30 Jan 2017

Dunlin with SCAN

Last Saturday I managed a few hours off from travelling, or house renovations, to spend time canon netting waders with SCAN in Bangor harbour. It was great to see some faces I hadn't seen for quite awhile - including Ros, fresh back from New Zealand.

I detoured on the way to check out a few sites on behalf of Steve for Sundays session so arrived after all the hard work has been done as the team were getting briefed. Within a very short time the nets were fired and we began extracting and processing a good mixed catch of mainly Dunlin, a few Redshank and a few Oystercatchers.

With a large catch and a large team we were split into two processing teams with age, wing length, bill length, total head / bill length and weight being taken for the Dunlin and an extra biometric - tarsus length - for the Redshank. This enable  the birds to be assigned to race and helps our understanding of the origin of these waders using the N Wales coastline in winter. Highlight was a Swedish controlled Dunlin.

Rachel, Amelia & Dorian hard at work processing Dunlin.

23 Jan 2017

More crap bird photos from the window.

More jet lag! No sooner had I recovered from my Australian trip the I was off to Shanghai and eventually arrived home close to midnight Saturday night after 17 hours travelling. Sunday morning broke dull, cold and with sleet in the air. No matter. After being cooped up all week I was determined to work outside in the garden.

The first surprise of the day was a Pheasant that decided to visit the field opposite. I've seen it from the house before but a couple of fields further away. Running back inside I grabbed a quick record shot through the 'scope.

Returning to the garden I noticed a large white blob circling about a field away. Thinking it looked a lot like a Shelduck  Iran back inside, grabbed the binoculars and then spotted aforementioned blob sat on the pond opposite. It was a Shelduck. A new house and patch tick and another 'record shot'.

Whilst looking at the Shelduck a Raven wandered in to view. Another opportunity for a record shot. They're regular but normally to wary to allow me to photograph from outside. This one visited the pond for a bath and spent about 10 minutes washing and preening. By the time I looked back for the Shelduck it had gone!

Singing Song Thrush and Greenfinch were also nice and the Little Owl called briefly late afternoon.

16 Jan 2017

Wet, miserable and jet lagged - birding from the windows.

Wet and miserable - the weather not me! Jet lagged is me. With lots of work going on in the house coupled with bad weather there hasn't been much incentive to go out birding anywhere so I've concentrated on recording stuff in my new 'patch' - most of which I can see from the windows.

Highlights have been up to 60 Teal using a baited flight pond hidden amongst trees i na field opposite the house and the good numbers of gulls, thrushes and wagtails feeding on fields that have just had manure spread on them. Saturday there were at least 300 Redwings and Fieldfares with good numbers of Starlings, Rooks and Jackdaws thrown in

Sunday saw the turn of the gulls. Scoping from the upstairs windows I picked out my first Lesser Black-backed Gulls of the year amongst a throng of Black-headed Gulls, Common Gulls and Herring Gulls. I even tried a bit of phonescoping but the light was dire.

From the front  of the house I phonescoped the Grey Wagtail that hangs around the muddy field entrance.

Not very inspiring photos but great fun moving from the front to the back of the house with the scope seeing what  I can pick out next.

9 Jan 2017

BRT followed by BLT

Returning from Australia I found my self once again jet lagged but going for a rare bird the day after I arrived home. This time a Blue Rock Thrush that turned up in Stowe on the Wold. No photo's as being a complete prat I'd left my SD cards at my daughters place in Australia! Doh. 

Theres been a lot of debate about the origins and age of this bird but as far as I'm concerned I saw no evidence of it ever being in captivity and from the moult contrast in the greater coverts I'd say it was definitely a 1st winter. As to the time of year.......Black-billed Cuckoo in February anyone? Who's to say this bird didn't arrive last autumn and has moved away from the coast to its current location. Innocent until proven guilty I say. I didn't see any abnormalities to the bill or feet and certainly didn't see anything around the legs.

After awhile I headed back home stopping briefly to refuel and buy a bacon, lettuce and tomato sandwich before having a short snooze on the couch and spending an hour or so patch birding. 

Here's a couple of Blue Rock Thrush that was hanging around the village of Timaru on the Costa Brava near a friends apartment where we were staying a few years ago - they were quite tame and not at all phased by being so close to human habitation.