Tuesday, November 30, 2010


Bumped into a Snow Bunting this morning near Hinkley Point.

From what I have learned so far, as well as the not very extensive white in the greater coverts this bird can be sexed as a female by the all dark primary coverts. Have also been reading up onraces recently, the overall colour with particular attention to the mantle looks to quite straightforwardly fit nominate nivalis

Saturday, November 27, 2010

New garden arrivals

In the last few days we have been visited by our first Siskins

Also first Bullfinch

Monday, November 22, 2010


A nice calm and sunny day today so had to get out and have a look around. Lots of Grebes etc inc 1 Slav and a couple of Common Scoter from Bramble Bush Bay

Many Brents were feeding amongst the breaking waves at Middlebeach

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Hinkley thrush movement

P**sed down with rain all day today with strong winds. Around 09.45 a few Redwing and Fieldfare moved north east into the wind and rain. Then at 10.30 a flock of 95 Redwing went north east followed by 40, 130 and 196. Also small groups of Fieldfare between 7 and 9 birds. In 12 minutes 562 Redwing and 65 Fieldfare moved through, then nothing. At 11.10 it started again and this time the flocks were even bigger and they were coming thick and fast with Redwing counts of 83, 125, 290 then 230 with some Fieldfare then c400 with around 50 Fieldfare, 180, 300 etc. It was pretty spectacular. In the 16 minute period up to 11.26 a total of 2288 Redwing and 280 Fieldfare moved through in the pouring rain. Then it was over, finishing as abruptly as it started. The grand total for the two periods totalling only 28 minutes were 2910 Redwing and 345 Fieldfare.
Not really sure what was going on but it looked as though the birds were coming in off the channel, they had presumably somehow found themselves in the middle the channel and had to battle against the elements to get to land.
It was very difficult to count and take photos at the same time and many of the birds were going overhead so could only get a fraction of the flocks in but did get a few flocks before they got too close

A few gathering waders

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Hinkley waders

A few thousand Dunlin and Knot swirling about Starling style as the tide rose

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Worth Matravers

Happened to be standing next to Steve Smith when he got a call from Peter Williams to say there was a Snow Bunt in a field on the Worth Matravers road.
The bird was extremely confiding allowing close approach. However if one got too close, for some reason it would turn back on and kind of look over its shoulder, frustrating a few attempts to get some nice pics. This went on for some time so eventually I got Claire to approach from the other side which really confused it. (see bottom photo)

Aging and sexing wise, greater coverts and primary coverts should give the clues you need. Looking at the greater coverts on this bird the extent of white certainly seems too much for a female but seemingly not quite as extensive as an adult male so perhaps it is a 1st winter male.
The primary coverts would also give a big clue as they are always black in females but will have at least some white in the male but on these photos they look to be covered by the greater coverts.
According to BWP the black centres of the scapulars are rounded in males and pointed in females. Although the rain my have affected the feathers they do appear to be pointed so perhaps it is a female.
Regarding the race, it certainly looks a pale individual with a pale rump which would point to the nominate nivalis

This photo makes me feel quite ill

Thursday, November 11, 2010

Spain Day 5 Sierra de la Plata, Barbate + La Janda

Trying to remember what happened now. That hot weather is already getting a distant memory.
The day kicked off with a Short-toed Eagle over the garden. We decided to have one more go for the White-rumped Swifts. Didnt see these but did see Crag Martin, Blue Rock Thrush and Lesser Kestrel, as well as seeing more of the local Griffons

Had to do a bit of rock climbing for this one

Headed on further up the coast towards Cadiz stopping at various places on the way. There was a 1st year male Montagu's hunting at Marismas de Barbate.
We went into Barbate for some reason which I cannot remember and managed to get lost. We were very hungry so just stopped in a large car park near the estuary in some sort of run down industrial area, nice. Anyway was munching away when noticed this Pallid Swift dart into a pipe hole in the wall of the building opposite, then swiftly out again. Didnt realise they nested this late anyway lunch was adjourned, and out came the camera. For about 20 minutes I had the camera trained on the hole waiting for the bird to arrive when Claire spotted another bird dart into a pipe hole a few holes along. I quickly got onto that hole and out popped this bird.

Still clicking the camera like mad as it dropped, I also was lucky enough to nail this shot.

After lunch we were off to the plains of La Janda. First up were 20 Calandra Lark flushed from the road, then our only Woodchat Shrike of the trip on the roadside fence. It didnt hang around but there was a rather forlorn looking Greenfinch there.

It was bit windy here but there were a few Honeys battling against the wind

A few passing Cattle Egret, well flushed to be more precise

A lovely marked juvenile Osprey was a nice surprise.

The other day we had bumped into John Cantelo who is a bit of a local expert and he mentioned that there was a Ruppells Vulture regularly visiting the rubbish tip at Los Barrios.
As this long road kind of ended up quite near we decided to have a look.
As we arrived we were greeted by this great view of Gibraltar

Lots of Vultures at the tip but couldnt see anything out of the ordinary. A flock of White Stork drifted south

Cattle and Egret in nearby field

Sunday, November 7, 2010


Bit quiet today. A late Wheatear was one of the highlights

Flushed this Buzzard from the quarry at East Cliffs

Confiding Rock Pipit

1st winter Black Redstart

Wednesday, November 3, 2010


Down to Durlston for a bit of vis mig this morning. Highlight was 3 Tree Sparrow over Long Meadow, also a few Brambling and Yellowhammer moving.
Heard a couple of Firecrest on the walk round, this was added to later when at least 4 birds were hanging around the southern end of the wood. Total was at least 7 birds.