Monday, 31 October 2011

Fairburn Ings

On the 23rd October we joined the Bedford RSPB Local Group visit to Fairburn Ings in Yorkshire. Travelling along the A1 we had views of at least 5 Red Kites and a few Buzzards. We arrived just before 10am and our first interesting birds were Tree Sparrows, a party of at least 20 were close to the visitor centre making the most of the feeders. Then someone spotted a Willow Tit and all eyes were trained on the feeders! It was a very active bird but we all had good views, eventually. At the feeder on the other side of the path a pair of Bullfinches were feeding. The male was a bit of a poser!

Tree Sparrows
Willow Tit


We enjoyed a walk along the Riverside spotting flighty groups of Long-tailed Tit, Siskins and a small number of Bullfinches. There were several waterbirds on the lagoon including Goldeneye, Black Swans and 2 newly arrived Whooper Swans amongst the usual species.
After lunch we went to the Lin Dike car park and had views of Snipe and Curlew flying in to join the Pintails and other birds on the shallow pools. We also went looking for Long-eared Owl that had been seen earlier in the day but with no luck.

Thursday, 27 October 2011

Snettisham high tide!

On Saturday 1st October we went with Gen to Snettisham to see the wader spectacular. When we arrived at 7.30 for the 9.30 high tide we were taken aback by the number of cars parked along from the entrance gate to the car park where surprisingly we found space to park (people must have panicked and thought that the car park was full!
There were a couple of hundred people waiting eagerly, just beyond the first hide, for the tide to rise to it's fullest and drive the waders from the mud. As usual there were several short forays of Oystercatchers and Knot and much shuffling along before the final 'lift off' and swirling displays.
Once the majority of the birds had left the mudflats we went round to one of the hides to see the birds roosting there. The hides were rather full but it was still possible to see through the gaps! There were large flocks of Knot and Oystercatcher with small numbers of Dunlin, Curlew Sandpipers and Redshank on the nearest scrapes.
Wader flocks on the scrape

Wader mix
View across the lagoon

It was a magical start to our days' birding in Norfolk which unfortunately was dogged by crowds of weekenders and packed car parks.

Friday, 14 October 2011

Algarve Autumn Adventures: Part 2

We visited the Parque Ambiental at Vilamoura where a group of bird ringers from Staffordshire were on an annual ringing trip. It was great to see birds 'in the hand' which included swallows, martins, warblers and a lovely Bluethroat.
Unfortunately we missed seeing a juvenile Booted Eagle close to but did see it fly off.
At the Casro Verde visitor centre we had good views of Wheatears and a rather hot Tawny Pipit before Pete identified a juvenile Bonelli's Eagle being mobbed by a couple of Ravens. 
Northern Wheatear
Tawny Pipit
On a pelagic out of Fuseta, organised by Georg, we had good views of Audouin's and Slender-billed Gulls at the entrance to the lagoons.
Audouin's Gull
Slender-billed Gull
Out at sea we were pleased to see Cory's, Balearic, Scopoli's, Sooty and Great Shearwater, as well as European Storm Petrel, Common Terns, Gannets and Great Skua.
Cory's Shearwater
Great Shearwater
And finally we had our last visit to Cape St Vincent where we visited the raptor watchpoint and ventured off the main roads in search of Rock Doves on the cliffs. We found a party of Little Bustards feeding in the short scrub.
Little Bustard

Thursday, 13 October 2011

Algarve Autumn Adventures: Part 1

In mid-September, Gen and Pete M and ourselves returned to the Algarve to see passage birds and residents a bit earlier than we have before. Our ten days were full of interesting birds as we returned to our favourite birding sites to see what they held. Our first stop was the Tavira saltpans where we saw the usual waders and an unusual Egret.
Hybrid Western Reef X Little Egret?
Around the cottage, where we stayed, we were pleased to see Whinchat and Wheatear on the fences and Pied and Spotted Flycatchers feeding on the insects.................
Whinchat in the garden
Hummingbird Hawkmoth

Crimson Speckled Moth
......... and some cheeky Azure-winged Magpies having a wash and brush up next door!

Azure-winged Magpies 
Some of the insects seen included Hummingbird Hawkmoth, Crimson Speckled moth and Swallowtail butterfly. 
We also saw Two-tailed Pasha and Plain Tiger butterflies on our travels.

Two-tailed Pasha

Plain Tiger
 A Praying Mantis was a new sighting for us.
Praying Mantis

We had three trips to the Raptor Watchpoint near Sagres, which wasn't as busy as we've seen in the past but still gave us brilliant views of Honey Buzzards, Booted and Short-toed Eagles and Egyptian Vultures.
Short-toed Eagle
Honey Buzzard
 At Ludo Farm we met up with June & Peter and spent a very pleasant day birding together around the Ria Formosa. We would recommend anyone wanting a day's guided birding to contact them through their website -, they are very friendly and experienced bird guides with an excellent knowledge of the Algarve and Baixo Alentejo.

Saturday, 8 October 2011

Summer summary!

A quick summary of the highlights of our birding during Summer 2011.

View from Staple Island to the mainland
Arctic Tern on Inner Farne

In June we visited Northumberland with fantastic weather on the day we were on the Farne Islands but very wet the following day when we ventured on to the Moors and to 'Happy Valley'.

We also had another garden event with Scarlet Tiger moths putting in an appearance for a few days and Privet Hawkmoths emerging from pupae.

Scarlet Tiger moth

Privet Hawkmoth
At the end of July we spent a week in Scotland, at Aigas Mains, next door to the Aigas Field Centre. The highlights of the week were a visit to the top of Cairngorm, alas no Dotterel in view, and then on to Spey Bay where we had fantastic views of Dolphins and Little Gulls.
In August we had a great day out in Lincolnshire starting with a trip on the Boston Belle out into the Wash to see waders and seals, then on to Frampton Marsh where the bird of the day was Wood Sandpiper.