Friday, 3 March 2017

The Dark Side

Well, today I turned to the Dark Side and went twitching.  My British list was standing at 327 and I feel that to improve on that I will have to make more of an effort, even though I am not a big fan of birding by numbers.  Today I headed to York in search of the Pine Bunting that has been there for the last month.
When I arrived there was only one other birder there and when I was talking to him, he told me that he had been three times and not seen the bird, so it wasn't looking good.  After about 30 minutes the whole flock was flushed by something and headed off further up Intake Lane.  So I followed with one other birder.  When we arrived at the other field the bird had been seen in, there was already one birder standing in the middle of the field scanning all the Buntings and Finches. 
After about five minutes he shouts "There it is" and low and behold there,  sat in a little bush, on the opposite side of the field was the Pine Bunting, who hoo number 328 in the bag!  We moved further across the field to get unobscured views, as it sat there for 3 or 4 minutes before doing a disappearing act again.  It turned out that the birder that was already standing in the field was the actual finder of the bird.  So I picked a good day to go down for it, having his local knowledge of the bird on hand!  
  

Friday, 27 January 2017

Oh for a bit of light

I started at Whittle Dene this morning to see if the Bewick's Swan was still there, but only a single Whooper was in with a family of Mute Swans. 

 I then headed to Northumberlandia where I added Mr M of Cramlington to my birders year list.  It was nice to see over 100 Brambling here as well as a female Scaup on one of the ponds.  I could have got some descent photos if only there had been a little bit light.  I'm not greedy I didn't want full sunshine, but a little bit of light would have been nice.



Brambling @ Northumberlandia


Redwing @ Northumberlandia



Scaup @ Northumberlandia

Saturday, 21 January 2017

What a Loon!

A few shots from todays Pacific Diver twitch at Druridge.





                                              Pacific Diver @ Druridge Bay Country Park


                                                              Stonechat @ East Chevington




    Twite @ East Chevington

Tuesday, 17 January 2017

A Dull Start

This morning I had a bit of a run around to kick start my year list, adding Iceland and Glaucous Gull, Black Redstart, White-fronted Goose and Waxwing.






Florida Again

In October we headed across the pond to Florida.  As well as birding around the hotel grounds, we did venture out and about birding a few times.  Sites visited were Bok Tower Gardens,  Lake Parker, Merritt Island, Hal Scott Reserve and Lake Kissimmee.




The view from our room at Disney's Art of Animation.



Tiger Swallow @ The Animal Kingdom.



Ruby-throated Hummingbird @ Bok Tower Gardens.



             Ruby-throated Hummingbird @ Bok Tower Gardens.



Blue Jay @ Bok Tower Gardens.



Purple Gallinule @ Lake Parker.



Belted Kingfisher @ Merritt Island.



Black & White Warbler @ Merritt Island.



Florida Scrub Jay @ Merritt Island



Florida Scrub Jay @ Merritt Island.



Gopher Tortoise @ Merritt Island.



Reddish Egret @ Merritt Island.



American Kestrel @ Shingle Creek.



Yellow-bellied Sapsucker @ Hal Scott Reserve.



Eastern Bluebird @ Hal Scott Reserve.



Lubber Grasshopper @ Hal Scott Reserve.



Bachmann's Sparrow @ Hal Scott Reserve.



Crested Caracara @ Lake Kissimmee.



Brown-headed Cowbird @ Lake Kissimmee.



American Bittern @ Lake Kissimmee.



Alligator @  Lake Kissimmee.



Alligator @  Lake Kissimmee.



Baby Alligator @  Lake Kissimmee.



Least Sandpiper @ Lake Kissimmee.



Red-winged Blackbird @ Lake Kissimmee.

Monday, 20 June 2016

Highland Fling

I have recently spent a superb week in Aviemore with my family.  On our first full day there, we decided to climb Cairngorm as the weather forecast was really good and amazingly they got it right!

On the walk up we saw lots of Mountain Hare and one or two Ptarmigan.


After a stop at the Ptarmigan cafe for a coffee we continued up to the summit.  Despite a good scan around the summit for Dotterel, all we found were more Ptarmigan with a very brief view of a Snow Bunting.  It was great being on the top of Cairngorm with no wind and actually feeling the heat of the sun.  


After spending a couple of hours up there we just couldn't find any Dotterel so decided to call it a day.  We were just leaving the cafe after having lunch when it started to rain, so we decided to get the train back down.  Which, as it turned out, was a very good decision as it very quickly turned into a torrential downpour. 

The next day we started with a walk around Loch an Eilein, hearing three or four Cresties although we only got a brief view of one.  Also heard, but not seen, were Crossbill, Redstart and Tree Pipit.  As with everywhere we went during the week, there were good numbers of Spotted Flycatcher.  
We then headed to Abernethy Forest to see if we could improve on the views of Crestie.  We did get better views but they stayed high up in the trees and well out of the range of my camera, as did a single juvenile Crossbill.

To keep my daughter happy we had a day at the Highland Wildlife Park, which is always a nice day out. 





Mid week we had a trip along the Findhorn Valley and after getting distant views of a Golden Eagle from the car park, we decided to have a walk further up the valley.  After about a mile and three quarters (remembering I had left my camera in the car half way) we sat down for a snack and a drink.  Whilst setting up the scope I managed to break the hood on my 20-60x eyepiece (it has been dodgy for a while).  As I was sitting there trying to fix the eyepiece, Gwen, my wife, pointed out a Buzzard to my daughter Amy.  As I looked though my binoculars it was then I saw a white tail with a dark terminal bar, then the bird turned and I could see the white patches on the under wing.  "That's no Buzzard, it's a Golden Eagle" I said frantically trying get my spare 32x eyepiece out of my scope back pack.  Then the first Eagle was joined by a second and whilst getting the scope onto them Gwen said there's another one coming along the hillside.  Three Golden Eagles together, unbelievable!!  The third bird drifted off over the valley and was soon joined by a fourth Eagle and then the two of them disappeared behind a hill.  The original two Eagles then landed on a closer hill with one of them sitting in full view, preening.  After giving us, and another birder that came along, good views for half an hour or so, the Eagle took off and disappeared behind the hill.  This was a good time to head back to the car for lunch.  

The next few days were spent walking around various forests in the area checking out some new locations.  


We also had a trip up on the funicular railway hoping to pick Dotterel up on the ridge opposite the cafe, but all I saw were Ring Ouzel and Ptarmigan.  


We also had a trip on the Strathspey Railway which is always nice.



On our last day Gwen suggested climbing Cairngorm again to have one last try for Dotterel before we set off home.  However when we got up in the morning it was grey and overcast with the cloud very low on the mountain, but it was forecast to clear later on.  We drove up to the car park in cloud and I went into the ranger station to ask what the weather was like at the top.  The ranger told me that he had just spoken to the top station and the weather was glorious up there, so we set off up the windy ridge trail.  Just over half way up we came out of the cloud into glorious sunshine.


A little bit further on two Ptarmigan crossed the path and fed between the snow fences.



Gwen and Amy went into the cafe for a drink and I continued up to the summit to look for Dotterel.  As I approached the summit I could see a group of birders up there.  Suddenly one of them pointed at something and they all focused on one area.  When I got closer to them I could see what they were looking at, a superb Dotterel!



Whilst me and the other birders sat watching the Dotterel three Snow Bunting including a very nice male, flew in and landed right in front of us. 


A bit later on Gwen and Amy joined me at the top and were both able to get great views of the Dottrell too.  What a day to end a superb weeks holiday in the highlands!!