Sunday, December 31, 2017

πŸ“– Diary Update #78 ~ 2017 IN REVIEW

❄️ ⛄️ ⛅9C Sunday 31st December 2017 ~ To draw a line under this year's wildlife travels Dee and I spent an enjoyable afternoon at Donna Nook in Lincolnshire. What a lovely way to end the year spending it in the company of several Grey Seal pups, followed by a long winters coastal walk!

Grey Seal Pup ~ Donna Nook
Once again its been a year of travels that have produced some wonderful memories, which I'm glad to say have been recorded both here on my blog and my accompanying Flickr site! My visits to Spain during 2017 were probably my best on record, producing some incredible moments. These included another visit to Tarifa to witness the wonderful raptor migration across the Straits of Gibraltar and stumbling across over fifty Ring Ouzels feeding on a 'berry oasis' high up in the sierra de Loja!

Spain 2017 ~ Ring Ouzels in the Sierra de Loja...

Short-toed Snake Eagle over Tarifa
Other than visits to Spain and France we once again crossed the Atlantic, with trips to both Canada and Alaska! Alaska, as you would imagine, was simply stunning, the scenery breathtaking and our wildlife experiences incredible. We spent our time exploring the city of Anchorage, where Pacific Loons can be found on many of the local lagoons. Driving south to Homer Spit, on the southern tip of the Kenai Peninsula and trekking around the many wilderness areas!

Brown Bear in Alaska ~ You never know whats around the corner!!
The Incredible Linx ~ Alaska 2017
Canada, of course, is always on our radar and once again our time around the Vancouver area, catching up with friends and visiting some of the many birding locations was well spent.

My Dartford Warbler find at Bubbenhall Meadows
Finally, not forgetting the local patch and this year I would have to say has been one of the best on record for me during the ten years or so of living in Warwickshire. Personal highlights included seeing several of the unprecedented influx of Hawfinch to the area, a brief encounter with a Sabines Gull at Napton Reservoir and of course personally finding a Dartford Warbler at Bubenall Meadows in November! Other notables locally included: Bearded Tit, Grey Phalarope and Razorbill at Draycote Water, the latter a first for Warwickshire!

Bearded Tit at Napton Reservoir

Still shot of my Sabine Gull at Napton Reservoir!

Finally, amid all my wonderful memories I sadly said goodbye to my brilliant mum in June of this year! At almost 97 she was always there for me and an inspiration...

Winifred Yates 
1920 ~ 2017

Friday, December 29, 2017

πŸ“– Diary Update #77 ~ RSPB Frampton

❄️ ⛄️ ⛅1C Friday 29th December 2017 ~ My final few blog entries of the year come from our usual New Years base in Lincolnshire. With the weather set to clear for the afternoon, Dee and I took the 40-minute drive across to RSPB Frampton Marsh, one of our favourite reserves. Our timing could not have been more perfect, with the heavy rain clearing as we arrived at the car park to produce a beautiful, if not bitterly cold, afternoon.

This, in my opinion, is one of the best-managed sites in the UK and never fails to produce, particularly if you're simply looking for some good winter birding with Wildfowl, Waders and Raptors all on offer. What was even more encouraging to me was the fact that I actually made it all the way around the Wash Trail, this, in fact, my longest walk since damaging my back several weeks ago.

Stonechat ~ This colourful male near the Visitor Centre
Along the sea bank, we paused a number of times to check out the salt marshes and here a Merlin perched up and some distant views of a male Hen Harrier were the highlights. Looking back across the reserve a few Little Egret and several large flocks of Golden Plover, Wigeon and Brent Geese, occasionally thrown up into disarray by a marauding Peregrine, which we located several times.

A small group of Ringed Plover, accompanied by a single Turnstone, second from the left!
A short spell in the 360-hide to enjoy some turkey and cranberry sandwiches offered an opportunity to check out the waders which included, in addition to the above, Ruff, RedshankBlack-tailed Godwit, Grey Plover (2), Curlew and Lapwing.

Only three Black-tailed Godwits noted during our stay!
Back at the centre after a hot drink, we hung around until dusk in the hope of Barn Owl, which sadly didn't materialise. Although additions to the day list while here included Barnacle Goose (2), Stoat, Goldeneye pair,  plus House Sparrows, single Tree Sparrow and Goldfinch around the feeders.

Friday, December 08, 2017

πŸ“– Diary Update #76 ~ Continued Recovery!

❄️ ⛄️ ⛅1C Friday 8th December 2017 ~ Over the past few weeks I've continued my recovery but like all injuries, it seems like two steps forward and one step back! That said, I've managed a few short trips out which have included visits to Brandon Marsh, Napton Reservoir and today's brief visit to Draycote Water, after which I headed off once more for an hour at Brandon Marsh.

Hawfinch ~ A very confiding bird at Draycote Water today!

My day started at Draycote Water with the sole intention of connecting with a Hawfinch seen in the Country Park, which Richard Mays had recently discovered. On arrival, I immediately bumped into Bob Hazell who thankfully guided me to the correct location. After a brief catchup, Bob headed off to check out the reservoir and left me waiting in anticipation. Actually, I was only there for 10-minutes before my target bird flew into the treetops. I've been lucky enough to see several of this year's Hawfinch influx but a photographic opportunity had thus far eluded me. Thankfully this particular bird was much more confiding and gave several reasonably good views!

 During a recent visit to Napton Reservoir showing in much larger numbers now!
Job done I headed off to Brandon and made my way straight down to the East Marsh Hide. Best on offer while there was (4) Snipe, (5) Goldeneye 3 drake and (5) Goosander 2 drake, although the latter may have been seven, with more birds (possibly moving across) onto Grebe Pool?

Young Muntjac Deer ~ Brandon Marsh
Worth adding is the above photograph of a baby Muntjac Deer which I managed to take on my Canon SX50 from the Carlton Hide on Sunday 3rd. In contrast to all other species of deer in Britain, Muntjac Deer do not have a defined breeding season (rut). Instead, they breed all year round!