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Sunday, 29 June 2014

Rosy Pasteur again

On Sunday 29th June, the adult Rose- coloured Starling was again seen along Pinewood Avenue, Lowestoft perched on the bushes in the garden along the alley. It was seen here at 4.35pm perched in the bushes it eventually flew down to the garden but then flew back, had a snooze before perching at the top of the bush before flying south- west with a group of around 30 Starlings. I then went to Wrentham and again failed to see the really elusive (for me) escaped Black Kite, this is a really big bogey bird for me in Suffolk (along with Scarlet Rosefinch), having started my Black Kite dips way back in 1979, I have tried to twitch 10 birds over the years, culminating with missing one seen from Carlton Marshes when I was there this year!

Saturday, 28 June 2014

Another missed Black Kite

On Friday 27th June, Frog seen in the middle flower bed of the back garden. On Saturday 29th June, I just missed the escaped Black Kite around the Benacre estate having been seen in flight at 8.50am in a field by the Benacre estate, 2 Hobbies were seen here distantly and then one flew past too. I looked from 9 to 1.40pm and there was no sign of it, but watched Swifts flying into nest under the eaves of a building off Mill Lane and opposite the Bowling Green & Tennis courts. A Spitfire flew round also.

Sunday, 22 June 2014

A few Swallowtails around the Broads

Travelling north along the A12 just after the turn off to Lound a male Marsh Harrier flew west over the A2 and flew across the field. A look at Strumpshaw fen today, I walked down toward Prof George's House and in a clearing a few birders were gathered and a rested Norfolk Hawker showed very well here and posed well for the cameras as did a less photographed Ringlet. At the garden, cloudy weather revealed little and walking on the fen, I photographed a showy Viparous Lizard which was seen on the left side of the boardwalk then scuttled across and away. Returning from the loop, it again scuttled back across the boarded path. Walking further along I saw and heard a Cuckoo calling from a bush in the reeds near the middle and photo'd a male Black- tailed Skimmer on a reed stem. Walking back just before the boardwalk I saw a couple lingering and they said they had 2 Swallowtails here, sure enough 1 Swallowtail flew out past us and across the fen. At Catfield Fen, reached by turning off at Cat field and heading for the large church taking the narrow single track road just before it signed Fenside and taking it right down to an area of deep water and a sign. Parking here I walked past the house on the right and walking through the wood turned left at the end and took the first part of the square walk. Just before the end of the first straight track, I looked over flowering brambles and saw a Swallowtail feeding around the bramble flowers. Walking along the next side of the walk, by a cut pool area 2 immature Lapwings and 1 adult Lapwing seen. Past the disused mill, I saw a Swallowtail fly down a dyke. Along the third side of the path turning right, I saw another feeding Swallowtail albeit with a large chunk taken out of its left wing. Despite walking further I saw little and returning an immature and adult Sedge Warblers seen. Plus a female Marsh Harrier quartering the reeds. During he walk 2 Grey Herons flew past separately. Back to the area where I saw the first Swallowtail it was still there feeding on the flowering brambles and once it even flew right over and directly past me before flying back. Despite showing well it wasn't close enough to photograph.

Short-toed Eagle at Ashdown Forest & Lesser Emperor at Filby

The crack Scottish team was re-assembled for a twitch down to Ashdown Forest for the ST eagle, John H, Tim H, Tony S & myself. I reached John's at midnight and we drove through the night to Gill's Lap car park at Ashdown Forest in west Sussex. An absolutely stunning place we stopped near hear in the dark and I heard churring Nightjar. At Gill's lap car park there was the spectacular vista of looking over the valley. During our watch from first light, we also heard churring Nightjar here plus we heard purring Turtle Dove and they were eventually seen, 2 Turtle Dove perched in a distant dead tree. Bullfinches were heard too. Just after 8am, a young lady birder said there's a raptor coming in from the right and sure enough a pale Eagle sized bird soared in low and perched in the top of spine tree, it was the magnificent 2nd summer Short- toed Eagle. It showed mouse- brown upper parts and very pale whitish below with brown streaks around the upper breast and the a few on the outer edge of the wing coverts. It sat in this distant tree just down from the ridge. It then flew down to another pine tree in the valley, we walked down to get a closer view. It sat here for a while before flying around, sometimes soaring around, hovering briefly and also using its tail as a rudder kite- like as it flew. It flew up to a pine on the ridge and then flew right someway, again seeing its tail used a rudder, another brief hover before it perched on top of another Pine. It spent some 20 minutes sat here until a Carrion Crow and 2 Magpie mobbed it and it flew further away and out of sight. We then drove down the road a mile and parked at Old Lodge car park, walking down we saw a close young Wood Lark in the long grass, although no time to photograph it as we were on a strict time limit. By some Pines to the right a fine male Redstart was seen feeding a juvenile Redstart. walking around the path we checked the pools and then went down a steep hill to an area where they were too interconnected pools with a wooden foot bridge in between. Almost immediately I was aware of 2 flying Odonata, a Four- spotted Chaser and another mysterious one. Whilst by the footbridge, a superb male Beautiful Demoiselle was seen. I then got my bins onto the other Odonata, it was an Emerald and looking at it my first impression was of dazzling Christmas light it was that dazzling, surely a Brilliant Emerald. It spent all its time in flight switching between the pools and often flying around the more shaded area. It then settled briefly in grass the other side where 3 birders sat carefully. By looking at the featured photographed them we were able to eliminate Downy E. I was never able to see it completely at rest as it often flew after a short rest. Walking back we saw by a pool first a Keeled Skimmer that showed well and a Small Red- eyed Damselfly although I didn't look at it for too long because of the heat. In the afternoon after we got back I drove straight to Filby Broad, looking along the boardwalk, 2 Fisherboys were constantly casting every 5 seconds far from ideal to see the intended target, but at 4.10am, after sighting 1 or 2 unidentified Hawkers and both Norfolk & Brown Hawker, another Hawker was seen circling around the NE tip of the Broad the water directly in front of the far eastern end of the Boardwalk it flew my way and looking down on it, I could clearly see the blue saddle at the base of the abdomen, a fine male Lesser Emperor, but as it flew past the boys, their tiresome casting almost hit and it swerved out of the way, it appeared to want to fly around the western end of the boardwalk but the casting forced it to fly strongly west. In the evening I went down to Hamilton road and saw the colourful escaped Red-rumped Parakeet calling a strange high pitched call from the roof of Pryce's building. The bird has been around this area and Battery Green for a week or so, an escaped bird but I was still keen to see it.A load of Starling flew by the hangar and the fine Rose- coloured Starling was seen amongst them, it flew to railings and then remained faithful to one Starling as they both flew to a light by the wind turbine. They spent around 20 minutes here before finally flying past us, the RC Starling had a more fluttery flight, and then dropped down by the Helicopter hangar area in the harbour.

Thursday, 19 June 2014

Elusive RC Starling

I had an hour to look for the RC Starling from 1.40 to 2.40pm, apparently it hadn't been seen for 3 hours, at 2.20pm in cloudy weather the Rosy Pasteur was seen perched high up in a Leylandii way back 2 gardens back from its usual garden. I had too leave at 2.40pm and it started to show apparently after I left.

Wednesday, 18 June 2014

Hummer again in garden

At 6.03pm on Tuesday June 17th, a Hummingbird Hawk Moth was again seen very briefly for all of 10 seconds as it hovered around the eastern end of the Red Valerian plants before it flew off and disappeared.

Rosy Pasteur at Lowestoft

On Tuesday 17th June, early morning 7am to 7.50am the bird spent much of its time in Clive's back garden I saw it only twice once when it pecked briefly in the large bush and a second time when it perched on an arterial just north of Clive's house. Following a long lunch break from 1.50 to 3.50pm I drove straight to Pinewood Avenue. By the junction of Pinewood Avenue and Breydon way, the bird couldn't be seen. However walking across and taking the same passageway as the previous night, I saw Rob Wils, the Norfolk bird photographer and he said he had the bird perching right out in the open in the second bush. Walking carefully around, the fine adult Rose coloured Starling, the Rosy Pasteur as it is colloquially called, was still there albeit partially obscured. With last night's experience in mind, I tracked back to the alleyway over looking the garden and saw the bird in a better position albeit the lower body was obscured. A really smart bird with jet black head and upper breast with pink bill (with black at the base) Pink mantle and scapulars, the upper scapulars showed a dark brown band extending back, with black wings and pink rump black tail and pink underparts and black scalloped under tail coverts with pink legs. The pink belly had a few fine streaks of brown too. The Rose- coloured Starling perched up in the bush looking around facing first right then left before they all flew. It was next seen back in Clive's garden. Seen perched up in the far back east bushes before it flew across the garden towards us and we then saw it perched up showing well in the large bush in the middle of Clive's garden where I was able to get some great shots through the hedge. It flexed its head showing its pinky head crest and was seen well here before it flew down and I had to reluctantly leave to go back to work.

Rose coloured Starling in the rain

On Monday 16th June after work I travelled straight to Pinewood Avenue, unfortunately a Sparrowhawk had just dashed through the garden where it usually was and walking down an alleyway I saw Ricky F who indicated he had it in a bush, we got some good views of the fine Rose - coloured Starling perched in the bush if partially obscured. We retraced our steps to the alleyway and looked across the garden to see it. It later flew back to Pinewood Avenue and was seen along the edge of a roof in the company of 8 other Starlings. It perched just below the apex of the roof as well as hopping up to stand on the very top of the roof. At 7.45pm it flew strongly east.

Dash for Rosy Starling at the Harbour

Sunday 15th June journey back included Red Kites near Membury and Newbury services. Tweet of a RC Starling at Pinewood Avenue, no sign there but at 7.45pm Andrew Easton relocated at the Harbour viewed from the South Pier, so a dash there following Paul & Jane F, we reached the harbour viewing from the northern arm of the South Pier, around the area by the helicopter station shed, the bird had been seen but was out of view however it flew across the harbour, I spotted the fine adult Rose- coloured Starling it in flight and on the distant rocks by SLP. Before they all flew back and the bird was seen on rails close by showing lovely pink and jet black plumage. Before it finally flew in a group of around 40 Starlings heading west, the bird was amongst the leading birds of the group at the top of the group in flight.

Wales: Cymisfael Stream 14th June

During the morning of Saturday 14th June, I took a stroll down to the Cymisfael stream. Turning right towards the bridge I saw a fine male Bullfinch flying away. Walking back along the road running parallel with the stream, I was delighted to see a Dipper fishing in the water not far away. Walking further along where the area opens out to fields and the river snakes away west, I carried onto the first bridge, saw a Beautiful Demoiselle and 5 rattling Mistle Thrush, a family group (?), flew and perched at the top of a distant tree before flying off. By the other bridge another Beautiful Demoiselle seen looking over in the opposite direction. Walking back just by the edge of the wood looking up the stream a Dipper was seen perched on a rock preening itself. Walking back just before the bridge, I was delighted to see first one then 2 Dippers and they kept flying up to an area below a knotted trunk area of a fallen tree, surely a Dipper nest here. Watching discreetly from the bridge, both the Dippers fished from the edge and by the rocks. 4 Dipper seen in total. Walking back near Mum's house a calling Raven flew up and over he road, croaking as it flew.

Wales: Skomer 13th June

A trip to Skomer and I was amazed to find despite arriving at 9.10am, both the boats for 10am and 10.30am were fully booked. But never mind, I booked onto the 11 o'clock boat and walked up to the Marloes peninsula deer park with the hope of seeing a migrant Woodchat that had dropped in yesterday. It hadn't been seen so far, I had no luck either but I was keen to see if I could find any Chough. As I walked to the end of the peninsula, "keeyah" calls meant they were nearby. I noticed a lady birder sitting and watching 2 Chough just around 30 feet in front of her on the short grass here, great views were had, albeit straight into the strong sun. They then flew round the cliff face and 1 bird perched beneath the cliff top feeding by the sand, I managed a few pics here. They then flew around the edge of the cliff face. By the left hand side I saw a load of cattle and made my way over there where at first I saw a Raven on the cliff edge. Then 2 Choughs feeding in the long grass. I sat down watching them as they slowly walked towards me, oblivious of my presence. I admired their lovely jet black plumage glistening in the strong sunlight and their longish down curved red bill and long red legs. They continued to walk towards me until one bird was barely fifteen feet away, photography was tricky with the birds often obscured by the long grass and as the bird came closer and closer it was mostly obscured and a couple taking the cliff path flushed them and they flew a fair way right away from me. Walking back I saw a few 3 Razorbills, 5 Guillemots and fewer 2 Puffins on the sea below. The 2 Chough were then feeding on the grassy edge over to the right. Walking up the hill to go back was tough as I had to get back to the boat by 10.50am and hadn't allowed much time to do it with the Choughs showing so well. The boat took us over and walking up the steps, 2 very close Razorbills, 2 very close Guillemots and a Puffin were seen. Walking to the stop stage, another close Puffin seen. After the obligatory talk from the Warden volunteers, I made my way to the farm to take the converter off the camera. Then headed for the Wick to see the Puffins, taking the coastal path here within 10 minutes of the wick, I was delighted to see a very pale Short- eared Owl fly in from the left flying right and heading for the marshy area by the hide. At the Wick, several hundred c250 Puffins seen. Many Puffins seen standing with burrows either side of the path, spending just over an hour here I only saw 3 Puffins come in with Sand Eels stuffed in their bills. The one close bird, I couldn't get to in time because of the sheer number of people here c40 with one person even lying on the ground blocking any quick access which was disappointing. Several 3 Fulmars drifted by on the air currents, a Raven calling frequently flew by too. Walking around, by a rocky outcrop, a Chough was seen to the left under a rocky cliff face. Around 10 Meadow Pipits, 6 pairs of Oystercatchers seen too. On the way back down the steps I took full advantage of the close Guillemots and Razorbills and also enjoyed seeing around 60 Puffins swimming on the sea close by, but again several people had taken the best spots for viewing/ photography.

Tuesday, 17 June 2014

Wales: Dinas 12 June

After having to endure a horrendous 9 hour 50 minute journey to Wales (normally a 6 hour journey) lon Wednesday 11th June (hour queue to Dartford Bridge) accidents on the M25 and three accidents on the turn off to the M4 and around Reading and Newbury I needed some good birding the next day. On June 12, Mum and I visited the excellent RSPB Dinas reserve. having first seen Nuthatch come down to food scrapes in Mum's patio. On the journey there 1 Red Kite seen near Carmel, one Red Kite seen by Manordeilo. At Dinas, along the boardwalk just 30 yards from the car park I heard a Redstart singing and along the main boardwalk on the left hand side 2 Pied Flycatchers brought food to a nearby nest box often perching on branches nearby giving good views. The other side another 2 Pied Flycatcher seen plus a Nuthatch. Reaching the wood, I heard the trill of a Wood Warbler and looking across I saw up to 3 Wood Warbler showing reasonably well here. The target was Redstart and we had view of around 7 male Redstarts and 3 female Redstarts along the left west path. A pair of Redstarts was seen on the hill path initially and a newly fledged juvenile was perched on a branch, further along another juvenile Redstart was seen fairly high up in the tree against the sun, whilst in the wood, I hard and saw 3 male Redstarts were singing. One gave really good views and posed quite well for the camera. I also heard Tree Pipit also. A Beetle was seen on the path plus Wren and Song Thrush and Siskins were heard on a couple of occasions. By the river Grey Wagtail was seen too. Back on the boardwalk the Pied Flycatchers showed again by the nest box and a lovely male Redstart was sprawled out appearing to sun itself on the left hand edge of the boardwalk path. Driving back another Red Kite was seen at Manordeilo.

Monday, 9 June 2014

Walberswick Savi's Warbler

Yesterday Sunday 9th June at 7pm in the evening I drove to the Walberswick Hoist Covert car park and walked out to the mill, joining Dave H and several others looking from the path just north of the mill looking over the reeds. I heard hear snatching of the buzzing call as I walked up. One bloke arrived and said he could see the bird perched up on the dead reeds at the back, we couldn't see it. A newly arrived Alison & Chris A and we saw good views of an immature 3 Bearded Tits by a nearby dyke. Looking out to the beach area, a fenced off area and there were 5 fine Little Terns flying around, great to see them. I made up my mind to explore down the path extending westwards, Chris joined me and we walked down to the ridge path at the end. We looked but couldn't see the Savi's only hearing it occasionally very distantly. We looked at Reed and Sedge Warblers, one a piece and heard a distant Cuckoo. At around 8pm we decided to walk back and 100 yards from the mill we looked across a large cut reed area and could hear the buzzing clearly, I spotted a bird perched up a third of the way from the top it was brown with a very thick tail, extending out at the middle tips of the feathers. It was moving its head from side to side, it was the excellent Savi's Warbler. It then disappeared it had flown across east past the cut area and at reeds further back near a single birch tree. Chris refund the bird and having rung the others, we enjoyed almost continuous views of the bird singing from near the top of the reeds again the really thick tail was clearly seen, it turned around and showed its whitish throat pale buff on the breast long bill moving from side to side as it called its distinctive buzzing call. You could spot the bird more easily through the bins rather than the scope and sometimes it was obscured by reeds just in front. A Grasshopper Warbler started reeling the other side too.

Saturday, 7 June 2014

First Hummingbird Hawk Moth for 2014

Between 4.35 to 4.40pm today, Saturday 7th June I spotted a superb Hummingbird Hawk Moth flying around the Red Valerian feeding on the nectar of these flowers. The Moth was seen again fleetingly at both 5.10pm and 5.28pm too. Also in the garden the naturally occurring 3 Southern Marsh Orchids are starting to flower in our middle flower bed.

Spectacled Warbler at Burnham Overy Dunes Gun Hill

Early on Saturday 7th June, I left at 6am to drive up to Burnham Overy Staithe and 1 hour and 50 minutes later parking at the same spot (200 yards east of the village I took the long mile walk down to the Dunes and Gun Hill, where I had seen a superb Siberian Thrush in the 1990's (a long time ago!). I could see the line of birders all grouped together in the far distance. I took the long 25 minutes mile and a half long walk over to the Dunes and Gun Hill picking up the boardwalk and stepping off that by Gun Hill and walking around the back to join the assembled throng of around 40 birders all in a line. Walking to the middle I was fortunate enough to be closest of any at around just 10 metres from the nearest bush. The excellent Spectacled Warbler (only my 3rd UK one following sightings at Landguard, Suffolk and Scilly) then duly flew in with nest material then disappearing into the middle of the bush and then briefly perching up by a frond sticking up on the left hand end of the small Sueda bush. It then flew left and started singing its lovely scratchy song what has been called a "rattlesnake rattle" which is an apt description of its scratchy Sylvia Warbler call. for a few minutes before flying back. It would occasionally forage around in nearby bushes before always flying back with a beakful of material and to continue its nest. The Spectacled warbler was a really smart bird like a small slim Whitethroat with noticeable pale yellowish buff coloration on much of its lower mandible (the black on the lower mandible only seen by the tip of the bill), straw coloured legs, a reddy- brownish eye bordered bu a white eye ring which appeared more complete on its right side than the left. A slate grey crown face being much darker grey by the lores area the grey merged into a buff mantle and back with chestnut rufus on the wings. It had a white throat and pale dull buffy pink coloration on the underparts. (to be continued) The bird then hopped up o its favourite perch to the left of the bush foa few seconds before ageing flying left and even foraging amongst the bushes for nest material or perched right up singing its distinctive song on top a bush to the left. It always flew back and sometimes showed quite well in adjacent bushes before again flying back to its favoured bush with yet more nest material. Later on it flew right and we could here it singing in the distance before it flew back minutes later. A Cuckoo was heard in the distance too. The sky was starting to darken and the distant rumble of thunder were ominous waning signs of the storm about to one. So I and around 8 others packed up their optical gear and slowly walked back. In the gloom, a close male Linnet was singing on top a bush, its mate nearby. Also a Sedge Warbler was also seen singing very close nearby too. I caught up to other birders who kindly put me onto a fine Spoonbill flying away from us other the estuary and the western dunes by Burnham Overy Staithe on the right. Meanwhile on the marsh to the left, flying in the rain was a fine Little Tern, a belated first of the year for me and very welcome to see this sadly declining sea bird. By this time the heavens opened and we got a soaking, I was glad of the waterproofs for the camera gear and optics but the zip went on mine so I got a soaking!

Smart female Red- backed Shrike at Corton

On Thursday 5th June, a tweet from James B (another really great find from Craig at Corton!) had me scuttling over to the old Corton Sewage works compound so often a hotspot for rarities. This evening added to its fine tally as I walked down the Lane west of the compound I joined Andrew E, Paul & Jane F and a newly arrived Rob H. A very smart female Red- backed Shrike was perched on the fence. Often in close proximity to 2 Greenfinches also perched on the same wire or the one below. She perched like a sentinel and from here hunting foraying were launched on the weeds below just north of the perimeter wire and she would often return with a juicy beetle which ws promptly and gratefully devoured. Basically whew was reddish brown above with grey brown mantle and being more reddy- brown on the wings and a pale huffish cream below but qualified by a steel grey hooked bill. She had a darker brownish band extending back from the eye onto the rear of the ear coverts, a thin cream line provided the differentiation between the bottom of the crown and rear ear covert band. Brownish barring on the breast upper chest and flank sides. A really smart bird. She wouldn't allow a close approach so after all the others left, I skirted the fence keeping well in right by the fence and when she flew from a hunting foray to the eastern most fence I walked along hard in along the northern fence line and was able to get a little closer. Keeping strictly to the northern fence line without disturbing the bird I took shots through the wire. I often find this tactic works well in stalking birds without disturbing them and this proved the case here, too. She hunted from the middle of the compound before returning to the northern fence line where I watched her for a while before I eventually left her (it was now starting to cloud over and we were losing the brilliant sunshine which we had enjoyed previously).

A Wet Speyside

Our trip to Speyside started really as well gave a fond farewell to Oban and their charming Tysties. First stop was a a very sunny Glasdrum Woods and we were very fortunate to encounter a Moth trapping session in the car park. The only moth I could ID was a super Poplar Hawk Moth but there were a few northern specialities including… (to be continued)

Magic Mull & Iona

Our Scottish trip started in fine fashion when we pulled into the car park at… and Tony announced "I think I've got an Iceland Gull here!" and sure enough amongst the Gulls on the estuary the nearest one to us was a superb 1st summer Iceland Gull! A cracking start. The team was composed of our Scilly stalwarts John H and Tim H and we were joined by Tony S who had contributed so much to our enjoyable twitch for the Dusky Thrush in Maidstone in Kent on 18 May 2013. The Iceland Gull was in 1st summer plumage of whitish plumage with bill showing pale base and black tip. It was always the closest of a group of Gulls but was quite wary and would run back a little if people walked to close. Also on the estuary were several Hooded Crow hybrids with 1 or 2 genuine birds around also. Drving past Loch Fyne, we briefly stopped and saw a Whooper Swan. Wood Warbler was singing from a local wood too.