Tuesday, 20 May 2014

Otter weather

I had a hideous headache when I got back from York this afternoon. So hideous that I almost went to bed. But everything about the view said "Ottery". After the storm this afternoon the bay was wonderfully still, no wind, and it was a good tide.

Sure enough, as I got round to Farland Bight there were shapes moving up and down the far side of the bay. The same female and two cubs (last year's) that we had seen a couple of weeks ago. Unlike last time, I bolted to get the camera before I lost the light.

Our resident female

She was repeatedly bringing in fish for the two (quite large) kits

Aside from being eaten alive by midges, we got great views of her bringing in prey; this included one very large wrasse, which put the kits to squabbling amongst themselves and soon brought in the gulls.

The fish was about half the length of mum.
If the conditions stay good I'll be out again tomorrow night to get into position (with a midge net and a liberal spray of jungle formula), and I'll try to get some clearer images. 

Birding on the Bounce

I do love getting home for a few days. For a start its always a few degrees warmer, but it also means a long journey past plenty of good birding spots, I can always get a couple of extra ticks on the year list.

A quick spin around Attenborough is a sure fire way of picking up Egyptian goose, RC pochard and a couple of warblers. Its even better in the sun. This year, my whistle-stop tour gave me the first 2 plus Cetti's (heard), reed, sedge, willow, chiffchaff and whitethroat. Common terns, little and great crested grebe. Tufted duck, mallard, widgeon, and gadwall were all in attendance. And there were good numbers of tits, buntings and other odds and ends.

RC Pochard with Egyptian Geese (background)
A particularly Bold Dunnock
Great Crested Grebe

Visible Reed Warbler
Inquisitive Reed Warbler

The next gains were made on my way north. After a tip, I nipped over to Willington (30 mins from home) to pick up a pair of black necked grebe that had been seen in the morning. Its a lovely spot, and I wish I'd had a bit more time. A couple of fella's on one of the platforms soon put me onto the birds, but sadly they kept there distance during my short visit.

Black neck grebe record


The reedies at Willington were nowhere near as confining as those at Attenborough

After an overnight stop in York I debated nipping over to North Cave in search of the red necked phalarope that had been seen over the weekend, but decided that I didn't fancy extending my drive. Instead I dropped quickly into North Duffield Carrs, adding whimbrel to the year list, before hitting the motor way. At junction 49 I spotted a red kite overhead (second sighting here in six trips).

After another 2 and a half hours driving I took a break at Baron's Haugh in Motherwell, where a handsome drake garganey was feeding with gadwall and teal. Then stopped briefly in at Lochwinnoch to say hi to everyone (and replace my decrepit collins guide). There were the usual odds and sods kicking about, and a wheatear on the turned soil in front of the visitors centre.

Phonescoped garnaney

Swallow daft enough to try and take a short-cut through the visitor's centre at Lochwinnoch

Tuesday, 6 May 2014

"Starting" early.

This morning I actually woke up with my alarm, got up and dressed, and left the house. Why? because I'd had a number of reports of a black redstart hanging around the station. Of course, when I got there it wasn't. So I set off in search of divers, heading out to Fintry and White bay.... nothing doing again, although I did catch this beauty of a wheatear in the only bit of sun on the island, and plenty of warblers in the scrub. 

Wheatear at the Hush Hush

9 30 was time for morning coffee at Phil's, then a text form Bryony to let me know that her parents wanted to take a drive and try and scope out some birds - so off I went again. Still not much moving, but a grasshopper warbler was reeling at the targets. At 12 15 we'd given up.

We headed back to the FSC centre to drop the guys off for their lunch - with me intending to have another snoop round for the illusive redstart. Well it must of been waiting, as it flashed across the car park right in front of us as we drew in. Posing for a few pictures on Tom's tow hitch before vanishing of into the trees.

Reappeared not 5 minutes later when I nipped back with Sean, and appears to be feeding well. It'll hopefully stay around for a few more days.

Best bird I've had on the Island - and a real poser.