Wednesday 29 January 2014

Update on the Med Gulls at Radipole Lake, Weymouth

After watching the Brunnich's Guillemot in Portland Harbour during December, Dave Gray, Colin Green, John Waters and I spent some time in the Radipole Lake car park photographing Med Gulls and also reading colour-rings on three of them.

First-winter Mediterranean Gull, Radipole Lake

I have just received the information back on the colour-ringed gulls and it is quite interesting:

Friday 24 January 2014

A Short Video of Gulls at Shawell, Leicestershire

Often in difficult conditions, poor light and wind, it is better to take video footage rather than still images. Also video can improve the quality of the imagery of distant birds. Last weekend I used the video feature on my camera to record the 'white-winged' gulls and also a second-winter Caspian Gull at Shawell. The video is achieved by mounting the camera to my scope and I think you'll agree that the quality is very good considering it isn't a true camera lens.

The video below has a few seconds of violence that should be rated 18, so look away if your offended by brutality - eat your heart out Quentin Tarantino.

Best enjoyed by clicking on the YouTube logo.

Monday 20 January 2014

Siberian Chiffchaffs, Burton Marsh, Cheshire

Now its out that if a Siberian Chiffchaff (Phylloscopus collybita tristis)
looks like a Siberian Chiffchaff  it is one (amazing that) there seems to be more regular sightings. At least three Siberian Chiffchaffs were at Burton Marsh as well as the Buff-bellied Pipit.

Note: since writing the above I have discovered that at least ten Siberian Chiffchaff (tristis) look a likes have called like Chiffchaffs (collybita). So it's back to listening for the call I'm afraid, as no one yet knows what the ones that look like Sibe Chiffie but sing like ordinary Chiffchaff are.

Two were really showy, but the constant procession of cyclists tried my patience, as the birds were trying to feed at the side of the track and were disturbed by the bikes. Even so I was pleased with the selection of photos I got.

They looked even paler grey as I watched them through my bins and the Bonelli's Warbler like green on the edge of the wing was quite distinctive.

Siberian Chiifchaff

Sunday 19 January 2014

Buff-bellied Pipit, Burton Marsh, Cheshire

After saying that I'd found a cure for twitching, I found myself lured, for the third time in as many weeks, out again. I had dipped a Buff-bellied Pipit on Scillies in the 90's and I didn't bother with the one down in London the other year, but this one attracted my interest.

As twitches go this one was very easy. Park your car and walk a couple of yards and view just over the fence. Not quite an epic, but it was a glorious day today. The light was poor first thing and in the afternoon the sun was in your face, so photography was challenging. 

Buff-bellied Pipit

It is an interesting bird, which to me had some pro Siberian Pipit (Anthus rubescens japonicas) features. In the dull light this morning, the median covert wing-bars looked white and the streaks on the underparts were quite bold. Also the belly only had a very faint buff wash. The N American sub-species is said to have dark legs usually black or dark grey. Both sub-species can have light brown legs apparently, but there is no mention of Anthus rubescens having pinkish legs. This bird appears to have dark pink legs, but are they too dark? 

Saturday 18 January 2014

White-wingers at Shawell

I was hoping to see at least one 'white-winged' gull today, as there had been quite a few around the Midlands during the week. I went to the landfill site first and it didn't take me long to spot a Glaucous Gull. The light was quite poor, but I managed to get a few images of it. Ageing it isn't that easy but it looks like a second-winter. Its eyes are starting to look pale and the bill tip is no longer black. The plumage could match either age, but the plain mantle favours second-winter. 

Later it was at the A5 Lagoons where it showed well as it preened.

Glaucous Gull

Shortly after finding the Glaucous Gull, I spotted a second-winter Iceland Gull.

Sunday 12 January 2014

2013 - A Review

A trip to Norfolk on the 1st was a perfect start to the year. The early wake up time was worth the effort, as the waders on the Wash put on a great show. As normal during January I did a bit of walking in the snow in the Peak District to get me ready for a full on winter expedition to the Cairngorms. 

Red Grouse

Saturday 11 January 2014

Parrot Crossbills

It has been a few years since I last saw Parrot Crossbills - 29 to be exact. As a young chap I visited Wells Woods both in 1984 and 85' to see the ones that were breeding there at the time. After all this time I was ready to have another look at this bull-necked beast of a finch. Luckily, as you probably know, there is a small flock of them at Budby Common, Nottinghamshire at the moment. 

I parked up at Budby and headed to the last area they had been reported from. However, it took longer to find the location than I would have liked, but eventually I managed to get good views of them feeding in the pines and drinking from some small puddles.

Male Parrot Crossbill

Tuesday 7 January 2014

Gulls at Shawell During 2013

This is an account of the gulls I recorded in the Shawell area of Leicestershire during 2013. The attraction for the gulls is the ready meals at Cotesbach Landfill Site. They also congregate at the nearby lagoons, known as the Shawell A5 Lagoons. The latter site is on the border between Leicestershire and Warwickshire and right at the side of the main A5 road. The lagoons are just inside Leicestershire.

I averaged just over one visit per week throughout the year apart from when I was away on holiday. Sticking to it all day throughout the freezing cold weather of the first-winter period was tough, but it had its rewards. On one occasion I had to give in when the hood over the big end of my scope continuously filled with snow.

A Winter's day at Shawell A5 lagoons

Wednesday 1 January 2014

Happy New Year

Here's wishing everyone a Happy New Year,  good health and hopefully lots of great birding and wildlife adventures during 2014.

Sunrise Over Caerlavarock