Saturday, 31 May 2014

RSPB Saltholme, Cleveland

Red-backed Shrike 1 male
Little Stint 2
Little Gull 4 1st summers
Little Ringed Plover 2
Avocet 4

Year: 251 (Little Stint)

So I've ended May on 251 for the year, which compares with 197 at the end of May last year. It seems likely that I'll beat last years record breaking total by the end of June this year, but it remains to be seen how close to 300 I can get by the end of the year. Not very close if I keep turning down opportunities to go to see birds like the Short-toed Eagle in Dorset. Ouch! Perhaps it will stay all summer.....

My third Red-backed Shrike of the spring, but always a stunning bird and an opportunity not to be missed.

Four-spotted Chaser.

Saltholme RSPB.

Woodchat Shrike, Hummersea, Cleveland

Woodchat Shrike 1 1st summer male
Red-throated Diver 1 summer plumage

Year: 250 (Woodchat Shrike)

My 6th Woodchat Shrike in the UK.

Bee-eaters, South Gare, Cleveland

Bee-eater 2

Year: 249 (Bee-eater)

We arrived at South Gare near Middlesbrough at about 8:30am and thank goodness we did! The forecast was for a lovely sunny day, but at that time it was still dull, overcast and slightly misty, just what we needed to keep the Bee-eaters in situ. Blue skies usually spell disaster when you're hunting Bee-eaters, because it's usually their cue to go. However, within minutes of leaving the car we picked one up on call and then saw it flying high above us. After a minute or so it dropped down into a bush and we walked as close as we dared to avoid flushing it. We were quickly joined by other birders, and then the lone Bee-eater was joined by a second bird. We watched as the birds periodically flew up, caught bees and returned to their perches to eat their meals. Then suddenly at 9:15am, just as the sun was breaking through, the Bee-eaters flew high, calling, and headed north and were never seen at South Gare again. Not the best photos but the views through the scope were stunning.

Goodbye to South Gare!

South Gare is a very industrial landscape, but there are masses of habitat.

Thursday, 29 May 2014

Montagu's Harrier, King's Fleet, Suffolk

Montagu's Harrier 1 1st summer male
Marsh Harrier 1 male
Channel Wagtail 1 male
Yellow Wagtail 1 male

Year: 248 (Montagu's Harrier)

I had great views of the Montagu's Harrier as it hunted across wheat fields and rape fields at King's Fleet near Felixtowe. My first Monty in the UK since the one I found on Reed's Moss in St. Helens back in 2001, and only my third ever in the UK.

First impressions when seeing an unexpected Monty can be that it looks like a huge falcon, and in fact when I saw the bird on Reed's Moss in 2001, my first reaction was "bl#!dy hell, that's a big falcon!".

As you can see in this photo, the harrier appears to be carrying a dragonfly.

Channel Wagtail. My second Channel Wagtail this year, following one at Leasowe in April. Channel Wagtail is a Yellow x Blue-headed Wagtail hybrid.

A14 just west of Kettering

Hobby 1
Red Kite 1

Year: 247 (Hobby)


Turtle Dove 1
Sandwich Tern 2
Cuckoo 1
Green Woodpecker 1

Nice views of the Turtle Dove, sitting on a wire and purring away.

Tuesday, 27 May 2014

Eccleston Mere

Gadwall 2 (m&f)
Kingfisher 1
Tufted Duck 5
Buzzard 1

Very quiet.

Rough-legged Buzzard??? No, this is a Common  Buzzard hovering over the fields at the mere. For comparison, below is a photo of a genuine Rough-legged Buzzard hovering, which I took on Anglesey in 2012.

Frodsham Marsh

Red-necked Grebe 1 adult summer on Weaver Bends
Lesser Scaup 1 adult male on No. 6 tank
Marsh Harrier 1 male carrying prey over No. 6 tank

None of these birds were even Frodsham ticks, let alone life or year ticks!

Lesser Scaup

Red-necked Grebe.

Monday, 26 May 2014

Long-tailed Skua, Hatfield Moor

Long-tailed Skua 1 adult
Turtle Dove 1 displaying and calling
Tree Pipit 1 displaying
Cuckoo 1 calling
Garden Warbler 1 singing

Year: 246 (Long-tailed Skua)

Dragonflies: 4 Hairy Dragonflies, 1 Broad-bodied Chaser, 5 Four-spot Chasers. These were my first Hairy Dragonflies.

Beetles: Green Tiger Beetle

The Long-tailed Skua was both a stunning and remarkable sight, flying around in the middle of the Hartfield Moor NR peat diggings known as Packard South. This is a huge reserve, and it was nearly a 3 mile walk from the car park to where the bird was showing, and yet three quarters of the reserve still stretched away in front of us. At first I thought that it was an odd place to see a Long-tailed Skua, but I suppose that's only if you consider the species from a British point of view as a passage sea bird, but Hatfield Moor is probably quite similar to its breeding grounds.

With a year list of 246, this year is now already my second best year ever and I'm only 13 behind last years record of 259. This time last year I was on 197.

Green Tiger Beetle.

Broad-billed Sandpiper, Nosterfield LNR, North Yorks

Broad-billed Sandpiper 1
Dunlin 10
Avocet 10
Lesser Whitethroat 1 singing

Year: 245 (Broad-billed Sandpiper)

The Broad-billed Sandpiper was my 4th. It was asleep most of the time, but when it did move it showed very well and we could clearly see its head markings.

Sunday, 25 May 2014

Little Bittern, Elton Reservoir

Little Bittern 1 adult male
Common Scoter 1 adult male
Common Tern 1

Year: 244 (Little Bittern); North West: 350

At last Elton Reservoir came up trumps! After dipping on the White-winged Black Terns at the same place last week, I made the grim journey along the M60 and through Bury with a heavy heart today. The threatening black clouds overhead did nothing to ease the feeling of impending doom, as I confidently expected to dip again with a bird which can be skulking and difficult at the best of times.

However, it had showed well this morning apparently, so I waited patiently with the ever increasing crowd of birders, hoping that it would perform again. After an hour though, it hadn't reappeared and the heavens opened. I decided enough was enough, vowed never to return, and started walking back towards the car.

I hadn't gone 100 yards, when I looked back to see pandemonium! Birders were running, others were peering through scopes, and the rest were clicking away at cameras! I joined the ranks of the former and legged it back to the crowd. After an anxious 30 seconds, I found the bird sitting in a small willow tree, an obscured view but never the less a big relief! Then it dropped down and was gone again. However, it was now clearly active again, so I waited a bit longer. Finally, after about another 20 minutes, it flew out of the willow and gave us all a 60 second aerial display before dropping down again into a bush. That was my cue to go. Elton Reservoir had redeemed itself...... for the time being.

Saturday, 24 May 2014

Spurn, East Yorkshire

Red-breasted Flycatcher 1 female
Red-backed Shrike 1 female
Little Tern 10
Dark-bellied Brent Goose 30
Avocet 5
Wheatear 1

Year: 243 (Red-breasted Flycatcher, Little Tern)

Red-breasted Flycatcher, my fourth species of flycatcher so far this year.

Female Red-backed Shrike.

Little Tern.


Filey Brigg, East Yorkshire

Red-backed Shrike 1 male
Puffin 3
Gannet 10

Year: 241 (Red-backed Shrike)

Filey Brigg.

North Cave Wetlands

Mediterranean Gull 1 adult
Little Gull 1 1st summer
Avocet 10
Little Ringed Plover 8
Common Tern 10

Friday, 23 May 2014

Surveying Great Crested Newts

It's been a busy few days, I've been in Warwickshire doing a variety of surveys, including bats, reptiles, great crested newts and birds. Tiring stuff, up at dawn and still working at midnight, but all very interesting. Below are a couple of photos of great crested newts from this morning, a male and a female.



Popular Posts