22 Apr 2014

White-bellied Sea Eagle

Last one from Australia.
We spent a few days on the coast at a fabulous place called Merimbula. Our apartment overlooked the estuary whilst 150 behind us was the thunderous Pacific.

The noise of the surf was incredible and the belt of scrub behind the dunes proved a good birding spot. I picked up a few seabirds as well  - Gannet & Gull-billed Terns. Highlight was this flyover beast of White-bellied Sea Eagle!

18 Apr 2014

Final few days in Australia

Although not really a birding trip I've managed a few new birds whilst I've been here - Golden Whistler & Grey Shrike Thrush. Unfortunately the Whistler didn't hang around long enough for a photo. I've been walking my daughters dog every morning up through the housing estate to the hills behind. This has been my new local 'patch' whilst I've been here and I've recorded around 70 species in a few days!

As well as the birds there's been a big mob of Kangaroo's most mornings. Once the place gets busier they retreat higher up into the trees but at night come down to feed on the lawns.

The local botanic gardens is currently playing host to a large roost of Fruit bats meaning a lot of the park area is out of bounds to the public. The noise and smell from this roost is incredible.

Bird life in the gardens include these Australian ibis that seem to be finding food beneath the roosting bats - insects attracted by their droppings?

Birds seen on my morning walks with the dog include the following:
 Brown Thornbill
 Diamond Firetail
 Dusky Wood Swallow
 Eastern Rosella

 Flame Robins
 Grey Shrike Thrush
 Jacky Winter

 Superb Fairy Wrens
Yellow-faced Honeyeater.

I'm slowly learning calls of Australian birds as well and becoming more confident about ignoring calls without having to investigate everything as I don't know what it is.

15 Apr 2014

G'day cobber

Away from Cheshire for a short while with a business / holiday trip to Australia. Loads of fantastic birds and I've managed to add a couple more to my Ozzie list including wild Emu! Back in the UK in a few days time. Hopefully someone will relocate the Crag Martin. 

Australian King Parrot

Rainbow Lorikeet

Sulphur-crested Cockatoo

Australian Pelican

Pied Currawong

I'll post a few more photos over the next few days.

1 Apr 2014

The Hilbre game estate....................

A Hilbre mega had the Obs members excited last could have been anything this time of year. A Yankee Sparrow perhaps or an early overshooting Mediterranean migrant. It was only the 2nd record for Hilbre and totally unexpected. A bleedin Pheasant! It was found last Thursday and I saw it Friday afternoon when I made a short trip across to do some more maintenance work.  I didn't manage a photo as I only saw it in flight as Steve almost trod on it but I did see the elusive Rabbit. Take note Mark & Harriet!
Saturday morning and Mr Jones & me were on the Island at first light. It was looking good for a few migrants but the first round of the traps produced nothing. The Pheasant suddenly appeared on top of the five bar gate leading into one of the paddocks and proceeded to walk towards us, past the Obs and down the Landrover ramp! Result.

With Partridge two years ago, a Rabbit & now a Pheasant the council will soon be selling the shooting rights to raise money!

The excitement soon abated as a couple of Northern Wheatears appeared and Chiffchaffs started appearing in the heligolands. Two male Wheatears were caught and ringed using potter traps to catch them and six Chiffchaffs were caught. There was a good passage of Meadow Pipits through the morning and small numbers of finches flew overhead with a Greenfinch, two Chaffinches and three Goldfinches settling for awhile.

 Photo above © Steve Williams

Both the Wheatears were aged as 2nd calendar year (Euring 6) on account of the black wing coverts and lores.

It was nice to see the Linnets back on territory with several males singing at different locations.

A bit more excitement was provided by a young Grey Seal that decided to spend the high tide on the beach at the south end and then got stranded when the tide receded. With a large number of people visiting the islands, as part of a joint initiative between the ranger service and RSPB, Obs members were asked to help 'persuade' it to move to a slightly less obvious location. This we managed to do despite its reluctance and occasionally lunging at us with bared teeth. They may look cute and cuddly but they are a to predator with teeth to match.
Another excellent couple of days and I even managed to install another 4 nest boxes at Barry's private site. To cap it all a very photogenic Little Egret hung around long enough in the gutter for me to photograph. Normally they're off as soon as you stop the Landrover.

27 Mar 2014

Chiffie in the garden

I woke up early this morning and managed to photograph this singing male Chiffchaff through the open bathroom window!

With an hour or so spare before having to drive to Leeds and with a few Redpoll hanging around the feeders I put a 3m mist net up. An hour later, after the usual Blue Tits and Great Tits and a couple of Chaffinches (but no Redpoll!) I caught this beauty. It was quite easy to age this bird as a 2nd calendar year as it had 4 retained juvenile greater coverts that contrasted with the greener edged adult type it had obtained after its post juvenile moult last autumn. They're not always this clear!

Whilst playing with Photoshop I also highlighted this 2nd calendar year male Chaffinches single retained juvenile greater covert.

24 Mar 2014

Owls about that then!

Good news over the weekend when Barry texted me to say his resident Little Owls were using the box I made for them last year. Both birds were in the box so hopefully they'll nest in it rather than in their old home that had been storm damaged. Many thanks to Barry for the following photograph.
Its good to know my carpentry efforts haven't been all in vain!

A beautiful morning Saturday saw me driving to Hilbre to spend the day over the tide carrying out maintenance to storm damaged gates & heligoland traps so there was little time for birding.

I did manage to ring a new Wren and whilst John was there he re-trapped a Rock Pipit in a potter trap  - its not very often you get to see these in the hand! This one was aged as as 2nd calendar year bird (Euring 5) and had started a pre-breeding moult with one of the median coverts beign replaced and some of the greater coverts missing. It had also seemingly undergone some body feather moult around the head.

Unfortunately the weather took a turn for the worst and as Steve & John left for the mainland the wind speeds tarted increasing and the weather got very squally. At one point it was blowing Force 8 making work on the fences slightly more difficult!
As has been the norm recently a small party of Common Scoter spent the high tide loafing around on the sheltered east side and gave good views whilst  I worked on repairing the SK baffle in time for the spring rush of migrants.

Inlet baffle to SK heligoland with mesh repairs done and dreaded Blackthorn cut back to prevent it damaging the rest of the wire. Severe Blackthorn & wire rash resulted.

After a good days work I eventually got of around tea time and set off for home for a well deserved beer - thanks to Steve!