Thursday, 30 April 2009

Is the collared fly enough?

With the crested lark turning up in dungeness and my friend from home, eddie, going to see it I was left with a painful decision; stay and do the work I REALLY need to do and save the petrol I REALLY need to save or go for it an get my second mega lifer in as many days!!

Well I decided to trust my head and not my heart; something I rarely do!!
So here I am learning about transgenic plants whilst I hear the bird was showing 'brilliantly' :-(..hopefully I'm securing a 2.1 in my degree at least...!

Collared fly may not be as rare, but it's cooler, in my opinion, :-P so I shall rest easy in the hope that global warming will mean more of these scruffy haired skylarks end up on our shores and I get another day..

Now to turn the heating on full and open all the windows; just doing my bit... ;-)...sorry robbie!

A depressed but content Dan

Wednesday, 29 April 2009


News broke yesterday of a collard flycatcher at portland but details were a little sketchy, probably because it was in someones back garden.

However today after getting back from my lectures I saw it was viewable frmo the road, so after some gentle pressure on the guys we headed over to see it.

On the way a pied fly was reported nearby aswell, this is a bogy bird for me so I was very excited by this point.

After breaking the land speed record with Sam as my co-driver and Robbie for emotional back up we arrive to find a decent crowd of people:(Crowd pics from Sam White: well worth a look!)

The bird was visable right away and what a bid it was!!!! Stunning and a lovely male aswell, after shooting off a few recordshots of the bird I just watched it, working the tree and 'flycatching', it was fantastic!! right here are some EXTREMELY dodgy record shots:They don't do the bird justice but the view I had through I very kind blokes scope did!!

Happy with our views we went in search of the pied fly at reap lane, but no luck :( dip again with the pied :(. there was a steady trickle of swallows going past and heading north the whole time. the depression of missing another pied fly was nothing a quick trip back to see the collard couldn't sort out. After seeing it again we headed home, via a Morrisons salad bar, with smiley faces!

The next bit seems a little silly...
I have now seen spotted fly (obviously) ('phonescoped' hence bad quality as I didn't have my Dslr then):red-breasted fly (bedfordshire) and collard fly....but NO pied fly..when will I ever see one?!?

Great day with the team


Sunday, 26 April 2009

Keyhaven, Acres down and calshot

Great day in Hants today, leaving the house just after 7am we headed to Hurst for a sea watch.

Not much to start with but the little terns and common terns kept us busy:

Shrimp anyone?

Then a dark phase Arctic Skua passed through the solent, great year tick and a lifer for Robbie and Rebekah. Not long after the arctic another Skua was spotted, rebekah and I commented on the tail length and the size – it turned out to be a Pomarine Skua!! Great start to the day and a lifer for Sam, Robbie and Rebekah although it was distant. Some Whimbrel came in off as well.

Walking around the marshes at Keyhaven we saw many species, one of the highlights being lesser whitethroat (lifer for Robbie and Sam), rubbish photos I know:

Also on the non-bird front there was a rather large female adder:

And a little closer..

Chasing the common whitethroats about was getting annoying with no good pics, until one befriended us and we got very close indeed:

Many little egrets as usual:

Lots of black tailed godwits and a few bar-tails. There was a lovely summer plum turnstone and nearby a little ringed plover.

One male Wheatear put in an appearance which was nice.

An unseasonable barnacle goose, presumed plastic..

From here we went to Acres down in hope of seeing a wood warbler.

Picking up on call first we located one male, hearing approximately 3. Lovely birds and I will have to try and get a pic at some point.

Also here a strange feather from a mythical bird….any ideas?

A few other day list ticks here as well.

We then decided to go and try to see the groppers and nightingales at calshot.

No sign of either to start with but another male Wheatear on the beach was a nice start.

As it got a little later they started to call, with at least 4 male nightingales singing. We finally got our eyes on one and here is a rubbish record:

No groppers but I could hear a med gull in the hoard of black heads attacking a plowed field..

Stonechats seem to be a little more approachable at the mo..


Great 11 hours in the field and now I’m shattered!

85 species for the day and 177 for the year.


Tuesday, 21 April 2009

The New Forest

Nice trip to beulieu road and denny wood today.

On the way there we had a red kite soaring high above the roundabout to salisbury off the m27 - a lifer for robbie :-0.

When we first arrived there was a guy working in butterfly and moth conservation and trying to lure some male emperor moths to his females (moths again):all very interesting as when we return a few hours later both had attracted males off the heath and were mating.

Other highlights from the heath was a displaying trippit and hearing a dartford calling, also a male stonechat collecting what seemed to be hoverflys, yum yum:Many redstart calling on the fringes of the wood, one day I'll get a good pic of these:Next for some amphib action with both common toad:..and common frog being found:No sign of the marsh frogs yet..
We had a play around with manual focus trying to pick up hoverflys, was pretty tricky and I need more practise but here is a taster:Highlight of the trip was a lesser pecker (second lifer for robbie) up high in the trees in denny wood, lovely views in the bins, not so good when I got the cam on it:All the best!

Saturday, 18 April 2009

Nightingales at Paxton

Morning visit to Paxton was great, nightingales were calling all over the place but difficult to photograph:Saw some other common warbs too, including lesser whitethroat (my first of the year) and chiffchaff:

Friday, 17 April 2009

Arctic Terns at broom

Two lovely birds with long streamers but always distant until one of them pretended to continue north and flew right over our heads calling:
Thanks to Steve for the text about these :-).
I've Been going to broom early each morning for a few days now but it hasn't payed off, the local sprawks give us false hope sometimes by putting all the gulls up - one day it will be an osprey though..

I'm also determine to get some pics of the yammers there but so far when I have the camera with me they have not cooperated!

Tuesday, 14 April 2009

Portland Bill and white throated sparrow

Eddie and I left Stotfold at 5am feeling very tired but excited! Next stop off was Sam’s house in Mere to pick him and Robbie up at 7. We arrived at Radipole Lake about 9 were we pick up lots of year ticks and saw the much talked about hooded merganser and nice views of Cetti’s warblers:On to the Obs at Portland bill to hear we had missed a good morning sea watching :-(, which was made worst as sea watching was dreadful for the rest of the weekend despite the auks and some scoter moving about:Fulmar:On the second day after a heavy night at the pulpit inn I was feeling like death but there was a small fall of redstarts and we saw around 7:Lots of 'willow-chiffs' were rung aswel when we were there, this is a chiffchaff showing the pollen which is sent to labs to track the route the bird has taken on migration:There was also a small fall of wheatear so Sam, Eddie and I were trying to get close for some pics but they ended up coming to us where one male performed nicely:Skylarks and Rock Pipits were, as usual, showy and with some rock climbing I got some pics I’m happy with of the Rippit:This is a rock pipit/grey seal hybrid :-P, well my girlfriend said it looked like a seal, I can see what she means with how it is lying, but don't worry she knew it was a rock pipit really ;-).News broke of a White throated Sparrow near Winchester so we decided to endure the 1hour 45min drive to see it where there were lots of twitchers frantically searching for it.

After about an hour it showed briefly at the top of some hawthorn, what a lovely bird and I will defiantly be going back to see it!!:So now I have see white crowned (Cley) and white throated sparrow, two GREAT birds and GREAT lifers., here’s a pic of the white crowned:On the way back we popped in to Blashford Lakes to see the greater redpoll of suspected Greenland origin, also to see some mealies and lessers:
Mealy(above) lesser(below):
Lesser eyeing up a gnat for lunch:
The monster greenland greater redpoll, It's huge and a lovely bird:On our last day we were expecting some good wind for sea watching but it didn’t happen :-( so we headed off to radipole where we saw reed warbler, marsh harrier and lovely views of bearded tits:After dropping Sam off at home we had to drop Robbie in Southampton so thought we would pop over to the new forest and it really was worth it!

We had great view of Dartford warbler and a displaying tree pipit, in the same ‘binfull’ at one point!I almost trod on an adder too when watching them. We went on to see grass snake and common lizard and singing redstart.

When back at the car park we saw crossbill putting us on 89 species for the holiday

On the drive home we were hoping for ring-necked parakeet to bring us to 90 and were not disappointed with one flying over the car!!

Great holiday and looking forward to some early mornings in Bedfordshire now, hoping for something nice :-)
Few extra pics:
Shag showing the extreme life they live with the wave crashing in the background:Dunnock at the bill:
And the Obs little owl:
Lovely time and such a friendly environment at the Obs with the experienced birders and ringers at the obs always willing to help and show us things, many thanks to them!