Tuesday, 14 November 2017

We're Back

So we are back from Australia and New Zealand. It has taken me a couple of days to sort through my notes and record into Bird Journal what we have seen, it has been amazing! Considering this was not a birding holiday we amassed quite a few species along the way.

As David Lindo says, look up! In this case is it was look up, down and sideways. We ultimately did a lot of urban birding in our free time, the botanical gardens of Adelaide, Melbourne and Cairns were very productive, plus we did a wetlands wildlife trip near Darwin which was awesome and of course a trip out to the Great Barrier Reef (only a handful of birds seen there, but loads of fish!)

New Zealand was less productive, UK birds everywhere, Blackbird, Song Thrush, Greenfinch, Starling, Goldfinch, Redpoll and House Sparrow (we could do with importing some from there, but not to our garden, we have quite enough already) But the wildlife trip we did in Dunedin was brilliant, Penguins, Albatross, Spoonbill and so many different species of Shag/Cormorant were to be seen it was stunning.

So no photos in this post as I have nearly 6000 to sort out, plus video, it may take me a while. Then I will do a post with the highlights, of which there were many!

But as for numbers we clocked up 206 species of birds, of which as you might guess a lot were lifers, 153 in fact. Perhaps the NZ indigenous birds were up there with the best, Kea, Tui, Bellbird, Fantail, Brown Kiwi, NZ Pigeon and Weka. From Australia the Laughing Kookaburra, Parrots galore, Spotted Catbird and the gorgeous Superb Fairy Wren stood out. Impossible to pick really.

In addition to birds, there were Crocs, Dolphin, Seals and Sea Lion and fantastic Flora too.

So more to follow..... eventually!

Update 18/11
As I go through the photos, found a bird I missed in Oz, so that makes 207 birds and 154 lifers.

Friday, 13 October 2017

On tour

It's been quite a while since I have posted anything, that because we are on holiday in Australia at the moment, it's not a birding holiday, but we aren't doing too badly up to 137 species so far and a fair lot to do yet.

I will look forward to sorting out my photos out when we get home, whenever that may be as we have to go to New Zealand first, but I will do some reports as soon as I can.

Monday, 18 September 2017

Buzzard Fest at Kinver

On Friday we went for a walk at Kinver along the canal from The Vine in the direction of Whittington Lock, we hadn't done this since February and it is one of our favourite walks.

As you can imagine it was fairly quiet, but by the end of the walk we had seen 25 species and at least nine different buzzards (sure about that as we saw two groups of 4  and a single buzzard at the same time) We had many more sightings on the walk as well but those could have been from the larger groups)

I know Buzzards are fairly common these days, but they are magnificent, so here's one more,

There were plenty of Grey Wagtails about, especially near the sewage works at Whittington, where we also saw Willow and Wood Warbler.

A Kingfisher put in a couple of appearances, allowing me a distant photo,

Butterflies were out in force too,

Finally a one of the canal fisherman proudly showed off a rather large Pike,
We saw him put him back and he swam off seemingly none the worse for the experience.

A afternoon out completed with a late lunch and a pint, well it was my birthday!

Tuesday, 22 August 2017

The Highlands

The Highlands covers a huge area, we were based in  the small town of Newtonmore just off the A9 about 20 minutes south of Aviemore. This wasn't a birding trip, we were giving my brother-in-law Mike, over from South Africa, a whistle-stop tour of the area. Doing the touristy things that we don't normally do. However we did manage to see a few things on our travels,
Red Deer at Loch Muick,
 Emperor Moth Caterpillar, Loch Muick,
 Red Grouse, Loch Muick,
 Reindeer!! Top of Cairngorm Mountain,
 Common Vole, Abernethy Forest,
 Chaffinch, Abernethy Forest,
 Great Spotted Woodpecker, Abernethy Forest
 Coal Tit, Abernethy Forest,
 a distant Osprey,
 Badgers and 'Tree badger', Rothiemurchus Estate. This was great evening with a guide from Speyside Wildlife in a hide in the woods of the estate, seven Badgers were seen,
 as well as two Pine Martens, our first ever sighting of Pine Martens, we were over the moon!! The photo isn't great as I couldn't use flash and the external lights still meant a very slow shutter speed.
 Long-tailed Tit, Anagach Woods (Grantown on Spey)
 Red Squirrel, one of two seen at the Heather Centre near Grantown,
 along with plenty of Siskin

Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Malham Cove, Yorkshire Dales

Sunday saw us taking the walk from Malham Village up to and over Malham Cove, it was a strenuous walk but well worth arriving on the Limestone Pavement at the top. Of course a few birds were seen as we went,
we started with a Wren,
 followed by a young Redstart.
 There were plenty of House Martins zooming around keeping the insects down,
 whilst a male Redstart looked on
 and luckily another Grey Wagtail posed very well.
There were plenty of Corvids around, Jackdaw, Rook and Crow. We did hear a Peregrine but couldn't find it which was a shame.

Malham Cove itself though is pretty spectacular;

Wharfedale , Yorkshire Dales

We went to spend the weekend up in Yorkshire, stopping with our good friends Tim & Wendy.
On the Saturday we went for a walk along the River Wharfe starting out from Addingham.

We had some quality sightings on the walk, starting with a Kingfisher just a few minutes into the walk,
 we were to have four separate sightings as we progressed, but this was the best of them, though it was on the other side of the river.
 There were quite a few female Mandarin Duck about, no sign of any magnificent males though.
 A couple of Grey Heron were seen too.
 As well as plenty of young Goosander, seen in two different places, so that was a total of about 20, unless it was the same group flying up river and sneaking past us!

 At least 3 Grey Wagtail were seen
 and two Dipper sightings although I do think that may have been the same bird,
 the second was in very bad light under some trees, so difficult to say, but it was only about 200 yards from the first.

So a lovely afternoon with 20 species seen in total.

Tuesday, 25 July 2017

The first time we have ever twitched!

I follow with interest the goings on up and down the country and like to know what rarities are about, but a long time ago we said that we would never jump in the car and do the twitcher thing. Our philosophy has always been to go to a reserve or just a walk somewhere and just see what turns up, but as we adore Bee-eaters and they were only just over an hour away, we set off for East Leake near Nottingham, taking the opportunity as well to meet up with our great friends Tim & Wendy who were in the area.

We paid our fiver to the RSPB volunteers who were controlling the parking then set off to the quarry where the seven Bee-eaters had taken up residence. The viewing area was a little way from the tree that they seemed to favour, but with bins and friendly people with good scopes we had really good views. The weather was overcast and I struggled get any decent shots, but here are some for the record.

Monday, 24 July 2017

RSPB Nagshead

At the end of our wonderful trip to Somerset and as we had to be out of our digs by 10am, we took the opportunity for a detour, crossed the Severn (paying an extortionate £6.70 for the privilege) and ended up at RSPB Nagshead in Gloucestershire (just!) luckily we still don't need passports for Wales, but with the way this barmy country is going who knows what the future may hold.

So we arrived at a very quiet Nagshead visitor centre, that was closed, we then discovered it only opens weekends and bank holidays! Hey ho!

We took the short walk up into the woods to the Campbell Hide, this overlooks a pond in a woodland clearing, we were surprised how busy the hide was as there were only a few cars in the car park. We had a great hour in here, with many fledglings coming down to the water for a bath and a drink, I didn't take any photos here as although warm it was overcast and the hide is raised very high above the pond, so I would be shooting into very poor light.

We did however see, Nuthatch, Long-tailed, Blue, Great and Coal Tit, Goldcrest, Blackbird, Chaffinch and Spotted Flycatcher. One eagle eyed chap saw a Pied Flycatcher, but we couldn't find it, a shame as that would have been a new species for us, it's one of those birds that keeps eluding us. One day.

After a while it all went very quiet and we got chatting to the locals, (I have to say I could hardly understand a word, thick west country accents) But Tina got the gist of it and it persuaded us to walk down to the Lower Hide, we had intended to head home after coffee and lunch. But the chance of a Redstart made us stay longer.

So we took the 15 minute walk down, seeing Wren, Blackcap and Song Thrush on the way.

This hide was quiet we were the only ones there, brilliant just the way we like it, sorry to be so anti-social. Tina quickly spotted a Kingfisher at the big pond below us, it kindly put in a few appearances, but never showed that well, as you can see for yourself.

A female Redstart then arrived,
we were pleased with that one. First one this year and only the third time ever. A Great Spotted Woodpecker then turned up way to the left of the hide,
not the greatest of photos. This was followed by a Jay and great views of a Treecreeper or two.
It was certainly turning into a great visit. Then came our star of the show a male Redstart,

he stayed well away from the hide unfortunately, but you can't have everything. He was busy for a while catching various insects and we took this as the time to leave and go home. Always best to leave on a high.

So Nagshead a great place and I'm sure we will be back sometime.