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A trip to Jersey...Fri.24th May-Wed.29th May.

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Old Friday 31st May 2019, 10:46   #1
KenM
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A trip to Jersey...Fri.24th May-Wed.29th May.

A mostly non-birding family trip (3) to St.Helier, Jersey, a c3 hour door to door transfer via London City Airport to include a 30min.delay at City, (do planes ever get away on time?) Jersey has always been on the bucket list and, as such, true to form I had not researched the island before going, thus any surprises would be just that, and they were, but principally they would be for the wrong reasons!

We flew with Flybe in an ATR 72-500 turbo prop, cruising at 18,000', flight time on the outward 1 hour, beats driving/boating every time, and the hotel even kept the kitchen open for our famished arrival at 9.05pm, now that's what I call service, with the food (half board) being excellent throughout.

Couldn't fault the hospitality or service of the hotel however there's always a downside, particularly with the bus station (our mode of transport around the island) being a good 20 minute walk away, along narrow pavements with relatively narrow semi main artery ''canyon-ed'' roads, pollution at times was often palpable!
The following morning, Saturday 25th May, we did a reconnaissance of the c9 x 4 mile island on the ''blue coach'' with a half day trip, consisting of 3 stops en-route, West to Corbiere Point (looked really promising) a stunning headland bedecked with mesembryanthemums, gorse and fern adorning the mustard lichen covered granite, then on to Greve de Lecq on the North coast, passing a long beautiful stretch of sandy beach backed with golf course and bird reserve. Finally the East coast to Gorey Castle before heading back to the coach stop at St.Helier. Duration was c4hhrs.and 45 mins. total cost 2 adults and a child £45.00, certainly whetted my appetite for a sneaky ''couple of hours'' trip in the coming week ahead.

Sunday dawned somewhat cloudy with a fresh wind from the West interspersed with a light drizzle, at this point my wife suggested, that it might be a good idea to visit Gerald Durrell's famous zoo! This took me totally by surprise as ''the zoo'' had not been on my radar, this was soon put to the test and I was summarily out-voted two to one.

It was only as we closed the room door that I thought there might be the odd exhibit worth pointing the camera at, thus I duly retraced my steps and with camera shouldered, we all toddled off to the bus station for the no.3 (the Zoo bus) with a flat fare of adults £2 and children (under 16) £1.

Upon entering the zoo we were presented with an Andean Bear in a huge enclosure, a ''lifer'', who showed complete contempt for all and sunder, by nonchalantly lazing astride a huge log, showing just his rear (don't blame him), I'd probably have done the same with all those gawpers!

Moving swiftly on, we came upon the tropical bird house and this is where things changed dramatically, especially as it began to precipitate on the outside, and we entered an almost magical world of tropical rain forest. Initially, parting the vertical plastic strip curtains and entering the ante-chamber before parting the next set of curtains, simultaneously the half light turning darker, with humidity rising and the almost staccato calls of avian gems on the under-storey and canopy above, prompting one to bend down pushing aside the palm leaves, to focus on the reflected light from the forest stream and it was here that I laid eyes on Chestnut-backed Thrush...my first tropical ''lifer'', for a few moments...I was in the tropics and by Christ it was superb! Although a contrived situation and some might argue that these birds should be ''elsewhere'' I couldn't agree more, and yet, I wouldn't have missed the experience for anything, consoling myself with an hour's flying time, as opposed to double digit carbon foot-printing going to Sumatra, swatting all those carnivorous mozzies, not to mention the cost, or the crocodiles!....my conscience was clear.

Passing through the undergrowth, I finally laid eyes on the main event up in the canopy, an almost sparrow-like but louder ''Choo-eep-Choo-eep'' with interwoven whistles....a superb Asian fairy-Bluebird morphed into view! a second stunner, in as many minutes! Then almost colliding with a nest building Pekin Robin as it zoomed past my head, before laying eyes on a White-rumped Shama! The whole experience was quite unreal...and yet not, certainly gave me a taste of the tropics and already justified the day's expense and with even more sobering exhibits to come.......
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Old Friday 31st May 2019, 12:21   #2
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A lovely detailed report. Thank you for sharing.

My sister lives in Jersey overlooking the sea at St Martin, just up the road from Gorey Castle.

My last visit was January 2018, and we went to the National Trust Wetland Centre.
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Old Friday 31st May 2019, 17:52   #3
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Many thanks for your comments Georgina, much appreciated.

Leaving the tropical bird house I assumed that everything else was going to be an anti-climax, however a walk through the butterfly house suggested otherwise, they were superb with several being particularly so...the names of which I do not have, my jaw-dropping favourite was the ''Tiffany Lamp'' look-alike (the last one) just to use an Americanism...blew me away!
Leaving the flutterbys we gravitated to the reptile house, where we came across many interesting exhibits, the poisonous Blue Frog from South America being perhaps the most animated, with just another reminder of how diverse the tropics are.

Next stop particularly as the precipitation eased and the sun came out briefly was the Ape enclosure. Certainly the most sobering, regarding our close relatives and their rapidly disappearing environment, as our ''collective'' march pushes them further towards the edge.

Lets hope that with breeding programmes as being carried out at the zoo and elsewhere on the planet, a ''spring of hope'' will prevail over the ''seeming'' inevitable! The Silver-back Gorillas as seen in their apparent large enclosure, was both magnificent and humbling simultaneously. The sheer majesty of the alpha male contrasting against the almost compliance of the ''thoughtful'' female was...truly beholding!

.....to be continued.
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Old Friday 31st May 2019, 19:52   #4
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Adjacent to the Silver backs were the Orangutans, once more....in a seemingly spacious enclosure, with enough room and apparatus to fulfil their daily requirements. This is the first time that I've seen primates in an ''almost'' pseudo natural state, and was heartened by their apparent well being and ''playfulness'' as opposed to being under any form of suspect duress.

The bottom line is....I have no way of judging their apparent wellbeing, other than a recent TV clip (must have gone round the planet multiple times) that would have traumatised All....not just the individual Orangutan concerned (mother looking for her lost infant from the top of a single slender lone tree) with the entire surrounding jungle thousands of sq.metres, having been felled and flattened for the benefit of Palm Oil planting (remember that when you munch into your tea and biscuits), most biscuits carry that ingredient!

When one looks at primates...we are looking at ourselves, and on that basis if we can't rescue the former, there is absolutely no hope for the latter!
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Old Saturday 1st June 2019, 02:08   #5
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Ken, I believe the spectacular green butterfly is the Malachite, a mostly tropical species which has been recorded in the southern U.S.
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Old Saturday 1st June 2019, 08:45   #6
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Brings back memories of when i did a 2-week working holiday at the Zoo and the associated after work drinks and a couple of superb barbecues hosted by Gerry and his new bride - he must have got fed up with people asking for their meat done ‘rare’ #halcyondays

Good Birding -

Laurie

p.s. for anybody who hasn’t read his books i would thoroughly reccomend they do.
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Old Saturday 1st June 2019, 10:23   #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by birdmeister View Post
Ken, I believe the spectacular green butterfly is the Malachite, a mostly tropical species which has been recorded in the southern U.S.
Thanks birdmeister! I can now google it for the open wings.

Quote:
Originally Posted by rollingthunder View Post
Brings back memories of when i did a 2-week working holiday at the Zoo and the associated after work drinks and a couple of superb barbecues hosted by Gerry and his new bride - he must have got fed up with people asking for their meat done ‘rare’ #halcyondays

Good Birding -

Laurie

p.s. for anybody who hasn’t read his books i would thoroughly reccomend they do.
Haven’t read them Laurie, will have to give them a go!
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Old Saturday 1st June 2019, 15:17   #8
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Looking at the photos in the post I thought that I must have got it wrong as I couldn't recall a place called Jersey in a tropical climate, then I read the post more accurately and of course remembered the existence of Gerry Durrell's zoo.
Surely though, as it says in the Forum guidelines, (Please - no discussions relating to hunting, pigeon racing, the keeping of caged birds, captive birds or falconry. BirdForum is about the enjoyment and appreciation of WILD birds and other WILDLIFE. Please help us keep BirdForum wild.) this forum is about WILD birds and wildlife in general?

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Old Saturday 1st June 2019, 18:18   #9
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Originally Posted by 3Italianbirders View Post
Looking at the photos in the post I thought that I must have got it wrong as I couldn't recall a place called Jersey in a tropical climate, then I read the post more accurately and of course remembered the existence of Gerry Durrell's zoo.
Surely though, as it says in the Forum guidelines, (Please - no discussions relating to hunting, pigeon racing, the keeping of caged birds, captive birds or falconry. BirdForum is about the enjoyment and appreciation of WILD birds and other WILDLIFE. Please help us keep BirdForum wild.) this forum is about WILD birds and wildlife in general?
......it was raining!...3 thumbs up and one down...how sad! Wild birds from Hereon in

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Old Sunday 2nd June 2019, 04:28   #10
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Rainy days on the Scillies in October had me and many others ticking a stuffed Eskimo Curlew in the St Marys museum.....well it was wild once!

Laurie
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Old Sunday 2nd June 2019, 08:15   #11
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Rainy days on the Scillies in October had me and many others ticking a stuffed Eskimo Curlew in the St Marys museum.....well it was wild once!

Laurie
A-a-a-h....”stuff” of dreams Laurie.
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Old Sunday 2nd June 2019, 15:15   #12
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The forecast for Monday 27th May looked good, with the wind abating and plenty of sunshine, resulted in a quick breakfast, bading my farewells to family meeting up later in the day for Brunch. Hot footed it down to the bus terminus and managed to get to the front of the queue for a ''no prisoners'' seat on the no.12. with destination...Corbiere Point a 35 minute transfer for some serious birding on the majestic headland. As far as headlands with bays go, this must be aesthetically one of the best, also sporting an odd geological feature...a granite headland with a solitary ''chalk'' outcrop?

With the sun behind me, I dutifully combed the gorse headland, Common Buzzard being chased by anxious Corvid, Linnets bounding over, Wren singing, Dunnock on the path chased off by Robin and a probable (too late, attenuated migrant) bounding away with a fast diminishing return...dunno!
After some 45 minutes or so I felt that there was a distinct silence, regarding what I thought would be a tailor made habitat for two species at least...Stonechat and Common Whitethroat!

After a further 30 minutes, a few more bursts of Wren song, then in rapid succession....3 low flying Swallows (my first ID'able migs) heading N.West, things are looking up I mused, soon followed by a distant Peregrine and Kestrel, then a passerine flew up from the ground calling!...nothing less than Anthus Petrosus! being a Pipit man having found a couple, this was the ''star find'' of my headland visit, thinking quit while you're behind...seemed the most sensible thing to do, as I felt I was on to a hiding for nothing...tomorrows another day!

PS., I subsequently researched a recent report suggesting that although common on passage Autumn/Winter/Spring...the breeding Stonechat population is c6 pairs and that they often associate with Dartford Warbler.

Tuesday was ear-marked for Crazy Golf, a much enjoyed holiday pastime for all, after breakfast we made our way to the bus station for the no.12 to the West facing St.Ouen's Bay, just to the North of Corbiere Point. Upon arrival we paid our dues and just as I was being handed the pencil, score card, balls and clubs, a superb male Marsh Harrier, flying low and towards us (perhaps 20 metres distant with Corvid in tow) immediately dropping everything balls as well! struggling to get my camera out of the case, eventually framing it going away and into the sun, a few drats! followed, c'est la vie, you can always rely on it.

Marsh Harrier is not a raptor that I see often and when seen (females) have invariably been distant, till this point never had a male this close. We finished our Crazy Golf with not being over enamoured with the profusion of impediments at each hole (couldn't get a hole-in-one :eek! :) Leaving the course, we walked North a 100m to the bus stop with the long 3miles+ sandy beach and dune to our left, with golf course fairway adjoining bird reserve (never got there) to our right.

With eight minutes to wait for the returning bus, I ventured to the side of the fairway, where I espied an oncoming male Marsh Harrier! camera to the ready (albeit facing partly into the sun) onwards it came...before doing a circuit enabling me to get off a few reasonable shots, just before the no.22 arrived a double decker!!

Swiftly up the stairs, getting great views (also adding House and Sand Martin) but shooting through glass not my preferred mode of imaging, however no complaints a fitting end to my non-birding holiday The great bird gods in the sky had intervened on my behalf....after short changing me on the headland.

With Wednesday being our last half day of precipitating drizzle, a returning 5 mile walk along the beach, then out to Elizabeth Castle (only accessible at low tide) added Oystercatcher, Little Egret, Grey Heron and a lone Swift. Overall a disappointing trip regarding migrant/breeding species, obviously I acknowledge that I was a bit late for the former may have just been my timing on the day. Irrespective, hope to visit again, if only to winkle out those Stonechats, and if I'm really lucky Dartford Warbler!

Cheers
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Old Sunday 2nd June 2019, 19:11   #13
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......it was raining!...3 thumbs up and one down...how sad! Wild birds from Hereon in
We have all been there. It isn’t always easy to reconcile a family holiday with birding and I wasn’t suggesting that you should have plodded along in the rain looking for who knows what and getting soaked in the process. I was just saying that it doesn’t (at least to me) seem appropriate to write about (and post photos of) captive birds and butterflies on Birdforum.
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Old Sunday 2nd June 2019, 21:26   #14
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Dear Sir
Going to Jersey and doing some birding, one would have been well-advised to visit the Wetlands Centre at St Ouen's pond also Grouville Marsh, also Grouville Common (firecrests) also Noirmont Point and Portelet common (Dartford Warblers)
Checking the "recent sightings page of Jerseybirds.co.uk might have assisted you http://www.jerseybirds.co.uk/news/
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Old Sunday 2nd June 2019, 22:54   #15
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Dear Sir
Going to Jersey and doing some birding, one would have been well-advised to visit the Wetlands Centre at St Ouen's pond also Grouville Marsh, also Grouville Common (firecrests) also Noirmont Point and Portelet common (Dartford Warblers)
Checking the "recent sightings page of Jerseybirds.co.uk might have assisted you http://www.jerseybirds.co.uk/news/
Thank you Earnest Lad, I did mention up thread that my reasons for not researching the island prior to departure was because...I like surprises.
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Old Monday 3rd June 2019, 07:54   #16
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I really enjoyed the tropical bird house at Slimbridge, yep it probably makes me quite sad but the environment created is superb and the birds are free flying, breeding etc. I’m not advocating it necessarily nor that reports of captive collections should routinely appear, but like Ken I admit I found myself surprisingly captivated.

Especially as it’s a region of the world I’ll never visit.
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Old Monday 3rd June 2019, 10:46   #17
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I really enjoyed the tropical bird house at Slimbridge, yep it probably makes me quite sad but the environment created is superb and the birds are free flying, breeding etc. I’m not advocating it necessarily nor that reports of captive collections should routinely appear, but like Ken I admit I found myself surprisingly captivated.

Especially as it’s a region of the world I’ll never visit.
Thanks Nick!....
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Old Tuesday 4th June 2019, 13:40   #18
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I really enjoyed the tropical bird house at Slimbridge, yep it probably makes me quite sad but the environment created is superb and the birds are free flying, breeding etc. I’m not advocating it necessarily nor that reports of captive collections should routinely appear, but like Ken I admit I found myself surprisingly captivated.

Especially as it’s a region of the world I’ll never visit.
I would go along with this also. Plus, being an optimist and dreamer, should the chance to visit such exotic climes ever present itself then one would know what one was actually looking at. I have visited Slimbridge on several occasions, and usually do a tour of the wildfowl park, Where else could you get close up views and bone up your ID skills for when you the day comes that you come across a genuine vagrant quacker.
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Old Tuesday 4th June 2019, 15:14   #19
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Quite right Paul, to bird without dreaming.....
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Old Sunday 14th July 2019, 21:07   #20
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Thank you Earnest Lad, I did mention up thread that my reasons for not researching the island prior to departure was because...I like surprises.
I understand. TTFN
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