Tuesday, 30 September 2008

Mainland Shetland; Day 4

There was nothing around the Hoswick and seemed to be a clearout. I followed a Finch fock for some time to photograph the Twite. After that we headed straight to Kergord plantations. Around Kergord House we had 2+ Yellow-browed Warblers, 5+ Pied Flys, 5+ Blackcaps. A Redpoll Sp, 2 Crossbill (1 male) and a Lesser Whitethroat. A Buzzard flew out of the 2nd plantation behind, and a possible Brred Warbler briefly.

Eventually got close enough for some decent shots (c) Ashley Howe

Over towards the farm there was a Grey Wagtail, more Pied Fly, Blackcapetc. And a Barred Warbler which showed very well feeding in the sycamores.

Although always looking up at this Barred Warbler, it remained out in the open for ages feeding, some other shots show it, flicking off the Aphids (c) Ashley Howe

Monday, 29 September 2008

Mainland Shetland; Day 3

At first light, we were walking up to the quarry to look through the Finches. On the way up i flushed a Crake sp, from a roadside drainage ditch. Resembling either Little or Baillons, i quickly got Dan and Garry as it ran up the left hand-side of this ditch. Totally dark in appearance, and very small. We followed the ditch up to the end, where it seperated into three ditches. The bird has disappeared, presumably up one of the pipes. As some of the group stayed put watching the entries to the pipes, i went back down to the house with Dan to get torches etc. I got down in the ditches looking up the pipes, but i couldnt see anything. Very mysterious. We checked the ditche at various times of the day, to see whether the bird had come back out.

Also in the area was 2 Yellow-browed Warblers, Garde Warbler, Slavonian Grebe, and Siskin.

Scatness provided 2 Purple Sands, 6 Wigeon, 4 Sanderling and Red-throated Diver. At Quendale there was a Barred Warbler in the dunes. 2 Ruff were at Hillwell. A Common Rosefinch at Spiggie, 11+ Whoopers and c120+ Wigeon.

Sunday, 28 September 2008

Mainland Shetland; Day 2

Up early at the crack of dawn, and a Yellow-browed Warbler was the first bird was saw in Hoswick. Another was found just abit further up the road. But there was possibly more or just the same two birds touring the Village. Twite were around but that was about the only other birds worth mentioning.

A pretty quiet day...A flushed Water Rail at Clumbley from one of the many burns. An unidentified washed out Acro at Quendale. Chiff-chaff, Redwing, and Song Thrush.

At Dowsetter, there was no sign of the Yankee Golden Plover, but apparantly there wasnt as many Golden Plover as in recent days. But there were 20 Black Guillemots in the bay.

Saturday, 27 September 2008

Mainland, Shetland; Day 1

Beginning the holiday, seemed abit chaos. My alarm didn't go off till Dan phoned me to say he was outside. Roadworks meant we had to take on the mother of all diversions and we were abit late getting to Garry's house. But still managed to get to Heathrow on time. Our flight to Aberdeen was easy. But cock-ups with check-in the other end meant me and Dan had to stay and wait for the next plane. Garry, Liz and John got the all clear. Typical, the only ones who dont need a Western Bonelli's Warbler.

Eventually we got on a plane to Shetland, surprised to see the sun still fairly high in the sky, we ordered Garry to get back in the car up North. Where on arrival the bird was at the back of a sycamore. But then coming very close to abit of scrub infront.

A cracking Fish and Chips in Lerwick, possibly the best i have ever had ever! And we went back to the Beach House where we were staying, and then to the Dolphin Inn for a few pints. Gotta get the holiday going the right direction, right from the start.

Thursday, 25 September 2008

Flamborough Head & Spurn Point

There wasn't alot of point going to bed, so i stayed up till 1am for Kelvin Pierce, followed by Lee and Mick Fuller to come pick us up. A quick trip up to Flamborough Head, only some 6 hours! And we were there before first light, not really knowing where to go, we wandered the area with a hundred others, before we eventually found where the bird had apparently gone to roost.

Immediately i felt doubtful, but thankfully i was wrong, and the bird was on the other side of the hedge. Dashing up to the road to view the Brown Shrike sat low in the hedge at mid-range, nearly constantly on view we left the bird, to let others see it, not before a few record shots:

Walking down to the Old Fall Plantation, there were as many as four Yellow-browed Warblers and an elusive Red-breasted Flycatcher to be seen. Another look at the Brown Shrike was nicer now the crowds had spread and calmed down, but alot further away now. Sat next to a Red-backed Shrike it was nice to compare. Rarities of more rarities down South we then began to head that way.
Already a glorious day, we passed off reports of the Pallas's Grasshopper Warbler in Lincs (good decision in the end) and went to Spurn, where the Crown And Anchor Pub car park was the first stop. Together was a male and female Red-breasted Flycatcher, the male showing very well at times.

A stunning male Red-breasted Flycatcher, showing a bit better than the female (c) Ashley Howe

Entering the point we were informed about a Great Grey Shrike that had just been trapped, we stuck around a few moments to see the bird, and its release. A newly arrived Brambling was also there.

Male Great Grey Shrike in the hand, (c) Ashley Howe

Further down the point the summering Shorelark was picked up, and a peculiar Warbler, which seemed to be a funny coloured Willow Warbler. Getting better all the time, we headed back up to the Pub where there was another Yellow-browed Warbler showing well, another Great Grey Shrike and Red-backed Shrike in the same scope view. Not bad aye!

One of the showy Yellow-Browed Warblers (c) Ashley Howe

Reports of a Greenish Warbler in Green Lane, Easington related to a Yellow-browed Warbler calling weirdly. Before heading home and getting back at around midnight.

Sunday, 7 September 2008

Hook-with-Warsash and Weston Shore

Carrying on the run of Grey Phaloropes, another one nearby wasnt a hard decision to make, i simply wanted to see another of these blinding birds. On arrival, we managed to walk straight past it, walking further up to a recognisable face; Dave took us to where it was. Not showing as well as what we had hoped, but it was there all the same. This bird was still North of the Main Scrape.
A second bird had just been found on a similar pool but South of the Main Scrape, this bird showed better and closer, but it still wasn't good enough for high quality shots. A few Med Gulls fed out in Southampton Waters, and Yellow Wagtails and Wheatears followed the Cows.
A brief visit to Titchfield Haven resulted in an hour long seawatch with nothing of note but a Black Tern and a Mediterranean Gull, though there evidently was some movement this afternoon as the pager says.

This Mediterranean Gull showed very well from the beach, picking insects off the still water © Ashley Howe

A final bit of twitching to the day, came when a juv Sabine's Gull was found at Weston Shore. Not having a clue where that was, we phoned Steve Menzie, who comfirmed our thought and sent us towards Hythe. Little did we know that both of us were wrong! Once in Hythe we couldnt find a single soul and no Sab's Gull.

A call from Simon Ingram, revealed the bird was exactly the other side of The Solent. Racing back through Southampton, picking up Simon and then to Weston Shore we finally clinched this quality Hampshire bird.

Juvenile Sabine's Gull in poor light off the jetty © Ashley Howe

Thursday, 4 September 2008

Portland and Weymouth: Day 8

First light at the Observatory, with Manx Shearwater seen from the patio and a dark morph Arctic Skua. Gale force conditions heading in a Westerly direction, haulted pretty much any movement.

Searching the top fields got us a Whinchat, thats all. Ortalans weren't to put in an appearance in these conditions and i dont blame them. 2 Grey Phaloropes were then in Chesil Cove feeding on the rafts of seaweed quite close in. And the Tawny Pipit was still at Barleycrates Lane.

OMG! a half-decent record short using digiscoping, the Tawny Pipit was the most ideal of targets, moving well and in terrible gale force winds, and the latter pic of yet another Grey Phalorope in Chesil Cove, this one from Steve © Ashley Howe & Stephen Menzie

Steve wanted to go and slate the Hooded Merganser, but once there he soon saw sense, and realised that this bird has potential. We got back to mine early afternoon to catch up on some sleep.

Starting to come into a better plumage, this time 2nd winter still in the same place, © Ashley Howe

Wednesday, 3 September 2008

West Cornwall, Dawlish, and Portland: Day 7

First light, revealed no Melodious Warbler in 1.5 hours. But a Wryneck was seen briefly at Land's End while Steve had a Gropper knocking around the car park in brambles. A Chough was at an undisclosed site within Cornwall.
Up at Dawlish Warren, the Semipalmated Sandpiper was picked up on the Bight easily amongst masses of Sanderling and Dunlin. A Wryneck was in the area, but having seen 4 in as many days, we couldnt be assed to stop and wait for it to put in an appearance. A brief search around Bowling Green Marsh didn't get the Marsh Sand, which hadn't been seen since the day it was found.

A decent shot of the Semi-palmated Sandpiper feeding out on The Bight considering the distance © Stephen Menzie

Continuing to head East, we got to Portland in time see the Tawny Pipit briefly. A late night watching some half-witts play scrabble at the Obs was far from amusing before we could fianlly get some sleep on the couches.

Tuesday, 2 September 2008

St. Agnes: Day 6

Packing up a went tent, wasn't the most ideal of starts to the day, but what needs to be done, has to be done. God, we are an organised bunch, and even made it in time down to the quay to catch another boat over to Agnes. The juv Buff-breasted Sandpiper was on Pereglis Beach and showing well amongst decent numbers of Turnstone, Sanderling, a single Dunlin, and Oystercatchers, more waders than we had seen in recent days.

My first digiscoped attempt of a bird since i got my SLR in 2006, i still havent improved much © Ashley Howe

On the Scillonian, back to Penzance, seawatching was well worth the effort, with c350 Manx passing. A juvenile Sabine's Gull picked out. Steve picked up on 2 Grey Phals. I had 2 Balearics. When Steve then noticed a large shear. It remained unidentified. But a second passed the boat at surprisingly close range revealing itself as a stunning Great Shearwater.

We spent the night at Porthgwarra, showing our hardcore birding capabilities again, kipping in the car.

Monday, 1 September 2008

Tresco and St. Mary's: Day 5

We woke to terrible weather, and a mess that suggested we had been invaded by Rats. My beloved digestives had nearly all gone and the rest were half nibbled :'(

Ideally we wanted to get to Bryer but no boats were going this morning, randomly i made the decision that we were both going to Tresco, dont ask me why. But as expected we saw diddly squat. a dozen or so Greenshank on the Great Pool, a Pied Fly in the Abbey Gardens and cracking Golden Pheasant...obviously dont count for jack....

Still, clearly one of the best looking birds there is © Ashley Howe

The boat across was a very wet and windy one, but Petrels had gathered between the islands to feed as presumably it was a tad more sheltered than battling the real elements of the open Atlantic.

On St. Mary's a dash up to airfield got us a juvenile Dotterel on the 8th fairway. A wet looking bird, but it did show well, and views and pictures would have been better, if our optics weren't totally soaked. Fish and chips ended a miserable day on a fair note.

Juvenile Dotterel on the 8th fairway, ashame the weather was so bad © Ashley Howe