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Sunday, 28 October 2012

Ness Point & Southwold

I started at Oulton Broad hoping to get some pics in the sun of the Slav Grebe, sadly I didn't see it. Looking in at Hamilton Dock, 1 Guillemot was seen. Joining Tony B at Ness Point, we saw 3 Redshank fly south and a Little Auk flew north at 9.15am and pitched onto the sea briefly before flying north again. A Red- throated Diver was seen fairly close in on the sea. 2 Purple Sandpiper popped up on the defence rocks amongst the Turnstone. Blackbirds were arriving in off the sea during the morning in ones and twos and around 30 were seen coming in off. 4 Fieldfare flew in off and over Hamilton Dock.Whilst checking the Tamarisk bushes, we saw a male Blackcap briefly and a Chiff- Chaff. This afternoon I driving to Southwold, I had a brief diversion at Oulton Broad Mutford Lock bridge Pontoon, where 1 immature Shag was seen. Finally reaching Ferry road In Southwold driving down to the harbour on the east end, I reached the rectangular pool, by the side of the road, parked at the nearby car park and saw the excellent female Common Scoter asleep over the far side. She woke up, preened and swam tentatively around the reed stems in the corner initially, but then she became bolder and swam around right in the middle on the water, occasionally accompanied by a Little Grebe, which she chased off on one occasion when the Dabchick got too close! She dived frequently, sometimes rearing up in the water and showed very well in the middle of the pool even swimming right towards me on occasions and showing down to 3 feet at times, finally she swam back to the corner got onto the bank and went to sleep again!

Saturday, 27 October 2012

Scilly blog updated!

I have now finished the text Scilly blog. I have finished the blog for days 1, 2, 3, 4 5, 6, 7 & 8. Pictures to be added soon!

Long- tailed Duck & Little Auks off Ness Point

With a strong north- easterly blowing and frequent squally showers and hail storms the only place to be was Ness Point! Arriving at Ness Point this morning, by the former Coastguard lookout, I could see James B looking from within his car sheltered from the elements and the more intrepid Paul & Jane were presumably the other side of the Lookout as I could see their car parked there too. As it was raining/ hailing steadily, I elected, like James, to stay in the car and had 2 single Knot fly by plus a female Common Scoter and a single male Eider, all flying north. A flock of 15 Wigeon flew past north over the horizon, With the sun coming out, I joined Paul & Jane & Andrew E to the east of the lookout first we had a pair of Scaup flying north. We also saw impressive single sex flocks of 10 and then 12 male Eiders flying north, later a flock of 16 birds included 4 females. Another flock of 16 Wigeon and some Teal flying past north incredibly included a superb Long- tailed Duck (my first for many years), certainly the first one I have seen this century. We also had 2 small groups of Knot, 8 & 12 also flying north. Andrew E, did really well to spot it trying to hide within the middle of the flock of Wigeon. These days this bird is rarer in Lowestoft than RF Bluetails or OBP's! A Harbour Porpoise was seen briefly too. We were still celebrating when shortly afterwards, Andrew shouted "Little Auk!" and sure enough, an excellent Little Auk was flying north a third of the way out. We were all there, fervently hoping we would get some Little Auks, with the first strong northerly blow of the late autumn. Ten minutes later, Paul got our total of Little Auks into the plural, when got onto another Little Auk which was about half way out also flying north. We also saw a Snow Bunting flying north low over the sea about half way out. Plus 21 Starlings flew south and west over the sea. With the sun out, I raced to Oulton Broad and sure enough the Slavonian Grebe was still near the Wherry end, but the light was still not right, sadly.

Quiet afternoon

Friday 26th I had the afternoon off as I was giving a Library talk in the afternoon. At Corton, I flushed a silent Pipit up to the OBP hedge, where it perched, but sadly this bird was a Meadow Pipit and not the OBP, 3 Meadow Pipits seen in total, little else. The Slavonian Grebe was seen on Oulton Broad near the Wherry this time in strong sunlight only problem was, I was looking straight into it.

Wednesday, 24 October 2012

Corton Olive- backed Pipit

Having missed the OBP yesterday, (brilliantly found by James B), as I was working at Norwich, only driving past Corton at 6.10pm in the pitch darkness, I parked at the Corton church west car park at 7.35pm this morning. Conditions were misty and spitting with rain. I walked through to the field just north of the Church and this was bordered on the south and east by a large Sallow hedgerow. By the edge of the field was long grass and several tall weeds. Also here were about 10 birders including Ricky F, Phil H, Jeremy G, Rene B, and several others. Ricky had seen an interesting Pipit fly up from the long grass into the east hedge it remained silent in flight, intriguing! A co-ordinated walk through the long grass, first flushed a calling Meadow Pipit, and then the silent Pipit with an interesting looking dark back flew up to the east hedge. Rene did well to spot it perched just 2 feet off the ground, behind a large silvery leaved bush. I got my bins on it and instantly called it as "It's the Olive- backed!" It was of course the superb Olive- backed Pipit. I could see the striking cream supercilia, bordered above by the distinctive dark lateral crown stripe. The cream supercilia showed the characteristic supercilium drop at the rear of the ear coverts with the dark spot just underneath this. The back was a reassuring olive- green colouration. It then flew to the ground and walked on the ground before flying up and being seen breast on. It had a heavily streaked dark markings on the white and cream upper breast. I also noticed it pumping its tail another distinctive action of this species. It then flew down again and could not be seen. Regrettably, the time had now reached 8.35pm and I had to leave for work! Sadly no pictures of the bird due to the misty and wet conditions. After work, I drove to Warren Road, Gorleston in search of the RBF at the Anglian Water compound but I couldn't find the compound and the light was deteriorating fast. I tweeted for help and phoned James B and thanks to him and Andrew E for telling me that in my haste I had gone right past it. For the record, it is where the tarmacked road in the dip meets the sandy track in a dip where the houses end, the compound being on the west side of the road. The area had tall Sycamores meeting in the middle the crown of these touching in the middle. Problem was, I was over half way down the track towards Hopton Holiday Camp and had to rapidly retrace my steps. Unfortunately, the very poor light now hampered me & it failed to reveal either movement or the audible sound of the slight tacking call of this bird.

Monday, 22 October 2012

Fogbound Migrants

A slightly foggy day latterly became a very foggy day, whilst searching through Sparrow's Nest, I failed to see the YBW despite 2 hours of searching through several flocks of Long- tailed Tits c180 seen and Goldcrests c140 seen. There were also several roving flocks of Redwings in both Sparrows Nest (around 30) and especially Belle Vue Park (around 60). Several Song Thrushes seen, around 10 around the parks in total. I met up with Rob Win and Don & Gwen were seen in the distance too. Walking along the Denes, the fog was increasing and becoming more dense, more Redwings, c70 seen on the ground and flying overhead calling, too. The chacking of a Fieldfare saw 1 flying up to the top of a tree, whilst 7 Redwings were in the wind break bushes here, plus several 3 Robins too.At Warren House Wood, around 50 Redwings seen. At the small copse, just north of here, 4 Jays seen plus 6 more Redwing and 2 Fieldfare. By Gunton Beach Dunes another 12 Redwing seen plus 4 Fieldfare and a female Stonechat perched on the bushes here. Walking back along the beach around 30 Redwing and 3 Fieldfare flew overhead in off the sea, viz mig in action! By the sea wall, by Marram grass, a movement caught my eye and revealed a lone Chiff- Chaff which was feeding on insects by a plant, before a dog flushed it and the bird flew back along the beach. On the Oval, 4 Fieldfare were seen on the field close to the east wall, as I was watching them, 2 Redwing calls were heard directly overhead, they were perched in the pine tree that I was standing next to. I intended walking back to the car but seeing Neville S, he was watching the trees lining the east of the Sparrows Nest car park, I joined him and around 30 Redwing and 4 Fieldfare seen here, whilst on the Ting Dene static fenced caravan park, now a building site, we initially saw 6 Redwing, 4 Fieldfare, a Song Thrush, all feeding on the grassy area near the fence barely 40 feet away. Whilst we were looking at these we saw an excellent 1st winter female Ring Ouzel, we got on it at the same time, it was a dull bird with just a hint of silvery wings and a very pale breast band. I was looking at it, thinking it was a female Ring Ouzel when Neville said "it's a Ring Ouzel!" Walking south of here by the corner path, a Redwing, a Song Thrush and a female Blackbird seen by a puddle just 20 feet away. walking along the Netposts area, a further 6 Fieldfare seen on the ground and 3 Redwing all just 20 feet away! By the weedy area, another Robin seen here too. Rechecking Sparrows nest, 7 Redwings flew west over the Bowling Green. Whilst in Belle Vue Park by the memorial ground, I heard the rasping of a Brambling and saw a male Brambling in a beech tree together with 3 Chaffinches. An incredible day with 250 Redwings, 28 Fieldfares, 15 Song Thrushes, 5 Blackbirds, and 1 female Ring Ouzel seen. A great day for Thrushes, I subsequently heard they'd been bigger falls elsewhere including at Corton.

Schizophrenic Grebe!

Sunday 21st October didn't start to well, a bit like my car which had a flat battery. Early on I visited Oulton Broad, around the Wherry hotel where the Slavonian Grebe showed very well just down from the Wherry car park showing down to 2 feet on several occasions! Unfortunately the sky was dark and it was starting to rain steadily! It dived regularly frequently catching several small fish. Having a look at the bird, it seemed obvious to me, whichever side I looked at it that it was a Slavonian Grebe, although I have heard when it had been first found, it had been initially tricky to ID because initially it had been mistaken for a Black- necked Grebe. Later on during the day, I visited a rain soaked Corton and pounding the MOD stubble field, together with 3 other birders we eventually saw a calling single Lapland Bunting fly up in the company of several Sky Larks. A Snipe was also seen in flight. Around 60 Sky Larks seen in total, Brambling also heard here too. Travelling back along the A12 by Barn owl Lodge, a dead Fieldfare was seen at the side of the road, too.

Last Days on Scilly 2012: Days 7 & 8

The last couple of days, included on day 7, Friday 19th October, the Red- breasted Flycatcher was in the same spot near the Dump clump woods in the tall trees at the back of the former Pumpkin field. A walk back along the lane of Oldtown Churchyard, briefly revealed a confiding Redwing on a bush, which only flew when I stooped down to retrieve the camera. On Tresco, a Herring Gull sat and posed on the picturesque rock! Looking across the Great Pool from the plush Swarovski hide, revealed the 6 Whooper Swans, mostly asleep on the far side of the water by another fence. 2 Mute Swans were with them and from time to time the Swans would wake up and swim left for a while. many c120 Gadwall, 2 Teal and 1 Redshank were seen on the Pool near the Abbey. Goldcrest seen and Brambling heard only. Just down from the Abbey there along the lane we saw and heard 2 Yellow- browed Warblers, one posed nicely on an exposed perch for around 20 seconds. Walking back along the road, 100 yards past the Abbey, by an area of Rhodadendron bushes, I spied a gorgeous male Golden Pheasant on the track ahead and it was running towards us! A fantastic riot of colour of red, yellow and gold, it looked like a pet fit for a Pharaoh of Ancient Egypt especially as it sported a yellow head dress not dissimilar to the ones for kings of Egypt wore! It kept running towards us and right up to us looking for food, to say it was confiding was an understatement and Tim and I had to walk half way back up the road to take pictures and we took full advantage, albeit in very poor light. The bird took a particular liking to Roy's rolls. John wasn't happy the bird was this confiding but it is as wild as you get here, there is a small breeding population on Tresco around the Abbey woods and this bird has taken advantage of the possible feeding opportunities given up by the passing tourists. Another stunning male Golden Pheasant was seen further up the road and quickly darted into cover of the bushes on the right. Stunning birds which I always enjoyed seeing at Wayland Woods and when the Rhodedendrons were cut back there by the NWT it led to the demise of the Golden Pheasants there. Finally, male and female Stonechat seen on the walk up to the other quay. Saturday 20th October was our last day on scilly this year, i went to Lower Moors and seeing 3 Snipe and a Grey heron from ISBG hide, I went to Phyllis hide saw little and met John & Roy back at the ISBG, from the right, I spotted a Jack Snipe fly across and I called it as it landed on the left side of the lagoon, going into some reeds then running right and away into an area of thicker cover. Again, 2 Grey wagtails heard only as they flew over. On the boat trip back, little seen initially apart from 3 smart kittiwakes, but we encountered flocks of Gannets (30, 40, 120), we had a superb Balearic Shearwater fly along just off the starboard side of the ship banking showing its brown plumage above and smudgy white underparts as it flew right. later, a Gull was harried by 2 Bonxies and an Arctic Skua flew right just off the stern of the ship continuing to fly right. The best was saved to last in fading light I had just come back onto deck following a comfort stop, and saw people peering over the starboard side of the ship, I looked over and saw a super group of 20 Common Dolphin, diving and even breeching out of water right by the side, their white striped sides could be seen clearly at close range albeit in fading light. The Dolphins swam underneath the ship, a really spectacular site that elicited several whoops of joy from the ladies present and big grins on evryones face. Finally the Dolphins were seen behind the ship, a couple still breeching putting on a superlative display.

Aftermath of the Low: Scilly 2012; days 5 & 6

By day 5, Wednesday 17th October it was very windy, with a strong south- westerly wind blowing and we were hopeful for more American arrivals following the RND's. From Morning Point battery, we saw several c30 Gannet fly past and on the Battery grass itself, a Snow Bunting fed amongst the grass, but in the high winds it was very flighty, first feeding by the gun and then flying to the edge of the cliff before flying down and out of sight. Walking up to Porthellick Pool, from the seaward side hide, we could see Mallard and Gadwall and the 3 Ring- necked Duck were swimming right in the middle before swimming over to the back. They swam towards us and then left, right across the hide giving good views. Porthellick Bay produced 7 Ringed Plover but little else. At Longstone, we saw a Swallow and a mystery Martin flying overhead, the Martin was dark above and completely white below but no white rump but it flew off and its ID will remaain a mystery, sadly. Overlooking the Pine trees at Kittydown, I heard the deep croak of a Raven, and the bird flew up from the trees briefly then flew down again and out of sight. Walking back along Telegraph road, 2 Grey Wagtails were seen routing about in a ploughed but weedy field. Often seen running and feeding up and down the furrows, I stayed a while to take a few pics. We chased down to Porthellick Beach to view on the far side of the beach, a fine Pale- bellied Brent Goose, amongst the rocks close to the shore line. By Thursday 18th October, nipping down to Porthcressa beach again, by the large rock, 2 Rock Pipits seen and swimming out on the sea was the Pale- bellied Brent Goose It swam close and left and was briefly joined by an immature Shag before the Goose eventually got out of the water and onto the beach, walking up. I was joined by pro photographer Steve Young and eventually Tim H joined me and we got some great shots of this very confiding bird, I had step back it was that close! At Porthmelon beach, 3 Rock Pipit and 3 Pied Wagtail seen posing quite well for the camera. back at the Dump Clump woods, in exactly the same spot where the Spotted had been seen days earlier, a Red- breasted Flycatchers showed quite well hunting for insects. The Hume's warbler was heard caalling its distinctive "chee- wee" call several times. Unfortunately I had to leave it to catch the 10.15 boat to one of our favourite islaands, St. Agnes. Walking down to the beach area just past the Great Pool, a Richard's Pipit showed amongst the grass and rocks in the middle distance. 2 Wheatear seen at the tip here too. At the Parsonage, by the road opposite the school, a Pied Flycatcher showed exceptionally well favouring various branches for its hunting excursions, at time it was barely 10 feet from us. A Spotted Flycatcher was seen here briefly too, plus a Coal Tit hunting for insects amongst the ivy wrapped around the tree trunk. A while later the "Tseeeeopp" call heralded a Yellow- browed Warbler flying in the top of the trees right in front of us and I was pleased with get some shots in as it momentarily perched on a branch for a minute or two. 2 Chiff- Chaff, Goldcrest and a Grey Wagtail flying overhead was heard on 3 occasions.

Arrival of the Americans: Scilly 2012, days 3 & 4

On Scilly today, Monday 15th October, we went back to Bryher, in the hope of seeing the elusive Blackpoll. Back at Veronica's farm, after spending ann hour and a half staring at where the Blackpoll had been, we saw a Robin, Chiff- Chaff, a male Blackcap and a female Sparrowhawk flying over. We also heard Coal Tit calls, and moving right 50 yards we saw first one then 2 excellent Irish Coal Tits, perch in the isolated bush in the clearing then fly to the Pines to the right where we had seen one before. A shout went up that the Blackpoll had been seeen slong bushes to the track to tquay barely 500 yards away. We arrived and a group of 40 people awaited the Blackpoll, that didn't disappoint as it worked its well to the top of the bush and showed briefly, a superb Blackpoll Warbler, Tim and I then went round the back to get some shots but this was a mistake and we went back to the track, specifically the corner where the Blackpoll was making its way towards and it showed well on occasions in a large bush here before it flew someway left. 2 female Sparrowhawk flew over our heads, whilst from the quay we saw a hybrid Hooded Crow, initially it looked good as it fed on a sandy island in the bay, but when it flew it showed black and not light grey undertail coverts, a crucial feature needed for a pure Hoodie. On the journey back on the boat, I saw 2 Grey Plover on an island, on Green island, amongst the middle of the Gulls, I could clearly see a Spoonbill and shouted it out and most people got onto it, fortunately. On the far left of this island, amongst 15 Curlew on the extreme right was a Whimbrel and groups of 5 and 15 Sanderling. Finally on the sea, an impressive feeding flock of 27 Shag were seen. On Tuesday 16th October, a quick look on the garrison end of Porthcressa beach revealed the usual Rock Pipits and very black looking Pied Wagtail. I then wandered along to the Dump Clump woods, where a gathering of people eventually revealed a very close Hume's Leaf Warbler, calling a distinct and ID clinching "chee- wee" call and looking very similar to a YBW completely lacking the grey and mucky tones we usually associate with this bird back home. It popped out of the ivy and in the foliage of the tree directly in front of us giving brief neck breaking views at times. A walk around Old town churchyard revealed little, with Oldtown Bay revealing Greenshank, 3 Oystercatcher and a heard only Oystercatcher. The usual very tame Song Thrush, Blackbird and House Sparrows posed a little too well for the camera, too close. This must be the best spot in Britain to photo Song Thrush. Albeit you'll only need a 100mm lens! No sooner had we left there than we returned to watch from the churchyard looking over the trees lining the lane, a Red- breasted Flycatcher that eluded us earlier. The bird flitted about and posed quite well on occasion for the gathering crowd. Back at the Dump Clump woods, the Hume's Leaf Warbler showed briefly again in the same area, but this time it was calling its chee-wee call more frequently. By the very tall trees aat the back of the ex- Pumpkin field nearby, a Spotted Flycatcher showed well on occasion in the trees here. Hearing on the CB that the Solitary Sandpiperwas seen in a field off the road leading out of Old Town towards the Airport, by an Artists studio. I went along and saw the bird walking around a distant puddle, together with 2 Grey Wagtails. Opposite the entrance to the Airport in scrub here, I heard a Yellow- browed Warbler call several times but it eluded me. At Peninnis, it was very quite with Stonechat and Greenfinch, the only birds seen. The Garrison was also quiet and just 2 Meadow Pipits and another Stonechat seen. Again on the CB, we heard 3 RND's were on the sea just off Porth Melon Beach and we rushed down to the Pottery to see if we could view that section of the bay and sure enough, we could we see, very distantly, but with the 50X turned up on our scope, we could ID them as 3 Ring- necked Ducks (1 immature male and 2 females). They initially sat and bobbed up and down the sea swimming towards the beach there and then they flew over Hughtown and appeared to drop down onto Lower Moors. We dashed down there hopeful of some excellent photography, if we could get into the hide, no sooner had we stepped on the boardwalk, merely 50 metres from the hide, than the 3 Ring- necked Ducks flew very close directly overhead and appeared to fly north.

Soggy Scilly: Scilly 2012 days 1 & 2

A crack team of birders, John H, Tim H, Roy H and also myself visited the Isles of Scilly this October in search of rare birds and good photography. Happily we achieved both, but both John & failed to add any new birds to o
ur life or UK lists. On Saturday 13th October, the boat trip on the Scillonian 3 was relatively uneventful with 25 Guillemots, in one's, two's or three's 3 Razorbills, a Red- throated Diver, many Gannets and 7 Kittiwakes (2,3 & 2) seen. At Hughtown, our accommodation was the upstairs flat "All Winds" the location was at Sally Port, just round the corner from the town centre, 2 minutes from Porthcressa beach and 3 minutes from the Garrison, perfect! A calling Grey Wagtail flew over Hughtown calling, as we boarded a boat for the Bryer, paying the hefty fee of £8.20 for the return trip! We walked straight to view a manure dump by a farm, close to Hell Bay hotel. On the heap were several brown hens, a Starling, a Dunnock and the object of our quest, a superb Solitary Sandpiper, feeding really well rather incongrously amongst the Hens, on the insects crawling around there! Only the second Solitary I have ever seen, our first was also the first bird seen on the trip on our initial trip to Scilly in 2000. Carrying onto Veronica Farm, no sign of the very elusive Blackpoll, but further along a shout went up and in a Pine tree was a superb Irish Coal Tit, distinctive in being a little larger than our Coal Tit with yellowish cheeks and yellowish wash on the breast and flanks. The Irish Coal Tit flitted around the top of the Pine and was even hanging upside down at one stage. On Sunday 14th October, a Grey Wagtail flying over Hugh Town again. In Old Town Bay, we saw Greenshank, Curlew, Oystercarcher and 3 Rock Pipit. At Giant's Castle, I saw 2 single Wheatears tussocky grassy turf near the edge. In Porthellick Bay, 2 Greenshank were seen. By a hill overlooking the leeward side of Porthellick Pool and the loop trail. We saw Tim who had secreted himself under a Pine in the hope of photographing the RCS. A female Sparrowhawk flew over and right over Tim's head. With that S'phawk gone it was the green light for the really strikingly pale immature Rose- coloured Starlingto appear.It, first flew right and dropped down into a bush, then flew left and back and settled on the line of bramble bushes showing really well our side, feeding on the berries, albeit at some distance but giving good views through the scope. Turning around and scanning the beach we could the grey looking American Golden Plover sitting on the beach by the stream of water coming out of an outflow pipe next to a rock. At Porthellick Pool, it was almost like spring, with a male Mallard with homicidal tendencies trying to drown and hold the head underwater of a potential rival, an unfortunate fellow male Mallard. Fortunately the other male escaped. The female Mallard looked distinctly unimpressed! At Higher Moors by the road between Porthellick/ Holy Vale trail we looked way across into the distance to some trees and saw a Scilly mega! Walking back we saw a Wryneck fly out to rocks by the beach, I scrambled onto rocks further back and saw the excellent Wryneck perched on the edge of a rock, eventually it flew onto a path and fed on the grassy banks either side sometimes dropping onto the path. Until a walker walked past and spitefully flushed the bird into a bush because the path was blocked by birders. From here it flew onto a stone wall right in front of me and I managed a few shots here. Before birders coming down the path flushed it over. It was a female Great- spotted woodpecker coming in and out of a hole. At Lower Moors, from ISBG hide, 3 Snipe, a Grey Heron and a sleepy Greenshank were seen. I raced up to the Garrison to the Pig field area , where in the far hedge, a fine male Ring Ouzel was seen perched on the bushes and eating blackberries. At Lower Broome Platform, 2 Goldcrest seen around the bushes finally a Kestrel seen flying over the accommodation.

Tuesday, 9 October 2012

Great Ness Point Seawatch

I had a really excellent 1 hour's seawatch today from Ness Point between 7.40 to 8.40am this morning. The wind was light with a north- easterly breeze and there was also a cloudy start to the day. Avian highlights were plentiful and included a superb Sooty Shearwater that flew north at 7.45am, its distinctive shape stood out, the dark brown plumage and hint of white on the underwing. A Manx Shearwater, showing much more extensive white on the underparts flew south at 8.30 am. A Bonxie or Great Skua spent a lot of the time on the sea only to occasionally fly up and settle on sea, once more. A dark phase Arctic Skua flew south. An incredible tally of 366 Gannets flew north within the hour's duration, half of their number were all dark juvs, many were adults too whilst just 28 flew south, c60 Auks also flew north, and included 1 Guillemot close in on the sea. Divers also flew north 110 north and 5 south,(mostly Red throated, otherwise they were too far out to tell), included 1 Red- throated Diver on the sea. 22 Common Scoter flew north (mostly in parties of 5 and 4), whilst 3 singles flew south, 24 Brent Geese flew north (mostly parties of 4 & 5), in addition 3 singles flew south.

Sunday, 7 October 2012

North Norfolk & Ness Point

Visiting North Norfolk specifically Cley Spy, to get a replacement telescope for my ageing Kowa TSN3 where the thread had now completely gone, OFB and I went onto Kelling Wet Meadows and we had great views of the immature Pectoral Sandpiper. It was at the back of meadow, initially asleep between a grassy "knoll" by the edge of the water. It then woke up and fed by the edge. The bird showed the distinct streaked brown breast sharply demarcated from the paler whitish underparts. It had distinctive rufus on the mantle indicating it was an immature bird and white distinct lines on the back and the usual small "Ruff- like" shape with long primaries. We walked around the side where we were a lot closer to the bird, but unfortunately almost looking directly into the sun, rendering photography useless. Back at Ness Point, just after 4.30pm, I met Rob Wil, Andrew E and Paul & Jane F. Almost immediately we saw a fine brown Great Skua or Bonxie flying north just below the horizon. A Grey Wagtail was heard and the others saw it fly in off the sea. Meanwhile out to sea, a total of 10 Gannets (6 adults and 4 juveniles) were going north, singles of adults and juveniles with singles seen on 4 occasions plus a pair (adult and juvenile) and 4 (3 adults and a juvenile). 4 Mediterranean Gulls flying north in a group included 3 adults and 1 2nd winter that settled on the sea. An adult Little Gull was seen to fly and settle on the sea, whilst late on a small flock of 4 adult Little Gulls flew north. Also a flock of 5 Common Scoter flew north (3 males and 2 females). 3 Red- throated Divers flew north, all singles the last one flew past only half way out, with its head stooped below the line of its body. Meanwhile a flock of 300 Starlings amassed by the Gas cylinder and then onto the Ness Point car park area.

Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Southern Hawker still there!

The female Southern Hawker Dragonfly was still there in the back garden this morning at 8.35am in exactly the same place, perched on the bush by the wildlife pond. She had gone by the time I arrived back from work at 5.20pm today.

Tuesday, 2 October 2012

Showy Southern Hawker

Whilst resting my foot in the lounge, I noticed a large Hawker Dragonfly flying around the garden and hobbling outside with some difficulty, I spotted the dragonfly nip into some bushes by the wildlife pond at 2.10pm, investigating I was delighted to find a female Southern Hawker Dragonfly perched on one of the lower stems just 3 foot of the ground just left of the wildlife pond. It obviously found this spot to it's liking as the Southern Hawker stayed here until dusk (6.30pm) at least. I managed to get some shots, albeit in a very restricted position (with a sore foot) and in very, very poor light. Seen right at the end of its flight period, I just hope she has been oviposting in the garden pond and there will future generations growing as larvae underneath the water? Whilst taking the pictures, I was forced to use ISO 1600, even with flash! I also noticed this Common Carder Bee showing well on the Runner Bean plant leaf. Thanks to Danny P for the ID!

Monday, 1 October 2012

Samos Day 7 & 8: Last Few Days

On Wednesday 26th September, back at the Honeypot site, 10 Swallows seen flying distantly over the mountain, plus a distant flying male Blue Rock Thrush flew onto a distant wire. By the side of the road by some short grass a Wall Lizard would run out and climb up a grass stem look at me and then run back into the grass. back at Potami Beach, we parked just past the Cafe del Mund and walking though the path way, I saw the 2 Stripe- necked Terrapins on their rock in the middle of the stream again. Meadow Browns and both Lang's ST Blues and LT Blues seen again. The Garden Warbler seen by the tall trees by the stream was joined by a male Blackcap. 6 Willow Emerald Damselflies seen this time by the fence and stream, again showing well. A large black and white moth settling under a leaf proved to be a Jersey Tiger Moth, posed nicely (another new moth species), this is the species seen in their thousands in the erroneously named Valley of the Butterflies on Rhodes! Back on the beach, A large 10 inch Starry Agama perched on the top of a corner of a curved wall and quickly disappeared never to be seen again. Walking along a path between some houses and the RT Pipit field. I suddenly heard a "pphlatt" and it looked like a large green stick had been thrown onto the wall, it wasn't that, it was an impressive Balkan Green Lizard, a big Lizard, at least a foot long, very green and they were always appear abruptly out of nowhere, reminding me of Cato (hilariously played by Burt Kwourk in the brilliantly funny Inspector Clouseau films) suddenly appearing and attacking the hapless Clouseau (superbly played by Peter Sellers, it cracks me up every time!) the Balkan Green Lizard (NOT Cato!) quickly ran along the wall away from and leapt into a back garden. Also here were 2 mating Rock Graylings the back of the wings touching they would land briefly before flying again further along the path, garden or the field. Over a large Conifer wood, an Eleonora's Falcon flew by plus a large accipter that proved to be a Goshawk. Back at Potaki Beach on the final evening, the male Red- backed Shrike showed well again on the wires and the fence and after it flew of its own volition, to hunt in a different area (where I skilfully managed to get my big Chevrolet American hire car stuck, the right back wheel on a foot tall mound of sand and the left back wheel on a foot dip pit). Trying the gears only spewed up sand. Fortunately however, I had noted a foot square patch of carpet and placing it behind the left wheel provided enough traction for the wheels to reverse and free! We also saw the Shrike very briefly, very close feeding in some vegetation by the side of the road, it chose to perch on a fence running parallel to the road just 4 feet away, amazingly close just as luck would have it a car passed scaring it off, just I was about to get the shot, typical! By the Harbour, 2 YL Herring Gulls seen, one on the dock then joined one on the sea, plus 2 Hooded Crows distantly on the harbour wall. The weird beastie was outside the front door again with its probiscus was sucking the juices out of poor unfortunate leafbug upturned on its back. Later checking proved the predator to be the appropriately named Red Assassin bug (Rhinocoris iracundus) Walking into Pythagorian in the dark, 3, 6 inch long Cylinder Millipedes seen, one on a wall and 2 on the pavement. Plus, just past the lakes by the grassy area, 3 excellent Brown Preying Mantis, "Mantis religiosa" seen hunting for insects on the pavement. As usual, really tricky to photograph especially in the dark, just lit by the street light and when I was lying flat on the pavement to get some pics I had a concerned lady cyclist ask me if I was alright! Final morning, Thursday 27th September, a quick visit by the grassy field with the horse in it. A Fan- tailed Warbler seen by a reedy/ scrubby area and flew away, 3 Collared Doves (this species seen everywhere), 4 Crested Larks in the field, plus by the man made Lake, 2 White Wagtails fed. Also seen during the holiday about 4 Nosed Grasshoppers, always odd looking creatues, in grassy areas and many c30 Red- winged Grasshoppers. By the weedy area, 2 Whinchats flew away and perched on the fence. Finally, 2 Hooded Crows seen. I promise to post some pics soon & I hope to post back again in the UK but I currently suffering from a foot infection and can barely walk!

Samos Day 5 & 6: Up in the Mountains & on the Beach!

On Monday 24th September, Parking up in the Mountains, just 1 and a half kilometers past Pyrgos, as we drove up a Raven flew right over the road, I parked by the "Pure Honey" stall and had a spectacular view over the mountain valley, a male Blue Rock Thrush, showed a flash of metallic blue as it flew across the road and perched on a pole opposite. 2 excellent Steppe Buzzards, my first since my Israel trip in the 1990's flew over the mountain, with a pale head and striking and contasting black carpal patches and white inner webs to the primaries with a black band at the base of a rusty tale. 3 single very elegant Eleonora's Falcons flew over the mountain or behind me, with typically long sleek wings and long tail. 1 male Red- backed Shrike was also seen here in the valley perched on top a bush. A visit to Potami Beach, Jenny was swimming again, I checked the local Blackberry bush by the road, which included a host of butterflies including the usual Lang's Short- tailed Blues, Long- tailed Blues plus a pale buff Skipper which would fly to a section of the bush settles for just 3 seconds and then repeat the procedure, it was a Millet Skipper, yet another new Butterfly species! I then walked along the beach found the end of a watery dyke area which ended abruptly on the beach. walking past some houses and a small enclosed field, an excellent Red- throated Pipit flew up calling a shrill metallic "psstt" and then was seen briefly by the dyke area by the beach. By some Tamarisk bushes I walked inland of the beach by some small allotments butting a stream, this was a very productive area given the time of year and in a back garden I saw and heard a Garden Warbler singing brief snatches of song. I also heard only the shrill calls of a Kingfisher and a Grey Wagtail. Another Plain Tiger seen here, plus more all too brief Scarce Swallowtail and Swallowtail butterflies flying left along the beach. By the bushes by the fence, several c10 Willow Emerald Damselflies were seen. Plus some a Brown, a Rock Grayling type and a fantastic Lattice Brown (another new butterfly species!) settled and posed on the fence for the camera! walking up the stream, 2 sudden plops eventually revealed 2 Stripe- necked Terrapins that crawled back up onto a triangular rock protruding out of the water. Later Jenny & I walked up to the source of the water by a waterfall, another Samos Grayling seen here plus by a Chapel, a possible Roesel's Bush Cricket was seen and photo'd (I'll check the ID) plus a easily identified Grey Wagtail feeding by the stream and flying up the stream. From here, we all stripped down to swimming trunks/ swimsuits and had a great time wading through the clear cool mountain water chest high through an open cavern to see the waterfall 80 yards away, British, Greek & German nationalities, all entered into the spirit and it was a fun thing to do and very cooling too after the high 30's degrees celsius temperatures on the beach. On Tuesday 25th September, at Pythagorian car park but a concrete tunnel area, I saw my very first Starry Agama, a Lizard with a jowly face, seen on the edge here on the grass and eventually scuttled into the tunnel. Further along by a wall (with a door sized gap in the middle) by the beach another Starry Agama seen on the right hand side. By the rough grass area just inland of here butterflies seen included my first Painted Lady of the year, very briefly, Mallow Skipper again and the usual Lang's ST & LT Blues. A stop by a Fig tree revealed another Millet Skipper, plus 2 Crested Larks. At Herarian archaeological site, we parked the car in front of some wires where 30 Swallows had assembled prior to their southward migration. By another wire, a Spotted Flycatcher perched plus a Whinchat nearby. Within the Herarian itself, 8 Plain Tigers seen flying around, 3 Spotted Flycatchers on various fence wires plus a female and a very close male Red- backed Shrike (but frustratingly, totally against the strong sunlight) A Common Buzzard flew by left inland, Back at Potaki beach in the early evening I managed to photograph the reasonably obliging male Red- backed Shrike on overhead wires and a fence. By the Roman temple, the sharp- eyed Jenny spotted an excellent large foot long Starry Agama perched on the very top of some stones, after playing cat and mouse for half an hour I managed some shots of this beast, another 10 inch Starry Agama crawled along by the base of a column, whilst smaller Starry agama, one 4 inches long near the original site plus one Starry Agama 7 inches long and another 4 incher diagonally opposite. 7 Starry Agamas seen in total all on very hot sun exposed stones basking in the sun, but sensitive to disturbance! A weird beastie seen by the wall outside our front door was phot'd for future ID. A walk into the town during twilight revealed a Little Owl on a telegraph post right on the edge of town!

Samos Day 3 & 4, an excursion to Ephesus, Turkey

On Saturday 22nd September, a visit to the Archaelogical site near Pythagorian revealed several butterflies including Blues, Lang's Short- tailed Blue and Southern Meadow Brown. At the Ampitheatre half way up the mountain overlooking Pythagorian, a spectacular view from up here amongst the restored wooden seating area a couple of Samos Grayling types (? I think) flew about and eventually gave themselves up to the camera. There was no doubt however about the birds, a Red- rumped Swallow flew past and a superb Long- legged Buzzard was mobbed by a female Red- footed Falcon. At Kokari beach layby, I stopped suddenly as I saw a mystery bright orange butterfly that recalled a small Monarch, it wasn't that but when I got home the photo's proved it was a Plain Tiger, another new butterfly species, it flew around settled for seconds and then it was off flying down the road and out of sight despite me going in hot pursuit after it. A Raven flew past here. Also here were a Lang's Short- tailed Blue and a magnificent Scarce Swallowtail that put in an all too brief appearance. back in the afternoon, at Potaki Beach, 2 Bee- eater flew off the wires and south. A female Marsh harrier quartered the marsh type habitat at the end, 1 Flava Wagtail was on the road by the Army medical camp, where I dare not stop! Whilst several Spotted Darters, 3 females and 1 male seen also. Finally, 2 male Red- backed Shrike, including 1 reasonably obliging individual perched on vegetation in a field overhead wires and a nearby fence, definately worth putting some time in to get some shots (photo) of this bird, me thinks! Saturday night, and a very pleasant stroll down to Pythagorian for Jenny & I in the fading light for an evening meal at the excellent Aphrodite garden restaurant (Greek food is a favourite of mine, especially Mousakka and Chicken Souvlaki!) revealed 3 Little Owls singles perched on a tree, a post and finally a telegraph pole, 2 of their number were calling. Very sadly, a Bush Cricket was stuck to the path on the walk back as someone had inadvertently trodden on the rear of its abdomen on the walk back (ID to follow as I have a pic) plus a buzzing Cicada by the side of the road, quickly crept underneath the kerb nearby. On Sunday 23rd September, a quick check of the local pool only revealed 1 Little Egret and a Grey Heron. On the Boat trip to Turkey, taken from samos town, I saw 2 individual Mediterranean Shags, 2 were seen perched on the end of the rock on the way back. On the way out, several YL Herring Gulls seen plus near Turkey, 2 large Shearwaters which showed more extensive white on the inner edge of the underparts of the primaries proved to be absolutely superb 2 Scopoli's Shearwaters, given the geography, flew (only my second ever sighting of this species), past the boat, at reasonably close quarters. In Turkey itself, 30 House Martin seen flying over an arable field, 3 Swallow and most memorably on the journey back from the magnificent Ephesus ancient Site to Kusadasi, a superb Black Stork flew right over some fields near a wooded slope.