Monday 27 July 2009

Mirror Images..

Having spent an unhealthy amount of time on computers (and the internet) of late, it appears that some of our very own British birders have their own lookalikes across the North Sea. In Sweden, to be precise:

... and just for fun, it's Aslan from Narnia:

Finally, can you guess this big lister?

More to come, probably.

Summer Doldrums

It's been a tough few weeks - the summer doldrums, if you like. Last Tuesday, I went to Cornwall on spec with Marc Read, only to be let down heavily by the weather - we managed a single Sooty Shearwater amongst other crap in a long, long seawatch (granted I spent most of the time asleep). I eventually arrived home in the early hours of Wednesday morning, but was rudely awoken by news of a Blue-cheeked Bee-eater in Kent, which I went on to dip. 1300 miles in two days, for a Sooty Shear - I found myself questioning "why bother?!"

Today (27th July), I kicked myself out of bed and the house for 11:00, and decided to do some local birding. First port of call was local gull mecca (by national standards it's shite) Dogsthorpe Tip. Amongst the few hundred Lesser Black-backed and tens of Herring Gulls present, five Yellow-legged Gulls (two adults, 4th-s, 3rd-s and juv) were picked up, as well as about five Great Black-backed Gulls:

Adult michahellis in typical setting

With not so much as a sniff of a cach, I quickly got bored and headed off.

The once-great Maxey Pits complex looked a shadow of its former self today (it has become ludicrously overgrown and water levels were very low), and all I could muster was a juvenile Greenshank being bullied by a Black-headed Gull. My old favourite, Baston & Langtoft Pits, looked even worse - here water levels are far too high and there's too much vegetation. Two Green Sandpipers seemed slightly perplexed to be feeding amongst the rocks on ARC Pit (the only available margins), but later looked more characteristic when they flushed from 300 yards and pissed off.

I wish autumn would hurry up - July birding is crap!

Sunday 5 July 2009

Recent Shenanigans 29th June - 4th July

It seems like an age since I wrote anything on here and, to be frank, it has been. After a lull in birding activity for much of June, the past week has been comparitively hectic. It all kicked off on Monday (29th June), when I finally pulled my finger out and went to Somerset to see the male Little Bittern, which has been singing at Ham Wall RSPB all month. The bird was heard soon after arrival on site (at around 05:00), but it took another eighty minutes for brief flight views of the bird. With weather conditions far from ideal (bucketing rain), my good friend Will Bowell and I decided to leave and, after being delayed by a slight mess on the M42, we were home early afternoon.

Things then slipped back into the midsummer doldrums for a couple of days, until a call at around a quarter to nine on Thursday morning from twitching's foul-mouthed bad boy Dan Pointon alerted me to a River Warbler singing the previous evening in the unusual yet magnificent location of Applecross, Highland. Realising that this was only 11.5 hours from home, and seeing as I had 24 to play with before I was due on shift for BirdGuides the following morning, I figured that if the bird played ball then it would be doable. So, off I set, picking up DP at 11:45. We made good progress, passing Glasgow by 15:00. Anyone who knows the road from Glasgow up to Kyle of Lochalsh will agree that the scenery is stunning, and I left Pointon to do the photography whilst I tried to concentrate on the road:

We finally reached the bird by around 19:30. The River Warbler was giving short bursts of song from thick gorse until it was provoked by a wandering Whitethroat; it reacted in such a way that it sat right up on top of the bush and proceeded to sing constantly for the next fifteen minutes. I was fortunate to get a couple of decent shots before it moved to its favoured perch in a nearby sycamore:

River Warbler, Applecross, 2nd July

Somehow, I managed to drive back to Glasgow, and Pointon took over for 150 miles or so. Remarkably, I was back home in Langtoft for 06:30, a full 90 minutes before my BirdGuides shift began - nicely timed...

And so the third chapter of the week involves a Caspian Tern, which graced Welney WWT's Buxton Scrape on the morning of Saturday 2nd. Waking up late, I was greeted with messages concerning the bird's presence, and so I stumbled out of bed and in to my car, and was down at Welney by 13:00. Sure enough, the bird was still present (and asleep), ending a run of dips I've had with the species. Judging by the incomplete hood and 'mucky' cheekys, as well as immature-type primaries and coverts, it seems this bird is presumably a 2nd-summer. After it got it's conk out for me, I left. And that was about it:

not-so-Royal Tern, Welney, 4th July

A busy week then - but when's the Royal going to be back to shaft all us dippers again?