LATEST 'LOCKDOWN LIST' ADDITIONS : JAY, MARSH HARRIER (Cream Head high over heading south...) (TOTAL 71)

Friday, September 29, 2017

πŸ“– Diary Update #59

πŸ‚ ⛅18C Friday 29th September 2017 ~ I began the day at Brandon Marsh meeting up with Alan Boddington for a catch-up. We'd spent a short time in the East Marsh hide, noting (5) Swallows, (22) Snipe, Little Egret, a Kingfisher performing an amazing hover right in front of the hide and counting (60+) Wigeon, when a text from Bob Hazell over at Draycote Water initiated a change of plan!

One of two Little Stints at Draycote Water today!
Two Little Stints were a little too good to miss, so off we went! Both birds were showing very well along Farborough Bank when we arrived, along with (2) Dunlin and (2) Ringed Plover, other highlights during our stay.

Little Stints

Thursday, September 28, 2017

πŸ“– Diary Update #58

πŸ‚ ⛅18C Thursday 28th September 2017 ~ After the overnight rain and the promise of a fine autumnal day I decided to have a few hours at Draycote Water this morning!

Meadow Pipit ~ Several along Farborough Bank
I began with a walk along to Farborough Spit, a few Meadow Pipits along the route, as well as the usual haul of Little and Great Crested Grebes. A Wheater was feeding along the bank and pausing at the spit for a while, just a single Ringed Plover. Bob Hazell told me a little later that he'd recorded at least seven Ruff and a Greenshank here earlier, but they'd obviously moved on by the time I arrived!

Wheatear ~ Farborough Bank

Rock Pipit ~ Farborough Bank
Just prior to reaching the centre on the way back a single Rock Pipit appeared, pausing for a while for a few snaps. From here I decided to walk as far as the Valve Tower, taking some time out at Hensborough Bank. While here an illusive Weasel darted in and out of the rocks but never stayed still long enough for a snap. Two Grey Wagtail on the waterline and a singing Chiffchaff from the treeline. Overhead a few Skylarks passing through and while searching for them a Hobby drifted high, plus a single Swallow, my only hirundine of the day.

A late Hobby ~ Heavily cropped due to the height!
Along Draycote Bank, three noisy Ravens cronked their way past, eight Little Egret and four Buzzards enjoying a thermal in the warm sunshine. Sadly the feeding station was empty, so no Tree Sparrows on this occasion!

Little Egret ~ Firmly established now at Draycote
Spotting Bob in the distance I waited at the Valve Tower so we could walk back to the centre together. On arrival Bob's words 'I presume you've got the Egyptian Goose down their', Erm no says I #oblivious....

Only a Sparrowhawk to report during our stroll back to the centre, although the elusive Weasel did make another appearance, evidence of how elusive he was below....


Wednesday, September 27, 2017

πŸ“– Diary Update #57πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ Wednesday 27th September 2017 ~ Arrived back from another excellent trip to Spain yesterday evening after spending six days at my buddy's villa in Mijas.

Guadalhorce Nature Reserve
After Friday's visit to Tarifa, I decided not to take my usual drive out to Fuente de Piedra (lack of water on site) and instead spend the dawn mornings at the Rio Guadalhorce Nature Reserve, this along with an afternoon excursion into the mountains just north of Malaga on Monday. Guadalhorce is just a short drive from the villa and is one of my favourite sites in Andalusia. Gravel and sand extraction have created several large artificial ponds and scrubland. Coupled with the fact that the Guadalhorce river estuary is on one of the main Mediterranean-crossing routes between Europe and Africa. You can never be quiet sure what you are going to see during each visit.

Bluethroat ~ Often I find them in the wet ditches close to the reeds!
At this time of year, it's also a great place to find Bluethroat and I managed several sightings during my morning visits. On Saturday morning a Purple Swamphen was teasing me with brief views on several occasions, skulking in and out of the reeds in a newly formed scrape.

The energetic Zitting Cisticola (Fantail Warbler) 
However, I was distracted when a Zitting Cisticola (Fantail Warbler) suddenly appeared, almost within touching distance. These birds just never seem to stop, constantly 'zitting' overhead, so you can imagine my delight at getting a decent image of one!

Booted Eagle in the post-dawn light!
At least one Booted Eagle appears to roost overnight as each morning I find him perched in the same tree across from the river. An Osprey has been present on site too over the period and as you'd expect at this time of year, there's a constant flow of species passing through Bee-eater, Red-rumped Swallow, Barn Swallow, House Martin, Common Swift, the odd Pallid Swift and a few Honey Buzzard.

Black-necked Grebe from the del Rio Viejo Hide!

The pools always offer a good selection of waterfowl with Black-necked Grebe, Red-crested Pochard and White-headed Duck recorded during my visits, a single Ferruginous Duck was also present briefly on Sunday morning.

Greater Flamingo
Below I've compiled a full list of species seen during yet another excellent visit #BirdingSpain, along with a few more images to round things off.

Species List...

Shelduck, Mallard, Gadwall, Pintail, Shoveler, Pochard, Red-crested Pochard, Ferruginous Duck, White-headed Duck, Red-legged Partridge, Black-necked Grebe, Little Grebe, Gannet, Cormorant, Little Bittern, Night Heron, Cattle Egret, Little Egret, Great Egret, Grey Heron, White Stork, Black Stork, Glossy Ibis, Spoonbill, Flamingo, Griffon Vulture, Osprey, Short-toed Eagle, Booted Eagle, Black Kite, Marsh Harrier, Hen Harrier, Montagu's Harrier, Common Buzzard, Honey Buzzard, Sparrowhawk, Black-winged Kite, Kestrel, Lesser Kestrel, Peregrine, Water Rail, Moorhen, Coot, Purple Swamphen, Black-winged Stilt, Collared Pratincole, Little-ringed Plover, Ringed Plover, Kentish Plover, Grey Plover, Knot, Sanderling, Dunlin, Curlew Sandpiper, Little Stint, Wood Sandpiper, Green Sandpiper, Common Sandpiper, Redshank, Greenshank, Snipe, Ruff, Black-headed Gull, Mediterranean Gull, Yellow-legged Gull, Audouin's Gull, Lesser Black-backed Gull, Sandwich Tern, Rock Dove, Wood Pigeon, Collared Dove, Eagle Owl (h), Tawny Owl (h), Little Owl, Swift, Pallid Swift, Alpine Swift, Hoopoe, Kingfisher, Bee-eater, Green Woodpecker, Great Spotted Woodpecker, Skylark, Woodlark, Crested Lark, House Martin, Barn Swallow, Red-rumped Swallow, White Wagtail, Yellow Wagtail, Robin, Bluethroat, Redstart, Wheatear, Stonechat, Blackbird, Sardinian Warbler, Zitting Cisticola, Cetti's Warbler, Reed Warbler, Great Reed Warbler, Melodious Warbler, Willow Warbler, Chiffchaff, Firecrest, Wren, Pied Flycatcher, Spotted Flycatcher, Great Tit, Blue Tit, Coal Tit, Crested Tit, Long-tailed Tit,Nuthatch, Short-toed Treecreeper, Woodchat Shrike, Jay, Jackdaw, Raven, Spotless Starling, House Sparrow, Chaffinch, Linnet, Greenfinch, Goldfinch, Serin, Common Crossbill, Rock Bunting, Corn Bunting

Black-winged Stilt

Crimson Speckled Moth ~ On the beach at Guadalhorce

Juvenile Greater Flamingo

Friday, September 22, 2017

πŸ“– Diary Update #56πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ πŸ‚ ☀️ 25C Friday 22nd September 2017 ~ Today was my annual drive down to Cazalla migration observatory near Tarifa and then on to La Janda, further along the coast. We arrived just after 9.30am for a 90-minute watch and it wasn't long before the birds began to appear, ready to make that short trip across the Straits of Gibraltar to Morocco and the African continent, unfortunately not visible early on due to sea fog.

Short-toed Snake Eagle ~ Passing over Cazalla
Booted Eagle
At first, the most prolific species seemed to be Short-toed Snake Eagle, at least 150 or so at different levels. But after a while, other species began to appear mingled in, Booted Eagle, Honey Buzzard, Black Kite and I'm always amazed at how many Sparrowhawks actually migrate, eleven during our stay. Peregrine and Kestrel were also noted.

Black Storks ~ Attempting to gain height!
As light cloud began to bubble up a large group heading in turned out to be about fifty or so Black Storks, struggling it seemed to gain height for the journey! Just a few Griffon Vultures today, as most apparently have already gone through and sadly for the first time in four years, no RΓΌppell's Vulture, for me during this visit πŸ˜•

Stonechat ~ Lots around at La Janda!
After Cazalla we took the 30-minute drive entering La Janda at the Zahara Atunes crossroads and after immediately turning onto the dust track came across a Corn Bunting and Stonechat perched close by on the wires. As per usual lots of White Storks were in the rice fields, along with Glossy Ibis, heads occasionally popping up above the tall rice. Crested Larks could be heard and occasionally seen and along the roadside ditches and sluices many House Sparrows, Cattle Egrets and Little Egrets. A steady stream of Swifts, including at least three Pallid, along with House Martins and both Barn and Red-rumped Swallows.

Glossy Ibis at La Janda...
Halfway around the dirt track, a large area has been cleared producing a pool which offers excellent opportunities to search for waders, wildfowl and indeed to view the many Glossy Ibis, White Storks and Greater Flamingo. Waders included Curlew Sandpiper, Snipe, Wood Sandpiper, Ruff, Black-winged Stilt and Green Sandpiper. Two Spoonbills were also recorded.

Montagu's Harrier at La Janda!
By the time we'd reached the Benalup side of La Janda and ready for home, we'd encountered a single Black-winged Kite, quartering a field at distance, several Marsh Harriers, Hen Harriers and at least two Montagu's Harrier.

More images of the day....

White Stork at La Janda


Corn Bunting

Thursday, September 21, 2017

πŸ“– Diary Update #55πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ

πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ πŸ‚ ☀️ 25C Thursday 21st September 2017 ~ The first day of Autumn if you're not using the meteorological calendar! I arrived here in Spain yesterday afternoon and after heading down to Fuengirola for some food shopping Dave and I spent the rest of the day just chilling on the terrace. Dave was making me envious recalling what he described as, stunning views of the local Eagle Owl, which was perched up on a telegraph pole one evening last week. Indeed we did hear the barking call of the bird at dusk, but despite hearing the bird on many occasions during my visits here, I've frustratingly yet to connect.

Sardinian Warbler ~ Often heard & difficult to photograph!
Sunrise here isn't until just after 8am so I was up an hour before, drinking coffee on the terrace, listening out and enjoying the cool morning air! Venus is currently a morning planet and just below to the left the rare sight of Mercury. The early birds seem to be Serin, with several just below chattering away in the pines. The usual Crossbills were making their way down from the hills, one perching up briefly. The local Sardinian Warblers then became active, always skulky and then a call of Red-legged Partridge from the scrubland below!

Firecrest ~ One of several today!
In the afternoon Dave had a few chores to complete down in Fuengirola so dropped me at Los Arenales, an area of the old quarry which leads up to around 1,100 meters offering stunning views over the Sierra de Mijas. Here the many repopulated pines produced more Crossbills, Firecrests, Crested Tits and a single Pied Flycatcher.

Rock Bunting ~ Los Arenales is an excellent habitat
At the highest point, I stopped for a while to enjoy some visible migration and this included (5) Honey Buzzard, (20+) Bee-eaters and various numbers of Red-rumped Swallows, House Martins and Swifts, including (4) Alpine! On the descent, the amazing sight of a Lesser Kestrel mobbing a Common Kestrel, the size comparison amazingly distinct. Two Rock Buntings, Peregrine and Booted Eagle to end the visit.

Little & Great Egrets in the evening sun at Guadalhorce...
In the late afternoon, Dave and I walked the perimeter of the Guadalhorce reserve near Malaga airport before heading for dinner. The usual excellent selection of waders included Black-winged StiltLittle-ringed, Ringed and Kentish Plover, Dunlin and a juvenile Knot! A single White Stork was I think my first for the reserve and eight Greater Flamingo, including six juveniles were happily feeding. The sea was particularly quiet, with just a few Gannets offshore.

Knot at Laguna Grande, Guadalhorce
A large selection of Gull's to the rear of the Laguna Grande included Black-headed, Lesser Black-backed, two Mediterranean and a wonderful looking Audouin's! Also of note before departing Hoopoe, Crested Lark and the ever-present Spotless Starlings and Monk Parakeets!

White Stork ~ Guadalhorce

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

πŸ“– Diary Update #55

πŸ‚ ⛅19C Tuesday 19th September 2017 ~ A few hours at Brandon Marsh today with the camera in the lovely autumnal sunshine. While making my way down to the reserve from the car park a couple of Skylarks drifted overhead, plus a real rarity for Brandon in the form of a single Rook.

Grey Heron at Baldwin Hide
I think I've just about mastered the camera micro adjustments and lens calibration in time for my trip to Spain tomorrow! Thankfully my flights in and out are not on the Ryanair cancellation debacle!

I spent the majority of my stay around the woodland areas, with an hour or so in the Baldwin Hide. Here there was plenty of Kingfisher activity and an opportunity to practice my photographic techniques with two contrasting species, Cormorant and Grey Heron.

A very confiding Marsh Tit
A very accommodating Marsh Tit in Horsetail Glade gave some close range photo opportunities which I duly accepted.

Marsh Tit ~ Horsetail Glade

Friday, September 15, 2017

πŸ“– Diary Update #54

πŸ’¨ πŸ‚ ⛅18C Thursday 14th September 2017 ~ Accompanying Dee for a couple of days while she's working on one of her companies drilling rigs in Cornwall, I took the opportunity for a spot of sea watching, my favourite form of birding.

View from Pendeen lighthouse..
Pendeen Lighthouse in West Cornwall, somewhere I haven't been in over a decade, is the ideal destination and affords uninterrupted vistas and superb light. The outer wall of the lighthouse compound affords some shelter from the prevailing westerly winds, which are essential for good passage and especially after a recent storm, in this case, Storm Aileen!

Constant Gannet passage throughout my stay...
I joined around thirty or so other birders for a few hours this morning, thankfully managing to avoid any showers throughout my stay. On arrival, the first thing that struck me was the constant flow of Gannets and to a lesser degree, although still in good numbers, Manx Shearwaters. The first hour was most productive with a group of four Sabine Gulls, and a further two mixed in with a small flock of Sandwich Terns. Among the many Manx, a single Balearic Shearwater was noted and although a second was called a little later I missed this.

This record shot of two Great Skuas (Bonxie) at 600mm gives an idea of distance from the shore!
In total, my personal tally included Arctic Skua, five Grey Phalarope and six Great Skua, plus one of the highlights for me, a Leach's Storm Petrol, although several more were seen before my arrival.

Peregrine directly over the watchpoint!
Also noted among the many passing species were various numbers of Shag, CormorantGuillemot, Fulmar, Kittiwake and Razorbill, plus a Peregrine directly over the watchpoint! A surprise was at least four Ocean Sunfish, apparently, the worlds largest bony fish that can grow up to 1.8m, and from my observations oddly appear to sunbath on their sides, with the dorsal fin breaking water!

One of the local Chough population!
Another surprise was twelve of the local Chough population, which performed a fly-by, two returning a short while later for a quick photo!

Rock Pipit
Other species of note around the lighthouse peninsula: Wheatear, Stonechat and Rock Pipit.

Some of my record shots for ID purposes.......

Manx Shearwater


Tuesday, September 12, 2017

πŸ“– Diary Update #53

πŸ’¨ ⛅19C Tuesday 12th September 2017 ~ An hour or so at Draycote Water this morning in rather breezy conditions, mainly to have another session on the new camera set up!

A little breezy for this newly arrived Meadow Pipit!
A short walk along Farborough Bank as far as the 'Spit', where conditions were pretty challenging for hand held shots. Meadow Pipits are starting to arrive now in small numbers, with four along the bank. The sky was awash with 100s of House Martins, with smaller numbers of Swallows and Sand Martins mixed in. At the Spit two Dunlin and four Ringed Plover, plus a further two Dunlin and single Yellow Wagtail on the walk back to the car park, along with Terry and Richard.

This juvenile Gull made navigating in the wind look a doddle!
Before heading off to complete some shopping chores I drove along to Grimsbury Reservoir in Banbury, around 12 miles from the marina, for a look at a Grey Phalarope, which was reported yesterday evening.

Grey Phalarope ~ Grimsbury Reservoir, Banbury
Thanks to some excellent instructions from Dennis Woodward I had no problems finding the bird, which was showing incredibly well! In fact, at one point the bird came so close I had to retreat several yards to achieve focus.

Grey Phalarope looking pretty exhausted!

Another shot of a very accommodating Grey Phalarope