Saturday, 30 July 2016

Whinchat on patch

Fantastic find of a juvenile Whinchat on patch this evening. he bird was present on fenceline rear of farm on track towards the river ( the usual autumn location I've seen them previously). 1st of the Autumn and only 5th site record. Also of note on patch, 4 Whitethroat, 2 Willow Warbler, 2 Stonechat (pair), 1 Kestrel, 1 Sparrowhawk and good passage of Swifts and Swallows

Juv Whinchat- Phone-scoped record shot

Friday, 29 July 2016

Blackwit at SBR

A quick call in at Sutton Bingham Reservoir on way back from Yeovil Town Centre turned up an unexpected wader. After a few minutes on arrival, heavy rain shower set in for about 5minutes. Immediately after the rain stopped I heard a unique wader call coming from quite a height. A quick look in the sky and I picked up a wader darting straight down, like a bullet and landing on the Northern Causeway..... It was a Black-tailed Godwit (partial summer plumage). Knowing this was a scarce patch visitor, I quickly phoned Tim Farr (Sutton Bingham birder) who arrived within 5mins and had cracking views of the bird before it departed. 3rd sighting for Tim's patch this year. A great patch find.
It is amazing to wonder how many other good birds drop in for brief visits at such sites and go unnoticed!!??
Other sightings of note include GBBGull, 2 Kingfisher, Little Egret, Grey Wagtail and 3 Common Sandpiper.

Thursday, 28 July 2016

Autumn migrants on the move !

A quick evenings walk around the patch down bu the river proved extremely productive with good numbers of warblers which was very unexpected. At least 8 Sedge Warbler in the rushes & maize field by the river ( 7 juveniles & 1 Ad), 6 Chiffchaff and 4 Willow Warbler in the willows. 6 Blackcap, 5 Garden Warbler and 7 Whitethroat approx counts moving through the bramble hedge.
No sign of any Reed Warbler or Grasshopper Warblers yet.

Looking back at last years Sedge Warbler records:

First Sedge Warblers of the Autumn 28th/July/2015 with 3 birds (juv's) at same locations.
1 on the 29th/July/2015
8 on the 31st/July/2015
8 on the 4th/ Aug/2015
5 on the 5th/Aug/2015
1 on the 6th/ Aug/2015
5 on the 8th/Aug/2015
1 on the 10th/Aug/2015
50+ on the 11th/Aug/2015- Huge fall!!!
6 on the 19th/Aug/2015
8 on the 20th/Aug/2015
6 on the 28th/Aug/2015
Singles on the 30th Aug, 2nd Sept, 23rd & 25th Sept 2015

First "Autumn" Sedge of 2016 with five juveniles on 27th July 2016- 2 day's earlier than last year.

Reed Warbler records from last year:
First birds of the Autumn 11on the 4th/Aug/2015
12 on the 5th/Aug/2015
2 on the 6th/Aug/2015
6 on the 8th/Aug/2015
2 on the 19th Aug and 2 on 23rd Sept

Already this year birds moving through early with first "Autumn" record on 14th July with 1 bird present. Three on the 16th July 2016-Juvenile birds down by river. Three weeks early!!! Early movement of migrants and failed breeders from Somerset Levels??!!

Blackcap 2015 records:
First "Autumn" Blackcap on 2015 with 6 on the 28th July 2015

Following records below of Blackcap numbers recorded on Patch between 28th July -31st Oct 2015 showing fluctuations in numbers and influxes of birds. Counts taken nearly ever 2nd-3rd day.

29/07/2015 2
29/07/2015 1
04/08/2015 6
06/08/2015 1
07/08/2015 9
11/08/2015 2
11/08/2015 2
15/08/2015 13
16/08/2015 5
19/08/2015 1
28/08/2015 1
01/09/2015 10
02/09/2015 5
08/09/2015 30
11/09/2015 8
16/09/2015 1
21/09/2015 1
23/09/2015 50
25/09/2015 25
28/09/2015 15
01/10/2015 25
07/10/2015 1
28/10/2015 1

Autumn Blackcap for 2016 with singles recorded on 1st, 5th and 16th July. 3 on the 14th July 2016 and now 6 recorded today on 29th July 2016. Peak movement usually last week of Sept, 1st week of October moving through the elder/blackberry bushes.

Garden Warbler Autumn 2015 records:
05/08/2015 1
06/08/2015 4
07/08/2015 3
11/08/2015 1
17/08/2015 2
18/08/2015 6
28/08/2015 5
29/08/2015 9
30/08/2015 2
11/09/2015 2
12/09/2015 7
14/09/2015 5
      17/09/2015 8

First "Autumn" Garden Warbler seen last year on 5th August 2015 and this year 1st Autumn birds (4) recorded on 1st July 2016. Singles seen throughout July. Notable counts of 2 on 14th July and 16th July 2016. Another early movement of the species but not in big numbers, most likely locally breeding birds.

Grasshopper Warbler Autumn 2015 records: Scarce on patch

04/08/2015 2
05/08/2015 2
06/08/2015 2
07/08/2015 1
11/08/2015 5
19/08/2015 1
28/08/2015 1
08/09/2015 1
23/09/2015 3
25/09/2015 1
01/10/2015 1

First "Autumn" Gropper (fresh juvenile) seen on 14th July 2016 moving through long grass vegetation at Sewage works early morning. Highest count of five birds on 11th August 2015. 2014 records showing average count of 3 birds during mid August.

Whitethroat Autumn 2015 records:

28/07/2015 1
05/08/2015 4
07/08/2015 1
10/08/2015 1
11/08/2015 1
        14/11/2015 2
16/08/2015 2
19/08/2015 2
28/08/2015 1
02/09/2015 5
08/09/2015 6
21/09/2015 7
23/09/2015 1
24/09/2015 1
25/09/2015 1
01/10/2015 1

2016 Autumn Whitethroat records so far this season

01/07/2016 2
14/07/2016 5
16/07/2016 6
     29/07/2016 7
Mostly local breeding birds but several juveniles and moulting adults seen lately on patch. Peak movements usually 1st week of September

Lesser Whitethroat Autumn 2015 records: Mostly Autumn migrant, 1st every spring records this year!!!

28/07/2015 3
29/07/2015 1
05/08/2015 2
06/08/2015 1
07/08/2015 1
11/08/2015 1
17/08/2015 1
19/08/2015 1
28/08/2015 5
01/09/2015 6
23/09/2015 2
24/09/2015 1
25/09/2015 1
25/09/2015 1
28/09/2015 1
01/10/2015 1

Few records missing above. Singles on 26th and 27th July 2015.
Peak count on 1st Sept 2015, highest site count.
First "Autumn" bird of 2016 seen on 27th July. Numbers mostly single birds through August with numbers peaking in September alongside Common Whitethroat.

Sutton Bingham 28th/July/2016

Took a quick visit down to Sutton Bingham Reservoir earlier this morning to check for any Gull flocks present. Upon arrival there was a large flock of estimate 200+ Gulls off the Northern Causeway. A scan through the flock and I picked up 3rd year  and Juvenile Yellow-legged Gull.
Good numbers of gulls kept dropping in during light drizzly rain and approx count of 120+ Lesser black-backed Gulls and 70 Herring Gulls from the causeway. Once weather cleared, most gulls departed off.
Other sightings of note 2 Little Egret, 3 Kingfisher, 1 Marsh Tit (car park), Sparrowhawk and single Common Sandpiper.

Saturday, 23 July 2016

Honey Buzzard

This morning at Black Park CP, I had a dark phase/morph Honey Buzzard fly westwards very high in the sky. Views were very good through bins & scope. Managed a very distant record shot as I had macro lens on when bird flew overhead!!! Typical flight view showing broad flat-down curved wings. Long-tailed and long-necked in appearance. Bird was dark overall with significant pale undersides to wings and tail. 3rd sighting of the year!

Friday, 22 July 2016

Blast from the Past!

I've been looking through some old photos on my hard drive and found a nice selection of rarities I've seen in Ireland  and the UK over the past few years. To start with, here is a small selection of some American Waders I've seen in Ireland alongside a few extra rarities and scarce birds.

Semipalmated Sandpiper-Tacumshin Sept 2011

Semipalmated Sandpiper-Tacumshin Sept 2011

White-rumped Sandpiper- Lady's Lake Island 2011

White-rumped Sandpiper-Kilcoole 2012

Garganey-Newcastle Reserve March 2011

Garganey-Newcastle Reserve-March 2011
Asian Lesser Whitethroat-Drogheda 2011

Asian Lesser Whitethroat-Drogheda 2011
Common Crane-Boyne River Co.Louth March 2012

Glaucous Gull-Balbriggan 2012
Sooty Shearwater-Cape Clear 2012
Forster's Tern-Soldier's Point 2012
Richardson's Cackling Goose-Sligo 2011
Alpine Swift 2010
Crane-Rogerstown 2013

Tundra Bean Geese-Lurgangreen 2011

Colne Valley Sightings

I've put together a short blog post of recent bird and insect sightings of note from my last few days here in the Colne Valley.

A couple of macro images taken in the Colne Valley Park. Weather has been very good recently with large numbers of dragonfly species on the wing. Took a Butterfly count also yesterday while out at Stocker's Lake Nature Reserve. Butterfly numbers were very productive with 7 species recorded including a stunning Clouded Yellow.

This female Common Darter below was photographed at Black Park Lake on 20th. Stunning insects when seen close up through a macro lens. One of many Common Darters present. The numbers of dragonflies present around the lake did not go unnoticed as 3 Hobby spent several hours hawking them high above the lake.

Lovely views of this Black-tailed Skimmer at Stocker's Lake Nature reserve, Hertfordshire yesterday on 21st July. Other species seen included several Emperor Dragonfly, Common Darter, Four-spotted Chaser and Southern Hawker.
Black-tailed Skimmer
Distant shot but nice view of the underwing of this Comma Buttefly perched on a nettle leaf at Stocker's Lake yesterday afternoon while doing my Butterfly count
Worker Honey Bee

Wasp chewing up wood for it's nest

Common Wasp on gate fence post
Stocker's Lake sightings 21st/July 2016:
1 Lesser spotted Woodpecker, 30+ Reed & Sedge Warbler, 3 Hobby, 1 Goldeneye Duck, 2 Little Ringed Plover, 5 Garden Warbler and 3 Kingfisher were interesting birds of note.

Black Park Lake sightings 19th-22nd July:
3 Hobby over main lake in very hot weather. Lots of Blackcap, Garden Warbler and Great spotted Woodpeckers present. On the lake, 2 pairs of Great Crested Grebes showing well.
Other daily sightings of note include Red Kite, Ring-necked Parakeet, Stock Dove, Tawny Owl, Green Woodpecker and Muntjac Deer.

Great Crested Grebe

Great Crested Grebe

Stocker's Lake

Stocker's Lake- This section had lots of Reed Warblers

Stocker's Lake

Thursday, 21 July 2016

Reed Warblers

Had a fantastic afternoon photographing several adult Reed Warblers at Stocker's Lake Nature Reserve.
Other sightings of note; 1 Lsr sp woodpecker, 3 Hobby, 1 Goldeneye (male eclipse), 2 Little Ringed Plover, lots of Sedge & Reed Warblers, 3 Garden Warbler, 3 Kingfisher and 20+ Common Tern.

BTO biometric for comparison of Acro Warblers in UK. A selection of my photos below show significatn variation in primary projection of 4 different Reed warblers photographed yesterday at Stocker's Lake.

Biometrics Reed Warbler Marsh Warbler Blyth's Reed Warbler
Wing length 62-73mm 64-76mm 58-66mm
Tail length 48-55mm 47-55mm 46-54mm
Bill length 15.0-18.5mm 14.3-17.2mm 15.3-18.5mm
Bill width 3.7-4.2mm 3.8-4.6mm 3.8-4.6mm
Tarsus length 21.5-24.5mm 21.0-24.0mm 20.5-23.0mm
Wing point P3 P3 (P2) P3
Emarginations P3 P3 P4
Notch to P2 P7-SS P6-P9 1.0-8.5mm
Length of Notch on P2 9.0-15.0mm 7.5-11.0mm 10.5-14.0mm
Primary Projection 15-19mm 17.5-22mm 11.5-16mm
Notch on P3 Slight notch   P8-SS (ad), P6-P10(1Y)


This bird shows relatively short projection. Reed warbler PP is 15-19mm

This bird showed exceptionally long projection from Tertial tip. Leg colour quite bright pinkish/yellow in bright sunshine light looking ideal for Marsh Warbler. Ideal PP range 17-22mm

Closed wing view the notch on 2nd primary falls almost level with secondaries. Primary projection is medium length here.
Standard looking PP for Reed Warbler showing medium length.

Adult Reed Warblre showing extensive wear on tail, primaries and tertials

Thursday, 14 July 2016

Purple Hairstreaks at Alner's Gorse

Quick visit at Alner's Gorse on way to Blandford this evening was well worth the visit with stunning close up views of Purple Hairstreaks (my 2nd ever). Great views of White-lettered Hairstreak, White Admiral, Silver-washed Fritillary and a large range of common Butterfly species.
Great view of 2 Nightingale and Grasshopper Warbler on site, only birds of note. A great Butterfly packed visit all withing 1 hour!!!Incredible. Will be returning soon. Few images of Purple Hairstreaks from today.

Bush Cricket's and Patch Birding

 After yesterday's small selection and movement of migrants through the patch sparked the need of another search in case anything of interesting turned up. Expectations high on more warblers and I was surprised with the number of birds again today on patch.

Patch highlights this morning consisted of 2 Spotted Flycatcher, 5 Whitethroat, 2 Garden Warbler, 3 Blackcap, 1 Reed Warbler, 4 Willow Warbler and 3 Chiffchaff along Mill Lane during an hour's walk. Bit of Autumn migration movement??!! Found a very worn adult Reed Warbler feeding down in long grass at the sewage works which got me excited, thinking I found a rare Acro/Hippo type warbler. Unfortunately after another half-hour search, the bird reappeared and was just a typical Reed Warbler.

Insect diversity was extraordinary aswell today with lots of Ringlets, Gate Keepers, Small Skippers, Green-veined White, Red Admiral on the wing. Found 2 Southern Oak Bush Cricket and a unidentified Beetle species, First for the patch!! Few insect images below.


Small Skipper

Southern Oak Bush Cricket

Southern Oak Bush Cricket

Unidentified Beetle species

Tuesday, 12 July 2016

Portland & Ferrybridge

Seawatch 13.00-16.00pm @PortlandBirdObs 1 pale phase ad Pom with spoons!!, 2 Arctic Skua (pale &b dark phase), 35 Manx, 20+ Gannet, 3 Kittiwake, 2 Fulmer, 20+ Commic Tern, 20 Guillemot, 4 Razorbill. Not bad for 3 hour seawatch.

Lodmoor: 2 Green Sandpiper, 4 Common Sandpiper, 15 Common Tern, 11 Little Egret, 2 Kingfisher and 4 Reed Warbler

8 out of 34 Meds present at Lodmoor

Common Sandpiper juvenile
Juv LRP showing well at Ferrybridge this afternoon also Ad YLGull & 15 Meds. Great views of Dunlin, Sanderling, Ringed Plover (Ad&juvs) at Ferrybridge this afternoon.

Juvenile LRP



Juvenile Ringed Plover
Sanderling (Summer plumage)

Adult Ringed Plover