Thursday, December 27, 2018

2018 ~ A Year In Focus Part 1

As 2018 draws to a close I thought I'd put together a few slideshows depicting my 'Year in Focus'

The first of which is below and shows Northern Spain and the Pyrenees in May of this year.

Monday, December 24, 2018

πŸ“– #73 ~ Christmas Eve Walk πŸ‡ͺπŸ‡Έ⛄️πŸŽ„

☀️20C Monday 24th December ~ Christmas Eve 2018 ~ Incredibly, just as we settled into our seats for our flight to Malaga after a very painless check-in the pilot announced that the airport was closed! This apparently due to a technical fault in the ATC centre, thus grounding all flights in and out!

Ryanair Dreamliner livery just prior to boarding
Thankfully, after a 2 1/2 wait at the stand, we eventually taxied out, arriving a few hours late at Malaga for our Christmas break none the worst and thankful that our aircraft had actually got into Birmingham in the first place, literally just a few minutes before everything went down!!

Despite the glorious conditions snow has already hit the high Sierras
The weather here in Mijas is simply gorgeous, cloudless skies and a temperature in the low 20's, although it drops like a stone after sunset. A nice leisurely Christmas Eve walk along the boardwalk at La Cala de Mijas produced lots of Gulls and thankfully I had the foresight to take along my trusty Canon SX50. The results of which are below ~ 


Meditteranean Gull

A trio of Audouin's Gulls

More Audouin's Gulls

A trio of Meditteranean Gulls

Wednesday, December 19, 2018

πŸ“– #72 ~ Golden Hour ⛄️

☀️6C Wednesday 20th December 2018 ~ Another visit to Brandon Marsh started quietly enough with a walk around the top and farm reedbeds. Not a lot on offer to be honest with the exception of a couple of Lesser Redpoll high in the poplar. The winter thrushes seem to have moved on, likely due to the fact that they've now thoroughly stripped the hawthorn of their crop and have taken to foraging among the leaf litter and local fields.

Bittern's sudden appearance
I settled into East Marsh Hide a short time later with no preconceptions. Having enjoyed amazing views of the Bittern during my previous two visits and the latest news had the Bittern relocating to Newlands reedbed I didn't expect anything too exciting.

One of several Bittern flight shots

Another flight shot
Therefore, you can imagine my utter surprise when the bird suddenly appeared in the open on the edge of the right-hand reedbed offering some unprecedented views. Unfortunately, as I was busy snapping away the bird suddenly took flight and headed for the channel over to the left. I must have about twenty different photographs of a Bittern in flight but can't offer one with the bird in the full frame due to the close proximity. Frankly, though, I'm delighted with how things turned out, especially with the camera completely on the wrong settings.

Peek-a-Boo ~ An Otter suddenly appears low in the reeds
The excitement didn't end there as shortly after, while all eyes were on the channel, an Otter suddenly popped its head out of the reeds. This presumably flushing the Bittern which burst out of the reedbed before circling and crashing back down, this as a Water Rail scurried across the channel, perhaps in fright. What a cracking visitπŸ˜€

Otter nonchalantly swims off after the mayhem

Caspian Gull ~ Almost went unseen with all eyes on the Bittern!

Sunday, December 16, 2018

πŸ“– #71 ~ Hero Whoopers! ⛄️

☀️3C Sunday 16th December 2018 ~ More exceptional views of the Bittern at Brandon Marsh, which showed well walking along the channel at East Marsh Hide this morning. It was also viewable briefly waterside of the reedbed looking back from the Baldwin Hide as I departed a short while later.

More exceptional views of Bittern at Brandon Marsh
Going walk-about!
Also of note, the four regular visiting Whooper Swans were back on the pool all morning. These along with a residing family group of Mute Swans, the latter of which I have a personal dislike for! Mute Swans are the bullies of the birding world for me and it was not surprising to see the patriarch of the group trying to drown one of its kind, not for the first time. A few years back this particular individual killed another family of five cygnets shortly after they'd fledged.

My hero Whooper Swans

Calm after the storm
Astonishingly the nearby Whoopers suddenly waded into the group of Mutes where a battle erupted, the Whoopers actually managing to dislodge and force apart the battling Mutes, thus rescuing the bird which was being set upon. Respect to those guys!!

Friday, December 14, 2018

πŸ“– #70 ~ Bittern Delight ⛄️

☀️6C Friday 14th November 2018 ~ It's been over a year since I've had such tremendous views of a Bittern at Brandon Marsh. There was a time not so long back when you could sit in East Marsh Hide in great anticipation of seeing one of these iconic birds close up during the winter months, but sadly not in recent years.

Bittern ~ East Marsh Hide 

Bittern in the channel to the left of East Marsh Hide
Therefore I was delighted today to have another opportunity, this after I thought my chance had gone, having been in the Ted Jury Hide when the bird was first seen. I'd returned to the hide to be told 'you should have been here 5 minutes ago'. Still, with great patience (not my best attribute) and in freezing conditions the bird eventually showed a half hour before sunset and it was well worth the wait!

Wednesday, December 05, 2018

πŸ“– #69 ~ Early Winter Surprise ⛄️

☔️☁️12C Wednesday 5th December 2018 ~ Having been away recently and missed some decent sightings I decided that despite the rain I'd spend a few hours at Brandon Marsh in the hope of catching up on things.

The weather was pretty dire so I decided to head straight down to the East Marsh hide and sit for a while. I knew from the Warwickshire Birders Whatsapp group that two Bewick Swans on site at first light had departed but from reports, the birds, along with a group of four Whooper Swans tended to reappear over the course of the morning.

Caspian Gull
There was a good selection of Gull's to scan and almost immediately I came across a Caspian Gull, which I believe has been aged as a 4th calendar year bird, basically almost adult, gull ageing is not my forte but I'm learning!

I spent a good hour before I decided to head down to Carlton Hide, pausing at the Carlton Ditch to listen out for Willow Tit, a regular here. There were several Blackbirds feeding on what's left of the almost depleted Hawthorn crops but a single bird took the eye. To my astonishment, it was a male Ring Ouzel! Due to the weather, I'd only brought my old Canon SX50 but fortunately, I had the foresight to snap a few record shots, before pressing the record button. Apologies on the quality and the panning away from the bird but I wanted to get a perspective on the habitat and a few points of reference, something that sadly I tend to do these days after past experiences with, 'anoraks'!

Still of Ring Ouzel
After the bird appeared to drop to the ground I moved around to the Carlton Hide, where I managed a brief second view to the left of the hide low in Hawthorn. Sadly, it wasn't seen again, despite more eyes joining the search, a very pleasing winter record, Ring Ouzel was last seen at Brandon in 2007.

One of two Bewicks at Brandon today

Whooper Swans on East Marsh
Thankfully both Bewick Swans and four Whooper Swan did indeed return to East Marsh, giving a great opportunity to compare both species together. Also of note: Stonechat along the bank at the main entrance, Grey Wagtail, two Otter sightings and a Mink, the latter of which, despite their beauty is not a welcome sighting for the reserve.

BUBO Listing