Thursday, May 31, 2012

Bee-eater Durlston

On the dash from home I didnt really think that the bird would be still around by the time I arrived but kept up the pace nonetheless. A run from the carpark to the wires where the bird had been sitting, and as suspected it was nowhere to be seen. After the usual post dip chit chat we were making our way back to the car when someone shouted from about half a mile away that the bird was back on the wires. A quick sprint back and there it was. Couldnt really get too close but managed some record shots. After a few minutes it was off again calling continuously, did a quick circuit then headed east over the cliffs. Later saw it flying down Long Meadow.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

Garden visitors

Juv with a few adult feathers coming through

No new scapulars on this one, but a few scattered adult feathers on underparts

Ol' blue eyes

Blackbird moulting into a Ring Ouzel!

Sunday, May 27, 2012

Purbeck seabird survey

Out for the annual breeding seabird survey with Footprint. Turned out to be a great day for it. Starting from Swanage we headed straight for Swyre Head then did the counting on the way back

Trev Haysom, Durwyn and the skipper's missus 

Bit of early mist soon got burned off

Thursday, May 24, 2012

Radipole / Portland

Things warming up now, literally and birdwise. Great Reed Warbler at Radipole saved a trip to Weston-Super-Mare.
Very easy to locate amongst the reeds with its distinctive low pitched song and large size! Still a bugger to photograph though, keeping at some range.

After about an hour, I started to realise that the bird was not going to get any closer, then with news of an Icterine Warbler at Portland I was off. About a minute later I got an excited call from Nick Hull saying that a Black-winged Stilt had just flown past where I had been standing! Ah well, would have been good to have it on the finds list. On arrival at the Obs car park I was greeted by Martin who was holding a couple of rather cold looking phylloscs.(colourwise!) One a Chiff and the other a Willow. The Willow Warbler immediately took my attention looking really distinct from the usual brightly coloured birds that pass through. In all the excitement I almost overlooked the Chiff which was very similarly coloured.

Upperpart colours are identical. Good pose for seeing the differences in wing length

On the pic below the super on the Willow looks pretty much white behind the eye with a hint of colour in front of the eye. Chiff has a bit more colour overall, again with less colour behind the eye. The cheeks on the chiff look very grey here dont think Ive ever seen a bird with such grey cheeks.

Just to prove that the camera does lie,  here is another shot of the two birds taken with a different camera, although only the Willow Warbler can be seen properly. It is clearly more olive toned in this picture and the super looks to have a bit more colour. From memory (and this was about 5 weeks ago now) I think the true colours were closer to the first two photos. What seems to be undeniable though is  the silky white underparts and grey face. Also the bill looks as dark as the chiff's

So what are we looking at here? Having just read some literature on Willow Warblers I can conclusively say that it is either yakutensis, acredula or nominate trochilus! Most people would probably label it an acredula-type
Looking at the Chiffchaff I dont think too many people would disagree that it looks like an abietinus

As we were mulling over these two, somebody came down the drive to say Pete Coe had seen a Rosefinch at Culverwell so off we all went.
Unfortunately the bird could not be relocated. But whilst looking for it Pete and John Lucas found a Golden Oriole near the barn at Top Fields so we were off again. Luckily this bird stayed put for at least 5 minutes, allowing a few people to get there. It then made its obligatory visit to the 'Oriole bush' in top fields before promptly flying off high north, never to be seen again.

So, a couple of hours after arriving, I finally got around to looking for the Icterine Warbler. However, despite a few people having a good look, it couldnt be refound. It was soon getting pretty hot so with things slowing down, decided to head off home. The Black-winged Stilt that had been seen flying through Radipole had been refound at Lodmoor so popped in there first.

A Roseate Tern also made a visit moving the yearlist on by one.

Grey Heron sunning itself. There seems to be a couple of theories as to why birds do this. One is to help produce vitamin D, the other and more popular, is that they do it to dislodge feather parasites who find it too hot and move from the places that cannot be reached by preening to places that can.

Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Watch the birdie: Thousands of twitchers flock to golfcourse

Thousands of twitchers flocked to Bradnor Hill golf course in search of a very different kind of birdie. Nearly 2000 people turned up at England's highest course to watch a Cream-coloured Courser which landed on the eighth fairway.
There was chaos on the course as hordes of bird watchers - many wearing camouflage fatigues - stood or lay in the rough with long lens cameras.
The unusual visitor lives in the deserts of North Africa and the Middle East. It spent five days roosting in bracken beside the 442 yard par four hole.
"The twitchers were like ants over the golf course it was crazy" said club professional Dan Jarman, 28. "One guy came all the way from the Isle of Skye and others turned up from London, Newcastle and Manchester. One twitcher told me this was rarer than finding s*** from a rocking horse"
Daily Mirror

Spot the guy who should be at work (when he saw the camera come out he turned around and put his jacket over his head!)

This was as close as we were allowed to get, which was a bit of a shame. It was a bit frustrating  photo wise, watching all the golfers walking past it at half the distance without it budging. Anyway cant complain really! Still fantastic views through the scope and a real privilege to see such a cracking bird.

Views from Englands highest golf course