Sunday, 15 October 2017

Dorset round 2! 14/10/2017

Another 5.30am alarm adventure beckoned, and I joined Nick and Tara on a trip that saw them visiting Dorset for the second weekend in a row. After coffee and almond croissants (I made a right mess) at Starbucks en route, we arrived at RSPB Arne for my second visit to the site. We had a quick listen out for firecrest, but with none forthcoming while Nick got the lowdown on the Stilt Sandpiper (apparently might have been predated  the day before! I was sure the news would have gotten out if that was the case though), we headed off. 

We watched the gathered waders at high tide for a while, with nearby darties calling but not showing themselves, before I spotted a male marsh harrier flying over. Green woodpeckers were seemingly everywhere after Tara pointed out the first one. There were hundreds of avocet and lots of waders, including a few smaller candidates, but we knew we were going to have to wait for the tide to drop a little to see if our bird was still kicking.  

We made our way down to the hide, through a trench cut into the banking and took our places. However, hunger bested me and while I had my sandwiches early Nick and Tara scanned the assembled waders. Nick started making some encouraging noises and set the scope on some birds.. Tara and I checked them, but his particular bird had moved out of shot. He shortly readjusted and I checked again..YES!! Stilt Sandpiper in the bag, back from the dead. Noticeably different from the others present, but difficult to keep track of at such distance. Nick had done well to find it when he did as a harrier came through, presumably the male from earlier, and scared stuff away. 

With that, we made a move and headed back to the car, checking by the rare raft spiders pond on the way. There was only one on view that we had time to check for, but what a creature!

Back at the car park we enlisted help from the local RSPB staff member whom Tara knew, and we tried playback in the area that he does the ringing. When that failed, we headed to a spot the other side of the car park and tried again. That time, instantly a small inquisitive bird came to see, and with it being so dark in the lane and the constant movement amongst the leaves and branches, I couldn't quite clinch the ID at first. It even put me in mind of a chiffy from below, and it was only being able to see the eye stripe that we were able to confirm it. It was a situation where my 10x bins didn't really help matters, but just goes to show again how difficult ID in the field can be given adverse conditions.

Our next stop was RSPB Lodmoor where we weren't quite sure on our plan of attack. We headed to the shelter, and met Adrian and some of the Glamorgan BC birders who tipped us off as to where the lesser yellowlegs was hanging out. There was an awesome amount of birds on display from the shelter, green sandpiper, snipe, GWE, spoonbill,  kingfisher amongst others.

Retracing our steps on the way over to the second yankee wader of the day we wondered what the purpleish daisy-like flower was everywhere we looked. Ai-lin later informed me that it was sea aster. Nick's Birdguides informed us that a bluethroat was at Newport Wetlands, but our sickened feeling was brushed aside when we found it it was ringed and in a part of the reserve with no access.


Shortly after arriving to where we had been told to expect the lesser yellowlegs, I clocked it with the naked eye, and confirmed it quickly with the bins. It stuck out a mile on a bank, and we had some great views before it dropped out of sight for a little while.

After re-emerging the bird was clearly on alert, as you can tell from the posture in this second shot when this juvenile gull flew overhead. 

Little stilt, dunlin, ruff, and godwits were all in close, and I was amazed at what Lodmoor had to offer - much better than my previous visit!

After that we made our way to Portland where we stopped for a little while on Avalanche Road to explore the nearby copse for YBW. No luck, but we did bump into Trevor and co who told us that a YBW and several firecrest were at the observatory garden. At this point the sun had come out, and what was originally a grey day turned out absolutely stunning and we were soon on to firecrest in the garden near a feeder and we once again bumped into Adrian and the boys.

I had an absolute blast trying to take photos of the firecrest, and whilst none of the shots turned out as good as I might have hoped there were a couple that stood out. The next day they ringed over 60 there because they had a massive fall overnight!  

Saturday, 23 September 2017

Big birding day! 23/09/2017

 I set out early to get some birding in, and arrived at Goldcliff for the second day in a row (after a brief visit yesterday around work) and headed around to the newest platforms. I could see a single little stint from the first, but headed around to the brand new one.. and there were 4! So that was at least 5. 2 marsh harriers flew over which was cool. The new platform is great, and the waders are much closer. However, news broke that the red necked phalarope was still at WWT Llanelli, so I jumped back in the car and made my way.

The red-necked phalarope was still behind the British Steel hide, and I spent a while watching it feed on the pool. The waders had headed out to the estuary however, so still no knot, but there two sleepy spoonies were roosting at the back.

When I got home, Nick whatsapped us that a wryneck was at Llandegfedd reservoir.. I drove over to Nicks, and Tara met us to go for a drive on the chance that we caught up with it - And we did! 

Monday, 11 September 2017

Black tern(s!) 08/09/2017

News broke Thurs night of a black tern juv. in Cardiff Bay, but too late for me to have a go for it as it was already dark. However, it was reported again the next day, and a few Whatsapp messages later, Nick picked me up from work and we headed to a rainy and blustery Prospect Place. After a few pans with the binoculars, Nick picked it up with his scope, and we could confirm it by it's typical tern behavior, diving and swooping. We ventured around to the barrage where we picked it up again and I had a go of Nick's HD 8x42's.. We soon realized we were on different birds, and the initial inkling of there being two was confirmed when they went side by side, battling the winds together!

Image credit - Nick! (As he said, with imagination).

I awoke with a start on Saturday morning by loud owl screeches outside. I hastily made my way downstairs, and crept out into the garden. After a while it called again loudly, and I realized it was silhouetted on the chimney of the house opposite! After a short while it flew away, but I was very happy - finally, my first Tawny sighting, and an all-round tick at 2.15 in the morning!

Sunday evening saw a late report of arctic tern juv. and I went down with Jess and Olive in tow. I thought I managed to get it in the scope looking towards the barrage, and after trying to get some footage I lost it and never re-found it.. In doing so I managed to talk myself out it, and so it was that the second dip of the year on Arctic tern came to pass.