Saturday, 29 December 2007

Cornwall 28th - 29th December

The weather wasn't very good on the Friday so stayed in with the family and suffered a pool tournament with the cousins. Which I am glad to show off that I won ;¬) woop woop!!

Anyway, the weather was still bad with strong winds on Saturday and gradually got better the further East we travelled. Stopping at Dawlish on the way home - allowed me to jam in ona juvenile Surf Scoter reasonably close inshore before it decided to fly East. 3 Slavonian Grebes were nearby, but no sign of any Velvet Scoter.

A series of shots as the juv Surf Scoter flew East past me, the bottom picture showing abit of facial markings. (c) Ashley Howe

St. Mary's, Isles of Scilly - 27th December

I met up with Ant, who travelled in the early hours from Southampton to meet me in Penzance. We caught the earliest Chopper over, and straight to the ISBG hide where it wasn't long before we located the Wilson's Snipe amongst about 15 Common Snipe scattered about the pool. A Siberian Chiff-chaff was showing well at times.

The Wilson's Snipe obscurred by reeds at the back of the pool opposite the ISBG hide, occasionally waking up to preem. but didn't show particuarly well. And a group of 3 Snipe in tall grasses (bottom). (c) Ashley Howe

After that we toured the island, as we were scheduled for the last flight back of the day. A Firecrest and a Black Redstart were probably the best things we could find, amongst the other bits and bobs which were probably common to the islands. The Chopper was delayed so ended up flying back in the dark.

Nothing much else on the island except a showy Black Redstart, 2 drake Pintail on a pool somewhere and a Song Thrush singing outside a residents house.

St. Just, Drift & Hayle - 26th December

By Boxing Day reports of a Yellow-browed Warbler in the Cot Valley and turnt into a Hume's Yellow-browed Warbler, a bird which has eluded me on numerous occasions over the year, but final nailed the beauty. But the photographs not doing it justice. It should fairly well in a pine tree for about 30 minutes before disappearing in a different part of the garden.

The Hume's Yellow-browed/Leaf Warbler at the top of one of several Pine Trees, flittering between branches (c) Ashley Howe

Before heading back up to Newquay (where I was staying) We stopped between Drift Reservoir and Sancreed at Treganhoe Farm, walking only half way down the track i had already pick out 3 Cattle Egrets at some distance, being the dirty little ticker I am, I just turnt around and got back in the car.

Now heading East some more, we stopped at the Hayle Estuary adding Green-winged Teal, the drake was quite some way and way - like all the birds seen today. So just another mediocre average shot.

Green-winged Teal - that one there smack bang in the middle! Amongst Wigeon and Teal in the main channel (c) Ashley Howe

Cornwall 22nd - 25th December

The start of the holiday over christmas in Cornwall didn't have the best of starts, with basically nothing of interest seen in considerably dull weather. Heres a few shots all the same:

Visiting a couple of local beaches with the family; Carrion Crow eating a dead fish, Jackdaw coming to fish and chips and a Pied Wagtail in a nearby stream (c) Ashley Howe

Sunday, 16 December 2007

Southwick, West Wittering & Gosport

Fairly early start, to get to Southwick Canal at first light, not a brilliant start with no sign of the Little Auk, which had taken up residence the last 3 or 4 days. While searching along the canal, a 1st winter Glaucous Gull flew East. And a Kingfisher fished the canal.

Glaucous Gull at long range from opposite the Power Station and in poor early morning light, before flying East (c) Ashley Howe

Assuming the Auk had gone now, we headed back West, stopping in West Wittering for the Red-breasted Goose which was picked out at over a miles range on the beach, amongst thousands of Brent.

Still heading West, my Dad and I popped into Gosport to see the Red-necked Grebe which showed well, unfortunately the light was pretty poor and photos wern't brilliant. A Peregrine flew overhead and a Red-breasted Merganser was on the bit of water.

Red-necked Grebe on Little Anglesey Lake, near Alvestoke, showing well and size comparison with Black-headed Gull and Little Egret in flight in the same area (c) Ashley Howe

Saturday, 1 December 2007

Shepton Bellinger, nr Andover

Arriving at roughly 10:25, after a much needed lay-in. We parked up just North of the village, watching the immature White-tailed Eagle circling over the woodland on top of the hill, then shortly after drifting South at range. By c10:30 it had disappeared.

Silhouettes of the immature White-tailed Eagle at range from Shepton Bellinger (c) Ashley Howe

While waiting for another appearance, about a dozen Buzzards in the immediate area were on show, several Kestrels and Sparrowhawk, and at least one peregrine. A 'ringtail' Hen Harrier flew high over head. There was no further sign of the Eagle before I left at midday.

'Ringtail' Hen Harrier passing over head at about 11am (c) Ashley Howe

Friday, 30 November 2007

Pennington Marshes

Friday again, and I have a few free hours between lessons at college, so I made the journey to Pennington after a couple of Long-tailed Ducks have taken up residence the past 2 weeks.

I located them with ease, but showed fairly distant on the sea, surfacing briefly between dives. All the usual gear in the area was seen.

My excuse this time, is that they were distant. Male and female preaming just before another dive (c) Ashley Howe


Well another Pipit...and another bloody dip. This time a Pechora Pipit near Goodwick, present for god knows how long, showing well...comes Saturday, its pissed off...yay!!

I went with Anthony, a great bloke, all that was missing was the bird. Together we waited from first light to dusk just to make sure no bugger claimed it! A Siberian Chiff-chaff being a small consellation but something to look at all the same. Firecrest ummm.... Water Rail..... thats about it.

Friday, 23 November 2007

Lakeside Country Park, Eastleigh

Again another couple of hour to spare at collge, so walked down to the country park, locating the Slavonian Grebe again. 2 Kingfishers were there again.

Slavonian Grebe on the Beach Lake this week (c) Ashley Howe

Tuesday, 20 November 2007

Land's End

Saturday the Buff-bellied Pipit was reported again, and as I hadn't been able to catch up with any of the others this autumn. I decided to risk an expected dip, to try and locate it myself.

Sunday morning we arrived after frequent down pours, I met Anthony Clements, another Hampshire birder who was loong for the bird. Together we located a stubble fiend consisting of about 100 Meadow Pipits, 40-50 Skylarks and I picked out a Lapland Bunting early on, but wasn't seen again.

After further down pours it was looking more and more bleak, and unlikely the bird was going to show, I left, leaving Anthony, who waited another couple of hour searching, but his efforts were fruitless too.

Friday, 16 November 2007

Lakeside Country Park, Eastleigh

As college is only one or two miles away from this place, I thought I had might as well have a look at this Slav Grebe as I had a half day anyways. Eventually I got there, saw it straight away. But immediately disappeared. I searched a while, eventually relocating the bird in the reeds, on the main lake aobut 5 foot away. I new I wanted my camera, so ran another mile or so to get the first bus home. Getting home at about 2, collecting my camera going back, quickly photographing the bird, getting some decent record shots and leaving again, all before work at 3. Which believe me was a major rush!

Various shots of the Slavonian Grebe showing well and down to just a few metres occasionally and Common and Black-headed Gull on the sailing lake. (c) Ashley Howe.

Monday, 5 November 2007

Western Isles

News broke last Thursday, and it wasn't long before I was on my phone ringing around. I couldn't get a lift that night, but there was some logics behind this; like finding out whether the bird survived the night....etc

Having spoken to Dan before I went out with the lads that night, I thought I was going to have to arrange something the next day. Luckily I came home to find that there was a close lift offered on RBA. Immediately phoning up and grabbing the two seats alongside Alan Lewis and Andy James.

I was picked up by Dan at 6:30pm, meeting the others in Newbury. We arrived at about 5:30am the next morning in Uig. Barn Owl was seen and apparantly hundreds of Deer, so I was apparantly asleep, though I can't remember sleeping on the way up at all?!?! Something wasn't right there :¬S

In Uig there was a moulting Great Northern Diver, Eiders, Hooded Crows and a Golden Eagle which passed overhead as everyone was docking. Dan and I, had a look around to find ourselves a nice goodie before, but no such luck....yet.

On the boat, 2 more Golden Eagles were seen over the land, with at least Pomarine Skuas (including a close adult bird with spoons) and a few Arctics, Gannets, Kittiwakes etc passing the boat every so often. I also managed a Grey Phalorope shooting back in the opposite direction to where the boat was travelling. Red-throated Divers were in the harbour at Lochmaddy.

A Hebridean Wren on a stone wall, near the Mourning Dove, when my lense had fogged up after abit of rain, so excuse the un-clearity (c) Ashley Howe

Off the boat and the race was on, straight to Clachan a Luib for the Mourning Dove, only to find it hadn't been seen for the last half 'n' hour or so. Meanwhile picking out the female type Ring-necked Duck on nearby Loch na Faoileige with half a dozen Whoopers there as well. A couple more Golden Eagles in the distant and a 'ringtail' Hen Harrier persuing the area.

Half a dozen Whooper Swans taking off from the nearby flock and a fraction of the travelling birders, looking at the Mourning Dove quite distantly (c) Ashley Howe

After a hour roughly, Alan took control of things, ordering people to get back from the corner, laying down fresh seed, co-incidental or not, it flew in with a few Starlings after about 10 seconds. Fuck my old boot, it landed on the derelict building. We spent a few hours with the bird showing well, before heading off to look for the reported Hornemann's Arctic Redpoll. No sign but a Merlin constantly harrassing a Hooded Crow was interesting, Yellow-browed Warbler in the first bit of bushes we viewed, and a large flock of Barnacles coming in at range. Back to the Outdoor activity centre where we planned to stay the night, there was abit of light left so we searched the nearby waters discovering an Otter, a few Black Guillies, Chiff-chaffs and Eider.

My first decent attempt at photographing the Mourning Dove feeding on grain on the corner by the derelict house (c) Ashley Howe

Darkness fell, and we headed for the pubs, skipping between the two on offer, we celebrated a successful twitch with the one and only, the outstandingly famous 'Nollie and Friends' performing from 10pm onwards, as soon as he started, our ears heart (i'm putting it politely) we left immediately back to the other one. Getting back to the centre at about midnight for sleep. Up again at 6:00am for another brief look for the Redpolls and again the Dove, showing better this morning.

The star of the trip without no doubt, on the second day of the trip, the Mourning Dove showed well, with a series of shots taken on its favoured rock at the time. (c) Ashley Howe

Crossing the causeway after, scanning through the Barnacles and Golden Plover couldn't find us a yank amongst. But a flock of 300 Twite strong was nice. The Great-white Egret being picked out amongst a flock of Geese in flight wasn't to hard. But no Redpolls.

A fraction of the flock of roughly 300 Twite with many feeding in the field (c) Ashley Howe

Back to the boat, leaving at midday, seeing Pom and Arctic Skuas again on the way back, a few Stormies, a Little Auk and more Guillemots, Kittiwakes, Gannets and another Golden Eagle as we approached the dock. The journey home began at about 2:00pm arriving home at about half 1 in the morning.

A few other random shots of the bird, on the derelict house there and nearby fence posts as it liked to frequent between different points (c) Ashley Howe

Another quality trip, with a few guys who know how to twitch in style!! Thanks alot lads.

Saturday, 27 October 2007

Isles of Scilly

Finally I have been able to twitch a real mega this autumn!! The Rose-breasted Grosbeak.

Travelling with Dan to Crawley to meet Gary and John late on 24/10, the four of us travelled west to reach a half 8 helicopter to St. Mary's. And then a boat taking us to St. Agnes for about half 9 on the 25th. The bird had already been seen at half 8 that morning, but had remarkably done a disppearing act. There was no sign until a photographer photographed the bird near Troy Town at about half 12. There was again no further sign of the bird and we refused to leave the island for other birds.

A showy Song Thrush eating the Blackberries instead of the Grosbeak (c) Ashley Howe

2 Merlin, Short-eared Owl and Raven were seen mean while.

Half an hour before our boat left back to St. Mary's the dip was looking ominous. But another report from the same area of Troy Town saw us running across the island and eventually clapping eyes on the bird. And what a stunner it was too.

The main bird showing us what its got, the extent of the red in the wings was fabulous as it flew between weeds and turnips. (c) Ashley Howe

Marching from the boat to the hides (ISBG I think) just minutes before our flight back to Penzance, there was no sign of the Wilson's Snipe but a roosting Greenshank.

A roosting Greenshank just before dusk (c) Ashley Howe

Many Thanks to Gary and Dan for the lifts and what turned out to be a successful twitch.