Friday, 31 October 2008

Nosterfield, and Pickering

At first light there was no sign of the drake Canvasback at Nosterfield on any of the Quarry Pits there, though it must be around that general area somewhere. However looking over the other Pits, there looked to be a distant Pectoral Sandpiper, later with Dunlin it soon flew off high, without being properly IDed.

Giving up on this bird after a couple of hours searching, we then moved on to Pickering, driving through the Moors with Red Grouse showing generally well close to the car. Once at Pickering (the set of Heartbeat). We made our way into the valley, to photograph Dipper. A certain individual showed well, but because of the light, and mobility of the bird made photographing it considerably harder than expected.

A few Red Grouse were viewable from the car in the freezing cold through the Moors (c) Ashley Howe

An hour or so spent with this bird, and still no sign of the Canvasback, we decided to go home, just in time for a Halloween party.

Monday, 27 October 2008

Rainham, Hythe and Dungeness

First port of call of the day was Rainham Marshes, a bright sunny morning with reasonable sized flocks of Finches near the tip perimeter fence. However scanning could not pick out 1 of the 3, possibly 5 Serins supposedly in the area. Typically as I was looking in a different area, Lee and Mick found a juvenile, which managed to disappear by the time i had made my way back up the hill. Some concellation was a Dartford Warbler, apparantly a rare local species.
Down the M20, and the Green Heron showed inevitably well at Hythe along the canal. Where is fished surprisingly well, catching some impressively sized fish. We stayed with the bird, in constantly changing lights, and always staying on the other side of the canal.

A selection of Shots of the Heron. Nearly constantly on show. However my most favourite shot being the stunner at the bottom as it walked across the fallen branch © Ashley Howe

Once the Heron settled down after fishing, we went South to Dungeness where yeserdays Red-breasted Flycatcher was still in situ. Showing well in gorse by the lighthouse the bird allowed decent photo opportunities, but nothing compared to the male, I photographed last month at the Crown and Anchor Pub at Spurn.

This Red-breasted Fly still showed amazingly well © Ashley Howe

Tuesday, 14 October 2008

County Galway

Once i had finished work, i made some calls, got myself a lift to Eastleigh train station, where i began to travel North. Tackling the underground with ease, and my timings were smack bang on the knosser!! Arriving at Stanstead airport at around midnight, i then kipped in the airport till 7am where i was allowed to check-in. I accidentally fell a sleep and almost missed my flight, thankfully minutes before i woke, and i dashed to the gates.

Once on the plane it was a doddle, i got to Shannon before schedule, but had to wait another 3 hours before Garry could pick me up enroute to the Little Blue Heron, he was coming from the Tanager in the South, which i really wanted to see, but i wasnt willing to pay £220 for a single flight. Meanwhile i kipped on yet another bench...i think im going to start getting a reputation for sleeping in random places, maybe i should be named the 'tramp birder' or something. So then, a kip, 3 hours and a full stomach after a lovely full irish breakfast later, i was on my way with Garry, John, Vince and Tony to the Heron. It took about 2 hours. Where on arrival the bird was showing amazingly well. We were stood on the pier, and the bird was basically metres away beneath me.

However this wasnt good enough....i went further up the beach to where the light, was better. The bird fished closer and closer towards me. And not stopping. Before long i was within about a metre of the bird fishing. it walked straight passed me, and once it had caught a couple more fish, flew right over the other side of the stretch of water. There was no point in sticking around longer, i wasn't going to get better views. So we headed back to Shannon Airport.

Showing distantly...(c) Ashley Howe

Back to Stanstead before we know it, where we said by to Tony, the rest of us headed South, dropping off Vince around the M25 and myself at Gatwick airport. Where i was stuck for 2 hours before Lee Fuller can and saved me, awww my night in shining armour, at 2 in the morning. At this point i had just turned 18, and what a start to Adulthood ha ha....we got back at myhouse at about 4 in the morning.

Thursday, 9 October 2008

Nanjizall Valley & Cornwall

Paul Welling as the driver, James Hanlon and Dave ? as passengers picked me up from my house in Hedge End, at 1:45am. Driving down to Cornwall to make sure we arrived just before first light, stopping in various services, none of which open. Yesterdays Empidermix Flycatcher was thought to be Alder or Willow. But how do you tell? apparantly un-seperable even in the hand, although there are some minor differences there is dfinately an overlap between the two.
On arrival, we waited for it to get abit lighter before the field load of people made there way down to Nanjizal Valley. Where we was all alined, it wasn't long before it was picked up with all them eyes.

Showing well, but at range still allowed the crowd to see what was needed (c) Ashley Howe

The bird showed well flicking around ferns and a particular seperated bush at the top. We watched the bird for a few good hours. Where we saw all we could see on the bird. And yes, i agreed with they guys from yesterday, Alder or Willow...probably leaning more towards Alder.

In the time, we departed off to Nanquidno, where reports of a Yellow-throated Vireo seemed bollocks. Then off down to the Lizard where we searched for the Nighthawk. Of course we didn't ecxpect to see it, but hey, youve gotta look for these thing, one day i will get lucky. However a showy Merlin made me happy. In this time, the Flycatcher was trapped and confirmed to be an Alder. Not that i didn't care what it was IDed as, because it was going on my list as Trails regardless.

There something about photographing birds of prey (c) Ashley Howe

Friday, 3 October 2008

Mainland Shetland; Day 7

The weather wasn't that great....Pied Fly, a few Phylluscs and 2 Redpoll Sp. were about the best we could find around Hoswick in strong winds.

That evening we were up at the Sumburgh Hotel, doing what we had done every other evening that week, getting pissed...well Dan and I had anyway. This time a little more eventful with the Shetland local birders, a few games of pool, Garry on the darts...what more could you ask for?

Thursday, 2 October 2008

Mainland Shetland; Day 6

The morning spent around Hoswick again, Siskin, and Garden Warbler was the best we could muster up.

At Kergord, 2 Yellow-brows were picked up, and a Sparrowhawk.

At Sumburgh there was a Snow Bunting, a showy Lesser Whitethroat, but we dipped the Red-breasted Flycatcher.

Sitting out of the fence for a few seconds allowed some pleasing record shots (c) Ashley Howe

At Sumburgh Hotel Dan and I watched a Wheatear escape the claws of a Merlin several times, before becoming its victim.

Grutness held a Knot and a Blackcap. Virkie had 4 Barwits, 4 Linnets. Old Scatness hadn 2 Arctic Terns off shore. Quendale had a fly over Peregrine, 4 Siskin, and a Reed Warbler - wa sthis the bird people were saying was a Marsh?

Wednesday, 1 October 2008

Mainland Shetland; Day 5

A brief look around Hoswick didn't hold much. Garry, John, Liz and myself went out looking for a Pec Sand somewhere, while Dan searched the Hoswick - Sandwick area. Neither of us had anything, until the pager started to release the news on Fair Isle that morning, Lanceolated and 2 White's Thrush, i needed both, Garry and John needed a Lancy, and Dan needed none of them. We booked ourselves straight onto a flight mid-afternoon - returning the following day. Unfortunately winds were high, so didn't fly. We arranged for flights to go the next morning if still present.

Meanwhile time was pushing on, and reports of a Hornemann's rctic Redpoll were coming through from Unst, at Norwick, once we realised we couldnt fly, we bombed it up to Unst. Actually taking a fair while, considering the ferry links, and a fully full car. It took a few minutes, but when it almost landed on Liz, it made itself easy to pick up on.

The Hornemann's showed down to just a couple of metres at time feeding in the cattle feeders with Greenlands (bottom). Couldnt have asked for anything better (c) Ashley Howe

It showed unbelievably well with 5+ Greenland Redpolls, a Brambling was on the wires, a Spotted Fly was along the fence and a Lesser Whitethroat showed well.