Friday, 24 February 2012

The return of the Ibis

The Glossy Ibis re-appeared at Radipole yesterday and I manage to time my visit to the hide this afternoon to perfection. On the way to the hide it flew right over my head. It then flew into the north end and out of site which is where its probably been hiding for the last week

This is quite a moment for this blog as this is the first video I’ve posted! Took me a while to figure out how to so it though!

Thursday, 23 February 2012

A hangover cure that actually works??

My final post from my Welsh weekend. I spent Saturday night having one or two beers with a few mates but the morning revealed the inevitable hangover. I took a while to wake up and it was mid-afternoon before I felt decent enough to go out. I dragged my headache and myself out to a nearby beauty spot which I’ve mentioned on this blog before. Whilst living in Gwent I spent a lot of my spare evenings watching the antics of the local Short-eared Owls at a place called Waunafon Bog which is near Bleanavon.  It might ring a few people bells if I said this was near to where the famous Gwent Mamora’s Warbler was present in June 2010.

The owls were very active Sunday night and if the sun had come out I would have got some good photo’s. In spite of cloudy dull conditions I came back with these. By the time I got back I had completely forgotten about my hangover!

Wednesday, 22 February 2012

Glamorous Gulling

Merthyr in South Wales probably isn’t anyone’s idea of a good birdwatching spot. Well this winter has proved that it has great potential for gull watching. I know, gulls again but spring is one its way soon and I’ll be able to blog about something else! Anyway, back to Merthyr. This place has probably featured on several of those rubbish TV programmes such as ‘Britains roughest housing estates’ or ‘Neighbours from hell’ but due to its lovely landfill site its now attracting a rather different crowd of people.

I popped over there for a few hours during my brief few days in Wales over the weekend. As soon as I started scanning, I picked up an Iceland Gull, a nice 2nd winter bird. Soon the gulls started to head towards me and started landing on a warehouse roof where viewing wasn’t too terrible. No sign of the Iceland Gull but a 1st winter Yellow-legged Gull was a welcome sight and another slightly odd gull which was probably another Yellow-legged Gull but in my opinion showed a few Caspian Gull features. The photo is utter rubbish and pretty much just shows a gull but some people might be able to see one or two features which make it different from all the others around it.

Here’s the other Yellow-legged Gull which shows yet another very blury gull which could be anything. Its the one with its wing open if you were actually interested.

Noticed today on the Glamorgan website that a potential 3rd winter Caspian Gull was present today and after looking at the pictures, it shows a few pro Caspian features but really hard to say. I am looking forward to going back to Wales next week to do some more gull grilling.
P.S I rather stupidly forgot to take a photo of the Iceland Gull but readers of this blog are probably sick to death of Iceland Gulls.
P.P.S Notice what I did with the title. Named the county and beautifully described Merthyr! Clever eh?

Tuesday, 21 February 2012

Watch out for Wagtails

Before I shot off to Wales Saturday Steve and myself had a chance to catch a few Pied Wagtails down at Weymouth Harbour. So far this winter we have not caught any so we were keen to have a try. We caught 17 which was not bad for a first attempt and Steve managed to catch a few more over the weekend. I think we are up to nearly forty now, all of which are colour ringed. So please keep an eye out for them and email sightings to .
Birds will have three colour rings and a metal ring. One colour ring is on the left leg above the metal and then two colours on the right leg. 
Before heading down the harbour for a look for colour ringed Wagtails, I stopped briefly at Radipole where an Iceland Gull was waiting to photographed. Is it just me or is this a different bird to the one we’ve had for a while?

I think it is!

Monday, 20 February 2012

Cor Blimey, its got a Yellowthroat!

This bird must be every patch workers dream! For anyone wondering what a patch worker is it is somebody who goes birdwatching regularly at particular site. I used to have a very uninspiring patch back in Wales, which was a concrete surrounded reservoir, but I grew to love it and visited most days. It took years before I found something good there but it happened in the form of a Pomarine Skua that was a first for Powys. Anyway, I have completely digressed from what could potentially be my bird of the year!
There are going to be loads of good pictures splashed all over the internet of the bird so I though I would only take rubbish pictures. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

This is a Common Yellowthroat but obviously isn’t very common. It’s from North America and is only the tenth record in the UK. As you can imagine it attracted quite a crowd with probably over a thousand people seeing the bird over the weekend. I know that the finder of this bird reads this blog so well done Matt on a bloody good find!

Friday, 17 February 2012

A Garden Suprise

Popped up the garden net for an hour this morning in the hope that some of the local blackcaps would oblige and jump into the net. They didn’t appear but another warbler species did. A Chiffchaff. Haven’t seen one near the garden in over a month and the net isn’t near to any likely chiffy hiding places.

I am currently preparing for a weekend in Wales where a Common Yellowthroat has appeared. It’s a rather lovely warbler, which is usually found in America, so one in Gwent is irresistible! Will let you know how I get on.

Wednesday, 15 February 2012

An eyeful of Ibis

I know Ibis’s can occasionally be quite obliging but this was just ridiculous! Yesterday evening I had a bleep on the pager saying that there was a Glossy Ibis at Radipole visitor centre. I got there a few minutes after I received the said message and drew a blank, unless it was actually in the visitor centre where I didn’t look.
Whilst debating whether to get up this morning or have a lay in I got a call from our volunteer Chris who’d seen the Ibis at the North hide when he was opening up for the day. So off I went (nursing a slight hangover after a session down the boot last night) to the hide and again was greeted with an Ibis-less view. After five minutes or so, we noticed the bird a few metres in front of the hide amongst the sedge and rush. After very carefully opening up the shutter on the hide, I was greeted by this view!

I need not bother being as careful as I was as the bird just didn’t seem to care about all these people gauping at it.

This one has to be my favourite.

Tuesday, 14 February 2012

A Smew! Bless you....

A text first thing this morning from Steve at the Swannery (cheers Steve!) got me heading there once I’d managed to wake myself up. He’d found a gorgeous male Smew which is probably the bestest of all ducks. Presumably, the cold weather in Eastern Europe has pushed a few into the UK though most birds that turn up tend to be females or Redheads as they are usually called. I’ll leave it to you to figure out why they are called Redheads, it’s not that tricky!
Anyhow, here are a few photos from this morning.

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Rugby or Gulls?

Had a bit of a marathon ringing day today. Started with a session with Terry at Radipole along with Derek and rare visitor Emma who used to live on Portland but now lives somewhere near London? The morning went well with 4 Coot, 4 Tufted Duck and a Herring Gull.  The Herring Gull was colour ringed and was re-sighted a whole 4 hours later near the visitor centre at Radipole. Once our hands were frozen solid and scratched by the lovely friendly Coots, Emma talked me into going along to breakfast. After a brief discussion we decided we’d concentrate on Herring Gulls in the afternoon. I had three colour rings left in my ringing box so we thought it would be good to use them up.
A search around town trying to find some cheap bread came up trumps in Tesco express. 47p a loaf isn’t bad when it’s for gulls! To our surprise Iceland was far more expensive. This Iceland Gull (taken ages ago in Wales) clearly is more interested in Tesco.

After a few hours,  5 more Herring Gull were caught including some lovely adults which were well into their breeding plumage. I also managed to grab a Black-headed Gull for good measure. A good afternoon which was made better when the news came through of Wales win in the six nations, though I am doubting my loyalty to my home nations rugby team. Couldn’t believe that I went with gull ringing instead of watching Rugby but glad I did.

Friday, 10 February 2012

More Woodcock catching

Previous winters at Abbotsbury have produced good numbers of Woodcock. This has always been due to the cold weather pushing them to the coast. The recent cold weather has come good and an evening wander around with the lamp produced the goods. Saw eight birds which is good considering I’ve only got three fields to search in. Three of the birds were together which makes them impossible to catch. They tend to spook each other so if one flies they all fly. So out of the other five I could attempt to catch I got three plus a Lapwing.  Will try again in a few days time, perhaps there’ll be even more Woodcock about!
Haven’t got any pictures to go with this post. A) I forgot to take a camera and B) I’ve got far too many pictures of Woodcock all looking exactly the same. Perhaps next time I’m out I could take along some little hats for the Woodcock to wear. This should get me some interesting and different pictures.

Tuesday, 7 February 2012

They're still coming

White winged Gulls are still turning up through the country which is great news for people like myself who can’t get enough of gulls. But as the winter goes on most of these birds will probably start to head back to chilly arctic. However birds from further south or east should pass through the UK so this probably won’t that last you’ll hear about these great gulls.
Thankfully the Lodmoor bird has upped sticks and shifted to Radipole and sat on the cormorant island for a short while this afternoon. This one looks a bit scruffy so hopefully the next one to turn up will be a pristine adult. I can afford to be picky this winter given the amount of these things turning up in the UK.
Sun was a pain but hopefully these pictures show that back lit can turn up some ‘decent’ photographs.

Friday, 3 February 2012

Polly the Parrot Crossbill

Parrot Crossbills are pretty much exactly the same as other Crossbills except for having a larger bill. Regardless of this three intrepid twitchers (Bret, Fred and Myself) found ourselves heading towards Black down in Sussex this morning. It’s actually a really rare bird in England with the last being over ten years ago which has meant there has been quite a bit of interest in Polly. She’s caused some controversy in the twitching world (can you believe it!!) as some think her bill isn’t big enough.  We got stunning views and all thought that her bill looked fine so after a rubbish attempt at photographing her we turned out attentions to something much more glamorous.

Thankfully on the way back to the car we had the chance to get some decent shots of Crossbill, albeit one with a ‘normal’ sized bill.

Later in the morning we arrived at a site somewhere near Arundel where  a Rough-legged Buzzard has been hanging about. I won’t embarrass myself by posting the pictures but I can assure you that the scope views were decent and we got some nice flight views.
On the way back we stopped at Blashford Lakes near Ringwood in the hope of getting decent views of an adult Caspian Gull which has been roosting there for several weeks. In short, we dipped but saw lots of other gulls instead.

Thursday, 2 February 2012

Big white things

My birding the last few days has largely been made up of large white things. Yet another Iceland Gull has graced Weymouth but this time a 1st winter. I don’t think I mentioned it on the blog but  two weeks after my 2nd winter bird at Radipole on the 7th January we had another  one. Pretty sure there’ll be a few more by the end of the winter.
Here’s a shot of it being nosy.

Here’s a much clearer shot which I took at Swansea marina several winters ago.

Two Great white Egrets turned up at Radipole today but did not really settle. They were first seen near the visitor centre but then flew off.  This evening I went for a look for then in the north of the reserve and found them. I managed a shot of one at the north end this evening. The other was nearby but just out of sight behind some reeds.

They were seen at last light in flight over the North hide heading north. Suppose they might roost somewhere nearby? Our Little Egret roost at Radipole has disappeared since the cold weather, not surprising given that most of the reserve is frozen solid.
This one was at Ham Wall a few weeks ago when I went up for the Starling roost. I think we saw three of them that day. (Egrets not starlings!!!)

My first Woodock Recovery

Received my first Woodcock recovery yesterday! Since the creation of the Woodcock Network ( there have been recoveries from all over Europe including several from Russia. So where has my first recovery come from? Approx 1 mile from where I ringed at Abbotsbury!
However, this is still very interesting. I often think that the Woodcock that occur on the fleet are largely migrants or birds pushed from elsewhere during cold weather. So far this winter I have seen only a couple of woodcock at Abbotsbury compared to the dozens I was seeing this time last year. So you can imagine my surprise when I discovered that it was a bird ringed in January 2010 and was also retrapped in February 2010. This suggests that at least some Woodcock along the fleet are site faithful. Lets hope my next one if from Russia though!