Monday, September 27, 2004

Cornwall: birds, beer and pasties - Day Three

Pendeen: nothing
Hayle: pasties from Philps
Stithians Reservoir: Baird's Sandpiper, Dunlin, Knot

Bowling Green Marsh: Peregrine, Ruff, Grey Plover

Aylesbeare Common: Dartford Warbler (for some). Nothing else

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 62 with 16x eyepiece

Sunday, September 26, 2004

Cornwall: birds, beer and pasties - Day Two

Pendeen: Sooty Shearwater, Manx Shearwater, Balearic Shearwater, Great Skua, Red-throated Diver, Rock Pipit, Fulmar, Merlin

Land's End: Chough, Rock Pipit, Wheatear

Porthgwarra: No Wryneck, but Wheatear instead. And coffee and cake.

near Trevedra Farm: Dotterel, Ringed and Golden Plovers, Peregrine

Roskistel Farm: no Rose-coloured Starling

Kenidjack: Goldcrest

Roskistel Farm: Rose-coloured Starling!

Marazion Marsh: Stonechat. Bugger all else.

Hayle: Wood Sandpiper but not much else.

At the chalets: Herring Gulls!

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 62 with 16x eyepiece

Saturday, September 25, 2004

Cornwall: birds, beer and pasties - Day One

Drift Reservoir: no Semipalmated Sandpiper.

However, alternative entertainment was provided by Dan getting very muddy in a creek.

Digiscoped from the other side of the reservoir (where it was drier)

Nanquidno Valley: no Melodious Warbler, but Firecrest, Goldcrest, Garden Warbler, Song Thrush, Chiffchaff, Raven and Merlin.

Cot Valley: not a lot. Shag, Rock Pipit, Arctic Skua, Gannets and Guillemot.

Land's End: no Chough, but Raven and Rock Pipit.

Nanquidno Valley: Melodious Warbler!

Drift Reservoir: Lesser Yellowlegs!

Mediterranean Gull, Whimbrel, Bar-tailed Godwit, Curlew, Redshank etc.

This weekend we have mostly been eatin' Raffters at the Cornish Arms, Hayle.

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 62 with 16x eyepiece

Thursday, September 23, 2004

Day at Eldernell

Westward Ho!: Nene Washes sunset

Spent today at Eldernell on the Nene Washes. I've only ever spent a few hours at a time there before, so it was interesting to see what went past over the course of a day. Numerous Marsh Harriers, a pair of Peregrines, two Buzzards and ubiquitous Kestrels were most prominent, but also notable was the number of hirundines (mostly Swallows and House Martins) which passed over, mostly west or south-west.

There were also plenty of Meadow Pipits knocking about and a few Yellow Wagtails, though it's impossible to tell whether they were local breeders or birds just passing through.

Kingfisher perched by Morton's Leam.

We had fun trying some digiscoping in the less-than-ideal conditions - very windy with low, bright sun. Careful twiddling with camera settings was called for.

Kestrel: grainy and blurred but it's just for fun

First time I've attempted to digiscope a bird in flight

The above Kestrel shots aren't exactly works of art, but it's inspired me to have a go again in the future. It is amazing what you can do with a scope and a camera.

A glorious, sunlit evening on the Washes

A thousand Starlings fly in to roost

I cheated with this Starling pic. I mucked around with the Colour Balance in Photoshop; the original background was a muddy grey colour. Now it's a muddy orange instead. The flock was certainly impressive, sweeping round for several minutes before making the decision to dive into the reedbed for the night. A Sparrowhawk passed over seconds after, but he already had a full crop.

photos taken with Nikon Coolpix 995 + Leica Apo Televid 62 with 16x eyepiece

Saturday, September 18, 2004

House Martins

Yesterday morning, I saw a group of c125 House Martins gather over my street, then fly out of view in a sort of westerly direction. It was raining quite hard at the time. I presumed that 'my' local breeding birds would be among them, and that would be the last I'd see of them this year.

However, this evening, about 30 of the locals were still hunting for insects above the houses as normal. When will they depart? Where will they go when they do? How many of them will come back next year? Nobody knows.

East Midlands Ringers' Conference

Drove up to Keyworth near Nottingham today for the East Midlands Ringers' Conference. I'm not sure I'm really based in the East Midlands but it didn't matter at all.

The speakers gave talks on nestboxes, Wigeon ringing, Treswell Wood, Swallows, the Wash Wader Ringing Group, Gibraltar Point and Tree Sparrows. It was great to meet some like-minded people and to learn about different species, habitats and trapping techniques to what I'm used to.

Now I'm thinking about experiencing wader ringing with WWRG and a weekend at Gib sounds quite tempting, too.

The delicious lunch was suitably lavish for the hungry BTO Gannets...

What's in my CD player: Hot Rail - Calexico

Thursday, September 16, 2004

Serpentine lunchtime

Migrant Hawker, Aeshna mixta

Comma, Polygonia c-album

Serpentine Brick Pit

Blue Tit preening after getting soaked in dew

Reed Bunting

Went back to Serpentine again. No Pied and no Spotted Flycatcher, but it was a gorgeous morning and the place was heaving with birds again, including a Whitethroat and a Blackcap. Blackcaps had all gone from Ferry Meadows on Sunday so I suppose that demonstrates that these are almost certainly passage birds, feeding up on their way south.

Wednesday, September 15, 2004

Serpentine Brick Pit

One of the ponds, surrounded by scrub Posted by Hello

Got an e-mail via Peterbirder from George Walthew this afternoon:

Serpentine BP lunchtime

Pied Flycatcher - 1st winter
Whitethroat - 1


Gaaaahhhh! Pied Fly has turned out to be impossible to twitch this year (and every other year, I suspect). A prompt visit to Serpentine was required and WeedWorld and I made our way there as soon as we could.

We'd never visited the site before, and a mouthwatering array of habitat awaited us. There is a lot of scrub, open, rough grassland and reed- and tree-fringed ponds of varying sizes. It's like Coney Meadow on a grand scale, and really looks like it should pull in migrants... Oh, hang on, it already has!

[This is the other end of Serpentine from where I had the Wheatear last week]

A thorough search of the best-looking areas yielded precisely no Pied Flycatchers, but we did stumble across a Grasshopper Warbler, a Spotted Flycatcher, a couple of Blackcaps, a handful of Chiffchaffs and a large flock of Blue/Great/Long-tailed Tits.

The Gropper is a pretty late record, I think [locally], and it's always nice to find Spot Fly. In fact, it's nice to attempt to twitch something and actually have some other birds to see...

Bring on the Wheatears and Ring Ouzels! Posted by Hello

Tuesday, September 14, 2004

Why twitching is a bad idea - part 2

Yes, this lunchtime was another example of how twitching can be a silly thing to do. There was a report of a Black Kite near Monks Wood (in the deep south of the PBC area) yesterday afternoon.

In my usual cynical manner, I immediately dismissed it as a Red Kite seen by someone driving up the A1 who doesn't realise that Reds occur in the district. But today's sighting seemed to be a little more exciting:

This just on Birdguides:

11:52 14/09/04 Black Kite Cambs Monks Wood
one still showing well this morning in open grassland


WeedWorld and I managed to get out at lunchtime. It was tipping it down with rain but we pressed on down the A1. Except we didn't know exactly where we were going or where the bird had last been reported.

After driving round the area around Wood Walton village for a while (very scenic, I might add), we found the correct location. A load of would-be twitchers' cars parked off the road. No people to be seen - they were all sheltering in their vehicles. The rain was torrential and it was very windy.

Five minutes after finding the correct spot, it was time to leave, so we drove back to the office.

The end.

Some people are expressing doubt over the bird's identity, or certainly that of a 'kite sp.' which was reported today. There was a funny-looking Marsh Harrier around, apparently. I have seen Red Kites sitting on the ground (on Upper Benefield cricket pitch, to be precise), but it seems like a very harrier sort of thing to do.

One day we'll see something at lunchtime...

What's in my CD player: Hot Rail - Calexico