Sunday, 28 June 2015

No Show Squacco....But What A Day!.

After hearing yesterday evening that a Squacco Heron had been found at Kirkby-On-Bain gravel pits near to Horncastle,this is where i headed at first light this morning.
 After arriving and only one other birder being present along with myself we tried our best to spot this Linc's mega.While searching for the heron,a close encounter with an Otter which swam right in front of where we were stood was special and a Red Kite and 'Purring' Turtle Dove also helped to provide interest.
 As time wore on and more people arrived,we all split up in an attempt to try and relocate the bird in question,but sadly it was not to be....but all was not lost, as a very nice surprise was found.
 After covering some good looking habitat along with Phil Espin and Phil Hyde we returned to the reserve pit to the incredible news that a male Little Bittern had just been found!.
 After a bit of patience it was seen sat at relatively close range in a waterside willow...what a cracking little bird.It was then seen in flight and then perched up a further two times as it moved around the pit,being eventually lost to view as it perched in another willow.
 This is my second male Little Bittern in Linc's after a bird at Messingham on 1st June 2004.
 Other notable sightings during the day included a whopping female Grass Snake while looking for the Squacco and a single female Southern Hawker,my first record of the year.
 A shame about the Squacco Heron not showing,but fine compensation was had with the cracking Little Bittern and Otter.

Friday, 26 June 2015

Wykeham Forest.....Sunday 21st June 2015.

A visit to this superb area of North Yorkshire today to indulge in a spot of raptor watching resulted in a very enjoyable days birding.
 I had come to try and see the summer visiting residents to the area...Honey Buzzards and hopefully encounter some of the other forests avian delights as well.
 After a fairly quick journey up from home,which took only just over an hour,i arrived at the raptor watch point car park and had something to eat before heading to the viewpoint.
 On arrival and just as i set the scope up i was greeted by a singing and displaying Tree Pipit,a nice start to proceedings.
 It wasn't long before i logged the first 'Good' raptor with a single immature Goshawk flying along the opposite side of the valley,giving good,but distant views.This was shortly followed by a distant Honey Buzzard,following the same track along the opposite side of the valley before being lost behind the huge pine forest.I couldn't have wished for a better start,with both hoped for star birds in the bag.
 I continued watching,seeing a single Hobby,Kestrel,a hand full of Common Buzzards,a brief displaying male Honey Buzzard in the same area as i had the earlier bird and also more Goshawk sightings,one of which flew from behind us and across the valley giving some nice views in the scope and was a whopping immature female as well,a cracking beast before i was joined by more people travelling to see the raptors on show.
 The next Honey sighting was overhead this time,albeit too high for any decent pics with my set up,but it was great to see it in flight alongside a Common Buzzard for comparison.They are such smart birds with their languid flight action reminding me of Red Kites,with not much wing flapping,just gliding and twisting of the tail.
 A welcome diversion away from the raptors for a few minutes included a couple of small flocks of Crossbills and the usual Siskins and also a male Garden Warbler sang his lovely liquid song from the adjacent trees.
 One more sighting of Honey Buzzard on the opposite side of the valley again was enjoyed by us all before i decided to call it a day after putting in a respectable 7 hours.
 It was great to come and re acquaint myself with these beautiful birds of prey and lets hope they can be success full and breed again in the area.
Singing male Tree Pipit.

Male Tree Pipit.

Record shot of one of the male Honey Buzzards.

Distant record shot showing the considerable difference even at long range between Honey and Common Buzzards.

Wednesday, 24 June 2015

Northumberland Highlights.....June 17th - 19th 2015.

Trace and myself booked a couple of days away staying at Beadnell on the stunning Northumberland coast and with a planned visit to the fantastic Farne Islands in a repeat of last years June visit to this beautiful part of the world,we were in for a treat.
 Day One...
We got up bright and early and headed up north along the A1 and after a welcome stop for some brekkie near Durham we made the final leg of the journey up to Seahouses.We had booked on the all day birdwatching trip with the legendary Billy Shiels boats visiting Staple Island and Inner Farne and it was a fantastic day to say the least.It was our first visit to Staple Island and the Puffins here,were even closer than on Inner farne which was hard to beat i thought.It is an experience just to visit these amazing islands and see the closeness of the wildlife and birds and i fully recommend it to anyone who is interested in the natural world.
 Highlight of the visit after the locals of course was a cracking duo of Roseate Terns near to the landing stage on Inner farne just before we left for the mainland.These are the rarest of our seabirds nesting around the British Isles and are just stunning with their black bills,pinkish 'Rose' tint to the underparts looking like mini Sandwich Terns.It is a considerable length of time since i have had the privilege of seeing this beautiful species,so it was a very welcome one indeed.
 Day Two...
Today was spent visiting Lindisfarne,the National Trust property at Cragside and a nice walk along the beach area at Beadnell to end the day.
 Highlights today included a flock of 40 plus Red-breasted Merganser on the sea off Lindisfarne castle which was an impressive sight to say the least,600 plus Grey Seal and the tamest House Sparrows i have ever seen.
 We ended the day by walking along the beach and harbour area at Beadnell and enjoyed some amazing close views of Eiders with their ducklings,fishing Sandwich and Arctic Terns and masses of Auks offshore with a single Harbour Porpoise also logged and a House Martin flycatching around our feet!.
 Day Three...
I was up bright and early today and went for a walk before breakfast up to Long Nanny and back and enjoyed some nice sightings which included Little,Arctic and Sandwich Terns,a flock of summer plumaged Sanderling,a pair of Ringed Plover with 2 chicks and all the other usual suspects from the previous days offshore.
 After breakfast we travelled the short distance over to the lovely little seaside village of Craster and walked along the coast here to the impressive Dunstanburgh castle.Some great sightings along the way included a smart female Wheatear and around the castle itself breeding seabirds included Kittiwakes,Razorbill,Guillemots,Shags and the closest views i have ever had of Fulmars passing by at just over an arms length away...just superb!!.
 So after our visit to Craster and Dunstanburgh it was sadly time to head back south after another amazing visit to this beautiful part of the world and its stunning of which we will be returning again to see next year.
Puffin,Staple Island.

Puffin,Staple Island.

Puffins,Staple Island.

Adult Shag,Staple Island.

Shag Fledglings,Staple Island.

Breeding Guillemots And Kittiwakes,Staple Island.

Guillemot,Staple Island.

Grey Seal,Inner Farne.

Arctic Tern,Inner Farne.

Arctic Tern,Inner Farne.

Newly hatched Arctic Tern chick,Inner Farne.

Arctic Tern,Inner Farne.

Roseate Tern and Arctic terns,Inner Farne.

Roseate and Arctic Tern,Inner Farne.

Drake Eider,Beadnell.

Sanderling,Long Nanny.

Female Wheatear,Dunstanburgh Castle.

Fulmar,Dunstanburgh Castle.

Razorbill,Dunstanburgh Castle.

Monday, 8 June 2015

MSQ Mix....06.06.2015..

Today i was visiting the site to primarily survey the numbers of Odonata around the reserve,but i also observed a few interesting birds and insects,this is what i recorded.
 Bird wise the highlight of the visit went to my first sightings of Little Egret on the reserve,with a duo feeding around the bottom islands on the main lake.This is my sixth species of Heron seen on the reserve after Green Heron,Purple Heron and Grey Heron,Little Bittern and Bittern....impressive stuff and i have also missed Great-white Egret and Cattle Egret.
 A bonus bird and a tad unseasonal was a drake Pintail feeding in the same area as the Egrets and a close encounter with a brood of Robin fledglings was special.
 Onto insects and very few butterflies were seen on the visit,but included 3 Brimstone,3 Speckled Wood and a single Green-veined White.Other lepidoptera logged saw 2 Silver-ground Carpet and a Common Carpet being flushed from the grassy areas while counting the Odes.
 Insect highlight of the day,apart from the dragons obviously went to my first adult Orthoptera of the year,a single male Common-green Grasshopper which was happily stridulating away in the first meadow down from the car park.I love this family of insects having seen a good sized percentage of all the native species.
 A few hoverflies were also recorded during the day and included the usual unidentified Cheilosia sp,Helophilus pendulus,Parhelophilus fruit/vers and a couple of Volucella bombylans.
 Other bits and bobs seen included a single Hairy Shieldbug,Wasp Beetle and a couple of Golden-bloomed Longhorn Beetles.
 An excellent visit today with interest from all parts of the reserve.
Male Brimstone.

Hairy Shieldbug.

Male Early BumbleBee.

Little Egrets around the bottom islands on the main Lake.

Drake Pintail on the main lake.

Newly fledged Robin.