Tuesday, 19 May 2009


Right. I've been away a lot recently and very busy,.........and also very lazy! I partly blame the fact that my digital camera has died (shortly after photographing the Piping Plovers, they must have blown it's tiny binary mind). Not having photographs to post takes the fun out of it a bit!
Anyway, here's the mega-edited highlights of what I've seen recently.

Spurn 16th-17th May (With Laurence Pitcher and Lee Amery)

Pied Fly 2
Whinchat 4
poss rubicola Stonechat
Spotted Fly
Marsh Harrier

Dipped several Ickys. Missed the East winds by a day. Still, was very nice to be out and about at Spurn. Very 'birdy' place in all ways.

Grove Ferry/Stodmarsh 13th May (With Laurence Pitcher)

Black-winged Pratincole 1
Temminck's Stint 1
12 Black Terns
2 Garganey
Little Stint 1 (sum plum)

Twitch on! Pratincoles are amazing birds. Pratincoles in Britain are fucking amazing birds. Enough said.
Plus, my best ever views of Black Terns (down to 8 feet overhead!) and finding a Temminck's Stint.

Walthamstow Resrs. 12th May

1 Hobby (No.1)
1 Oystercatcher

Horsey/Waxham 3rd May

1 Ring Ouzel
Yellow Wag
Grasshopper Warbler

Hickling Broad 2nd May

1 Hobby
7 Whimbrel
1 Greenshank

My closest ever views of Grasshopper Warbler (reeling out in the open at 20ft) plus finding a Ring Ouzel were the highlights of this trip.

Cairngorms 23rd-26th April

Capercaillie 2 males (lekking at Loch Garten RSPB)
Black Grouse 1 male (come across by chance......somewhere)
Golden Eagle 3cy Linn of Dee
Ptarmigan Cairngorm Plateau
Red Grouse Frequent in most upland areas

4 grouse whammy in 36 hours. This belies the nature of the trip though. This was no car-bound year-tick fest. A walk through the Lairig Ghru; a footpath pass, right across the Cairngorm range; with my old mate Mat, was the focus of this trip.
It was a 2 day walk through the pass, leisurely, from the Linn of Dee to Coylumbridge. An amazing landscape.
After that I spent 2 days blatting around the Cairngorm forests. Siskins are abundant up here! I see how they are becoming the most populous Carduelis. Crested Tits were also about, as were Red Squirrels. Two Capercailles put on an amazing show at Loch Garten, fortunately after most people had left the hide. This particular attraction is becoming very popular.
As an aside I'd just like to add that the Caledonian forests of Rothiemurcus and Abernethy are probably the most beautiful places in all of Britain. Go there!

The male Black Grouse that I stumbled across, walking slowly and warily across a forest ride not 30 yards away, was undoubtedly the highlight of this trip.

New York, NY, USA. 15th-18th April

Centaral Park 15/04

Yellow-throated Warbler 1
Louisiana Waterthrush
Pine Siskin

Jamaica Bay etc. 16/04


Piping Plover 5
Northern Harrier
Purple Sandpiper

American Woodcock (display flight)
Yellow-crowned Night Heron

also around.....

Blue-grey Gnatcatcher
Savannah Sparrow
Field Sparrow
Chipping Sparrow
Cooper's Hawk
American Kestrel
Purple Finch
Palm Warbler
Pine Warbler

YT Warbler down to 2 feet!! All good...

Saturday, 18 April 2009

New York NY

Piping Plover, what a bird!

post to follow when i get back

Monday, 6 April 2009

Larus minutus

South-easterly wind? Early April? The signs were looking good for a Little Gull today. Sure enough a text from northern rustic at 0900 revealed there was one at Stoke Newington Res already. As soon as I was free, about 1200, I headed off to my nearest large body of water, Lockwood. Sadly no joy here, but I did bump into Lol Bodini, so we headed off and gave the whole site a quick once-over.
Highlights included a nice female Wheatear on Lockwood and Common Sandpiper there. Cetti's Warbler and Sand Martin were noted on the Southern group.

Not quite satisfied yet I decided it was time for the big guns, so I headed off to KGV.
It looked good and I pretty much ran up the embankment! Sure enough a quick scan revealed a couple of Little Gulls out in the middle. Excellent! Then a few more... and another party. I ended up with a maximum of 22 birds! Most of them were adults in varying staes of 'hoodedness' plus 2 first summers and 1 second summer. In amongst them were 2 Common Terns, my first of the year.

Little Gull 22
Common Tern 2
Goldeneye 3
Teal 8
Sand Martin 4

Apologies for the crap photos!


Middx Filter Beds 0830

Chiffchaff 2
Stock Dove
Jay (on nest)
Redwing 12

Waterworks NR 0850

Cetti's Warbler
Sand Martin 4 (prospecting nest holes)
Snipe 7
Reed Bunting (singing male)
Teal 9
Pochard 6
Shoveler 1
Willow Warbler 2

Walthamstow Marshes 1000-1330

Reed Bunting
Green Sandpiper 2 (relief channel)
Willow Warbler
Skylark (briefly singing)
Common Buzzard 2 (both WNW, 1255 and 1330)

Finally broke my local large raptor duck with 2 Buzzards in an hour and a half sky-watching on Walthamstow Marsh! Duck and Snipe numbers dwindling fast on Waterworks. Lots of Willow Warblers about today.

Thursday, 2 April 2009

Waterworks NR

0845-1000 C:8/8, NE 2


A cold start to the day today. Fully overcast with a chill NE breeze. First Willow Warbler of the year was singing away though! Single Swallow and Sand Martin together overhead. Teal numbers holding their own, but Snipe seem to be dwindling slowly.

Sunday, 29 March 2009

Surrey 26th-27th March

Ring-necked Duck

Frithend Sand Pits- a strange place for any bird let alone a rare one!

A couple of days back at the old family ranch (well, bungalow) near Farnham. Managed a few hours in the field whilst I was there. Thursday afternoon at Frensham Little Pond yielded a House Martin amongst half a dozen Sand Martins brought in by a heavy squall, as well as Siskin, Redpoll and a couple of singing Woodlarks thereabouts. I nipped over to Frithend sand pits (or Grunton, as it's also known) at about 5pm to twitch the Ring-necked Duck that's been around all winter there. Very handsome it was too. What a mad place for a rare aythya to turn up! There are only about 15 Tufties there as it is. This part of Surrey seems to get almost as many Ring-necks as County Clare. Not that I'm suspiscious or anything.....!
A quick return to the Little Pond at dusk revealed no Bitterns. They were last seen on the 21st apparently. There have been up to 4 (!) here this month. I did however catch 26 Sand Martins passing through, a roost of about 60 Pied Wags (being bombed by a cracking male Sparrowhawk at one point) and a nice Kingfisher.
On Friday afternoon I had a quick squizz at Tice's Meadow (of Crag Martin fame). Nice habo going on. A flash on the meadow held 2 LRP's whilst the wash-out ponds had a Snipe, 2 Teal and 2 Shoveler. Skylarks were singing and a few Stock Doves were feeding in the grass.

Tuesday, 17 March 2009



1 Jack Snipe
26+ Snipe
24 Teal
10 Shoveler
9 Pochard
1 singing male Reed Bunting