Saturday, January 12, 2019

📖 #2/2019 ~ Weekly Roundup!

☀️6C Friday 11th January 2019 ~ A few hours at Eyebrook Reservoir produced an amazing 10 Smew, sadly all at distance, plus over 50+ DunlinRedshank and a nice flock of Golden Plover circa 150.

Golden Plover at Eyebrook
Only a 40-minute drive to Summer Leys Nature reserve next where a drake Ring-necked Duck showed well enabling some excellent scoped views before the bird went AWOL.

Canon SX50 at full zoom to get this one ~ Drake Ring-necked Duck
🌂☁️8C Saturday 12th January 2019 A day out with Dazza at Rutland water taking in the surrounding areas before heading onto the main reserve at The Anglian Water Birdwatching Centre, Egleton.

First stop was the North Arm around Burley fishponds where a couple of Great Egrets showed well. Three Slavonian Grebes were easily located but two Black-necked Grebes proved more difficult and were eventually found at distance. Better views of both species were obtained from the Fishermans car park but the strong breeze was a hindrance.

From Hambleton Old Hall a large raft of Tufted Duck produced a single female Scaup before Dazza picked out a Red-necked Grebe just beyond the group.

One highlight from around the main reserve was a drake Smew on Lagoon 4 but by far the most enjoyable sighting of the day was exceptionally close views of a feeding Jack Snipe from the Crake Hide: Video above!

Thursday, January 10, 2019

📖 #1 ~ 2019 Begins!

☀️3C Sunday 6th January 2019 ~ A nice surprise during Sunday 6th's visit to Brandon Marsh was a Great Egret, which flew over me and down onto East Marsh Pool as I walked up the track towards the hide at around 08:30.

Great Egret ~ Brandon Marsh Sunday 6th January
☀️4C Monday 7th January 2019 ~ A quick stop on Monday 7th to catch up with a local Little Owl before heading off to Brandon Marsh, where a sub-adult Caspian Gull was the highlight and Draycote Water later for the gull roost, the latter producing Meditteranean and Glaucous Gull.

Local Little Owl in his usual spot!
🌀🌂⛅5C Tuesday 8th January 2019 ~ The first away-day of the year and a visit to the Norfolk coast on Tuesday in pretty challenging conditions. In fact, the early morning spring tide, accompanied by some really strong Northerlies did cause a few issues with some sea defences actually being breached. The evidence of which was apparent when we stopped off at Salthouse, where a Seal was actually sheltering along the shingle near the old car park. Glad to say that by the time we arrived back to the car after a walk around Grandborough Hill it had in fact managed to haul itself back out to sea.

Twite in the harsh morning sun ~ Thornham Harbour

Stops at Thornham Harbour for Twite and Holkham Gap for Shorelark were successful, although the heavy showers in the afternoon were a hindrance. Of course, the large skeins of Pink-footed Geese and big numbers of Brent Geese are always a spectacle. RSPB Titchwell also yielded at least three Meditteranean Gulls.

Shorelark ~ A challenging job getting this one in strong winds

One of only seven Shorelarks at Holkham
Despite the conditions, it was a decent days birding, although sea-watching was difficult I did manage to log Red-breasted Merganser, Long-tailed Duck, Gannet, Kittiwake, Guillemot, Red-throated Diver, plus Fulmars at Hunstanton.

One of the highlights on the day was a Hen Harrier at Cholsey Barns while having lunch, this along with Red Kite and both Grey and Red-legged Partridge.

Grey Plover ay RSPB Titchwell
Waders included Grey Plover, Bar-tailed and Black-tailed Godwit, Sanderling, Oystercatcher, Turnstone, Curlew, Redshank and Spotted Redshank, Ruff and Avocet.

Many thanks to Geoff Hood, John Raven and Fred Burton for their company.

Friday, January 04, 2019

Spain at Christmas

Fires lit and settled back aboard now after spending Christmas and New Year with Dazza at my best buddy's villa near Mijas, Spain. The winter birding was excellent and the weather simply stunning with mostly clear blue skies and temperatures in the low 20s.

Wintering Stone Curlews at Zapata

Osprey over Zapata
Over 10-days we spent plenty of time around Zapata, a little gem of a place at the north end of Malaga Airport. Incredible that with aircraft landing only meters overhead the habitat can yield so much. Wintering Bluethroats, Penduline Tits, Stone Curlews and an Osprey to mention a few.

White-headed Duck ~ Guadalhorce
At the opposite end of the airport is the reserve at Guadalhorce which I've mentioned here many times over the years, here too despite the disruption the birding was outstanding with key species such as White-headed Duck and over 30 wintering Black-necked Grebes.

Thekla Lark at 5,000ft

Where there are rocks there's Rock Bunting
At Sierra Loja in the Granada Province, we took the climb up to 5000ft in glorious conditions encountering a small wintering population of Ring Ouzels, Azure-winged Magpies, Thekla Larks, Blue Rock Thrush and of course several Black Wheaters.

Black-winged Kite at La Janda
We also drove down towards Gibraltar and then on to the rice fields of La Janda, where once more wintering species were in abundance: White Storks, Common Cranes, Spoonbills, Hen Harriers and Black-winged Kites.

Griffon Vulture
On New Year's Eve, a drive across to the new Vulture feeding station near Campillos produced several Griffon Vultures overhead but unfortunately, despite there being the whole of a dead horse, not a pretty sight or smell, this was not enough to bring the hoards down, apparently, it wasn't ripe enough! Fussy things Vultures.

Flamingo's at Fuente de Piedra

Iberian Grey Shrike at Fuente
From here onto Fuente de Piedra one of Spain's largest lagoons for the awesome sight of 1000s of Flamingos and while in the area a couple of Iberian Grey Shrike added to the excitement.

One of four Black Wheatear at Canteros
Finally Canteros Los Arenales an old quarry some 3,000ft up to the back of Mijas Pueblo and Dazza's favourite walk. The day list here consisted of Crag Martin, Firecrest, Crested Tit, Dartford Warbler, Hawfinch, Crossbill and Black Wheatear.

And so the end of another superb visit and indeed another brilliant year's birding. To finish I've compiled the following video of the visit ~ I hope you like it and Happy Birding.