Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Western Subalpine Warbler The Nothe

This one was rather unusually arboreal, making it very difficult to photograph. After spending a couple of hours the day before checking all the likely low lying bushes this bird was located the next day after being heard singing from the treetops (Thanks Mo)
Quite saturated all the way down, probably more so than suggested by the photos

This was a bonus lurking quietly in the canopy that would never have been spotted in a million years if we hadnt been straining for over an hour to get a decent photo of the subalp.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Day 6 Corsica

Last day today. First chance to get a photo of the flighty Goldfinches that have been hanging around the villa. These are of the race tschusii being slightly smaller than the nominate bird with darker more duller earth brown on upperparts as well as a few other things.

Now getting the hang of photographing the other local flighty finch.

A bit of a meandering drive around the area today. Quite a few Cirl Bunting around

One of the targets of the trip at last photographically caught up with, Moltoni's Subalpine Warbler. Initially heard singing whilst driving. Certainly different to the Western and Eastern in song with a much more Serin like jangling quality for me

More washed out underparts obvious here

Have already mentioned this but the scenery was stunning

Another one from the car. Had been trying all week to get a decent shot of an Italian Sparrow being surprisingly shy. This one was on a wall opposite whilst we were sat at some roadwork traffic lights.

Had another drive up the treacherous Verghello valley to get once last rush from driving along a potholed single lane road with a 300 foot drop on one side! Also to try and get better shots of the Nuthatch and Crossbills.
On the way up Crag Martins were investigating some crags

Found another one of those upside down birds at the top of the valley

and got a shot I can be pretty happy with

A few Tree Creepers up here also. Another island race corsa endemic to Corsica apparently with a song slightly different from nominate although falling within the boundaries of variation whatever they are. Didnt actually hear one sing unfortunately. Other things that cant be seen from this photograph are its more strongly streaked upperparts, and the longest wing and bill length of any of the races.

This Swallowtail looks settled but it was far from it. This shot was a complete fluke as I just fired away at it as it jinked about. None of the other shots got even close!

Catching up with this rather showy Marmora's Warbler was a great way to round off the trip although my suspicions were that it was having a nice siesta until I got my tape out!

Monday, April 25, 2011

Corsica day 5

Had been hearing Wrynecks singing each morning around the villa but not seen them. This morning they were showing quite well with up to 3 birds around.

Citril Finches getting a bit closer

Some sort of Lizard. Lots of these basking on the early morning east facing wall

Follow this road for 30km and you can get to Haut-Asco, another alpine area. Then its the 30km back down again! Think I'll give it a miss this time.

Instead we headed for the Aitone Forest apparently very good for Crossbills which I was keen to photograph. Unfortunately didnt find any although did spot a soaring 2nd cy Golden Eagle.

Island race Great Tit, again not really a great deal of difference. Upper parts duller and more greyish-olive than nominate major with nape in particular less yellowish, modelled here by this rather obliging bird.

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Corsica Day 4 Restonica Valley

Had another go at trying to photograph the skittish Citril Finches around the Villa

One of a few Italian Sparrows hanging around the farm buildings. Surprisingly shy birds, not allowing close approach and when this occured they flew quite a way into the middle of a dense tree and hid.

Off to the famous Restonica Valley today. On the way up there was more of those peachy Woodpeckers

Because of the mild winter we were able to get up to the main car park. From here it was a very rocky footpath including some clambering to get further up to the snowline.
About half way up we were entertained by some local Alpine Choughs.

Did some scanning for Alpine Accentor and Rock Thrush but with no joy

There were a few Water Pipits about

All of the Robins so far on this trip had been very elusive, nothing like the birds at home. Apart from this one which had obviously become habituated to people on this the most popular walk in Corsica.
It must have also been one of the highest, hanging around the snowline at over 5000 feet.

These birds come by the scientific name of E. r. sardus apparently with a slightly more saturated breast colour which wasnt obvious on this bird

Back down the valley this Coal Tit was showing well. These are also a sardus based on the nominate ater but with a less grey more buff brown flank. Also more extensive black on head area producing a thinner head/nape stripe

Decided to drive to L'lle-Rousse on the coast. Spotted this badius (without the primary patch) Woodchat Shrike on the way, the only one of the trip. Also sometimes called Balearic Woodchat Shrike being present also on the Balearic Islands but I expect if you looked closely enough you could probably make a case for racially differentiating the Corsican and Sardinian birds!

Hooded Crows much more confiding at L'lle-Rousse

Another thought, if you dont mind driving on narrow and bendy roads (though there are a few largers straighter ones) Corsica is certainly an amazingly diverse place. We went from high alpine to very hot and dry conditions complete with Cacti to sandy beaches and rocky coastlines in half a day.

Saturday, April 23, 2011

Double dip

Should have been resting up really but finally cracked on the Black Stork. It had apparently been seen 4 days running from the same car park between 12.50 - 14.20. Arrived in plenty of time at 11.30. Plenty of people watching, well I say watching, more sitting around having sandwiches and chatting really. It was unbelievably hot and shade soon had to be taken. Was called at around 12.45 by Steve Smith with news of a Hoopoe showing well at Arne, but I had to sit it out. Needless to say this was in vain, this was the day when the bird changed its habits. I gave it to 14.30 and others to 16.30 with no luck.

Twitching, Hampshire style

Got to Arne and did the long hot walk (seemed a long way anyway) to the northern end of the Arne peninsula. The Hoopoe had been happily feeding on the side of the track for a few hours and was surely still going to be around. Alas not, I was beaten to it by a bunch of people and their unleashed dogs that had somehow managed to find their way past all the private no entry signs. The bird wasnt seen again.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Stour Valley LNR

Luckily the Night Heron stuck around until I got back. Showing very well but a shame photos were into the light