Sunday, 31 August 2008

St. Mary's and Aggie: Day 4

Treating ourselves to a half lay-in, Howe and Menzie slept in till 9 am!! Before catching a boat over to St. Agnes. I was walking with a chap called John while Steve spoke to this guy with his family. Heading accidentally in seperate ways. John and myself got the juv Red-backed Shrike no problem. Then going to find the others round by Big Pool where i noted a Wryneck flying up from the beach near Big Pool towards the 'fruit cage' area.

Trekking back round to Castella Down to show the others the Shrike, it had disappeared but soon put in another appearance. Steve found another Wryneck in the area before it flew off strongly, then another flew out the bushes 10 minutes later, and again disppeared. However no sign of any Melodious Warblers.

I'm not even going to try and edit some of my pics of this bird, Steve's were clearly better © Stephen Menzie

Back on St. Mary's we were convinced there must be something around the Garrison like a Wryneck, not that we had any luck finding one, but Pied Flys were still about.

Saturday, 30 August 2008

St. Mary's: Day 3

Up early again, more Pied and Spotted Flys around the Garrison, this time with the addition of a few Blackcaps, a Reed Warbler, but nothing ground breaking, abit of a lazy day to be honest, sticking around the Garrison.

Till the evening where our second pelagic took place. Even flatter than yesterday, no winds, and apparantly a good night for cetaceans (as in Dolphins).

Reaching just 1.3 miles out, Ashley Fisher and Ross Newham spotted a big whale sp. Surfacing, then quickly diving. Immediately thought to be a Humpback Whale, we followed this already stunning beast, till the I.D. was confirmed for about 45 minutes. Totally guessing its next appearance was hard. Sometimes we were close, sometimes abit out. But once the 50-ish foot Whale surfaced literally meters away from the 40-ish foot boat and disappearing under straight away. I remember clearly the skipper shouting out the window "ooooo, i think we've pissed it off now!", and in the time, the Whale fully breached literally meters infront us.

Humpback Whale surfacing, then diving. fully showing its its fluke © Ashley Howe

Possibly the most amazing thing i have ever seen, definately as good as seeing any 'Mega' which being the first for the Scillies, a 'Mega' in its own right. The rest of the Pelagic didn't matter, but more Common Dolphins, Bonxie, Black Terns, Manx and Sooty Shearwaters and fewer Stormies again. A couple of Blue Sharks were firsts for myself as well.

A stunning out of focus shot of a Sooty Shearwater © Ashley Howe

Friday, 29 August 2008

St. Mary's: Day 2

Having been mocked for being caught asleep on benches in Porthcressa Bay, we decided to get up early, beat the typical teenager stereotype of being lazy buggers and actually get out and find something. Spotted and Pied Flys were the best we could muster up around the Garrison.

Steve's favourite, this Sparrow had the biggest tick ever, we tried catching it, so we could it off its head, our little traps didn't really very far and were knocked over in the wind © Ashley Howe

After breakfast we walked the whole way around St. Mary's, with a stunning list featuring Wood Pigeon, Greenfinch, Goldfinch and Linnets, with a wide range of visible migration with about 6 Wheatears. I had to take a breath once i had counted such a record breaking number.

I wonder if there is any healthy looking birds anywhere on Scilly? © Stephen Menzie

Our efforts of proving ourselves as hardcore birders were smashed when we were caught again asleep on the beach at Porth Hellick, this time by Ashley Fisher. Dammit!

Thursday, 28 August 2008

Marazion Marshes and the Isles of Scilly

Driving down through the night...and catching a glimpse of this massive stocky cat, walking besides the road in the Dartmoor area, was quickly identified as a potential Puma...well by me, Stephen thought it was a bear ha ha...we'll let him off though, bless him, he was driving after all.
A few hours kip in the car, then we went looking for an Aquatic Warbler at Marazion, as expected no sign, but at first light, an Otter coming out of the reeds and staring us in the face, before making a quick exit, was yet another good mammel tick for myself.

This beast kept coming down scaring Steve's beloved Sparrows, bless him, he was so fascinated with them, especially those with ticks on their heads © Ashley Howe

The Scillonian started to sort things out and turnt things back into a birding trip, Sooty, Balearic and Manx all noted. A Basking Shark was yet another tick for us both. On arrival we set up the tent, and went down for our first pelagic.

This Sparrow managed to avoid the ticks..unlike someone else i know earlier in the year ha ha © Ashley Howe

Not a very productive pelagic, with very little seabirds about presumable because there was nearly no wind. A count of about 30-40 Stormies, but yet a surprise when a Wilson's was called out by Higgo. A bird at mid-range giving enough to tell it was larger, the above wing-bar, the white in the rump reaching further round, and also in moult. A Common Dolphin swam parallel with the Boat, and a fascinating thing with the glowing Plankton.

Friday, 22 August 2008

Pennington Marshes

An early evening trip down to Fishtail Lagoon, got Dan and myself this gorgeous beast:

Oh how i wish i didn't mess up my camera, i think iwould have better pics than this, but what a stunning bird through the scope © Ashley Howe

Also in the area was the usual 2 Spoonbills, LRP and a Spotted Redshank. Again i was in a dodgy boss wouldnt let me have the day off to go for that Gull again...oh well there will be others im sure...eventually.

Monday, 18 August 2008

Chapel St. Leonard

Driving lessons first thing this morning...worried constantly about that bloody Audouin's coming up while im try to parallel park or sumit, then telling my instructor ive gotta get home...thankfully it waited til i had finished before it decided to show itself.

Straight on the 'dog and bone' to Fuller, and we were whizzing up the motorways. The roads were terrible...constant traffic up the M3...congestion on the M1 (as always)...A1(M) diversions...M11 it was..meaning we would have to cut back across the long way...

it took 5 1/2 hours to get there o_0 not good!! And this is where things began to get very bad indeed. The bird was reported to fly off minutes before we got there...a brief seawatch got us a Black Tern...before deciding we would check out other stretches of the beach..heading back to the car... i hear an almighty crunch...oh FUCK!! its my camera and lens on the deck in pieces.

Somehow..i cant explain it, my back had opening and it had fallen out onto the concrete, typical we had just come of the grass too. Well i was in a mood from there. No sign of the Gull...4 Arctic Skuas north - well worth the effort!!

Monday, 11 August 2008

Pennington, Thamesmead, & Richmond Park

We went again at Low tide to see whether the Kentish Plover was still about at mid-morning, hoping that it would be showing as well as it apparantly was yesterday around the same time. It always helps when the bird is actually present, and these little waders reknowned for not sticking around long, wasn't any anomoly. However on arrival 2 Spoonbills flew in over head, looking to land. They eventually landed on the Jetty Lagoon, where i managed some record shots of the birds.

Both the Spoonbills on the Jetty Lagoon, the ringed bird is the regular bird here, that was apparantly ringed in Holland last year © Ashley Howe

Also in the area, there was a Whinchat, another passerine which i should have seen already this year, but hadn't. A Whimbrel flew over, but other than this, there wasn't anything else in the small area we covered, before heading North. We decided to 'twitch' the White-winged Black Tern at Thamesmead, London. The Adult bird had disappeared once, and returned soon after, and was frequenting the outfall.

One of two Dunlin on the Jetty Lagoon, and coming fairly close, if it wasn't for the channel they probably would have been even better © Ashley Howe

It wasn't long before we arrived, and the bird was simply circling the wooden structure. If not abit distant, the bird was certainly showing well. Before it simply disappeared into thin air once again.

Time was pushing, and there was a late afternoon dash, (in poor light) to get to Richmond Park, thanks to Franko and a friend for information. It didn't take long to find our first Ring-necked Parakeets as they are so plentiful in this area. But poor light conditions and constantly looking up into the sky at them wasn't the best to photograph them.

A poor selection of shots of the Ring-necked Parakeets, you can see the light is pretty naff in all of them © Ashley Howe

Sunday, 10 August 2008

Keyhaven Marshes

I got the new mid-afternoon of a juvenile Kentish Plover at Keyhaven Marshes. A while later it eventaully made it onto the pager, as Lee and myself were whizzing down in 'The Saxo' with one wheel trim missing!! Time was getting on, and it was looking very bleak, strong wind. And the tide had come right in.

With just a few spits on show at range. Ringed Plover could be picked out...just. An hour passed with no sign. Until i managed to pick up a distant paler, and smaller Plover with its back to us roosting. Eventually it stirred, turning around breifing revealing itself to be the right bird. Phew, that was almost a dip there!

Thursday, 7 August 2008

Avon Valley

The White Stork was reported there again during the morning while i was at work, once i had finished Lee and myself thought sod it. I decided we would go and find luck, yet again. Hopefully this bird will settle in a regular place sooner or later.

Tuesday, 5 August 2008

Farlington Marshes

A mid-morning visit to Farlington Marshes where Dan Houghton had contacted me before hand, making me aware of a call he had recieved earlier this morning. A reliable friend of which claims 2 probable pratincoles (thought to be Black-winged), firstly one over the main lagoon, before seeing both hawking over The Deeps together.

The weather was terrible, but Dan and I gave it a shot. Surprisingly we found nothing, a good number of waders on the main lagoon, held absolutely nothing of any interest, but i did actually manage a first for the year...wait for it....and im quite embarrassed to say it...but Wheatear!!

Monday, 4 August 2008

Chew Valley Lake

I finally gave into the Yank Herring Gull in Somerset, with a Fudge Duck there as well, it could potentially be a fairly good trip. The Gull hadn't been reported for a few days now, but thats presumably because everybody else in the country had seen it, in the time we took to decide. I went with Lee Fuller and arrived roughly mid-morning. No sign of the Gull.

Mute Swans are easy targets for crap photographers like myself, but Pochards rarely come that close, this one was no exception © Ashley Howe

So went round to Heron's Green Bay where it didn't take long to pick up on the Ferruginous Duck. At range however. We drove closer, but some how the bird had disappeared into thin air. We gave up shortly after that looking for it. So went back round to Herriot's Bridge to look for the Gull again. Via the cafe, which i highly recommend visiting guys!!! There is one stunning girl serving there!!!

A Pied Wagtail on the foreshore of Heron's Green Bay, it did have to legs! © Ashley Howe

But anywhooo, we waited for hours around Herriot's Bridge with nothing more than a Yellow-legged Gull. We left late afternoon after paying the cafe another visit (Lee insisted on a cuppa - sad twat ha ha). Before going back and relocating the Ferruginous Duck for others.

A rather distant Fudger © Ashley Howe

Saturday, 2 August 2008

Middlebere Farm

After work, a quick dash into Poole before the girlfriend came round, got me the female Lesser Grey Shrike currently residing in the same field as a yellow digger. Unfortunately it wasn't showing as well as i had hoped....and although Shrikes are as sexy as they are...this one didn't really do it for me. The most exciting thing it did was probably stick its head in the air when a Fox popped out of a bush before re-entering.

A very heavily edited shot, which you can probably tell, from the rather bulbous shaped head :-/ © Ashley Howe

Friday, 1 August 2008

Titchfield Haven & Langstone Haven

Lee and I got down to Titchfield Haven just prior to opening, hoping to connect with a Roseate Tern and perhaps some Black. There was very little in terms of Terns about the area today, though in recent days a few hundred had been gathering off shore and infront of the Meon Shore Hide. A few Arctic Terns flew through early on, but nothing else until we heard of the Northern Bottlenosed Whale that had beached itself in Langstone Harbour.

A small selection of the Northern Bottlenosed Whale, but i dont understand why they're trying to save it when its going to die? © Ashley Howe

Popping back into Titchfield Haven before heading home, to see whether there was a change in the number of Terns gathering. Which there there was less!! Bollocks!

I hate Titchfield Haven for photographs....makes the birds go weird....theres a Coot that thinks it can walk up-straight and a Common Sandpiper trying to eat its own reflection © Ashley Howe