good photo opportunities.

Monday, November 05, 2018

πŸ“– #62 ~Bearded Reedling 🍁

🍁🌞14C Monday November 5th 2018 ~ With a few chores to complete today, I decided to stay local beginning at Napton Churchyard shortly before 10am. A particularly mild morning overcast with a light breeze from the south.

On arrival a number of Redwings departed from the nearby treetops, leaving a couple of bold and quite vocal Mistle Thrush. Three Greenfinch and a small group of Chaffinch, which contained three Brambling, including a stunning male.

I sat for a while on the churchyard benches, where I'd sat on many occasions with the recently departed Richard Mays. In fact, I'd only been with him a few days before he passed away, enjoying brilliant views of a Yellow-browed Warbler at the marina. I didn't know Richard outside of the local birding community but met up on numerous occasions while out birding the locality and at Brandon Marsh. I liked Richard, he had a great sense of humour and I'm sure he'll be sorely missed by many, including me, RIP Richard.

Record shot of Great White Egret as it drifted over the reservoir to the south-west.
A couple of Ravens cronking overhead before I departed for Napton Reservoir, arriving just as the sun had begun to break through the cloud. I made my way down towards the top reedbeds and while here a number of Fieldfare and Redwings, plus what seemed like a constant passage of Skylarks overhead. In fact, it was while counting a group of 11 birds overhead that I noticed a large Egret heading at height towards the south-west. A Great White Egret, which I followed before finally losing sight.

Stunning male Bearded Reedling at Napton Reservoir
After a short while some absolutely stunning views of a pair of Bearded Reedlings, which at one stage came so close I had to step back to focus! Also of note during the visit a count of (36) Common Gulls on the water, plus (17) Lapwing and (4) Siskin over.

More images of the Napton Reservoir Bearded Reedling....

Female Bearded Reedling

Almost the 'money' shot!

Monday, October 29, 2018

πŸ“– #61 Yellow-browed Warbler 🍁

On Friday morning (26th) while leaving the boat I was certain I'd heard a Yellow-browed Warbler calling from the nearby willows, literally yards away from the boat. A good search of the area around the canal junction and mooring, unfortunately, proved fruitless.

I was away in Suffolk for the weekend visiting friends, arriving back on Sunday evening and with the clear skies and NN-Easterly winds expected overnight, I was keen to complete a nocmig (recording of nocturnal bird migration). The recording took place between 23:30hrs and 06:00hrs and yielded some excellent results, which can be found HERE.

This morning I'd decided to leave the speakers and microphone on while getting ready to head off, listening to the local Magpies, Jackdaws, Robins and more passing Thrushes. You can imagine my surprise when suddenly a Yellow-browed Warbler began to call once more, pretty close by! I immediately turned the recorder on as the bird continued to call. (listen to above xeno-canto)

Yellow-browed Warbler ~ My 1st record for Warwickshire
Once again I began a complete a search of the area and while doing this decided to call another local birder and nocmigger Theo de Clermont to aid the search, probably dragging him out of bed. Theo arrived some 30-minutes later but within minutes I'd spotted a small bird at treetop level, a Yellow-browed Warbler, my 1st Warwickshire record and once more right on my doorstep.

Monday, October 22, 2018

πŸ“– #60 October Overview 🍁

I feel as though I've been neglecting the blog somewhat over the past several weeks so a quick overview to try and bring things up to date.

My recordings uploaded to the Trektellen site
If I'm not out birding early doors its breakfast going over the previous nights #nocmig (nocturnal bird recordings), which have been pretty much as you'd expect during the early autumn, with lots of Redwings and Song Thrushes moving through the night. The local Tawny Owls and a single Little Owl have been quite vocal around the locality but a real surprise in the early hours of the 18th, when a single Whooper Swan was recorded, possibly the same bird was seen at Draycote that afternoon?

Water Rail at Napton Reservoir in the low water
Monday, October 15th.... An early start at Napton Reservoir with Green Sandpiper, (22) Snipe, (2) Water Rail and a Woodcock inadvertently flushed on the track at the top end of reedbed ~ Then three hours at Brandon Marsh with Jim Rushforth searching many tit flocks for a Yellow-browed Warbler reported the day before. Best I managed was (3) Chiffchaff, (2) Willow Tit and (90+) Wigeon on East Marsh Pool.

Brambling with the Chaffinch at Napton Churchyard
Tuesday October 16th.... Brambling among the Chaffinch at Napton Churchyard in the gloom this morning.

Hobby over East Marsh Pool ~ Brandon Marsh
Wednesday October 17th.... A cracking morning of #vismig (visual migration) at Brandon Marsh when I noted 50+ Skylark, 5 Brambling and 2 Crossbill over the reserve, along with Siskin, Lesser Redpoll and Redwings. Two Stonechat from the Jury Hide but the highlight had to be a couple of late staying Hobby, which performed well over the reserve.

Yellow-browed Warbler ~ Holkham Pines

Yellow-browed Warbler

Juvenile Hobby at Holkham Pines
Thursday October 18th.... A day visit to North Norfolk with Theo de Clearmont on Thursday 18th wasn't the most prolific of birding days but gorgeous autumnal weather. Highlights for the day included Great Skua, a flypast of eleven Eider Duck at Salhouse and a couple of Yellow-browed Warblers at Holkham Pines, where once again a juvenile Hobby performed well.

Brandon year-tick with a couple of Egyptian Geese

Pintail on East Marsh

Dog Otter passing quietly by East Marsh Hide
Saturday October 20th.... Quieter visual migration at Brandon Marsh than of late but time spent in the East Marsh Hide produced a couple of Egyptian Geese, Pintail and a Dog Otter.

Record shot of Ring Ouzel at the marina
Saturday October 20th.... An amazing stroke of luck at the marina on Saturday afternoon while heading off for lunch with Dazza. While walking along the East bank she spotted a small group of Thrushes feeding in the Hawthorn, picking out a lovely male Ring Ouzel. Unfortunately, by the time I'd gone back for the camera, this was the best I got before it flew off towards Napton Hill.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

πŸ“– #59 Nocturnal Recording 🍁

Just prior to my visit to France a few weeks back I began to try my hand at #nocmig ( recording nocturnal bird migration). I'd located a very good website which gives excellent guidance on the setting up of your very own listening post.

Yeti Blue USB Microphone and dustbin lid parabolic produces excellent results
As a start, I didn't particularly want to spend the earth on buying one of the rather expensive listening devices at this early stage and so decided on a budget of around £100. I managed to purchase on eBay a rather nifty Yeti Blue USB Microphone, one of the recommendations mentioned by the nocmig site and then ended up buying a small metal bin for burning rubbish from Homebase. I only actually wanted the lid for a parabolic but could understand why they would only sell me the whole thing, mind you, it was only £12.

Audacity FREE software
So having set up my 'Heath Robinson' contraption I then required some sort of software to record onto. Again recommended by the website I downloaded a free edition of Audacity onto my Mac, Job done!

Having practised before going away to France with various volumes and directional settings I managed to complete a couple of nights recording, 23:00hrs ~ 07:30hrs, with some encouraging results. Although a frequent visitor to the marina grounds I was amazed to hear just how active Tawny Owls are for example. Of course, living on the water you can imagine that waterfowl activity far outnumbered anything else, Mallards, Coots, Moorhens etc. This alongside being on the flight path to both Birmingham and East Midlands airports caused a few issues.

Sonograph of Yellow Wagtail leaving the overnight roost at the marina.
Notwithstanding I managed a few early hits, the best of which was a Whimbrel passing through just prior to sunrise one morning. Dawn itself can be quite confusing, to begin with, the local Robins wake early and then a nearby Jackdaw roost becomes active, followed by the departing Gulls from what I would imagine is the Draycote Water Roost, so I seldom record after sunrise. Other notables in the early stages included Barn Owl, Little Owl and several Yellow Wagtails heard leaving the large Pied Wagtail roost we have here at Wigram's. These along with Fox, Muntjac and a few unknowns, one of which turned out to be a strange sounding horse in the adjacent field. The Sheep can also be very nocturnal and have some weird calls.

The very distinct sonograph of the 'tseep' of a Redwing passing over!

Having now returned to the marina after taking the boat for hull blacking over the past week I managed to complete two consecutive recording sessions before Storm Callum arrived, both between the hours of 23:00 and 06:30hrs. I was delighted to hear my first Redwings of the autumn, along with several Song Thrush and a single Golden Plover. Of course, the icing on the cake would be to record passing Whooper Swans, now on their return flights or perhaps even a Ring Ouzel!

My very first upload to the Trektellen site.

Sunday, September 30, 2018

πŸ“– #58 September End 🍁

After our visit to Le Parc du Marquenterre Friday 20th the remainder of our long weekend in France was spent at Dazza's parents but we did manage a brief afternoon visit to La Brenne on Saturday, where the highlights were Black Redstart, Pied Flycatcher, Short-toed Eagle, Great Egret, Cattle Egret, Kingfisher and several Coypu.

Coypu, no visit would be the same without one!
Kingfisher at La Brenne
Dazza's parents have a huge garden to explore and every morning and evening during our stay I took the opportunity to do just that. The resident Red Squirrels remained somewhat elusive, although seen on most occasions they never once gave me the opportunity for a photograph.

Firecrests resident in the orchards

Black Redstart a regular breeding species

Spotted Flycatcher
However, the same couldn't be said for the Firecrests, Black Redstarts and Spotted Flycatchers, which frequent the orchards around this time of year.

Grey Phalarope

Grey Phalarope

Grey Phalarope
After breakfast in Calais and the early train back through the Channel Tunnel, I headed off to the local patch after dropping Dazza back at her office. I was delighted that the star of the show, a Grey Phalarope which, as my luck would have it, was found just as we arrived in Calais the previous Wednesday, was still at Napton Reservoir.