Saturday 25 December 2010

Christmas birding 23rd - 25th Dec

More birding over the past couple of days. On 23rd, I went to Dogsthorpe Tip for a few hours. Amongst the many thousands of gulls present, there was a 1st-winter Caspian Gull (which I had on the tip briefly about 10:30), and then this bird:

To me, this a fairly 'good' Glaucous x Herring Gull hybrid, and has arrived with large numbers of argentatus which look like they have come from a long way north. In my opinion, there are a few features that rule out the leucistic Herring Gull theory:
  • boldly-patterned greater coverts and tertials
  • extensive pale chevrons on primaries
  • scapular pattern lacks obvious chevrons
  • tail band is weak and broken
  • head and bill structure, at times, looking quite Glaucous-like
  • 'broken' eyering (see final picture)

BLGP and Baston Fen continue to hold 8 Bewick's and 3 Whooper Swans:

... and were joined by two lovely adult European White-fronted Geese, one of which is below:

All the wildfowl above are still present as of today (25th December), as well as good numbers of Wigeon and the odd raptor and wader.

Season's greeting to all.

Wednesday 22 December 2010

21st - 22nd Dec

Nice couple of days birding around the local area. Yesterday (21st) was really good; a spectacular hoar frost combined with very calm conditions allowed for some excellent birding opportunities.

On Deeping High Bank I had 5 Goosanders, 11 Bewick's and 2 Whooper Swans. The river was completely frozen save one or two duck-filled patches like this:

Baston Fen and my local patch (Baston & Langtoft Pits) gave a further 8 Bewick's and 3 Whooper Swans, as well as ringtail Hen Harrier, 3+ Short-eared Owls, a couple of noisy Curlews, Water Pipit and a few other odds and sods, which all gave for some excellent cold weather birding.

Today was slightly less productive in heavy snow showers and poor visibility, but at least it was milder (0 celsius rather than -5!). The Bewper Swan combination was still chilling out (literally) on the patch, and a nice finch flock contained a few Siskins (mostly Goldfinches). No redpolls. Gargh! I also had 4-5 Buzzards around, and 540+ Wigeon on the two small holes of unfrozen water on ARC Pit and the Old Wader Scrape. There are flocks of Skylarks everywhere.

A nearby game strip between Greatford and Baston produced alot of passerines this evening primarily made up of Corn Buntings, Yellowhammers and Chaffinches, but I also had 2+ Bramblings and a redpoll over. Only had my bins and didn't have alot of time but will check it again in the next few days to see what else is lurking there.

Monday 20 December 2010

Glaucous Gull, 17-18th December

Back in the Peterborough area for Christmas now, which allows me to get out and do some local birding for a change. At the time of writing (2oth Dec), everywhere has frozen up in what is one of the coldest Decembers for a century. Water-based birding is therefore out of the question, so I've stuck to what I know best around here - gulls. Within five minutes of arriving at Dogsthorpe Tip on Friday, I had a winger flying around - from poor flight views it looked like a Glaucous. Further flight views with Mike Weedon confirmed it was indeed a Glauc, but I didn't see it again in three hours.
Mid-morning on Saturday, Mike rang to say the bird was still at the tip, and was indeed a 2nd-winter with unusually dark iris. Turns out it was the same bird which has been touring the Midlands over the past couple of weeks:

Dec 4th: Appleford Pits (Oxon), then roosted at Farmoor Reservoir that evening
Dec 12th: Throckmorton Landfill Site (Worcs)
Dec 13th: Stubbers Green (West Mids)
Dec 14th - 15th: Dosthill Lake (Warks)
Dec 17th - 18th: Dogsthorpe Tip (Cambs)

Couple of photos:

Otherwise, there was nothing really of note, save a few nice argentatus Herrings such as this pale individual:

I've also been trying to track down redpolls locally but so far it's been very frustrating.

Best of the Rest

Been a while since I've updated this, so here's a quick blast through the rest of the autumn in pictures:

Black-eared Wheatear, St. Mary's Scilly, October

Myrtle Warbler, Cape Clear, Co. Cork, October

American Bittern, Walmsley Sanctuary, Cornwall, November

Green Heron, Heligan, Cornwall, November

Ferruginous Duck, Kingsmill Reservoir, Notts, November