Posts Tagged ‘Birdwatching Tours



05
Jun
14

Shear enjoyment

If there’s one British bird to stir up the imagination it’s the Manx Shearwater. Gliding effortlessly on stiff wings for many thousands of miles each year; not giving the worst of storms a second glance and looking smart with it. We saw several large rafts last month sat on the water between Mull and the Cairns of Coll off the Scottish Coast.

Manx Shearwater

03
Jun
14

Black Guillies!

When we were travelling up to Mull we stopped to photograph several Black Guillemots. Not common further south they are a refreshing change from our other Auks. Smart dapper little birds with their pied plumage and red legs; cheerful little characters.

Black Guillemot

Black Guillemot 1

30
May
14

Minke Whales off Mull

Mull is a great place to see wildlife and on our tour this year we saw two to three Minke Whales. These cetaceans are real show stoppers.

 

 

Minke Whale

18
May
14

A Bowl of Corncrakes

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Anyone who has tried to see a Corncrake will know just how secretive they can be; they are the models of stealth. You are looking where they appear to be calling from and a head pops up out of the vegetation yards away. Getting someone on it before it disappears is itself an art as descriptions of yellow flowers vie with those of red tipped leaf for the best direction indicators. Invariable the crake moves on before it’s seen well.

Not so on the Birders Tour to Mull last week; we were stood amidst an island of calling Corncrakes. As we watched a wonderful spring meadow respectfully from a distance the other side of a wall at one of the RSPB recommended viewing locations we were somewhat taken aback as this little chap made his way across the grass between sheep and geese … right out in the open.

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Corncrake2

04
May
14

Early Purples

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Some corking Early Purple Orchids this year. These spikes were sitting proud of the grass on the roadside in North Norfolk. Such a lovely orchid that doesn’t seem to mind the late frosts.

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Early Purple Orchid

11
Feb
14

Snowfall

We walked among a carpet of Snowdrops brought on by the mild weather; early flowers in a mild winter. As their heads danced in a gentle breeze I got to wondering if we are to have that long overdue cold snap or if we’ll get away with it!

Snowdrops

03
Feb
14

Waxring

We at last caught up with a Waxwing the other day. Not a host of them but an unusually single individual; a loner picking berries from a couple of bushes in the car park of a medical centre in Aylesham. I did hear another but couldn’t locate it. Unusually the bird was colour ringed. The first colour ringed Waxwing I have seen. Details were sent to the ringers. It was ringed as a first winter male on Great Southern Road in Aberdeen on the 28th December last year. It was last seen on the 23rd January on Scotstown Road, Bridge of Don in Aberdeen among a flock of 80 birds feeding on Ornamental Rowans. He’s supposed to be heading north in spring. I wonder where he thinks he’s going!

Waxwing

24
Dec
13

Merry Christmas

Looking at the display of Christmas cards here at Falcon Cottage almost everyone has a bird on it. That makes me smile. Merry Christmas to all. Enjoy the break from work and time with your families and soak up the spirit of Christmas. As for a photo; what could be more quintessentially Christmas than our ubiquitous Robin.

Robin

 

07
Nov
13

More on ‘that’ Sparrow

It’s now almost three months since the Sparrow showing features of Italian Sparrow was first seen on the 16th August at Falcon Cottage. Obviously with such a bird the only way of determining its true identity would be DNA analysis; although I am aware a description and photographs have already been submitted to the BBRC by someone who came to see the bird. To all those people who came to see the bird hoping for an ‘armchair tick’ I must offer my apologies. A DNA sample was never obtained although we did try.

After the young had fledged our first port of call was the nest. Have you ever seen a Sparrows nest? Enormous. I ‘supervised’ from the ground as Andy ’the monkey’ Benson retrieved a large carrier bag full of nesting material. Once we sorted through the several thousand feathers in the bag we ended up with a couple of likely candidates from ‘the’ sparrow – but to be fair nothing we could rely upon.

Our best chance of a DNA sample was to catch the bird and hope it shed a feather in the process of being ringed. We sought a ringer and found one. He came once and ringed several birds but despite teetering in the direction of the mist nets our target never succumbed. The ringer was called away to foreign climes so never had the opportunity to return. By the time we found a replacement ringer that had the time and/or the motivation to finish the job the sparrow had promptly disappeared. The last time I saw him was on Friday 27th September when he was sat on the hedge at the back of the house preening. Frustratingly a feather he removed caught the wing and flew over my shoulder at warp speed into the field never to be seen again.

So it remains to be seen if he returns through the winter or maybe next spring when we will try again to catch him. Rest assured I’ll keep an eye open should he avail himself to the rich pickings at the bird table.

In the meantime one or perhaps two young male sparrows have started to develop quite white cheeks and brown/grey crowns … hybrid sons of sparrow?

2013 09 20 Sparrow sp Northrepps Norfolk_Z5A1298

A final picture of the old boy after he’d completed his moult one week before he disappeared.

03
Nov
13

Flighty

I was already ‘togged up’ and locking the front door when I received Andy’s text. He’d found a Richard’s Pipit on the cliff top.

Richard’s Pipits are a vagrant from the Middle East not known for their showy nature. They are flighty and when they do ‘sit down’ they prefer long grass. Indeed their preference for thicker vegetation is often quoted as an identification feature over the similar Tawny and Blyth’s Pipits.

Andy phoned to say he had to leave but gave me some directions to where he had last seen the bird. The directions were spot on; it wasn’t long before I heard the distinctive flight call. I picked up the bird flying towards me among the smaller less wagtail like Meadow Pipits. It landed in the edge of the winter wheat and promptly ran into the long grass bordering the field.

It was a further hour or more before the bird sought fit to give good views; but it did … eventually.

I last saw it as I left trying its best to avoid being listed on a Kestrel’s lunchtime menu.

Richards Pipit




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