Monday, November 26, 2012

284. Grey Phalarope

Didnt think I would have to travel this far for a Grey Phalarope, but needs must etc.
Infact not only was it a fair old drive but also a long walk!
It was worth the effort though, what a cracking little bird, and so tame. Had it swimming around in circles only feet away. The only problem was the light. After waiting for news then getting lost down lanes and getting lost again on the walk there, by the time I arrived it was getting a bit late.

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

283. Red-throated Diver

One of two Red-throated Divers in Chesil Cove 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Garden tick (probably)

Ring-necked Parakeet was a bit of a surprise this morning. Its not often you get a garden tick by hearing it from inside the house with the windows closed!
It was pretty mobile and very difficult to pin down to get a photo, but eventually it pitched up in a tall tree so could be seen.

Sunday, November 18, 2012


A nice calm sunny day, so decided to try Winspit. On arrival the car park was overflowing and there were people, kids and dogs everywhere so I made an immediate about turn! With the Ferry not running we then thought perhaps Studland may not be that busy but how wrong we were. I never learn!
There was only one course of action left, go home and get something to eat. About an hour later came the message, 'Dusky Warbler at Winspit'.
Although I am still trying to do this photographic yearlist so should have been pleased, my first reaction was f*****g hell! Why did I turn back this morning, I could have found that bird!
Anyway after dipping the Portland bird two days running, I was determined to get this one.
On arrival the finder, along with Gryllo and Pete Williams were spread out looking for it and had negative news. No sooner had this been mentiond, the bird started calling right in front of me. Getting a photo however proved extremely difficult. Although apparently showing quite well when it was first found, it was now very elusive. It moved around pretty quickly but always in cover, we were only able to track it by its regular calls.
These are the best shots I could muster. Very heavily cropped. Birds photographed this year now 282.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Portland mauve patch

Couldnt get to the Dusky Warbler yesterday evening so gave it a go this morning. The winds were south east, so while it was still a bit chilly for small birds to be showing well I decided to do some vis migging at the Portland Heights. In these winds birds are moving roughly along the Chesil where they then meet Portland and are forced up and over. At this time of the year however we are looking for quality not quantity but today turned out to be the other way around. For some reason there was a huge movement of Starlings.

 As we know most birds seen on a vis mig are moving into the wind. However it seems that Starlings have their own ideas. These birds were moving roughly on a north east heading. At first they were coming from along the west cliffs in flocks of a few hundred but later also started coming more from the central areas. In total I counted 9860 birds including one flock of 2780 (counted from one of the photographs!).
Other noteworthy birds moving were 2 Snipe and a Mistle Thrush

More flocks of birds. Brents coming in to Ferrybridge

My photographic yearlist is rather frustratingly still languishing back on 281.
Although with still some common stuff to get I reckon I can still get to 300. If I don't then I may well be relying on claiming the magic total sometime in the future when stuff like Sibe Chiff and this Black Brant eventually get split!

Being flushed by dog walker

By the time I had finished mucking about I didnt get to Portland Castle to look for the Dusky Warbler until around 10.30. Despite it being a lovely sunny morning, nobody had seen or heard it all morning. I gave it until 11.30 by which time most other people had also gone.
As is always the case, I had just got home when there was the message on the pager - 'Dusky Warbler seen again just after mid-day at Portland Castle' And to add insult to injury also a Pallas's Warbler at the Verne, another bird needed for the year list.
Couldnt get back that afternoon, so it was back again the next morning. As with before, decided to have a look for my own birds first whilst waiting for any news. All a bit quiet at the Bill with a Pom Skua and a few Brambling being the only notable birds. News on the Dusky and Pallas's Warbler was negative but despite this, after lunch decided to make a concerted effort to try and refind the Dusky. After soon getting bored of the Castle grounds, the search area was expanded. I ended up wandering onto some waste ground in the Osprey quay area where I kicked up a flash of black and white from behind some temporary fencing. It flew up and landed on the fence. It was a Hoopoe! You could have knocked me down with a feather, there couldnt have been a bird further from my thoughts.
I quickly got the camera out and managed a few shots of it on the fence before it dropped down on my side and proceeded to happily feed, not at all bothered by my presence.

After getting over the initial shock and putting the news out I was able to watch it at close range.
Its overall appearance seemed unusually dark. It was also very confiding. Normally Hoopoes tend to flush at quite long range and then proceed to fly off into the distance. With the recent run of birds my thoughts immediately went east, in particular saturata which is a darker race.

(I later did some research and it seems like its probably not a dark enough bird for saturata. Also most of the photos of these birds tended to show a much greyer back than this)

Martin getting some shots from his car

Coastguard rescue Helicopter hovering close by and being filmed for the local news. The plan is to scrap the service.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Durlston again

Couldnt get back to Durlston until 5th Nov. Again another great morning but no headline bird this time.
Highlights were over 120 Brambling and 25 Bullfinch on the move. Also a few vocal Firecrests about.

There were also several large flocks of Starlings moving, all heading north. Couldnt quite see but it appeared they were all coming in straight off the sea.

Missed the Lap Bunt on 6th but back again on 7th. A flock of 14 Swallows hanging around hawking for most of the morning was quite unseasonable. Everytime they appeared we would have another look through them, just in case they had been joined by something more interesting. 2 House Martin later were noteworthy. Other birds were Crossbill and a few more Bullfinch. 
Two Woodlark and a flock of 12 Fieldfare, along with another 20 odd Swallows were highlights from 8th but the 9th provided a real treat with 3 individual Hawfinches past, one low down and giving that rather unassuming 'seep' call. I even managed to get a recording but rather typically this coincided with the only vehicle of the morning, a dustbin lorry that just happen to be passing at the time! I mean what are the chances of that! Good numbers of Goldfinch still moving with over 1240 birds, interspersed with 7 Crossbill and 9 more Bullfinch.