Sunday 21 October 2012

Oli, Oli, Oli .......

Made the long journey north into Fife yesterday for the now seemingly long staying Eastern Olivaceous Warbler at Kilminning. A bird that eventually showed well in brief spells throughout the morning. A good supporting cast of Radde's Warbler, Red-breasted Flycatcher and Yellow-browed Warbler put thoughts of the long drive home firmly out of mind.

A slight detour on the way home for the (elusive) Pallas's Warbler at Knott End-on-Sea was a fitting way to round off a tiring but enjoyable day.

Monday 15 October 2012

Save The Best Till Last

October 5th and it was time for my return to Shetland for 8 days. The days prior to my visit had seen a good fall of birds throughout Shetland with Whalsay alone hosting Blyth's Reed Warbler, Lanceolated Warbler and Red-flanked Bluetail, all caught so would have made very welcome ringing ticks. Maybe next year?
The Friday i arrived the weather was amazing with warm autumn sunshine and blue skies. A diversion on my way north for a lifer? Siberian Stonechat at Hoswick, as you can see it performed well. Also managed to pop in and see Lee at the Orca Inn for a catch up, chatting away whilst a Wood Warbler whizzed over our heads.

The next stop via Tesco's was to see the Adult American Golden Plover at Tingwall.Seen plenty of AGP's but never an adult, very nice as well.

Unfortunately that was going to be the best of the birds until the following Friday? NW for the next 5 days made sure migration was temporarily put on hold. A visit from Phil Woolen, Matt Meehan and Chris Griffin to isle meant a long and frustrating day in the field, with a solitary Yellow-browed Warbler the best for our efforts. We resigned ourselves to photographing the local Kittiwakes.

The SE winds arrived on Wednesday night, thankfully. Thursday morning and we were watching Blackcap, Goldcrest and Chiffchaff over breakfast. A mist net session in the plantation at Skaw produced nearly a dozen Goldcrest, 2 Blackcap and a Blackbird but still we couldn't find any rares. Friday morning saw the first arrival of Thrushes with scores of Redwing and the odd Fieldfare moving through the isle. John Lowrie, nursing a bad back decided to bird at injured pace in the south of the isle, whilst Brian and I started from the north. John's decision soon paid off? A call to say he had either a Radde's or a Dusky Warbler at Symbisiter (in the Veery garden). Seen briefly a couple of times and constantly tacking was all John had had, so we positioned ourselves at various points to view the garden and waited. I managed a decent bins view to say it was definitely a Dusky Warbler then managed to position a net in the garden with the hope of catching it. A short time later we had our bird and very nice it was too, for a small brown job! 

One of the highlights of the visit was 2 nights of the Northern Lights.

Sunday 23 September 2012

Head On

Still the debate goes on. So some head on shots nicely showing crown and nape. Photos as they came off the camera.

Friday 21 September 2012

Peep Show

Another excellent day birding along the North Wirral coast, with the sole intention of trying to secure video footage (and a sound recording) of the Semipalmated Sandpiper. Unfortunately, whilst it was still showing well it was keeping a reserved distance. I mooted on the drive over that we should really find a Baird's or similar, sure enough whilst searching for the Semi-P a fellow birder picked out a White-rumped Sandpiper. Like earlier it showed very well but kept its distance hence the very fuzzy photo. Another great find and more reason to keep searching.

Internet chatter being what it is, the (now as far as i  am concerned) Semi-P is getting a damn good grilling. And i suppose to a certain extent rightly so, after all this how we can improve our own ID techniques. Various other photos, excellent as they are seem to show the Semi-P in light which can add/throw contrast and colour. In the field the peep really is very drab gingery brown and not the rufous toned bird depicted in other photos. I went through some other shots from Wednesday just to try and show how it appears in the field. I hope they are of use.

Wednesday 19 September 2012

Bloody Peeps?

A couple of (half) days working on the wrong side of the river in Maghull has meant a couple of decent days seawatching from the correct side (via the mersey tunnel) at Leasowe. A good couple of hours yesterday with Alan Conlin produced 15+ Leach's Petrel including a few lingering close inshore, Arctic Skua, 8+ Bonxies including 1 over the car park, 4+ Manx Shearwater, 2 Fulmar, Razorbill, 10+ Gannet and 2 Kittiwake.
Today produced 6 Leach's Petrels, Arctic Skua, 3 Bonxies, Manx Shearwater and a GC Grebe.

Today's great excitement wasn't quite out to sea but on the shore down at Hoylake? An earlier text from Alan Conlin informed me he was checking through waders at Hoylake before doing a seawatch. This ultimately paid dividends. A call from Alan asking "was i on my way" was then met by the news he had just found a Semi-P whilst checking through the wader flock. The tide was approaching fast and even though there is only 4.5 miles between the sites the drive is less than straight forward. Arriving at the infamous Hoylake bus shelter i joined Alan and Mark Turner unfortunately the bird had typically flown, but it wasn't long before it was relocated fortunately directly in front of us (myself and Frank Duff) affording us fabulous views. Upon leaving Hoylake for home Alan called wondering if the peep was actually a Western Sandpiper. I can't add anything to the conversation other than pictures. They may help?

Sunday 9 September 2012

Return of the Jedi

.....Only in a another life i think. Seems like an age since i actually updated, oh wait it has been an age. Well not a great deal has been happening, lots of work and thats about it. Managed to get out yesterday making the journey to Dorset for the Short-billed Dowitcher at Lodmoor, Fairly elusive for the first 30 minutes then came out into the open to please the swelling crowd. An iPhone-scoped effort as it sensibly kept a safe distance.

A short drive away on Portland was my highlight of the day, a Monarch butterfly was found the day previous and was still resident around a small buddleia bush in Easton along side numerous red Admirals . Sunning itself in the warm sunshine it gave fabulous views. A butterfly i have always wanted to see. Tick.

Monday 9 July 2012


No bird related news to talk of with the miserable weather continuing, so i will have to be content with my latest visit to Silverstone for the British Grand Prix! Like last year i was fortunate enough to hang out in the GP2/GP3 paddock with Arden International. A long day on Saturday (7.30am-11pm) but good results kept the spirits high. Easily the star attraction this season in GP2 and currently leading the championship is the Brazilian Luiz Razia, fortunately racing at Arden. He had an excellent weekend with a 5th placed finish on Saturday in the feature race and 1st place on Sunday in the sprint race.

Razia's team mate at Arden is young Swiss driver Simon Trummer who also had an excellent weekend although the results didn't quite show that. 15th on Saturday and 11th on Sunday.

 A very happy Luiz Razia retuning to the paddock after his sprint race victory on Sunday.

A rather disappointed looking Davide Valsecchi returning to the paddock after finishing 2nd to Luiz in Sundays sprint race.

The young up-and-comers (18-19yo) all race in the GP3 series. Current championship leader also with MW Arden is Mitch Evans who had an excellent weekend with a 2nd on Saturday and 11th on Sunday.

Mitch's teammate Matias Laine had a mixed weekend with a 9th and 18th but comfortably consolidates his 5th place in the championship.

More to come from the Porsche Supercup, the F1 Classics and of course the GP.