Tuesday 19 October 2010

A brief trip to Newhaven

I am trying to concentrate on increasing my British list, so I went to Newhaven to see the rose-coloured starling which had been around for a few days. It hadn't been reported by the time I got there, but on arrival, the small group had just seen it. After 5 or 10 minutes it appeared again, allowing some fairly distant views. I went round to the other side of the hollow and got a couple of additional shots before heading home in time for lunch.

Friday 15 October 2010

Norfolk - missed one got one!!

Left early today for the red-flanked bluetail at Waxham. Got there at 09.15 but went the wrong way. Spent a long time on the dunes. It didn't matter because the bird wasn't there. A ringtail hen harrier quartered the nearby field.

Hen harrier

As backup, went to see the Pallas's warbler at Warham Greens. That wasn't there either. There was a yellow-browed warbler though. As I hadn't got a shot of the one I saw for a millisecond at Holkham a couple of weeks ago, I decided to see if it would show. At the 'pit' the bird had been seen a few minutes before my arrival. I waited with the others and after a while a brambling appeared.


After a little longer the yellow-browed warbler appeared but it was very mobile and kept darting in and out of the ivy. I did get a shot but it was a little distant. I clearly wasn't going to get a better one so I headed back to the car as I had a long way to go.

Yellow-browed warbler

I had almost got back to the car when I met a couple I had seen earlier. Just at that moment the man saw the Pallas's warbler in the oak tree right by my car. I quickly got onto the bird in my binoculars, but it was even more mobile than the yellow-browed warbler!! It was in the top of the tree just below the canopy and then flitted in an out of the bushes giving tantalising views of its sillouette. Finally it flew to the bushes on the other side of the track and I was able to take a quick shot before it disappeared again. Well, the day hadn't been too bad after all.

Pallas's warbler

Tuesday 12 October 2010

Solitary sandpiper - an American vagrant.

Yesterday, I went further than I normally like to twitch for the solitary sandpiper at Black Hole Marsh, Seaton in Devon. I started off going to Chew Valley Lake for the ferruginous ducks but, when news came in that the sandpiper was still there, I re-set the satnav for Devon, my home county!!

On arrival the bird was fairly close; 40 metres but it then flew closer, under the bank where no-one could see it. Eventually it moved away as it fed and good views were had by all. It's very similar to a green sandpiper but has a dark rump in flight (green sandpiper is white), is slightly smaller and more delicately built and has narrower wings. The tail is thinner, too.

Solitary sandpiper.

After watching it for 45 mins I headed off to Chew Valley where I got distant views of the ferruginous duck about 500 metres away in a flock of about 1000+ tufted ducks and pochards.

Sunday 10 October 2010

Baird's and semi-palmated sandpipers in one day

I had a text from David Campbell to say he had a day off school and should we go for the semi-palmated sandpiper at Abberton reservoir. I wanted to go for it but was hoping to pull clear of David in our British lists. Ah, well! I do enjoy birding with David so off we went. We decided to go for the Baird's sandpiper at Holland Country Park first as the Abberton centre wasn't open when we arrived. The Baird's is an American wader. The hide was fairly close. It was a steel shipping container on top of another one. The bird was last seen a few minutes before we arrived (isn't it always the way!!) so some people leaving allowed us to get a seat by the window. An hour and 45 mins later the bird finally came into the open after many tantalising views of the top of its head and other small parts of its body. By the way, the main difference between this bird and a dunlin is that the wings are much longer. When the bird is standing, the wingtips extend far beyond the tail. I think this is visible in the picture below.

Baird's sandpiper.

Having got one in the bag, we quickly headed for Abberton where the reputed semi-palmated sandpiper was 500 metres away, albeit in good light. Close scrutiny of the several little stint sized birds by several birwatchers eventually concluded that the distant bird had to be the semi-palmated sandpiper. The photos I took are so distant / bad that I'm not putting them up. As an extra, little stint was a year tick for me as well!

We had to get back for David's tutor so we just had time for 15 minutes on the causeway before heading home. This produced 2 males and a female red-crested pochard. I was pleased about them. I had seen one in Hyde Park recently but David was not too happy that they were truly wild!

Red-crested pochards

Anyway, 2 lifers in one day was very satisfactory. We started back well pleased with ourselves.